DUI Case: Actress Joyce Dewitt Pleads No Contest

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By Kamika Dunlap on June 01, 2010 12:45 PM

Actress Joyce DeWitt of "Three's Company" fame will go it alone facing probation in a DUI case.

The 61-year-old sitcom actress Joyce DeWitt pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drunk driving incident from last year, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In general a no contest plea is similar to a plea of guilty. A plea of no contest can be advantageous for defendants where the effects of a plea of guilty may be too harsh. A no contest plea also generally cannot be used to the same extent as a guilty plea as evidence used against the accused in any civil suit for the same act.

One disadvantage of a no contest plea is that it often carries the same legal effect as a conviction for sentencing purposes. Though a defendant may hope for leniency during sentencing for saving the court the time and costs of a trial, one may risk receiving the same punishment without the opportunity to offer a defense or a chance for an acquittal from a jury.

In this DUI case, DeWitt was charged last July with two misdemeanor counts, driving under the influence and driving while having a 0.08% or higher blood alcohol level. Authorities say DeWitt's blood alcohol was .15% -- almost twice the legal limit.

She was arrested last year on the Fourth of July in El Segundo.

An officer said that DeWitt drove around a barricade intended to control vehicular traffic.

DeWitt pulled up in a black sports car, parked and staggered toward a police officer standing in uniform next to his motorcycle, witnesses said.

DeWitt was sentenced to three years probation and must attend a nine-month alcohol program.

Probation is the period during "the probationer" is subject to critical examination and evaluation. The trial period must be completed before a person receives greater benefits or freedom.

In addition, DeWitt must pay a $510, plus penalty assessments.