What Happens if a Police Officer Gets a DUI? | All You Need To Know
It is not every day that one hears about a police officer breaking the law. There is a widespread belief that police officers are model citizens who can do no wrong. However, police officers are human beings too and they make mistakes. It is, therefore, not highly unusual to hear that a police officer has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In Texas, law enforcement officers are held in high regard which is why in such situations where they are found on the wrong side of the law, the consequences can be quite severe. It is at times like these that they need to find the top DWI lawyer in Fort Worth TX to fight for their rights.
At Sparks Law Firm, we have helped many members of different police departments to be awarded the justice that they deserve as citizens of the great state of Texas. Any police officer pulled over for DUI is welcome to come to our offices for a free consultation so we can discuss the best course of action. Read on to find out the right way to have DUI charges dropped if you are a police officer.
Texas Police Crime Statistics
Between 2005 and 2010, around 4,450 police officers were charged with various criminal offenses nationwide. Of these, 750 police officers from 511 agencies were charged with DUI or alcohol-related offenses.
In the past four years alone in Texas, hundreds of law enforcement officers have had to surrender their badges and resign from the force because of one reason or another. Further studies into this worrying statistic found out that as many as 297 police officers had been either arrested or accused of a serious crime with the possibility of a felony conviction.
It is unsurprising, therefore, that a lot of these arrests were for DUI or prior alcohol-related offenses. Among these DUI arrests, drunk driving was the chief offense and as such, the state of Texas has handed down many DUI convictions to disgraced law officers. The fact that these DUI arrests had to be conducted by another law enforcement officer only rubs salt into the wound.
Why it Is Not Easy To Arrest a Police Officer
The problem with trying to arrest a police officer for a crime, such as DUI, is that in many cases police officers tend to protect each other, even going as far as committing another crime to save their colleagues. This behavior is called "The blue wall of silence," and is usually characterized by an unwillingness to assist in an internal investigation, or an outright impeding of the course of justice.
Despite efforts to reduce this behavior, it remains prevalent and is one of the main reasons why many police officers feel free to drive while under the influence, with no apparent concern for the consequences. Even when officers are facing a DUI arrest, they have been known to try and use their position to either bribe, negotiate, or threaten the arresting officer.
When it comes to being punished for their crimes, it is common among police departments to offer the guilty officers a way out of trouble by using their badges as a bargaining tool. In other words, they are told to either resign from the force or face the full wrath of the law.
Why Do Police Officers Commit DUI Offenses?
Take off the uniform and badge and what is left is an ordinary human being who is subject to the same impulses, temptations, and weaknesses as everyone else. Whenever an internal investigation is launched and interviews are conducted with police officers arrested for DUI, the underlying reasons are similar to those found among other offenders.
When questioned by the arresting offices, common excuses for DUI are:
They didn't realize they had drunk so much
The alcohol was part of a meal
They thought the drink had little alcohol content
Drinking does not affect their ability to drive because they feel fine
It was a party and everyone was expected to drink
They had to drive for emergency reasons
Everyone does it
How Alcohol and Drugs Affect Driving Ability
Besides the well documented negative effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the body over an extended period, there are other more immediate effects on driving ability such as:
A lot of times, people blame their decision-making on being drunk, but when those poor decisions are made while behind the wheel, the results might be a serious accident.
Driving requires a lot of concentration to avoid missing any important details. Many police officers who are handed DUI convictions do not realize that just because they feel fine, does not mean that their concentration levels are where they are supposed to be.
Loss of Coordination
Any law enforcement officer will be aware of the importance of good coordination when dealing with complex tasks such as driving. Any reduction inability to react will have a huge negative impact on driving ability.
Alcohol affects the body's neurological functions, and, in particular, it causes blurred vision with severely affects a driver's ability to see the road and obstacles clearly. In fact, one of the spot tests done as part of a preliminary alcohol screening process is a vision check, the results of which can later be used as evidence in favor of a DUI conviction.
How Are Police Officers Punished for a DUI Conviction?
Depending on how serious the offense is, police officers arrested for DUI, face a wide variety of punishments as prescribed by law. The DUI arrest itself is subject to an internal investigation, with the arresting officer acting as a key witness. A police officer facing such charges can approach Sparks Law Firm for a free no-obligation consultation with an experienced DUI lawyer.
Various circumstances such as DUI with a minor in the car can result in a mandatory jail sentence, especially in cases where this is a second or third offense. However, generally, police officers are punished internally in any of the following ways:
Placement on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case
Suspension with or without pay is usually determined by the seriousness of the DUI charges
If the DUI offense has been done by an on-duty police officer, then they will most likely be fired from law enforcement.
Driver's license suspension under Texas law
Additional penalties such as the inclusion of the DUI conviction on the police offer's criminal record will prevent them from working in law enforcement again in the future.
What Can a Police Officer Faced With DUI Charges Do?
A police officer who is being charged with a DUI offense needs to approach a DUI defense attorney as quickly as possible because the consequences of waiting too long could be severe. At times, police officers in this situation may be tempted to do nothing and hope it all blows over, but unfortunately, that is not usually the case.
Many police officers do not like the idea of approaching an experienced DUI attorney because in their mind this constitutes acceptance, which in reality, is not the case. Fears of being judged for breaking the law while working in law enforcement are also not entirely accurate. At Sparks Law Firm, we take pride in our excellent attorney-client relationship.
Members of law enforcement agencies can also rest assured that any sensitive or confidential information provided during the handling of their case will not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands regardless of the outcome of the DUI case.
How Can Sparks Law Firm Help?
The outcome of a DUI case involving a member of the police department is never guaranteed because of the sensitive nature of the situation. This is why it is best to have an attorney present, giving legal help, otherwise, the accused risks incurring serious penalties. At Sparks Law Firm we offer the following services:
A free consultation to discuss the case in full
Planning out the best strategy to prevent the DUI arrest from becoming a DUI conviction
Collection and documentation of all evidence, such as breath test results, field sobriety tests, reported blood alcohol levels, police report, witness statements, and employment records of the accused officer
Representing the officer in internal investigations or trials is required
Fighting for the officer to either remain fully or partially employed pending DUI charges being finalized.
Helping the officer retain their driving privileges until the outcome of the case
Having a reliable attorney will also help address important concerns, such as understanding what a 4th degree DWI is or what are the penalties for a first offense zero-tolerance DUI.
Visit Sparks Law Offices in Fort Worth Texas Today!
We have a whole team of experienced DUI attorneys ready to conduct a free consult at any given time. DUI cases are usually not as bad as other types of criminal cases. However, they can still have very serious consequences without a DUI lawyer serving the accused.
As a police officer, the law may seem to have double standards in the way cases are handled, but that is not the case, and at Sparks Law Firm, we are here to make sure that law officers are afforded the same rights as any other ordinary citizen. Come and talk to us regarding any DUI cases in Texas.