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Using Political Connections to Get Out of a DUI

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | Jun 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

A DUI can affect anyone. From teachers to lawyers, actors to pop stars, and even police officers and politicians can be arrested for drunk driving. In some cases, people are arrested after trying to use their political clout to avoid a DUI arrest. Unfortunately, we may only hear about the times their pleas did not work.

In New Jersey, a municipal judge has been censured by the state Supreme Court for trying to use his position to get out of a DUI. According to court documents, Phillipsburg Municipal Court Judge Dennis Baptista was pulled over by State Troopers in Clinton Township. Baptista told the trooper that he had not been drinking. However, during a field sobriety test, the trooper noted slurred speech, slow movement, and the smell of alcohol.

Baptista pressed the trooper on being let go. “You have some discretion here, don't you?” Baptista asked. “Have we gone beyond the point where you can't change your mind?” The trooper responded he was beyond that point. “I have a public official job and this will kill me,” said Baptista. Baptista was arrested for drunk driving. He was later replaced on the bench.

In northwest Indiana, police video appears to show a union leader dropping the mayor's name to avoid a DUI arrest. Randolph Palmateer mentioned the local mayor's name, Thomas McDermott, Jr, multiple times when talking to police after being pulled over. The video shows Palmateer responding to police questioning with, “I had one beer. We just left the game. Came back. I'm meeting Tom McDermott at his house.”

“Great,” the officer replied, “Tom knows we are having a DUI checkpoint.”

Police arrested Palmateer, despite his pleadings. Mayor McDermott has responded that he can't control what people say about him when they are being arrested. “I want to point out that the right thing happened at the end of the day, despite the fact that my name was dropped,” said McDermott.

Roger Clinton, Bill Clinton's half-brother, was arrested at an inopportune time for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In Redondo Beach, police arrested Roger Clinton on suspicion of driving under the influence. The arrest occurred just two days before the California presidential primary.

According to Redondo Beach Police, Roger Clinton was, “evaluated for driving under the influence of alcohol, which included performance of field sobriety tests, and subsequently placed under arrest.” Clinton refused to submit to a chemical test, and was booked on suspicion of DUI. His bail was set at $15,000. While there is no claim Roger Clinton tried to use his connections to avoid an arrest, he was famously pardoned in 2001 for a 1985 cocaine charge.

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 defense experience, she understands the penalties involved, and knows how to fight to keep your arrest from ending in a conviction. Contact your local East Bay DUI defense attorney who will make sure you get the justice you deserve.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for over 36 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the Immediate Past President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense. Lynn is a Specialist Member of the California DUI Lawyers Association and lectures frequently to other attorneys regarding DUI and DMV issues.


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