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5 Lessons Drivers Can Learn From Lindsay Lohan

By Aaron Crowe

Picking on Lindsay Lohan is easy, what with all of her legal problems that seem to constantly get her in the news.

Lohan’s problems, however, can be society’s gain if you consider them from the standpoint of lessons to be learned as a driver.

The movie star has a long list of run-ins with police on charges of drunken driving, lying to police, reckless driving and other crimes that have either been resolved or she’s still going to court over. The list may be growing as you read this story, so Google “Lohan driving” for the most recent updates.

Whatever her legal problems are at the moment, there are plenty of things to learn from Lohan’s driving habits, or at least alleged driving habits if she’s convicted:

1. Shut up. Lohan is accused of lying to Santa Monica, Calif., police when she told them she wasn’t driving a Porsche involved in a collision with a truck. You should never lie to a police offer — partly because it’s a crime by itself — but it rarely helps a driver to talk with police if they’re likely to be arrested for a crime, defense lawyers say.

“From our standpoint, it is almost never good to speak to law enforcement,” except to provide identification and insurance and car registration documents, says Paul Wallin, a criminal defense attorney in Southern California who has represented DUI defendants.

Miranda rights don’t apply at the scene of a crime, and police don’t have to read those rights against self-incrimination until a suspect is in custody, Wallin says. Still, people have a legal right not to talk to police, and doing so can only help police, he says.

About the only time it can help to talk is if you’re trying to explain that you acted in self-defense, such as if a road rage driver tried to harm you and you punched them, says Christopher McCann, a DUI and defense attorney in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

“The cops aren’t out there to be your friend. They’re out there to make a case,” McCann says.

2. Don’t be on probation. The sentencing for a probation violation can be just as much, if not longer, than the crimes you’re arrested for, Wallin says. When Lohan’s most recent charge of lying to police happened last summer, she was on probation in a jewelry shoplifting case, meaning a judge told her she wouldn’t go to jail if she kept out of trouble.

Any new arrest brings a probation violation charge, in which a judge and not a jury decides guilt. The threshold of being guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” doesn’t hold for probation violation hearings, Wallin says, only a lower threshold where a judge must believe by 51% of the evidence that the probation terms were violated. Lohan could get sent to jail for nine months for the violation, more than the six-month sentence if convicted of lying to police.

3. DUI convictions are expensive. To Lohan’s credit, she served the 360 hours of labor at a county coroner’s office when she was on probation for drunken driving. Community service is the easiest part of being convicted of drunken driving. The penalties vary by state, but include having a license suspended, limited driving privileges during the suspension, jail time, ignition interlocks that a driver has to blow into without a blood-alcohol level for the car to start, vehicle impoundment, alcohol treatment counseling, and enough court fees to deplete a saving’s account. And of course, legal fees.

“Most of the time offenders don’t go to jail,” McCann says.

Unless someone is killed or the defendant has a long record of convictions or is a two-time drunken driver, they’ll likely be offered probation, community service, counseling and fined, he says.

California charges first-time DUI offenders a $390 fine, but various court fees raise the total cost to approximately $2,000, McCann says. Mandatory classes cost $500 or so, and attorney’s fees can range from $2,500 to $5,000. A second conviction in California results in a minimum of 30 days in jail or 96 hours in jail with an 18-month counseling program, Wallin says.

4. Get a designated driver. For Lohan, hiring a professional driver is worth the cost and will prevent her from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Having a friend drive may not work because the friend might be drinking with her, McCann says, so having a sober driver who is paid for their time is best.

5. Quit going out. This is the simplest thing Lohan, or anyone else who doesn’t want to get arrested for driving drunk, can do. Stay home and drink, or better, stay home and don’t drink. If she does go out to clubs, McCann suggests she hire bodyguards to keep fans away who may want to get in a fight with her so they can sue her for money.

Lohan may be continuing to go out because she seeks the attention, though the bad publicity may ultimately hurt her career.

“She may be an objection to the rule that any publicity is good publicity,” Wallin says.


Aaron Crowe is a journalist who writes about auto insurance for