Celebrity DUI is the Same as Ordinary DUI

Getting charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is getting to be an everyday event for celebrities. Over the past year there have been several arrested. Just this week Reese Witherspoon and her husband were arrested in Georgia. He was arrested for DUI, Mrs. Witherspoon for disorderly conduct. In and around the Hinds, Madison, and Rankin county area, in the municipalities of Clinton, Jackson, Brandon, Flowood, Reservoir area, City of Madison, Ridgeland, and the other small cities, there are thousands of DUI arrests every year. Many of these DUI arrests occur exactly like the arrest of Reese Witherspoon and her husband. The attorneys at Coxwell & Associates have years helping people evaluate whether their arrest was legally proper and whether the clients have a good chance of successfully defending against a bad DUI arrest.

I can tell you as an attorney with thirty two (32) years of experience that the arrests of Mrs. Witherspoon and her husband are exactly like the arrests of hundreds of other people. They went out for dinner and had a drink or two. They decided to leave and go home and neither was “drunk” so they did not call a cab or arrange a ride in advance. They did not realize that under present DUI law driving drunk is not even mentioned. Let me repeat what I just said. Driving drunk is not in the law! Does that mean you can drive drunk and not be violating the law? Of course not!

The law in Mississippi and most states makes it illegal to drive while under the influence of intoxicating liquors or some other substance that impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. So, of course if you are drunk you are going to be under the influence and in violation of the law. But, the other area that catches most people is the blood alcohol content. Mississippi makes it illegal to drive under the influence of intoxicating substances and it makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater as measured by the Intoxilizer. This is the magical machine at most police stations that law enforcement officers ask the suspect to blow into and after they blow and if it prints out a .08% or greater, the suspect is arrested. I have even seen some instances when the machine printed out lower than .08% and the suspect was still arrested and charged with being under the influence of intoxicating liquors or some other substance. Hum, sounds like a no-win situation doesn’t it. A “damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation.” In many ways it is.

What is a .08%? Well, that depends. Oh, don’t you hate those legal answers! Well, it is the truth. I recently attended a conference and listened to a toxicologists speak. This guy was a Ph.D. He had over twenty (20) years in the field. He spoke on alcohol absorption or elimination in the body. Guess what? There were a few science rules that emerged from the talk that I thought I could use in my work. (I also decided to ask him to come present a seminar at our office). But the bottom line is how much a person has to drink before they measure .08% on the Intoxilizer depends on a number of extremely individual factors. It depends on how much you drink, how fast you drink, what you drink, when you drink, how soon after you drink before you are tested, whether you are an experienced drinker, and your body’s production of an enzyme in the liver that breaks down alcohol. It will also depend on the Intoxilizer machine. Did you know that the Intoxilizer machine does not really measure you? It measures the average you or hypothetical you. The machine cannot truly measure your blood alcohol content so it is set up to measure an average person. In some instances you are either being cheated by the machine or given the benefit of the doubt by the machine.

Let’s go back to Reese Witherspoon. If you read our blogs then you know Reese made a major mistake. She could not keep her mouth shut. Time and time again I have given this same advice-don’t smart off or let your mouth run-off while dealing with law enforcement. (See our prior Blogs). Law enforcement officers are very sensitive about having their authority challenged. Sometimes I have seen arrests that were totally unjustified by what the suspects said or did. Other times I am amazed at how foolish the suspects acted. One of the quickest ways to get arrested is to tell the officer you are someone important or you have influence. This is drunken talk. People with influence use it and don’t talk about it! Law enforcement officers look at arrests of “important” people the same way fishermen do at a big fish they catch-they mount it on the wall!

The attorneys at Coxwell & Associates have written on this subject several times but it is worth repeating: If you are going to take the Intoxilizer test and base your chances on how the magic machine measures your breath of alcohol, then maybe your behavior does not matter as much, but if you do not take the Intoxilizer test, your behavior makes all the difference. Listen to me. Your behavior makes all the difference. Judges are just ordinary people. When they read a police report or listen to an officer describe how arrogant, belligerent, or disrespectful a person acted during the arrest process, a not guilty verdict become harder. If you get stopped be respectful. Also, read Chuck Mullins’ blog last week on DUI because he describes your rights when stopped. You can insist on your rights politely without being rude or disrespectful, even if the law enforcement officer is disrespectful. Then, visit Coxwell & Associates and talk with one of our attorneys. We have been chosen time and time again to defend judges, doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, and other similar people who have been charged with DUI.

Merrida Coxwell is the Managing Partner of Coxwell & Associates, PLLC. The law firm has dedicated attorneys who understand that results are what clients want. The firm focuses it time and efforts on all types of criminal defense and on serious and permanent injuries caused by others. It costs nothing to discuss your case with one of the attorneys.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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