California attorney Richard Alan Dongell who is on probation because of two misdemeanor charges: drunk driving and child endangerment.
The accident happened in August 2013 when Dongell was driving recklessly and caused the collision with another car in Lakewood, California. His two children were in the car with him, but no one got injured. When the police arrived, they found attorney and his children standing next to the car at the nearby gas station. They noticed Mr. Dongell’s unsteady walk, red eyes and alcohol odor. Mr. Dongell had difficulties looking for his driving license, registration and insurance. Mr Dongell denied taking any medication before getting behind the wheel of his car or drinking any alcohol. Police officers asked him to perform field sobriety tests, and he failed to do them as explained and demonstrated. Preliminary blood test taken at the scene showed blood alcohol content 0.222, which is almost three times the legal limit. Mr. Dongell’s children also said that their father had a few glasses of wine within a short period of time before driving.
Dongell was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor offences: a DUI with excess alcohol limit in blood and the child endangerment. At a subsequent hearing, the judge decided that lawyer could have caused harm to his children. This factor was used to increase court punishment for him. However, a judge also found four factors in favour of Mr. Doungell. Mr. Dongelll presented letters from his doctors that he suffered emotional difficulties at the time of the accident because of family problems. Also, he had no prior criminal record or record of discipline and this isolated incident was found to be an unusual event with a low level of reoffending. Third, he cooperated with the Prosecutor’s Office and submitted statements and mitigation packet. Fourth, he presented letters from family members and colleagues, all of them speaking about his good character.
He faces the following penalties:
- 1 year stayed suspension, i.e. he is allowed to practice as long as certain terms are followed
- 3 years of probation
- six months of parenting classes
- 15 days of community service
- 9 months alcohol and substance abuse program
- within one year pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination
- and provide the proof of his ability to have law practice in future and complete the State Bar’s Ethics School.
The Office of the Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar tried to request for a month actual suspension because of moral turpitude involved in this case. Actual suspension would mean disqualification from the practice of law. But the hearing judge didn’t approve the claim.
He also voluntarily completed rehabilitation treatment program and agreed to be monitored for substance abuse after that.
The State Bar of California has recently suspended or/and placed on suspension 7 attorneys. The State Bar is a public corporation, serving as an arm of the California Supreme Court. All its members have the right to practice law in the state.
If you’re looking for help with a DUI case and need a top-notch attorney in Los Angeles, make an appointment with the DUI Law offices of Alex Andryuschenko by calling (818) 921 7744 We provide a free DUI case review to discuss your options.