Trustee pleads guilty to DUI charge

Deepa Bharath and Deirdre Newman

NEWPORT-MESA -- Ending a lingering controversy that was dragged on by

several postponed arraignments, school district trustee Jim Ferryman

pleaded guilty Monday to one count of drunk driving.

Ferryman, 53, was charged with two misdemeanors -- one for drunk

driving and another that stated he had a blood alcohol level that

exceeded the legal limit of 0.08.

The school board member was sentenced to two days of jail time, which

has already been served, and three years of informal probation. He was

also ordered to pay a standard fine of $1,241 and to attend a three-month

alcohol treatment program. His driver's license will be restricted for 90

days, which means he may only drive to and from work and his alcohol

program.

Reacting to the sentence Monday, Ferryman said he thought it was

"appropriate" and quipped: "I won't be going down to the store for milk."

Ferryman, who has in the past called the incident a "mistake," said "I

don't drink anymore."

He said he appreciated the way his colleagues on the Newport-Mesa

Unified School District board treated the sensitive issue. School board

members, with the exception of Wendy Leece, stood by Ferryman.

"I think it's a personal matter, and I think they treated it as such

and that was appropriate," Ferryman said.

Within a month of his Sept. 27 arrest, Ferryman announced his decision

to remain on the board and serve the remainder of his term, which will

end in November. He was elected to his second four-year term in 1998.

Superior Court Judge Brett London dismissed the second charge because

he said it was basically the same as the first count.

"He can't be sentenced on both those counts," London said.

He explained that it works the same way as when a person is charged

with assault and battery. When the defendant pleads guilty to say,

battery, the assault charge is dropped.

London said although Ferryman had another DUI 30 years ago, that does

not count as a prior in this case because DUI records "wash out" seven

years after the incident occurs.

"So if [Ferryman] were to get another DUI within the next seven years,

then he would face more [serious penalties], such as a two-year license

suspension and an 18-month alcohol program," he said.

Ferryman was arrested Sept. 27 on suspicion of driving under the

influence after he was involved in a collision on Newport Boulevard in

Costa Mesa. Officials said laboratory test results showed he had a blood

alcohol level of 0.19 at the time.

As she has previously, Leece said she will publicly ask Ferryman to

resign his position as a trustee during tonight's school board meeting.

"We, as board members, are role models in this community and to the

students," she said. "I don't think being a drunk driver is being a good

role model."

Leece said Ferryman made a "bad decision."

"There are always the legal consequences to that," she said. "But

within the community, you have to face other consequences as well."

School board President Judy Franco said she is "glad for Jim and the

community that the issue has been addressed."

"I think the board handled it in the best way possible, which was to

recognize the fact that Jim is an elected official," she said, "that it

was his decision to make as to how he handled his own personal issues, as

well as his position on the board."

* Deepa Bharath covers public safety and courts. She may be reached at

(949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at o7 deepa.bharath@latimes.comf7 .

* Deirdre Newman covers education. She may be reached at (949)

574-4221 or by e-mail at o7 deirdre.newman@latimes.comf7 .

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