DUI Defendant Sentenced to 180 Days in Jail After Driving Wrong Way on Highway


By Dorrin Akbari and Julia Asby

FRESNO, CA — Defendant Harrison Crawford received the standard terms on his DUI sentence in Fresno County Superior Court Dept. 30 here last week, despite his detailing steps he’d taken toward his rehabilitation.

Crawford pleaded no contest to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher and causing injury. He admitted to a high blood alcohol enhancement for causing bodily injury to more than one victim. His blood alcohol at the time of the incident was .20, more than two times the legal limit.

Crawford’s defense attorney, Peter Kapetan, pointed out this was Crawford’s first criminal conviction and that he had helped Crawford come to terms with his alcohol and substance issues.

Kapetan emphasized that, following the incident, Crawford had not only began regularly attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings while “making every effort to address his substance abuse problem” but he had also stopped driving altogether—having made carpool arrangements with his girlfriend.

Crawford then made a statement to the court in which he admitted he had an alcohol addiction and was taking steps to prevent himself from drinking and driving again. Some of these steps included “attending AA meetings, working a 12 step program, and maintaining a sponsor.

“I understand I will constantly fight with my problems with alcohol, and I am determined to keep alcohol out of my life,” Crawford said.

The defendant noted that he had created a support system for himself beyond AA, which included his girlfriend, his friend, his family, and coworkers at a newly-secured job.

In addition to receiving support from those around him, Crawford remarked that he had increasingly taken on a supporting role for his quadriplegic father, whose rapidly declining health left him relying heavily on Crawford.

“I realize that my actions have jeopardized all that I have worked for and cherish in life. I’m determined to stay clear of alcohol and the problems that it brought into my life,” concluded Crawford.

Deputy District Attorney Danielle Bethel urged Judge Heather Mardel Jones to consider a two-year maximum sentence with the option of probation because “this was a very serious incident that could have been a lot more serious than it was.”

The defendant had been driving the wrong way on Highway 41 at approximately 7 p.m. with a BAC of .21. Bethel also noted that the victim had spent four days in the hospital, and it was “very fortunate that no one lost their life in this incident.”

Judge Jones said that she found Crawford’s statement to be “sincere and remorseful.”

Citing the defendant’s lack of criminal history and his voluntary acknowledgment of wrongdoing at an early stage of the criminal process, Judge Jones sentenced Crawford to 180 days in the Fresno County Jail and three years of formal probation.

However, Judge Jones expressed concern that Crawford was using marijuana as a means of pain management and asked Kapetan to clarify whether the defendant had a formal prescription or was self-medicating.

Kapetan informed the judge that Crawford’s physician had prescribed the marijuana, but he stressed that his client was willing to discuss alternatives with his doctor if probation took issue with the prescription.

“If probation doesn’t buy into what his physician is recommending, you can always put it back on calendar and we can discuss it and I can make orders as appropriate. But I do think [the marijuana use] needs to be addressed,” said Judge Jones.

Having made her point, Jones continued with the terms of Crawford’s sentence, which included a $1,945 fine, suspension of his license, and completion of a DMV DUI program.

Crawford must also pay another $800 in court fees, including an annual probation supervision fee, a sentencing report fee, a court security fee, and a court assessment fee.

Dorrin Akbari graduated from UC Berkeley in 2019 with a B.A. in Legal Studies and a minor in Persian. She is from San Jose, CA.

Julia Asby is a third year student at UC Davis majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociocultural Anthropology. She is originally from Sacramento.

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