Oakland judicial candidate charged with drunken driving
Oakland County Judge candidate fails roadside sobriety test The Detroit News
Royal Oak – A judicial candidate faces an Oct. 17 court hearing after being arrested and charged last month with drunken driving, littering, speeding, and having an expired registration for her car.
Julie A. McDonald, 49, of Bloomfield Hills is running uncontested for an Oakland Circuit judge seat next month. At 10:44 a.m. on Sept 8, according to police, she was pulled over in Royal Oak after a police officer saw her throw something out the driver side window of her vehicle, according to authorities.
She was given field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test that recorded a .102 blood alcohol level, over the .08 level in which a motorist is legally considered intoxicated.
McDonald, a practicing attorney for 23 years and the daughter of longtime retired Oakland Circuit Judge John McDonald, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Her attorney, Larry Sherman, said he “had no substantive comment” on the incident “at this time.” A Royal Oak police spokesman said there was no news release and no comment on the arrest.
According to a police report and patrol car video obtained by The News under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, Royal Oak Officer Brian Kucil spotted a woman driving a gold 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, throw something out her window near 11 Mile Road and Woodward and then turn north on Woodward without signaling.
The driver, later identified as McDonald, was “fumbling through her purse and glove compartment for several seconds before noticing I was standing at the door,” the officer wrote.
Kucil reported he detected a “moderate odor” of alcoholic substances inside the vehicle, and when McDonald finally handed over her registration and insurance papers, he noticed both were expired.
McDonald, whose eyes were “watery and bloodshot,” said she had tossed a cigarette out her window, the officer wrote. She also informed Kucil that she had consumed four vodka and soda mixed drinks between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. at a friend’s house the night before, according to the report.
When asked to perform sobriety tests, McDonald was unable to maintain her balance and swayed when balancing on one leg. She was able to recite the alphabet as instructed but when asked to count backwards from 54 to 37, she made it to 39, Kucil reported.
While the officer explained her preliminary breath test rights, McDonald asked to be permitted to call her attorney on her cell phone. After talking to the lawyer, she submitted to the breath test. Beside the OWI charge, McDonald was cited for littering, having an expired registration and driving 54 mph in a 45-mph zone.
When asked if she would be driving if her kids were in the car, McDonald responded, “no,” Kucil wrote. She also told Kucil she doesn’t drink and drive.
She was advised she was being taken into custody for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the patrol car.
During the ride to the police station, McDonald was reserved and cooperative but told the officer she was running for office and the arrest would reflect badly on her, the report states. Kucil responded he did not have any discretion in the matter and she said she understood.
At one point, when left alone in the vehicle, McDonald was able to call someone on her cell phone and explain her situation with a request to help her because “I’m screwed…,” according to the report.
Its unclear what impact the arrest might have on the judicial race, in which McDonald has no opposition for a newly created seat. Being charged with a crime does not disqualify a candidate from running for office.