Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sidney Blumenthal, DWI

Clinton aide, Blumenthal, accepts deal in DWI case - Blumenthal fined $900, had license revoked for 10 months

The Nashua Telegraph reports:

Sen. Hillary Clinton campaign adviser Sidney Blumenthal slipped into Nashua District Court to plead guilty and be sentenced last month, three weeks earlier than scheduled.

Blumenthal, 59, of Washington, D.C., was arrested in Nashua on Jan. 7, the day before the New Hampshire primary, accused of speeding while intoxicated on Concord Street.

Blumenthal and his lawyer, Ray Mello, of Nashua, had negotiated a plea bargain with police prosecutors last month. Notice of the deal was filed March 20, and the court scheduled a plea-and-sentencing hearing Friday.

The district court is a busy place, however, and last-minute scheduling changes are common – especially with plea bargains, which are quick and easy for the court to accommodate. Plea bargains are routine; the vast majority of DWI cases and criminal cases in general are resolved by similar deals.

Blumenthal had been charged with aggravated DWI, because police charged he was speeding at about 70 mph in a 30 mph zone.

Blumenthal declined to take a breath or blood test and did not show any obvious signs of impairment during booking at the police station. Blumenthal didn't slur or sway, and he and the officers were all models of politeness, a video of the process shows.
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Read Nashua District Court records of Sidney Blumenthal's sentencing.
Asked about any drug or alcohol use, which is part of the routine questioning before detention, Blumenthal said, "I had some wine at dinner."

It was Blumenthal's first arrest, ever, he told police.

Booking videos and other police reports are generally a matter of public record once a case has been closed; The Telegraph requested a copy of the video Friday afternoon and got it Monday morning.

Blumenthal was brought to a cell after booking and later released after posting $200 bail.

Blumenthal pleaded guilty March 28 to a standard, misdemeanor DWI charge. He was fined $900, and his driver's license revoked for 10 months. Blumenthal can seek to get his license restored after 120 days, however, if he completes and alcohol education program in Washington, D.C., court records show.

Blumenthal also agreed not to contest a six-month administrative license suspension, which was already in effect, police have said previously.

Though there is no standard disposition to fit all cases, the terms of Blumenthal's plea are stiffer than a standard DWI charge, and typical of an aggravated DWI plea bargain for a first-time offender, Capt. Peter Segal said. Blumenthal has no prior DWI convictions, he said.

Police negotiated a plea bargain in part because the arresting officer, Christopher Ditullio, was called up for service in Iraq, and would not have been available to testify, Segal said.

Blumenthal is an unpaid adviser to Clinton, actively involved in her presidential campaign, according to his lawyer. Blumenthal also was an adviser to former President Clinton. He was in southern New Hampshire on the eve of the primaries but got lost on the way from dinner to his hotel, he told police.

Sgt. Michael Masella spotted Blumenthal's rented Buick heading north on Concord Street in the area of Greeley Park at about 70 mph on the night before the New Hampshire primaries, police reported. Masella and Ditullio stopped Blumenthal near the Henri Burque Highway and arrested him after performing a field sobriety test.