The father of a 2-year-old boy who died after the family car crashed into Arrowrock Reservoir last spring entered the plea after reaching a deal with Boise County prosecutors.
“It was a horrible, tragic case,” said Lawrence Lutton’s attorney, Michael Bartlett. “I know it weighs heavily on Lawrence’s heart every day. I hope with the resolution of the case that he and his family can move forward.”
Lutton will do 240 hours of community service in lieu of 30 days in jail and will be on unsupervised probation for four years. He will pay court costs of $270.50. His six-month driver’s license suspension allows him to drive to work.
Fourth District Judge Patrick Owen granted Lutton a withheld judgment, which means that if he successfully completes his probation — including not purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol — he may petition the court to dismiss the case.
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But this still might not be the final resolution.
Before the plea deal was reached, Bartlett filed a motion to suppress toxicology results obtained in blood drawn from Lutton at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center after the May 23 crash.
Owen denied Bartlett’s motion to suppress the evidence. Bartlett said Lutton plans to appeal the ruling.
“If the appellate court reverses the District Court, then the (vehicular manslaughter) plea would be vacated,” Bartlett said.
In March, Lutton testified in Boise County court that he felt coerced into giving a blood sample because, he said, police told him he would be allowed to see his injured son only after they collected the sample.
Riley Lutton died at the hospital three days after the crash. Toxicology tests showed that Lawrence Lutton’s blood alcohol level was .09, above the legal limit for driving of .08.
In his 12-page ruling, Owen said the evidence shows Lutton did not object, refuse or physically resist the request for the blood draw.
“To the contrary, he was cooperative,” Owen wrote in the decision. “Having observed the witness and listened to the testimony, the court did not find that Lutton was credible when he testified that he was told that he could not refuse and that the blood draw was mandatory.”
Drivers have successfully challenged Idaho’s implied-consent law, which says that driving on Idaho roads comes with the irrevocable implied consent to give a blood sample. Two court decisions in December ruled that police may not use the implied consent law to do warrantless blood draws because they violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
Police must either get a driver’s consent to draw a blood sample or obtain a warrant from a judge. To get a warrant, police must show the judge probable cause.