A Sunshine State polo magnate's drunk driving trial kicked off earlier this month and should serve as a warning of both the fatal consequences and severe criminal penalties that can result from a person's decision to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
John Goodman, the founder of International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, is charged with DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident, stemming from a February 2010 car crash that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson.
As the Palm Beach Post's Daphne Duret reports, the trial is likely to center around just how much Goodman drank before getting behind the wheel on the night of the accident:
Investigators say Goodman had attended a charity event at the White Horse Tavern before heading to The Players Club, where he drank with friends, including polo player Kris Kampsen. A receipt from the club shows Goodman ordered multiple shots of Espolon Silver and Patron Silver tequila and other drinks. A receipt shows Kampsen also ordered multiple drinks.A blood test taken roughly three hours after the crash reportedly indicated that Goodman had a blood alcohol level of 0.177 percent. The legal limit in Florida is .08.
There will also likely be much ado about the evidence as the trial proceeds. Defense lawyers are expected to argue that neither the club receipt nor a toxicology report showing trace amounts of hydrocone in Goodman's system should be shown to the jury because the evidence is overly prejudicial. According to Duret, both cars involved in the crash - Goodman's Bentley GTC convertible and Wilson's Hyundai Sonata - will be made available for jurors to view.
ABC News reports that "[a]ccording to police, Goodman...ran a stop sign and slammed into Wilson's car. Goodman did not call police or an ambulance, and left the crash scene on foot..."
The case has drawn rapt attention from state and even national media due both to Goodman's wealth and stature in Florida circles, but also his recent decision to adopt his 42-year-old girlfriend. The move was panned by some as a way of diverting Goodman's money and avoid a costly judgment in the private suit filed against him by Scott Wilson's family. In June, the Wilsons settled a suit against The Player's Club for an unknown amount.
As the Goodman case makes clear, DUI is a serious offense that cannot be taken lightly. The first DUI offense can result in a fine of $500-$1000 and imprisonment for up to six months as well as community service and license revocation. A second DUI offense, meanwhile, can result in a fine of $1000 to $2000, imprisonment for up to nine months and a five-year license revocation.
If you are facing a DUI charge in Florida, you should consult with an attorney who can advise you regarding your legal defenses and the best course of action. The South Florida criminal defense attorneys at Anidjar & Levine are experienced in handling Florida DUI cases throughout the region and consistently provide vigorous defense and high quality representation.
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