When Politicians Get DUIs: Five Lessons

When Public Servants Get Served

Whether they’re appointed or elected, we appreciate the hard work done by our public servants. However, problems sometimes develop when others “serve” these officials, especially before they drive. Here are five lessons.

Don’t let them test you twice

Randy Babbitt, head of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) was able to get his DWI charges dismissed when video footage demonstrated that he wasn’t going the wrong way down a one-way street as originally charged (the officer was operating on a hunch Babbitt was drunk – a no-no for probable cause). And it was also learned that the officer administered the chemical test twice because the first test only showed .07% BAC (the second test hit the .08%). Unfortunately, the damage had already been done to Babbitt’s career as he was forced to quit as the FAA’s top honcho following his 2011 arrest.  

‘Old’ is not drunk

71-year old Marion Barry, former Mayor of the District of Columbia, was acquitted of DUI charges when a judge ruled that Barry's difficulty taking field sobriety tests was caused by age (specifically medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, and edema --swelling of the legs). Barry's blood alcohol content was only .02, below the legal limit of .08.  

And don’t carry a handgun (or at least tell the arresting officer you have it)

Virginia state representative Ted Vick was in the middle of his campaign for the House of Representatives when his dreams of Washington self destructed. Stopped because he was speeding, Vick refused to take a field sobriety test or a chemical test, and a handgun was later found in his pocket. (Vick’s concealed gun permit had expired five years earlier.) Sealing his D.C. dreams, the married politician (and self-proclaimed minister) admitted that he had been bar crawling with his passenger, a 21-year old University of South Carolina co-ed. 

Avoid pole-like structures

Yes, pole-crashing is a celebrity DUI affectation –  retired adult film star Jenna Jameson ran into a light pole, and UFC martial arts star Jon Jones slammed into a telephone pole. But Ben Harbin, a Republican State Representative in Georgia, was one of the few pole-crashers with the power to mete out his own legal punishment. After his vehicle hit a utility pole in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, it was learned that Harbin had voted in favor of DUI crackdowns and stiffer DUI penalties. After his testimony (that he swerved to avoid a pedestrian) was contradicted by two eye witnesses, Harbin was ordered to pay a $1000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service. 

Don’t Facebook the judge

Pennsylvania police pulled over state representative Cherelle Parker who supposedly told officers that she had two beers and a chocolate martini. She was busted for DUI with a BAC at .16 (twice the legal limit) and was also cited for driving without a license. All of the evidence against her was thrown out by a local judge and the case dismissed. But alas, that DUI dismissal was overturned when it was learned that the judge in the case had “friended” Parker on Facebook. Although both Parker and the judge had hundreds of “friends,” and may not have known each other, all DUI charges were reinstated against Parker.

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