Last week, a 22-year-old Long Island man was taken into custody by Suffolk County police officers in one of the most ironic drunk driving cases New York has seen lately. The man was wearing a black shirt that read “I’m Not an Alcoholic – I’m a Drunk – Alcoholics Go to Meetings.”
The man hit the police patrol car at 1:45. Thankfully the officer in the police car didn’t suffer serious injuries and was released after treatment of minor injuries. The police car that the man hit belonged to an officer of the Suffolk County Police Department’s Selective Alcohol Fatality Enforcement Team (SAFE-T). SAFE-T is funded in another Suffolk County initiative, called Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated (STOP-DWI).
Part of the STOP-DWI program includes the funding for 2 full-time assistant district attorneys who focus specifically on DWI cases. Additionally, the program focuses on reducing recidivism rates for DWI offenders in New York and uses the DWI Alternative Facility in Riverhead, NY specifically for that purpose. The defendant will undoubtedly get special attention from prosecutors specializing in DUI cases, for better or worse.
If this is the defendant’s first DUI/DWI offense, he can still face some steep penalties, and not entirely because of his unfortunate choice in fashion the day of arrest. Depending on his blood alcohol content level and / or presence of drugs, he can face one or more of the following charges (among others):
- Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol
- Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs
- Driving While Ability Impaired by the Combination of Drugs and Alcohol
- Driving While Intoxicated Per Se
- Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated Per Se
- Driving While Intoxicated
- Reckless Driving
As a Queens DWI lawyer, I have represented men, women, and youth of the community in more than a few uncommon cases. At the core, the defendant’s situation is not exceedingly uncommon. However, the combination of clothing choice and SAFE-T officer crash do add a compelling element that has eagerly been picked up by the media. Perhaps he’ll find himself legally compelled to attend alcohol abuse meetings in the future.