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Bay Area Criminal Defense Blog

Do Oakland Police Get Special Treatment for DUIs?

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | May 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

Most of our police officers here in the East Bay are regular people, just like the rest of us. They go to work, do their jobs, and want to take care of their families. But just like anyone else, there are some bad apples who try and take advantage of their situation. A recent report on the Oakland police discipline system may demonstrate that some Oakland police officers are taking advantage of their office to get special treatment.

If you get arrested for a DUI in the East Bay, not only will you risk losing your driver license, a conviction may lead to jail time, fines, an IID on your car, and higher insurance costs. In some cases, a DUI can even mean losing your job. But for one Oakland police officer, his DUI amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist.

Edward Swanson, an attorney from San Francisco, has compiled a report on the Oakland Police Department's disciplinary policy, at the request of a U.S. District Court Judge. Judge Thelton Henderson is overseeing the departments compliance with reforms required as part of a 2003 misconduct lawsuit. Swanson's report indicated that Oakland continues to have discipline problems. Officers who are fired for misconduct often get their punishments overturned during arbitration, in part because officials do not adequately investigating the cases.

According to independent monitor Robert Warshaw, in 2012, an unnamed officer who had a DUI with a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit was only suspended for 10 days, because his supervisor was confident he would not make the mistake again.

However, that same officer was later involved in at least two more alcohol related episodes, including being drunk in public and causing a disturbance while drunk at a club. When police arrived at the club, the Oakland officer used the opportunity to tell them that he was a police officer and had lost partners in the line of duty. Each incident only resulted in a brief suspension.

In Swanson's report, over the past 5 years, arbitrators have upheld the discipline against officers in only half of the cases, reversing the sanctions in the other half of misconduct cases. Swanson criticized police officials for inadequate internal investigations, and for vague and unclear department policies. Swanson also criticized the Oakland attorney's office for poorly handling the arbitrations. This means that even when the Oakland Police Department is trying to discipline officers, their decisions are often reversed in arbitration.

The police have a chance to got to arbitration after disciplinary proceedings, to have their penalties reduced or dismissed, even after getting a DUI. Unfortunately, you don't have that opportunity in the criminal court after a DUI, which is why you need someone on your side to fight the charges in court.

At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people facing criminal charges in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the local DUI and other criminal laws, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve. If you are facing a DUI, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for 30 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense.

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