City Desk

Shadow Senator Paul Strauss Pleads Guilty To DUI

Last Friday, Paul Strauss entered a guilty plea to his DUI charge in D.C. Superior Court. The guilty plea amounts to a swift change in tactics–some might suggest an erratic change—for the shadow senator. Strauss had maintained his innocence ever since his arrest on October 1, 2008. At a previous court hearing, his attorney successfully sought a delay for his trial until June; he had wanted the time to seek out an expert witness for his case. He had also previously rejected a plea offer.

So what's the upshot of Strauss' plea? The shadow senator has to now pee in a cup.

Strauss received a 60-day suspended jail sentence, 11 months of supervised probation, a $300 fine, and $100 fine to be paid to the victims of violent crime compensation fund. As part of Strauss' supervised probation, the shadow senator must "abstain from the use of hallucinatory or other drugs, and submit to drug testing....," according to court documents.

Strauss did not return a call for comment nor did he answer his cellphone when we called this afternoon.

All of Strauss' fighting seemed a bit off considering the police account of his behavior on the night of his arrest in Adams Morgan. City Desk previously reported:

"The stop took place after D.C. cops Jose Rodriguez and Andrew Zabavsky clocked Strauss’ car going 49 mph westbound over the Duke Ellington Bridge between Adams Morgan and Woodley Park; the speed limit is 25 mph.

While speaking to Strauss, Rodriguez—who gave the affidavit—noted that his breath smelled of alcohol and that he “had a blank stare, blood shot eyes and appeared confused.” Strauss had “difficulty retrieving” his driver’s license, according to the officer’s account, but he had less difficulty producing another form of identification: While handing over his license, Strauss “displayed his US Senate ID with his right hand…[and] continued to hold the US Senate ID the entire time” until he was told to get out of the car.

“Is this necessary?” Strauss asked.

It became immediately apparent why he might have wanted to remain seated: Strauss, Rodriguez wrote, was “very unsteady on his feet…swaying from side to side and back and forth.” He walked to the rear of the car, grasping it for support, and again pulled out his Senate ID.

His badge did not sway police.

The cops had Strauss perform standard field sobriety tests. After failing a horizontal gaze test, Strauss asked permission to call his lawyer, whom he wasn’t able to reach. After he refused to cooperate with further tests, he was placed under arrest.

Strauss was then taken to 3rd District headquarters. There he was observed by a third officer, who also recorded signs of intoxication and noted that Strauss “had food stains on his shirt and pants.”

At that point, Strauss reached the lawyer, and the two talked for about a half-hour. Afterward, Strauss consented to a breath test, which revealed a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent. Under District law, a person is considered intoxicated at 0.08 percent and above."

*photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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  • sara.h

    he didn't have his license suspended?

  • HStNE


  • Mike Licht

    The shadow senator has to pee in a cup.

    Does that make him an honorary mayor-for-life?

  • Joel Lawson

    Abolish this office.

  • Wrack

    What a waste of office space and interns.

  • Ben

    Really?? All this about a DUI?? Let's be serious...

    And Joel, you are an idiot. DC doesn't quite have a surplus of elected officials, we need all we can get!

  • Jason Cherkis

    How is a DUI not serious?

  • Joel Lawson

    Yes, Ben, more faux elected officials is exactly what I was thinking would really help the people of the District of Columbia.

    How about a Shadow Governor? She/he'll need a Shadow Lieutenant Governor, of course. Let's not forget a Shadow State Legislature, even if it's a relatively small body. Shadow State House, with a Shadow Speaker. Shadow State Senate, Shadow Majority and Minority Leaders there (I could leave that with just the Shadow Lt. Gov. presiding, but I'd hate to leave your thirst for more elected officials unquenched).

    All this should put our push for statehood on steroids, don't you think?

  • Angel of Journalistic Precision

    Just as an FYI, BTW. IMHO, IIRC, Strauss was charged with DWI, not DUI. OK, I wanted to get more acronyms in that last sentence. But this post is about Jason's failings rather than my own. DWI is the more serious charge, and per the affidavit linked from an earlier WCP story, that was the charge.

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  • Maia

    Um, resign immediately?

  • Jason Cherkis

    In the court documents related to his sentencing, he pleaded guilty to one count of Driving Under the Influence.

    I went by what was in the court record. On paper.

  • Mike DeBonis

    Just to clarify: Strauss was originally charged with three counts---DUI, DWI, and OWI. He pled only to the DUI charge.

  • Angel of Journalistic Precision

    In the affidavit, i.e., a court document, on paper, City Paper published here, , it says he was charged with DWI. The cops could have made a mistake. Another possibility is that he pleaded to a lesser charge. Anyway, call me snarky, but I expect journalists, as opposed to mere, ahem, bloggers, to tease this stuff out.

  • Angel of Journalistic Precision

    Ah, The Journalist Sometimes Known as Loose Lips posted about the same time I did.

  • Jason Cherkis

    My blog post is accurate. He pleaded guilty to the DUI charge.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Angel, just curious: Are you drunk?

  • Angel of Journalistic Precision

    Yes. Your blog post. My point, exactly.

    As to whether I'm under the influence or intoxicated, check the court papers. All of them.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Now this is silly. The post was accurate. I'm not sure what yr point is except to completely nerd out on this. He had three charges. He pleaded guilty to one of them.

  • Angel of Journalistic Precision

    You claim Strauss' behavior thusly: "The guilty plea amounts to a swift change in tactics–some might suggest an erratic change—for the shadow senator." It appears, however, that Strauss struck a plea bargain that, among other things, saved his drivers' license, and may have kept him out of prison.

    Now, as an avid reader of LL, I'll use his quirky spelling to state that you buried the lede. Actually, I think you missed the lede entirely.

    [FWIW: I'm a lawyer, not a journalist, but I'm concerned about journalism disappearing. This story, and your response, doesn't ease this concern. I think you should follow LL's lead and fix the lede in the story. That's something that web journalists can easily do.]

  • Jason Cherkis

    the erratic behavior goes to what I presented in the blog post--his months long defiance. He had claimed repeatedly that he was innocent. He had already rejected a previous plea offer and had delayed his trial in the hopes of getting an expert witness.

  • Q

    Man...Jason, first the straw in your iced coffee, now this. LOL! Wake me when this is over. My only question, why didn't they charge him with Reckless Driving as well?

  • Angel of Journalistic Precision

    The lede (apparently) is not that his behavior is erratic, rather that it is calculated and opportunistic. Cynical, even.

  • Angel of Journalistic Precision

    Q has a good question. Another possible lede is why, in the face of overwhelming evidence that he was driving while intoxicated, did Peter Nickles' office let the Shadow Senator plead to a lesser offense.

  • Downtown rez

    What about DUI or Paul Strauss merits a 23 post back and forth? Joel had it right at the start- it's a pretend position that could be abolished with little notice by the general public. Whether he was ever part of a model UN assembly could be an interesting coda.

  • Angel of Journalistic Precision

    25 now. I'm still interested in whether the model UN guy's modest political connections led to Peter Nickles letting him avoid a slam dunk charge.

  • Q

    "Angel..." check out this link You might have some fun with this ---

    Under the point system, a person's license can either be suspended if they accumulate 8 points (16 points for drivers who operate motor vehicles for employment purposes) or be revoked if they accumulate 12 points.

    The following points are assessed for speeding and other speed related traffic law violations: Reckless driving-12 points;

    speeding in excess of the posted speed limit by 21 MPH or more-5 points;

    speeding in excess of the posted speed by 16 to 20 MPH-4 points;

    speeding in excess of the posted speed limit by 11 to 15 MPH-3 points;

    for all other accident violations-3 points; and, for all other non-accident violations-3 points. CDCR 18-3-303.2(b), (c) & (d), 18-3-303.3, 18-3-303.4 and 18-3-303.5

  • Q
  • Downtown rez

    Not likely. Everything -EVERYTHING- is plead down in this city. The average aggravated assault conviction probably started out as ADW during a robbery.

  • HStNE

    Seriously, theres got to be more important things to worry about in the city...

  • Big Bob

    Can we all agree that this no-talent, self-promoting brown-noser should resign? And that the resources devoted to his useless, so-called job be redeployed in some productive way?

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  • Paul Strauss is a Lush

    Should have had to do jail time & pick up litter on the side of the road for several weeks. At least picking up litter would make his DC senate appointment a "constructive" one.

  • Ludwig Von Mises

    They should put this peice of garbage in jail and throw away the key. One look into his background and you can see that he has no respect for the laws of this country. Lokc him up!!!!