Shadow Senator Paul Strauss

Last Friday, Paul Strauss entered a guilty plea to his DUI charge in D.C. Superior Court. The guilty plea amounts to a swift change in tactics—some might suggest an erratic change—-for the shadow senator. Strauss had maintained his innocence ever since his arrest on October 1, 2008. At a previous court hearing, his attorney successfully sought a delay for his trial until June; he had wanted the time to seek out an expert witness for his case. He had also previously rejected a plea offer.

So what’s the upshot of Strauss’ plea? The shadow senator has to now pee in a cup.

Strauss received a 60-day suspended jail sentence, 11 months of supervised probation, a $300 fine, and $100 fine to be paid to the victims of violent crime compensation fund. As part of Strauss’ supervised probation, the shadow senator must “abstain from the use of hallucinatory or other drugs, and submit to drug testing….,” according to court documents.

Strauss did not return a call for comment nor did he answer his cellphone when we called this afternoon.

All of Strauss’ fighting seemed a bit off considering the police account of his behavior on the night of his arrest in Adams Morgan. City Desk previously reported:

“The stop took place after D.C. cops Jose Rodriguez and Andrew Zabavsky clocked Strauss’ car going 49 mph westbound over the Duke Ellington Bridge between Adams Morgan and Woodley Park; the speed limit is 25 mph.

While speaking to Strauss, Rodriguez—who gave the affidavit—noted that his breath smelled of alcohol and that he “had a blank stare, blood shot eyes and appeared confused.” Strauss had “difficulty retrieving” his driver’s license, according to the officer’s account, but he had less difficulty producing another form of identification: While handing over his license, Strauss “displayed his US Senate ID with his right hand…[and] continued to hold the US Senate ID the entire time” until he was told to get out of the car.

“Is this necessary?” Strauss asked.

It became immediately apparent why he might have wanted to remain seated: Strauss, Rodriguez wrote, was “very unsteady on his feet…swaying from side to side and back and forth.” He walked to the rear of the car, grasping it for support, and again pulled out his Senate ID.

His badge did not sway police.

The cops had Strauss perform standard field sobriety tests. After failing a horizontal gaze test, Strauss asked permission to call his lawyer, whom he wasn’t able to reach. After he refused to cooperate with further tests, he was placed under arrest.

Strauss was then taken to 3rd District headquarters. There he was observed by a third officer, who also recorded signs of intoxication and noted that Strauss “had food stains on his shirt and pants.”

At that point, Strauss reached the lawyer, and the two talked for about a half-hour. Afterward, Strauss consented to a breath test, which revealed a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent. Under District law, a person is considered intoxicated at 0.08 percent and above.”

*photo by Darrow Montgomery.