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State Sen. Migden is given probation

August 11, 2007|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO -- State Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving Friday and was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay $710 in fines and court fees.

The court decision came as the California Highway Patrol released tapes of 911 calls from worried motorists who reported Migden driving erratically on eastbound Interstate 80, between Berkeley and Sacramento, on May 18.

The nine callers reported an SUV striking a guardrail several times in Vallejo. Several said she was using her cellphone while weaving in and out of lanes.

"She's talking on her cellphone and she's been all over the lanes for the last two or three miles," one caller reported. "She's all over the place."

Migden later exited the freeway and then slammed into a stopped car in Fairfield, slightly injuring the other driver and the driver's 3-year-old passenger.

At the time of the accident, Migden was driving her state-leased SUV.

"I have always accepted full responsibility for the accident I caused," Migden said in a statement released by her office Friday. "I feel terrible for the woman whose car I hit. I have fully cooperated with both the legal process and my medical team. I thank them all for their diligence."

The 58-year-old lawmaker said after the accident that she could not recall the incident and surmised that chemotherapy pills she had been taking for leukemia may have played a role. Migden said she was told in February that she is disease-free.

California Highway Patrol investigators concluded that Migden was driving at an unsafe speed and made an unsafe turn before hitting the guardrail. The CHP also said distraction caused by cellphone use contributed to the violations. Although some of the callers to 911 said they thought the driver was drunk, the CHP did not find that she was intoxicated.

One caller to 911 said Migden appeared to be driving 80 to 85 mph.

On Friday, Migden repeated her assertion that other factors may have been to blame.

"My doctors have determined that this driving incident was the result of a medical condition, and I am not driving unless and until my doctors clear me to drive," she said. "I have undergone a battery of tests which show that my cognition is normal and there is nothing about this condition that will affect my ability to do my job."

Migden said she was "pleased that the legal process has been concluded."

The senator did not appear in Solano County Superior Court on Friday. Her attorney, Ann C. Moorman of Ukiah, entered the plea on her behalf immediately after the charge was filed, according to Marsha Johnson, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

--

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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