Breath Test Thrown Out in DUI Case Defense: Ex-Prosecutor Wanted Blood Test

By Rene Stutzman | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted March 25, 2000

SANFORD - A judge Friday threw out a breath test that showed the blood-alcohol level of former Assistant U.S. Attorney John Francis McLaughlin was three times the legal limit for driving the night he was arrested on a charge of trying to rape a barmaid.

That leaves prosecutors with little chance of convicting McLaughlin, 46, of Sanford of drunken driving.

McLaughlin was arrested May 24, 1999, after a waitress-bartender at the Lake Monroe Inn in Sanford accused him of dragging her by the hair into a trailer, ripping open her dress and trying to rape her.

McLaughlin pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of battery in November and was sentenced to 12 months' probation.

His attorney at that hearing, Mark NeJame, said McLaughlin had the woman's consent to touch her.

On Friday, the issue before County Judge Carmine Bravo was whether Seminole County deputies had violated McLaughlin's rights as they investigated him for driving drunk that night.

McLaughlin was ordered off his Harley Davidson a few miles from the bar, minutes after the attempted rape was reported.

A breath test taken then indicated his blood-alcohol level was 0.249 - more than three times the legal limit.

However, defense attorney Matthew Leibert argued those results should be thrown out because McLaughlin requested a blood test and was denied access to a phone to arrange one.

The judge said state law allows DUI defendants to arrange for independent blood tests, and because McLaughlin was denied the ability to arrange one, the test results were tainted.

McLaughlin was scheduled to stand trial for DUI on Monday, but Assistant State Attorney John Vallillo asked for a delay, saying he plans to appeal the court's Friday ruling.

McLaughlin resigned from the U.S. Attorney's Office the day after his arrest.

He did not testify at Friday's hearing.

Source: Orlando Sentinel