LA SELVA BEACH -- A notable personal injury attorney was arrested at her San Andreas Road home Saturday evening on suspicion of drunken driving and battering an officer, the California Highway Patrol reported Monday.
After the officer completed an in-field investigation at her home, Laura Broderick Walther allegedly struck the officer and then tried to kick him after she was handcuffed, CHP officer Sarah Jackson said. Walther was placed under arrest without injury except for some abrasions to her knuckles, Jackson said.
Walther, 48, was taken to County Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor offenses, including battery on a peace officer, resisting arrest, driving under the influence, and driving with a blood alcohol level of more than .15 percent, Jackson said. The legal limit in California is .08 percent.
Walther was released from jail around midnight.
When reached at her Ocean Street office Monday, Walther said she didn't drink until she got home that night and that the officer did not arrive until 45 minutes after she got home. She said the case would not stand up in court and declined further comment later Monday.
Walther works for the Santa Cruz firm Cartwright, Scruggs, Fulton & Walther and is a board member of the Santa Cruz County Bar Association. She often has been in the public eye in recent years.
She has run a local mock trail for school students through the Santa Cruz County Trial Lawyers Association for the past
The CHP reported that an off-duty Santa Cruz police officer had first spotted Walther driving unevenly on Ocean Street on Saturday. About 6:30 p.m., CHP dispatchers issued a "be on the lookout" alert for a possible DUI driver in a gray Chevrolet Tahoe, Jackson said.
The off-duty officer followed the Tahoe and saw Walther park and go into a home on the 1400 block of San Andreas Road, Jackson said.
A CHP officer arrived about 8:45 p.m., contacted Walther and conducted a standard DUI investigation.
Jackson declined to say how officers concluded Walther's blood alcohol level was more than .15 percent. It could have been due to the preliminary screening device that measures alcohol in a person's breath or by the officers' investigation of her behavior and appearance, she said.
Drivers can refuse the breath test and opt for a blood test, but the blood test results are not immediately available, Jackson said. Jackson added that the techniques officers use for field sobriety tests are standardized and proven tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"We don't charge people for DUI without sufficient evidence," Jackson said.
If convicted, the charges could trigger a hearing by the State Bar of California. Bar spokeswoman Laura Ernde declined to comment specifically, but said hearings after criminal convictions have resulted in a suspension of bar membership, probation and disbarment.
Sentinel staff writer Stephen Baxter contributed to this report. Follow Sentinel reporter Cathy Kelly on Twitter @cathykelly9.