Woman Held in ‘Sobriety Check’ Cleared

Times Staff Writer

A La Crescenta woman who was the first person to be arrested on drunk driving charges at a California Highway Patrol roadblock in the Glendale area was found innocent Monday by a jury in Glendale Municipal Court.

After two hours of deliberation, the jury of nine women and three men acquitted Denise Kell on charges of driving under the influence and driving with a .10 blood-alcohol level. Kell, 27, had been arrested in December by CHP officers at a so-called “sobriety checkpoint” set up over the holiday season.

The jury’s decision came on the fifth day of the trial before Judge Barbara Lee Burke. During the course of the trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. Chesley McKay presented testimony from the arresting officers and entered into evidence the results of a breathalyzer test.

Videotape of Arrest


McKay also played for jurors a videotape of Kell’s arrest, which showed, in part, Kell being put through a sobriety test that included walking a line and balancing in a standing position with her eyes closed.

But Kell’s attorney, J. Michael Flanagan, said the evidence against his client was too weak to convince jurors that his client had been driving under the influence when she was stopped at the roadblock.

“The breath test was questionable,” Flanagan said in an interview. “I didn’t think they could prove she was above a .10 blood-alcohol level beyond a reasonable doubt. And the videotape showed she did a good job on the sobriety test.”