Sonoma Co. commissioner gets probation for DUI

February 10, 2011 4:04:37 PM PST
Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Neville pleaded no contest in Sonoma County Superior Court Thursday morning to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

Neville was not in court Thursday morning. Her attorney Richard Ingram entered the no contest plea.

Judge Shelly Averill immediately sentenced Neville to three years' probation and two days in the Sonoma County Jail. Neville was previously in jail for two days and was given credit for time served.

Neville pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of DUI with a blood-alcohol level greater than .08. The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office dismissed a second misdemeanor count of DUI.

Ingram said this is Neville's first DUI arrest.

The California Highway Patrol arrested Neville, 53, for DUI and resisting an officer around 9 p.m. on Sept. 10 near Graton in unincorporated Sonoma County.

CHP officials said Neville's 2006 Nissan sedan was weaving and driving over the white line at the edge of westbound state Highway 116 east of Frei Road.

Neville ran a short distance from the CHP officer during a field sobriety test and the officer "had to take Neville down to the ground in an attempt to gain control over her," CHP officials said in a written report.

Ingram said Neville never resisted arrest.

Assistant District Attorney Diana Gomez said Neville was not charged with resisting an officer because prosecutors do not believe that charge could be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Neville remains on paid administrative leave.

"This had nothing to do with her job," Ingram said. "This was (during) her own personal life."

"She has taken responsibility, she made a mistake and she is moving forward," Ingram said.

Gomez said defendants charged with both the misdemeanor DUI offenses often plead guilty or no contest to one of the two charges and the other is dismissed.

The penalty for misdemeanor DUI is six months in jail, Gomez said.

The judge also fined Neville $2,326 and ordered her to enroll in a first-offender DUI program within 21 days.

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