While many people are understandably cautious around police officers, firefighters are almost universally respected. The public views firefighters as those to come to our aid, respond to 9-1-1 calls, and put themselves in danger to keep the public safe. However, firefighters are also kept to a higher standard when it comes to steering clear of criminal activity. A firefighter arrested on suspicion of a DUI risks not only a criminal record but they also risk losing their job.
A firefighter in Sussex, Wisconsin was not only charged with a DUI, he was accused of being drunk while behind the wheel of a fire truck. Thomas Gerstner, 47, hit a parked car while driving the a fire truck during a Memorial Day event. When the State Patrol arrived, the troopers said they smelled alcohol on Gerstner's breath. Gerstner reportedly failed multiple field sobriety tests, and his breath tested at above the legal limit. In addition, he was driving on a suspended license. The fire department immediately took Gerstner off the force.
An off-duty firefighter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is facing two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle after a deadly accident involving an Uber driver and his passenger. Joshua Larson, 31, was arrested after he crashed into a minivan. Larson had just left opening day at a Milwaukee Brewers game. Shortly after his arrest, Larson called his father, telling him, “I'm in a lot of trouble. OWI and double homicide. I got arrested.”
Sandy Jay Sussman was a 28-year-old firefighter with the Fire Department of New York. Last week, he crashed into another vehicle in Queens and then fled the scene. Unfortunately for Sussman, he got caught in traffic and the victim was able to track him down. Police officers were called and arrested Sussman on suspicion of drinking and driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and refusing to submit to a breath test.
A firefighter in Phoenix lost his job after a DUI arrest. Jeffrey Wilson was arrested on suspicion of DUI after he was stopped driving his vehicle the wrong way down the road. Police tested his blood-alcohol level at double the legal limit. Wilson told officers that a group of bikers forced him off the road, causing him to hit a sign and a tree, then flee the scene. After Wilson failed to appear in court, the Phoenix fire department eventually fired Wilson.
A volunteer firefighter may not be doing the job for a career; however, they are still expected to abide by the law. New Zealand firefighting volunteer Jonathan Douglas pulled over before getting to a DUI checkpoint, and turned off his lights. When police went to check on him, he submitted to a breath test, which came back at more than 3 times the legal limit. He pleaded guilty to his third drunk driving conviction and lost his job as a result.
At Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people from all walks of life facing DUI charges in the East Bay. Lynn Gorelick has defended firefighters, EMTs, members of the military, and even police officers charged with drunk driving. If you are charged with 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.