Here’s a DUI story from Arizona reminding the judicial bench and the good people of Arizona that we are all human.
Allegedly County Judge Lodge was stopped by local law enforcement in his SUV when he swerved across the yellow line and was too incoherent to perform field sobriety tests. When exiting his vehicle he apparently slammed his own arm in his car door. When asked what he had to drink, the good judge indicated the standard 3 beers answer; however his BAC was .22, a very high number, nearly 3 times the legal limit. Additionally, he indicated he took several prescription painkillers, oxycodone for a medical condition. The painkillers would not effect his BAC level, but would strongly effect his coordination. The painkillers in addition to the nearly empty bottle of vodka in his car, together could easily have been life threatening irrespective of driving drunk. The judge did indicate he was having wife/domestic issues (which would be enough to put somebody in this state of mind and should be a pass for DUI) and thus I question between the alcohol and the drugs what his desired end game was. The county apparently placed him on a desk for “personal reasons” and failed to indicate to the public what had actually occurred.
This is an interesting and sad story for a few reasons. It is interesting because Arizona is a state which is extremely unforgiving in its DUI law. This BAC number in a DUI is considered and “extreme DUI” and the punishment upon conviction is 30 days minimum in jail among other things. When that does occur, and the good judge finds himself behind the very bars that he sentences poor hapless defendants to every day, the question then becomes will he lose his job as a judge as a result of his one night soiree into the dark side of life. If he does not lose his job as a result of demonstrating incredibly bad judgment, should he? Should he continue to sit in judgment of others?
On the positive side of the DUI ledger, he will have first hand experience with what the defendants that appear before him are going through; that may make him more compassionate to both sides of the DUI equation which would be a positive trait for many of the conservative holier-than-thou jurist that sit on the bench throughout this fine Country.
Unfortunate as it may be, we are all human creatures, foibles and weaknesses included. There is clearly a need to regulate and protect human behavior in this nation; but the uncaring, unfeeling, rigid, one solution fits all, way that many who sit in power regulate behavior and meter out punishment (or who pass bad laws and statutes to accomplish their stated goal) is in many cases, shameful. This point is always magnified when one of the “elite” gets caught up in the system and then the system quickly begins shuffling around trying to bend over backwards to protect its own. This is similar to our own Maryland conservative delegate Don Dwyer who it is alleged collided his boat into another boat while boating drunk injuring occupants and children on the water. That case is still pending in the Maryland Courts.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the system handles its own in the very difficult and unyielding great State of Arizona as well as back home in Maryland.