At the tail end of August, a Las Vegas DUI defense lawyer was arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence after he crashed his car into an SUV. Shockingly and sadly, this is the third time this individual is facing a DUI charge, according to Nevada Highway Patrol.
The lawyer’s name is Garrett Ogata, 54, and he was charged with second-offense DUI, failure to use due care, and driving without a valid driver’s license. Each charge is a misdemeanor. Our Las Vegas DUI attorneys say that instances of lawyers being arrested for drunk driving are becoming more common across the country.
DUI Charges and Sentencing Issues
Question: Why wasn’t Ogata charged with a third-offense DUI? One that holds much steeper punishment, given it is a FELONY charge. Answer: Because his first DUI charge, back in 2003, was dismissed in court. Instead, Ogata was found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident and was sentenced to DUI treatment court.
A spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, Andrew Bennett, said it’s not unusual for someone to have multiple DUI arrests but not be charged with a third-time offense. Nevada state law says that an individual can only be charged with a felony DUI if it is the third offense in seven years, or if the driver is involved in a crash that results in death or significant bodily harm.
“As the spokesperson for the Office of Traffic Safety, it’s disconcerting to see that we continue to have 12,000 DUI arrests annually,” Bennett said.
DUI Attorney in Question Has History of Traffic Offenses
Garrett Ogata actually has five prior traffic-related court cases in Clark County, dating back to December of 1999, according to court records. The first charge in 1999 was a case where the lawyer was driving 21 miles per hour or more over the speed limit. Then, in 2002, he pleaded guilty to reckless driving as well as two additional charges of leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report an accident, both of which were dismissed.
That brings us to Ogata’s first DUI in 2016, which also came with additional charges of failure to maintain travel lanes and driving 21 miles per hour or more over the speed limit. For this crime, he served two days in jail and was sentenced to DUI school.
As for Ogata’s most recent charge; the crash occurred on a Friday morning in late August when Ogata rear-ended his Aston Martin into a Toyota SUV, causing the SUV to flip. Two people inside the Toyota were taken to the hospital with injuries, but, thankfully, those injuries were deemed to be non-life-threatening. The crash took place at Interstate 215 and Eastern Avenue.
Attorney Still Technically Licensed to Practice Law in Several States
As per Garrett Ogata’s business website, he is licensed to practice Criminal Law in Nevada, California, and Utah. The Nevada and California Bar websites confirm that to be true, though, in Utah, he is listed as an “inactive attorney.” As per August, there was no disciplinary action listed on any of the Bar websites.
Also on Ogata’s website, he is listed as a member of the National College for DUI Defense and an instructor for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The ironies in the case aside, the question remains: are Nevada DUI laws too lax or just right?