Supreme Court rejects former Vegas stripper's appeal

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has turned aside a former Las Vegas topless dancer's challenge to Nevada's ban on driving while under the influence of drugs.

Jessica Williams was convicted and sentenced to prison after she crashed her van into a freeway median in March 2000 and killed six teenagers who were picking up roadside litter

In her appeal, Williams and her lawyer claimed that the state's driving under the influence law was unconstitutional and that prosecutors let crucial blood samples spoil before the defense could test them.

The nation's highest court, without comment, declined to take up the case.

Williams' Las Vegas lawyer, John Watkins, said Monday that he was disappointed, but vowed to take the next appellate step.

Williams, who was 20 at the time of the crash, acknowledged to police that she and her female roommate spent a sleepless night dancing at a topless bar and used the hallucinogenic stimulant Ecstasy and smoked marijuana.

Williams insisted, however, that she was not impaired.

A jury found Williams guilty in February 2001 of driving with a prohibited substance in her blood. Now 22, she is serving 18 to 48 years in state prison.

Watkins said he intends to ask the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas to hear his appeal of the Nevada state Supreme Court's decision in August not to overturn the case.

The state high court rejected Watkins' contention that the state's driving under the influence law is flawed because it fails to make a connection between a prohibited substance and a driver's inability to safely control a vehicle.

Watkins maintains that the prosecution relied solely on chemical analyses of the blood, and no evidence was submitted to show that Williams' ability to drive was diminished.

"How can you put someone in jail for DUI if, in fact, they're not impaired?" he asked.

The U.S. Supreme Court case is Williams v. Nevada, 02-533.


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