Megachurch pastor could face jail time for driving while ‘blackout drunk’

Reversing his previous “not guilty” plea, Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston pled “guilty” to driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more, The Christian Post reported.

Houston was sentenced to three years’ probation, a $140 fine and other penalties. But he’s yet to be sentenced on an enhanced charged of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.20 percent or more, which is classified as being in the “blackout drunk” category of intoxication. As The Christian Post points out, sentencing for that charge was “stayed” which is what happens when a defendant asks a court to “stay, or pause, execution of the sentence until an appeal is heard.”

The enhanced charge was stayed when Houston changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty.”

Houston was arrested less than a month before he stepped down from his role in March of last year as global senior pastor of Hillsong Church after it was revealed that two women had made complaints of misconduct against him in the past.

From The Christian Post: According to the Kraut Law Group, DUI defendants hit with an enhanced charge under Section 23538(b)(2) of the Vehicle Code usually “face harsher penalties” from the court if they are convicted.

“Drivers who are convicted of the DUI and this enhancement are required to take a longer alcohol education program and often face harsher penalties,” the law group explains on its website. “A BAC of 0.20 percent is two and a half times the legal limit and drivers who have high BACs are more likely to cause collisions while on the road. As a result, the California legislature has increased penalties for drivers who drive under the influence with high BACs, even if they have no prior DUI offenses.”

A judge might also require defendants to “attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as a condition of release or may even require that the defendant wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet while the criminal case is pending,” the law group adds on its website. 

Sky Palma

Before launching DeadState back in 2012, Sky Palma has been blogging about politics, social issues and religion for over a decade. He lives in Los Angeles and also enjoys Brazilian jiu jitsu, chess, music and art.