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SACRAMENTO � Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing pleaded no contest Monday to misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of alcohol with an enhancement for having a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit. Judge Elaine Rushing’s charges � which were brought by the state attorney general’s office � stemmed from the night of June 21, when Rushing was arrested after allegedly crashing her red Porsche at least twice, winding up in a ditch on Riebli Road in Santa Rosa and damaging a stone wall. Her blood-alcohol level was tested at .20, more than twice the legal limit of .08. The case was prosecuted by the AG’s office after the Sonoma County district attorney’s office referred the matter to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. As a result of her plea, Rushing will pay a fine of $1,800, have a three-month restriction placed on her driver’s license allowing her to drive only to and from work, serve 10 days in jail or in a work alternative program and attend a class on the dangers of drinking and driving, said Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for the AG’s office. Rushing was also sentenced to three years’ probation. A hit-and-run charge was dismissed after Rushing paid the owner of the stone wall $300 for repairs, Dresslar said. The judge, married to Sixth District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Conrad Rushing, distributed notes at her Monday hearing, apologizing for her behavior. The charges and sentence Rushing faced were in line with those of a first-time offender, said Jon Woolsey, a Santa Rosa attorney who says he’s handled about 100 drunken-driving cases in the past two years. If anything, Woolsey said, being a judge worked against Rushing. Woolsey suggested Rushing might have been in a hurry to put the case behind her. “An ordinary person might have been able to do better [in court] because they might have had more time to get the enhancement dropped,” he said. In August 2003, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Diana Hall was found guilty of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.18. The CJP, the independent state agency given authority to investigate and discipline judges, has instituted proceedings against Hall for those charges and for other accusations of inappropriate behavior while on the bench. Rushing, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1992, presided over two high-profile drunken-driving cases last year, both of which involved bicyclists killed by drunken drivers. Sonoma County Bar Association President Victor Thuesen said Rushing is “held in high regard by the bar” and that news of her DUI arrest was “a complete aberration.” Santa Rosa solo practitioner Harry Allen, Rushing’s attorney, said he did not have time Monday to comment on the case.

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