Did you catch it on the news this weekend? A Deputy Public Defender was arrested for a DUI. His vehicle drove off the Highway 94, down an embankment, across a road, up a hill where it went airborne flying over a Prius and hitting two parked cars in a used car dealership. Aside from the sensational crash, what does this tell us? And what do you do when you hit parked cars?
First it raises a question, if it had been a prosecutor, would the police have paraded him by the TV news cameras? And, by the way, how did the reporters get there that quick? And how do they know that VC 23152(a), VC 23152(B) or VC 20002(a) is a DUI, wet reckless or a hit and run?
More importantly, it demonstrates something fundamentally true about DUI’s, that is, DUI’s happen to anyone. All walks of life, rich and poor, well educated and school drop outs all types or religious, social, racial and other backgrounds. Even someone who is a Deputy Public Defender in San Diego, who has counseled hundreds of people about what fines or possible jail time one faces with a DUI. The Public Defender should know because, like private lawyers, they been trained on how alcohol is absorbed and affects the brain and body. So anyone can get a DUI. By the way, prosecutors in San Diego have gotten DUI’s before, but, it generally does not make the news. That is the kind of publicity San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis does not want. And what agency, DMV, San Diego Superior Court, or Public Defender would?
The reality for the vast majority of DUI’s is that the person does not set out to drink too much and drive. But, as the blood alcohol level or BAC goes up, judgment goes in the reverse direction. When it is time to go home, most people either think they are fine and decide to drive or they wait, maybe having a cup of coffee before they leave. The problem is that you may not feel the alcohol affecting you, especially your brain, but, it is there. Or, if you wait and your BAC starts coming down, you actually feel the alcohol mush less than when it was going up. It is called the Mallenby Effect and has been scientifically studied. But, it is the same result, you feel good to go, but, you are impaired. If you are stopped and given a breathalyzer (PAS) test along with tests on the side of the road, you might be arrested. You may ask yourself, can I drive with this pink sheet of paper? Should I hire a lawyer? This public defender might be thinking the same thing.
The only way to really avoid DUI’s is to not drive after drinking. You can try to hold yourself to one drink, but, in our world of big cocktails, craft beers with high alcohol levels and overflowing glasses of wine, even one may be too many. Driving home swerving once? You might get stopped for no other reason than speeding and not even get a ticket.
Hopefully we will find out the Deputy Public Defender was not under the influence and only fell asleep or swerved to miss a possum. Well, no we won’t, because only the arrests make the news, not when charges are dropped. But, he should call San Diego Defenders (619) 258-8888