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Pulitzer Prize winner charged with drunk driving

New York residents may know the playwright and actor Sam Shepard for his performances in films including 'Steel Magnolias" and 'Black Hawk Down," and they may be surprised to learn that the 71-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner was taken into custody by police in New Mexico on May 25 under suspicion of driving while under the influence.

According to New Mexico police, security staff at a Santa Fe restaurant called authorities at approximately 7:45 p.m. about a possible drunk driver when they saw a pickup truck attempting to leave the establishment with its emergency brake still engaged. Police say that Shepard's eyes were watery and bloodshot when they approached his vehicle, and they claim that the odor of alcohol could be detected on his breath. Shepard is said to have admitted to the officers that he consumed two drinks before getting behind the wheel.

Although it was reported that Shepard declined to consent to a breath test, he was taken into custody on a drunk driving charge after allegedly failing a standard field sobriety test. The incident does not mark the first time that Shepard has faced such charges. He paid a fine and served community service in 2009 when he was found to be driving with a blood alcohol level that was twice the legal limit following a traffic stop for speeding in Illinois.

A criminal defense attorney would likely advise a motorist in this situation not to make any incriminating statements to police officers and to submit to a breath test if requested to do so. While the evidence in a drunk driving test often seems compelling, it may not always withstand close scrutiny. An attorney could seek to have the results of toxicology tests ruled inadmissible in certain situations.

Source: FOX News, "Actor Sam Shepard arrested for drunken driving in Santa Fe", Associated Press, May 26, 2015

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