To any individual who has at any time received a speeding ticket, the resolution of the investigation into Tiger Woods’s vehicle crash in February could possibly seem to be odd.
Despite the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s willpower that Woods drove very well over 80 miles per hour in a 45 m.p.h. zone, he was not presented a ticket or charged with reckless driving. Regulation enforcement officers did not carry out industry sobriety assessments or receive a research warrant for a blood examination or toxicology report.
This week, at a news convention to announce the results of his department’s investigation, Sheriff Alex Villanueva explained his officers had conducted a extensive investigation and dealt with the famous golfer as they would any individual else.
“Now, I know there is some expressing that in some way he received special or preferential treatment method of some kind,” Villanueva explained. “That is certainly fake.”
Some legal defense attorneys in the Los Angeles location who frequently represent clients accused of reckless driving or driving under the affect questioned whether the Sheriff’s Division pursued its circumstance in opposition to Woods as aggressively as it had pursued scenarios in opposition to other individuals.
“I know how law enforcement performs there, and this one is curious,” reported Stephen Sitkoff, a felony protection lawyer who spent a decade performing in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Place of work.
There are three key portions of the investigation to contemplate:
Why did not Woods get a dashing ticket?
Tiger Woods was driving at the very least 40 m.p.h. earlier mentioned the posted speed limit when he lost regulate. But no one really observed him driving that quickly — a significant element beneath California regulation. His approximate pace of about 84 to 87 m.p.h. at the get started of the crash was recorded by the vehicle’s function info recorder, acknowledged colloquially as the black box.
California’s car or truck code spots a sturdy emphasis on needing a witness to ticket any individual for dashing.
“In order to concern a quotation, you have one thing to show — an unbiased witness or an observation by a peace officer,” reported James Powers, the captain of the Lomita Sheriff’s Station, which taken care of the investigation of Woods’s crash.
Experienced Woods been issued a citation centered on the readings from the data recorder, Powers claimed and authorities agreed, there was a excellent possibility a choose would have thrown the situation out.
“We have gotten accustomed to this incredibly untrue presumption, which is a personal computer stated so, so it should be correct,” mentioned Anthony Falangetti, a criminal protection attorney in Extended Beach front.
Falangetti reeled off a list of strategies the data recorder could be challenged if applied by by itself as evidence: The facts recorder could have been programmed improperly, its estimates could be inaccurate and the speedometer in the motor vehicle could be calibrated improperly.
“There are all sorts of explanations why that circumstantial proof is not taken for granted by the sheriff’s department,” he stated.
Why was not Woods charged with reckless driving?
Section 23103 of the California Automobile Code states that someone is responsible of reckless driving if they travel with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of folks or property.”
Driving 40 m.p.h. over the velocity restrict on a winding, downhill road arguably meets the criteria for reckless driving. In a strange quirk of the law, it may well really have been less difficult to cost Woods with reckless driving, a misdemeanor criminal offense that holds the risk of jail time, than to give him a rushing ticket, since the California auto code does not demand witnesses to cost another person with reckless driving.
Captain Powers, having said that, said there was no evidence of reckless driving. “For reckless driving, you have to have several violations in conjunction with one particular a further — like several unsafe lane modifications, passing vehicles in an unsafe manner, form of like highway race things — and that did not exist right here,” he explained. “Therefore, reckless driving is not ideal.”
But a number of attorneys who have defended customers charged with reckless driving disagree.
“The D.A. could effortlessly get a conviction for reckless driving centered on the black box by yourself,” mentioned Hart Levin, a Los Angeles law firm who specializes in D.U.I. protection. “And even if the black box ended up somehow not considered reputable, the incident reconstruction would exhibit the car or truck heading in extra of 70 m.p.h. when it hit the tree.”
Patrick Carey, a prison protection attorney and former deputy district legal professional, also wonders why Woods was not charged. “I individually have managed cases with significantly less egregious points where by my shoppers have been charged in court docket with misdemeanors,” he wrote in an e-mail.
But when it is doable Woods could have been billed, Carey explained he did not consider that a a lot less renowned person would always be billed under the exact conditions.
That highlights a basic but easily neglected part of the justice system: Thousands of solitary-car crashes occur each individual working day and law enforcement authorities have vast latitude in how really hard they decide to go after scenarios.
Why was not Woods checked additional thoroughly in regard to driving less than the impact?
The Sheriff’s Department did not attain a warrant to attract blood from Woods to examination no matter if or not he was under the influence of medication or alcohol when he crashed.
“Without the indications of impairment, we don’t get to the point where by we can really writer a research warrant and create the possible induce to get that, and execute that lookup warrant — so that did not take place,” Captain Powers stated.
Many internet pages of the 22-web site formal crash report are dedicated to laying out the techniques sheriff’s deputies took to investigate regardless of whether Woods was impaired:
Discipline sobriety checks could not be performed for the reason that of Woods’s accidents.
The very first deputy on the scene did not scent alcoholic beverages, and there have been no open up containers or prescription remedies in the car.
While being extracted from his motor vehicle, Woods responded to questions without the need of delay, his speech was not slurred and his eyes were being not bloodshot or watery.
The firefighters who taken care of Woods at the scene claimed his pupils did not display signs of “narcotic analgesic influence.”
Video obtained from Woods’s hotel on the early morning of the crash did not clearly show him swaying or staggering, and he drove away from the resort properly.
The hotel’s valet and valet services supervisor did not notice just about anything unsafe or abnormal.
Woods was interviewed at the hospital and there ended up no indicators of impairment.
Someone who was with Woods in the course of his time in Los Angeles, like the early morning of the incident, mentioned they did not observe Woods consuming alcoholic beverages or using any prescription prescription drugs. This person’s identity is redacted in the report.
4 yrs ago, Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving, following he was located asleep at the driver’s wheel on the side of the highway. He blamed the episode on the interaction between prescription drugs he was having at the time.
But just due to the fact Woods has formerly pushed when impaired by prescription drugs does not suggest the Sheriff’s Division could use that to get hold of a warrant to check his blood.
“‘He did it in advance of, for that reason he did it again’ is fundamentally not a constitutional basis for something,” Falangetti said. “We are principally opposed to that type of accusation in prison law.”
Nevertheless, the Sheriff’s Office could have pushed tougher to take a look at Woods’s blood, specially contemplating there was at the very least slight proof of prescription capsule use. According to the crash report, an “empty plastic pharmaceutical container” with no label was discovered in a backpack that was resting in the brush future to Woods’s auto.
“If it was one particular of my clients, not anybody distinctive, I imagine they would have been provided a blood exam,” Sitkoff explained.
Would pursuing the situation have been worthwhile?
Woods sustained intense injuries in the crash and finally, the Sheriff’s Office might simply consider it is not essential to seek out extra punishment. When questioned why Woods was not cited for dashing, Captain Powers said, “Part of it was for the reason that of the instances that he endured all over the collision.”
Woods did not strike a further motor vehicle, and no one else was damage. A rushing ticket would most likely have been thrown out, a reckless driving scenario may perhaps have been tough to verify and there were no apparent signs that Woods was illegally impaired.
Beneath the situation, Woods’s sustaining devastating leg injuries that hold the risk of ending his golfing job is possibly a worse punishment than currently being billed with a misdemeanor.
“I think that, dependent on the physical punishment he endured, it is extra of a scenario of ‘What’s the stage in charging him?’” Carey said.