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Charges still haven’t been filed against a Sonoma County judge who was arrested three weeks ago on suspicion of drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Meanwhile, new details that Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing’s blood-alcohol level was allegedly two and a half times the legal limit have some asking why the hardliner on drunken driving cases — who continues to sit on the bench — was only cited and released. According to the California Highway Patrol, Rushing crashed her red Porsche at least twice on the night of June 21, winding up in a ditch on Riebli Road in Santa Rosa. Her blood-alcohol level was tested twice, at .19 percent and .21 percent, according to the CHP. The legal limit is .08 percent. Soon after, the Sonoma County district attorney’s office referred the case to the attorney general’s office to avoid a potential conflict of interest. Jon Woolsey, a Santa Rosa attorney who has handled about 100 DUI cases over the past two years, said he has never seen a case where CHP officers didn’t take a DUI suspect to jail, let alone one suspected of hit and run. “[They] take them right to the county jail,” Woolsey said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.” Woolsey added that a hit-and-run charge was a serious enhancement. “If an officer has some indication that a vehicle did some damage somewhere else, they’re not going to release anybody,” he said. But another attorney said such cases were not unheard of. “It’s hard to say that they’re typically cited and released, but it’s done,” said Stephen Turer, a Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney who also handles DUI cases. “I wouldn’t call it necessarily an unusual case or something they did because she was a judge,” Turer said, adding that putting a criminal judge in jail could pose safety risks. “There’s a certain, I guess, what you might call courtesy involved � but it’s not against the rules.” CHP spokeswoman Christine Jacobs said the CHP does not have a policy either way on DUI arrests. “We do not always take people to jail, and we don’t always cite and release,” she said. “We make a decision based on the totality of the situation.” Jacobs was unable to confirm what Rushing hit with her car. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported it was a residential stone wall, but Jacobs said she has not read the report. The investigating officer did not return a call seeking comment. While the state AG’s office is prepared to take the case, the agency hasn’t yet heard from the CHP, office spokesman Tom Dresslar said. Dresslar said he wasn’t sure why. “Hopefully we’ll get the report in short order, and we’ll go about the business of making a decision on relevant charges,” he said. Jacobs said she did not know when the CHP’s report would be completed, but said crash investigations take longer than DUI arrests. “To be honest, I don’t know where that is in the process,” she said. “This is nothing out of the ordinary here.” No court date has been set in Superior Court. Neither Rushing nor Harry Allen, a Santa Rosa attorney representing the judge, returned calls seeking comment. As a criminal court judge, Rushing has recently become known for being tough on felony drunk drivers. Last September, she sentenced Harvey Hereford to eight years and eight months in prison for a Highway 12 crash that killed a bicyclist and paralyzed his girlfriend, according to press accounts. One month earlier, Rushing sentenced another drunken driver to 14 years in prison for hitting and killing a man riding his bicycle home from Mark West Springs. Rushing, 57, was appointed to the Sonoma County bench in 1992 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. She was re-elected last year to her third six-year term. Rushing is married to Conrad Rushing, presiding justice of the Sixth District Court of Appeal.

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