A DUI arrest is a serious concern for anyone.
But the consequences can be particularly severe for those in certain professional fields, particularly those that are more high-profile.
Our Birmingham DUI lawyers know that recently in Alabama, we’ve seen a number of these, involving a state prosecution investigators, a school bus driver and a handful of television reporters.
Some will be able to bounce back in their careers, though they may need to move to another market in order for that to be possible.
The best chance they’ll have either way will be to reduce their odds of a conviction by hiring an experienced DUI defense lawyer to handle their case. The other benefit to this is having someone who can speak publicly on the person’s behalf, particularly in a high-profile situation. While we general don’t advise any defendant speaking to the media prior to the conclusion of a case, your attorney may be able to help do some damage control for a public image in the immediate aftermath of an arrest.
In the last six months, three television reporters in Alabama – all at different stations – were arrested on suspicions of DUI.
The first was a veteran anchor of a FOX affiliate, who soon after announced her retirement. A few months later, a traffic reporter from 11 Alive was also arrested. No one was hurt in that incident, in which an officer reportedly stopped her for speeding and nearly clipping another vehicle. A swift public apology was issued, and she kept her job. And then just recently, a WHNT News 19 reporter was arrested in Huntsville. The outcome of that case remains to be seen.
Then there was the arrest last month of a DeKalb County distract attorney investigator on suspicion of DUI. He was reportedly arrested around 3 a.m. on a Saturday, after being pulled over for reckless driving in his state-issued vehicle. He refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. In addition to the regular criminal penalties he’ll face, he has been demoted, taken a significant pay cut, ordered to surrender his badge and gun, submit to regular drug testing and enter an alcohol treatment program. Still, he will get to keep his job.
A school bus driver from Shelby County may not be so lucky. She was reportedly arrested around 6:30 a.m. for DUI after she was seen allegedly swerving on her way to work. It is not clear whether she was in a district-issued bus, but it doesn’t seem from reports as if there were any children in the vehicle at the time of her arrest. School bus drivers in particular face tough penalties, and if the incident occurred on duty, the legal limit threshold is just 0.02 percent blood-alcohol content, rather than the standard 0.08 percent. If she had been driving with anyone under the age of 14 in the vehicle, she would have been subjected to double the penalties.
DUI enforcement is a big priority here in Jefferson County especially, as we have the highest rate of DUI fatalities in the state (30 of the state’s 67). In each of these cases, no matter who you are, a strong criminal defense will be critical to ensuring the best possible outcome.