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City Official Gets Slap on Wrist for “No Contest” DUI

9:45 AM PDT on May 26, 2010

ABC7 described Miguel Santana as "the most powerful non-elected official" in Los Angeles when they wrote that the administrator in charge of balancing the city budget was "busted" for a DUI.  Two months later, the verdict was handed down for Santana, who was caught drunk driving in Covina on his way home from a fundraiser last March.  Santana pleaded "no contest" to a misdemeanor DUI and received three years' probation and ordered to pay $1,737 in fines and penalties.  He will also attend a hospital and morgue program, where he'll have to interact with victims of DUI crashes and visit the bodies of those slain in such crashes.

The stated reason for Santana's light sentencing was that he was seeking help for his offense already.  In addition to turning in his city-owned vehicle, which he was driving at the time of the arrest.  Days after his arrest his boss, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went to bat for Santana, making the case that he was making amends:

"He indicated that this was not something that he's done before.This is his first DUI. But he understands that it's important and hehas volunteered to seek assistance and counseling to make sure thathe's doing everything he can to make sure that this doesn't happenagain," said Villaraigosa.

While there's still some unanswered question, such as whether Santana will be reimbursing the city for driving their vehicle for personal use, Santana's sentence seems awfully light.  Light until you compare it to Glenn Gritzner's sentence for "misdemeanor hit and run."  Let's compare based on Streetsblog's coverage last month.

So what is his punishment?  He will be booked within the next sixmonths and he has to pay restitution to Roadblock.  In addition he canchoose from one of three ways to pay off his sentence: a $510 finewhich as anyone that has a traffic ticket knows will cost much more, inthis case $2,000, 47 hours community service or a week in county jail.

Even though these were "minor" offenses in the eyes of the law, let's be clear.  Gritzner hit a cyclist and left him wounded in the street while he sped to safety and was able to write a check and pose for a mug shot to pay his debt to society.  Santana has to do both of those things also, but he has to at least spend some time in counseling and doing the "hospital and morgue" program.

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