On Nov. 9, 2010, former Cardinals’ broadcaster and Town and Country resident, Dan McLaughlin, pleaded guilty to DWI in Chesterfield Municipal Court. He was given a “no-record” suspended imposition of sentence probation term of two years. The court did not assign community service, require him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or order him to attend driving school.
The companion charge of improper lane usage was reduced to illegal parking and McLaughlin paid a $350 fine. He left court without additional points on his driving record.
The arrest and aftermath
McLaughlin was arrested in August 2010 after motorists on I-64 called the police about erratic driving. The police report, included in the PDF portion of this article, notes he appeared to be highly intoxicated, seemed to have urinated in his pants, and was falling down when attempting to walk.
Furthermore, the report shows he kept asking the Chesterfield police to let him drive home because he only lived “a couple of blocks” away (he lived several miles away in Town and Country), offered a bribe to the officer and then refused to take a breath test.
In a Post-Dispatch article that appeared on Nov. 17, 2010, McLaughlin said, “It’s been something that has taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. And I’m just trying to better my life and move on.”
Move on he did.
Just about one year after that article appeared, McLaughlin pled guilty to a different DWI. This one occurred at 10 p.m. on Sept. 25. The police report (included in the PDF portion of this article) shows McLaughlin was turning from Clarkson Road onto Baxter Road, drove off the right side of the road and knocked down a speed limit sign. He then swerved to the left knocking down a One Way sign. Finally he struck a curb and disabled his SUV.
Chesterfield Police Officer Sanda Smajlovic found McLaughlin stuck on the curb inside his SUV. When Officer Smajlovic asked for his driver’s license, McLaughlin handed him his passport.
Smajlovic reported McLaughlin was dazed and confused, smelled of intoxicants and was unable to figure out how to unlock his door to exit the vehicle.
McLaughlin again said he just “lived down the street” and asked to be let go. (This time he was about five miles from his Town and Country home). Police told him his car had so much damage it could no longer be driven.
The police report shows that not only did McLaughlin refuse to take a breath test, he also refused to take field sobriety tests. He was stumbling and almost falling down, according to the report.
After being arrested McLaughlin asked to call his lawyer, who is his brother. Officer Smajlovic reported that McLaughlin had trouble using the phone, so Smajlovic made the call on McLaughlin's behalf.
Officer Greg Rupp of the Chesterfield Police Department took 79 photos of the three accident scenes. The pictures show parts from McLaughlin's SUV at the point of impacts of signs and the curb. The GMC had four damaged tires that included two flats, knocked-off rearview mirrors, a cracked windshield and a severed brake line.
In an interview at the police station McLaughlin denied he had been drinking. He said he was coming home from a Whitey Herzog golf tournament. During the 2010 arrest McLaughlin also said he was coming home from a charity golf tournament. Should his probation ban charity golf tournaments?
After the second arrest, McLaughlin was charged with DWI, no proof of insurance, failure to exercise the highest degree of care while operating a vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident.
In making his second guilty plea to DWI, one day short of a year from the first, McLaughlin was fined $1,000 for the DWI and sentenced to 90 days in jail. But the jail time was suspended and McLaughlin was placed on probation again.
This time he has to go to AA once a week, attend a victim’s impact panel, and perform 50 hours of community service. The court also ordered McLaughlin to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device on his car when he gets his license back and complete an outpatient treatment program.
A blessing and lesson?
McLaughlin told Dan Caesar of the Post-Dispatch this week that he views the second DWI arrest as a “blessing.” Apparently that first DWI was not such a “valuable lesson” after all.
“While (the second arrest) is one of the worst nights of my life—I don't expect people to understand this, but it has turned out to be one of the best things that ever could have happened to me because I realized I needed to seek help,” said McLaughlin in the article.
Perhaps if Chesterfield Judge Rick Brunk had given McLaughlin a tough probation sentence after the frist DWI arrest in 2010, McLaughlin would have seen the light without putting motorists on Chesterfield roads in jeopardy a second time, less than a year later.
Brunk actually convicted McLaughlin of the first charge. That came with a fine of $100 and included two points on his driving record to go with the 12 for the second DWI. But on the leaving the scene of an accident charge, McLaughlin got another “no record” probation sentence.
What about the original 2010 DWI? Surely that probation was revoked. Turns out, it was not. Brunk continued it for another year.
Not tough enough
Apparently driving while intoxicated, peeing in your pants, falling down drunk, offering the officer a bribe and then refusing to take a breath test earns you an impossible-to-revoke probation term.
I say this because driving drunk, having two accidents before wrecking you car to the point it can’t be driven, being falling down drunk, refusing to take a breath test and lying to the arresting officer saying you haven’t had anything to drink isn’t quite enough for Brunk.
Now McLaughlin is serving three probations.
Judge Brunk is proving that the last thing he wants to have is the reputation of being a tough judge when it comes to drunk drivers.