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19 May, 2014 22:32

More affluenza? Man crashes Ferrari at 100 mph in 7th DUI, avoids jail time

More affluenza? Man crashes Ferrari at 100 mph in 7th DUI, avoids jail time

A man in Washington state got drunk, climbed behind the wheel of his Ferrari, and led police on a high-speed chase before he finally crashed. He was arrested on drunk-driving charges for the seventh time, though he won’t spend a day behind bars.

Joseph Shaun Goodman was sentenced last week to one year of work release - which allows him to spend his days freely - but will spend his nights in the Thurston County Jail for the late December incident. Goodman pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and felony eluding.

On December 29, the 2013 graduate of a mandatory, court-ordered alcohol-rehabilitation program (punishment for his sixth DUI arrest) got in his $70,000 silver Ferrari F360 around 11 p.m. He had offered to drive Henry Griffin to another local watering hole after "flashing some big wads of cash and buying people drinks at the bar," the News Tribune reported, citing the police report. Not long after, an Olympia police officer noticed the sleek sports car going 50 miles per hour on a city street. As the squad car followed with its lights flashing, Griffin told Goodman to stop, but the driver wouldn’t.

Griffin then called 911 to tell emergency responders that Goodman wouldn’t let him out of the car. He jumped from the moving car when it momentarily slowed down, suffering cuts to his elbow and stomach, as well as shoulder stiffness. "I jumped out of the car and now I'm calling you guys because I'm scared he might be looking for me," Griffin told the 911 dispatcher. "He smoked them, man. I mean he went so fast."

“He hit a buck thirty through all the red lights in town," Griffin later told the Olympian. "I thought I was going to die, 100 percent."

The driver led police into downtown Olympia, running red lights and driving over curbs. According to the police report, one officer involved watched the 2000 Ferrari F360 "bottom out," throwing sparks as its undercarriage dragged on the pavement as it traveled through an intersection. Later on in the chase, the sports car smashed into a parked car and a home.

The high-speed incident ended in the parking lot of a local church, with the Ferrari suffering "significant front bumper and passenger side body damage, and missing body parts," the News Tribune reported. At this point, Goodman surrendered to police, who gave him a Breathalyzer test. His blood alcohol content (BAC) registered a 0.16 - twice the legal limit for getting behind the wheel.

At his first court hearing in December, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon ordered Goodman held on suspicion of false imprisonment, felony eluding, and felony driving under the influence of alcohol. His bail was set at $75,000, and the judge ordered that Goodman could not consume any alcohol once he was released from custody. Dixon also ordered that Goodman had to wear an electronic bracelet that would notify court officials immediately if he consumed any alcohol at all. At the hearing, compared Goodman's behavior to "walking downtown with a loaded gun firing rounds,” according to the News Tribune.

Goodman’s lawyer asked Dixon for permission to attend a soccer tournament in Las Vegas in January. The judge denied the request. "I would be doing not only this community, but also you a disservice if I allowed you to go to the state of Nevada," Dixon told Goodman. "You are not to leave the state of Washington."

But in January, a judge signed an order modifying the terms of Goodman’s release, allowing the defendant to attend the Super Bowl in New Jersey. Goodman’s lawyer, Paul Strophy, argued then that his client had "what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see his hometown team play in the Super Bowl," KOMO News reported at the time.

Many see the sentence as too lenient. In fact, the state’s DUI sentencing grid calls for anyone found with a BAC above 0.15 and at least two or three prior offenses to receive a mandatory jail stay of 120 days. Goodman satisfied both those requirements. That minimum sentence can only be overturned if the sentence "would impose a substantial risk to the offender's physical or mental well-being."

Griffin and about 25 others protested the lack of punishment in front of the courthouse on Friday. The protesters say the rules are different for rich people when it comes to jail time for DUI offenders, according to KOMO News. They see this case as perhaps yet another instance of affluenza.

"And the judge has said at some point that he's an important businessman in the community, and it wouldn't be fair for him (and) his employees would suffer if he went to real jail,” protest organizer Sam Miller told KOMO News. “And my question is - what about the people that might suffer if he kills somebody?"

“It's not fair that there's a two-tiered legal system, one for those with money and another for those without," Miller told the Olympian.

Griffin, the passenger on that fateful night, agreed. “There are people who are less fortunate that get the shaft more, you know what I mean?” Griffin said to the Inquisitr. “I just think that that’s wrong.”

But Jim Powers, the prosecutor in the case, denied that Goodman’s wealth had any sway on the sentencing, according to the Huffington Post. He said he hopes work release will help the Ferrari driver stay sober. "Kind of an incentive for him to adopt a stable and sober lifestyle at that point," Powers said.

Miller wasn’t convinced. "I think anyone who's extremely wealthy might be getting away with something when they're dealing with the legal system," he said.