New Jersey residents may know the actor and playwright Sam Shepard for his appearances in films including 'Black Hawk Down" and 'The Notebook." The 71-year-old man won a Pulitzer Prize for his play 'Buried Child" in 1979, but his notoriety likely provided him with little comfort on May 25 when he was taken into custody by New Mexico police on drunk driving charges.
According to a Santa Fe police report, Shepard's pickup truck was pulled over after security staff at an area restaurant alerted officers about a possible drunk driver. They are said to have reported that Shepard was attempting to drive his vehicle while the emergency brake was engaged. Officers say that Shepard's breath smelled of alcohol and his eyes were watery. Shepard is said to have refused to submit to a breath test, but he was taken into custody after he allegedly performed poorly during a number of standard field sobriety exercises.
Shepard was previously charged with driving drunk in 2009. On that occasion, the actor was found to be driving with double the legal blood alcohol level after being stopped for speeding in Normal, Illinois. Shepard subsequently entered a guilty plea to drunk driving charges and paid a $600 fine. He was also required to participate in an alcohol treatment program and perform community service for 100 hours.
New Jersey motorists who refuse to submit to a breath test when ordered to do so by a police officer may face severe consequences. A criminal defense attorney may seek to have such charges reduced or dismissed during plea negotiations with prosecutors. An attorney could point out the previous exemplary behavior of the defendant as well as their stress levels at the time of the incident. An attorney could also advocate vigorously on behalf of those accused of drunk driving in court if efforts to negotiate a plea agreement prove unsuccessful.
Source: Fox News, "Actor Sam Shepard arrested for drunken driving in Santa Fe", Associated Press, May 26, 2015