If Politicians and High-profile Individuals can be Arrested for DWI, is Anyone Immune from DUI?

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Nobody is completely free from the scrutiny of police officers on Garden State roadways, which means that anyone who takes a drink and then drives a motor vehicle on a public highway or city street is taking a big risk. And that risk applies not only to the driver’s potential health and safety — and that of his passengers — but also to his financial well-being. This is simply because DUI-DWI fines can be quite heavy, with the effects of a drunken driving conviction often lasting for quite some time depending on the current offense and those previous, if any.

Having worked for many years both as a former municipal prosecutor and now as a defense attorney for motorists accused of DWI, drug DUI, breath test refusal and other alcohol and drug-related traffic offenses, I fully understand the potential negative outcome of a DWI conviction. Many people, especially those for whom a drunken driving arrest may be their first scrape with the law, the ultimate consequences of being found guilty of driving under the influence can sometimes be lost amidst all the other procedural details of fighting such a charge.

The point we would like to convey here is that drunk driving has become such an inexcusable offense in the eyes of the public — not to mention the police and our courts — that those repeat offenders can hardly expect any kind of a pass when they transgress over and over again. Even those high-profile individuals are finding it harder and harder to gain any kind of meaningful consideration when a DWI or drug DUI is concerned.

We were reminded of this a while back when reading a news article about a Maryland lawmaker who apparently forgot that he was already awaiting sentencing following a guilty plea on a previous BUI (boating under the influence) charge when he was pulled over, this time on land, by a police officer and issued a summons for DWI not long after leaving a local tavern. The BUI guilty plea was based on an agreement reached with the local prosecutor’s office that any penalties would not include jail time.

According to the report we ran across, officers stopped the state house member’s vehicle on a Tuesday evening after they observed the suspect committing a variety of traffic violations. Based on police reports, the lawmaker was driving the car so erratically that the officer in charge opted to make the traffic stop even though he was, at the time, transporting a prisoner in his vehicle.

As a result of the police stop, lawmaker was charged with DWI, reckless driving, swerving on the roadway and speeding. During the traffic stop, the officer reportedly smelled the strong odor of alcohol and noticed that the driver’s eyes were red and glassy, while his speech was also somewhat slurred. While taking a sobriety test, the driver appeared to officers as “very unstable” on his feet, with obvious difficulty maintaining his balance.

Regarding the earlier BUI incident, the man had apparently been piloting a watercraft when it collided with another boat on a river in 2012. As a result of that collision, seven people, including the defendant, were injured. Police reports indicated that the lawmaker’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) was more than two times over the legal limit.

Fortunately for this particular individual, the charges against him do not trigger any automatic expulsion rule, which is true for any Maryland lawmaker in similar circumstances due to the fact that the offenses he was charged with are misdemeanors under state law and do directly affect his work as a lawmaker. However, some of the man’s colleagues have called for his resignation because they believe that his conduct has put him in direct conflict with state law.

After drunken boating, lawmaker faces DWI charge; Trentonian.com; August 20, 2013

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