For many people arrested for a DUI, it is their first real experience with the criminal justice system. It can be a frightening and confusing experience, from arrest to chemical testing to arraignment. Many people are surprised to learn of the penalties from even a first-time DUI offense, which includes jail time for up to 6 months, DUI school for three months, probation for up to 5 years, fines and penalties adding up to thousands, and a 6-month license suspension.
The people who should be the most familiar with a DUI arrest are the police. Many of them deal with DUIs every day, including testifying in court during DUI trials. Cops should be well aware of the possible penalties, and how a DUI conviction can negatively impact your future. Despite this, police officers across the country have found themselves on the other side of a traffic stop, and end up facing charges for driving under the influence.
An off-duty police officer in Burlington, Vermont was recently involved in a head-on collision with another car. After police arrived, a roadside test indicated she had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of just over the legal limit at 0.081. This was the fourth time an off-duty officer was arrested for a DUI in Vermont.
An off-duty officer in Chicago is facing similar charges after he his car struck and injured a pedestrian last month. The officer was charged with two counts of DUI and failure to exercise care with a pedestrian in the roadway. He has been relieved of his police duties pending an investigation.
Here in California, a Bakersfield police officer was arrested for drunk driving after crashing his vehicle. He was charged with drunk driving and resisting arrest, but accepted a plea deal and plead no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge and three other charges were dismissed.
Some cities have even seen multiple officer DUIs. Earlier this year, two police officers with the Denver Police Department were arrested on DUI charges in separate incidents. On Valentine's Day, officer Eric Sellers was pulled over and charged with DUI and careless driving. A couple weeks later, an officer Jean Keita got in an accident, and later faced charges of a DUI and failure to yield.
The Maui Police Department in Hawaii also had repeated officer DUIs this summer, with one officer arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence in June, and another arrested for a DUI a couple weeks earlier.
To make matters worse, some police officers have found themselves accused of a DUI while on duty. Officer Darryl Cathey was 6-year veteran of the Philadelphia police department when he drove up to his district headquarters one night in his police cruiser with 3 flat tires and bent rims. A sergeant on duty allegedly smelled alcohol on Cathey's breath. The sergeant tried to take Cathey into custody, but he resisted the other officers. As a result, he was charged with DUI, aggravated assault, and simple battery.
An officer in North Carolina was also arrested for a DUI after he was involved in a minor traffic accident while in uniform and driving his police cruiser. A supervisor on scene at the accident had the officer submit an alcohol assessment. The officer's BAC came back at 0.09%, over the legal limit. He has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
While these reports are of officers who were arrested for a DUI, they may not all have been convicted. The numbers of police arrested for a DUI may be lower than reported if police officers let other officers off the hook, giving them a “professional courtesy.” Some police departments in Massachusetts have been investigating reports of officers not arresting another officer accused of driving under the influence.
Whatever your job or profession, police officers in the East Bay are not likely to let you off the hook on suspicion of drunk driving. You'll have to rely on the criminal court process if you want to fight your DUI charges.
If you or someone you know is arrested on suspicion of a DUI, don't let the arrest end in a criminal conviction. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people charged with driving under the influence in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of DUI experience, she understands the possible penalties involved. You do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested. Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands local DUI laws, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve.