Medical Board of California investigators recommended revoking the license of anesthesiologist Dr. Karin Marie Northfield because of her convictions for driving under the influence. However the Santa Ana resident cut them off at the pass by surrendering her license, something the board says became effective on July 6.
The cause for the recommendation to the board was the Santa Ana resident having pleaded guilty two different times in Orange County and no contest—which has the same effect as a guilty plea—in Los Angeles to DUI-related charges. Northfield and her lawyer signed a statement agreeing to the truthfulness of the facts detailed by medical board investigators, which are summarized in the rest of this post.
The first conviction came in Orange County Superior Court in July 2008, when Northfield copped to misdemeanor driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or more and was sentenced to three years probation, $390 in fines, seven days of community service, enrollment in a nine-month first alcohol offender counseling program, completion of a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victims Impact Panel and submission of a blood test if any peace officer asked her for one.
However, she never completed her community service, and a probation violation loomed. It arrived in Orange County Superior Court in October 2009, when Northfield pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI and driving with a BAC of .08 percent or more again. That cost her 90 days in jail, five more years on probation, $600 more in fines, completion of another alcohol counseling program and MADD Victims Impact Panel, more willingness to submit to a blood test if any peace officer asked and installation of ignition interlock devices on all vehicles she owned.
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Then, in Los Angeles Superior Court in August 2015, Northfield pleaded no contest to again driving with a BAC of .08 percent or more, drawing 187 additional days in jail, five more years of probation, $660 more in fines, enrollment in a multiple offender alcohol program and willingness again to submit to a blood test if any peace officer asked her for one.
That conviction came after an LAPD officer discovered her black BMW X3 in September 2014 in the exit lane of a parking lot with a crossing arm wedged on her Beemer’s hood. The cop asked the driver if she was aware she had hit several parked cars before her BMW came to a stop, and she replied, “No.” Northfield was then asked why there was a large piece of her car’s molding in her back seat, and she said she had hit something before putting it there.
Northfield reeked of booze, her face was flush, her eyes were watery and bloodshot, she had trouble focusing on questions and she fumbled to pull her identification out of her purse—unaware that she had already given it to the officer. Yet when asked if she had been drinking, she replied, “No.” Then, how to explain a .125 percent BAC at the scene and two more at .12 percent BAC at the station? She explained she had ingested wine and Halcion, a controlled substance commonly used to treat sleep disorders, on flights from London to Washington, D.C., and D.C. to Los Angeles earlier in the day.
The medical board also faulted Northfield for having prescribed herself drugs or alcohol, having “more than one misdemeanor involving the use, consumption or self-administration of drugs or alcoholic beverages” and general unprofessional conduct as even her misdemeanor convictions are considered unethical in the California medical profession.