The Dangers of Driving While Sober (continued)
The request came back disapproved with the reason stated “You will be given a phone call during jail Call. Do not ask again, stop harassing our jailers!”. That’s crazy! I was told that I would be able to make bail Tuesay morning and now I’m being told that I won’t be able to make bail until Wednesday morning… and I can’t even make a phone call to let my employer know?
So far, I’ve missed work, I’ve had to pay to be bailed out, I’ve had to pay the tow truck company. I’m humiliated, the next month and a half of my life will be spent dealing with this in one form or another. I had to cancel a trip because of this arrest.
The next step was finding a lawyer. Better Call Saul? Why? I have done nothing wrong and an attorney like Saul is made for criminals. I could have gone down to the DUI lawyers union and picked out almost any of those lawyers who would have treated my case as if it were an assembly line. “Hey, we got a great deal just for you, pay us, pay them, and this won’t be on your record. Next!”… “Hey, we got a great deal just for you, pay us, pay them, and it won’t be on your record. Next!”
What I needed was an attorney who treated his profession like he’s serious about his job. I needed an attorney who will believe in his clients and who will fight for his clients. I needed an attorney that understands that people need an advocate sometimes and who acts like he was inspired by Atticus Finch. I didn’t need to Kill a Mockingbird, I needed somebody like J. Christopher Alexander.
Fortunately in the end, Scott Perrilloux, the District Attorney of St Helena Parish looked at my case and saw that I was clearly sober and being a District Attorney who is interested in prosecuting hardened criminals and not innocent civilians, he rejected my case.
But what if I had a D.A. who thought he was Don Corleone and decided to make me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. “Pay your lawyer, pay me, pay some fines, and this won’t be on your driving record”, what then? Unfortunately for the poor, they often don’t have the means to do anything about this situation. They would probably have to accept, do some payment plan, and just suffer the consequences of an irresponsible officer.
For those who have the means to fight it, more than likely won’t. If they have the means to fight it, then fighting it would mean losing wages from court appearances, time away from work, and the unnecessary stress in their life. A plea bargain, in these cases, simply means that they are putting the incident behind them without it affecting their driving record. But as for me, I was going to fight it no matter what. I wasn’t going to be black mailed by the system. Dui laws should be about the safety of our citizens, not about a means for government profit.
Earlier in this article, I compared the impact the of this officer’s decision to arrest me to a couple of criminal acts that I was a victim of. In those cases, if the police caught the perpetrators, they go to jail. There are consequences to their actions. But when the perp is wearing the badge, Am I just supposed to accept it and be left to repair the damages to my life? Should we give them a pass for their mistakes?
The financial burden that his actions caused me, the lost time of work, the cost of the tow truck company, the bail, the attorney expenses, not to mention additional expenses that I may or will have such as increase of insurance rates. The mental stress of dealing with this issue. The trip that I had to cancel. For many people, this incident would have cause the suspension or the termination of their job. The impact it has on my relationships whether it’s how I treat them, or because their perception of me has changed. More over, this is something that will never go away for me. If President George Bush or Senator Ted Kennedy can have their drunk driving incidents haunt them, then surely there will be people out there who will always assume that I was guilty, even though my system was absolutely clean. It is this reason that I must do everything that I can to declare my innocence.