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What's Wrong With This Picture?

A young woman who has been drinking gets behind the wheel of her car and drives.

Along the way a police officer, apparently driving inattentively, rear-ends the young woman. When he gets out of his squad car and approaches hers, he picks up on the booze, puts two and two together, has her do field sobriety tests, concludes she is driving drunk, and takes her into custody.

Pretty standard, so far.

But the cop, for some inexplicable reason, fears that he will get in serious trouble for causing the fender bende (Who knows? Maybe he already had a personnel record of driving badly at work.). So he and other cops who come to the scene conspire to blame the accident on the woman.

That plan might be foolproof, except the cops seem to forget about the dashboard video cameras in squad cars, which, in this case, record their blame plan. After the woman is charged for driving drunk and cited for "causing" the accident, the dashcam tape leaks to the Public Defender's office and the media. Several cops and a crime scene technician are busted, suspended for their plan, and an internal investigation is launched at the police department.

The prosecutor's office, deciding the case is irreparably tainted by the cops' behavior, drops the drunk driving charges against the woman.

Pause here for a moment and soak in these details.

Now, how do you think the woman reacts to the conclusion of her case? If you think she is (a) angry that the cops tried to pin the accident on her, BUT (b) grateful that their shadiness got her off the hook for drunk driving, you're only half right.

The woman went on The Today Show and expressed her (justifiable) outrage at the cops' behavior...and then she said she plans to sue the police over how she was wronged and what she went through. She says the cops false accusations regarding the fender bender shattered her already shallow pockets and compelled her to put off returning to college this fall. Oh yeah, she admits she was driving under the influence, though she denies being drunk.

I feel for her, but because the cops pulled a shady stunt, this woman lucked out. She got a pass on drunk driving charges. Ask anyone who has ever been charged with drunk driving if a judge and/or jury ever bought the defense of "I was drinking, but I wasn't actually drunk."

 Am I crazy, or along with her anger over the accident scheme, should this woman not be jumping for joy that the cops' bad behavior overshadowed her own? Instead of suing the police, shouldn't she call it even?

In her situation, knowing how much longterm damage drunk driving charges and convictions can cause, I think I'd be on my knees, shouting hallelujah! And then I'd go make a public service announcement to the effect of "Kids, I was driving under the influence - possibly drunk - and got away with it because the police tried to frame me for another offense. But I could have killed someone had that accident not occured and I had kept driving. So don't take a chance like I did. Call a cab or get a designated driver."

I swear, if she does sue, the prosecutor should reinstate the drunk driving charges.

http://twitter.com/jamesburnett.

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Jeni Hill Ertmer

As often seems to happen with a goodly number of your poats, I find myself saying after reading your stuff, "You've got to be kidding!"
This is just incredible! My thoughts are lining up right along with yours on this piece, James. She should send those cops a hefty "reward" of some type or other for providing her an "out", a pass on the DUI charges, for sure! Sometimes, ya do just have to wonder what the hell goes through the mind of some folks, don't 'cha?

insomniac

it's just another example of today's increasingly litigious society; people looking for a way to make a quick and easy buck and not take responsibility for themselves and their actions. i think you're right. she can't have it both ways. either karma is in a state of balance and she shuts up, or she sues and the original charges are reinstated.

Michelle de la Cuesta

I live in Hollywood and I think she got a free pass because of their stupidity. I would have hoped she would have learned something but obviously her 23 year old Georgetown student butt is entitled. It is a shame because no one should be drinking and driving. Thanks to our police department she has walked but it may also cost the citizens of Hollywood money due to their mishandling of it. The police officers involved should be fired.

Pamela

Yes. reinstate the drunk driving charge.

krh

You are so right!! The cops were wrong, but so was she in drinking and driving. She should thank her lucky stars.

I'm with you 100% on reinstating the charges if she sues.

silver

I was under the impression that it was only driving while actually impaired that is considered illegal. If there was no evidence of impairment, then she wouldn't have been pulled over in the first place. People might think she got a 'pass' on the DUI charge, but simply because whe was drinking does not make her guilty. She may have been driving after drinking but her driving was obviously better than the officer's was!

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