DUI Arrests: Politicians Breaking Their Own Laws

Operating a motor vehicle is a big responsibility. Traffic jams, car accidents, inclement weather, and even the darkness after sunset can wreak havoc on the roads. When you add alcohol or other intoxicating substances into the mix, driving safely is just about impossible.

All 50 states have strict Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) laws in place. Both charges mean that the driver was too impaired to drive, but these laws are broken far too often. The Centers for Disease Control reports that adults got behind the wheel after drinking about 112 million times in 2010 alone.

Politicians Who Drink and Drive

Ironically, the people who created DUI laws in the first place—our very own politicians—are often arrested for DUI. Here are just a few of many recent examples:

Nevada Assemblyman Joe Hogan was arrested on a count of driving under the influence after he was seen swerving on his way home from a political fundraiser in April 2012. The Las Vegas Democrat, who failed a field sobriety test, did admit that he drank wine at the event but declined to take a breathalyzer test at the scene. The city has not responded to requests for incident reports, but perhaps the public will show Hogan what they think of his driving habits at the voting booths on November 6—he’s up for reelection.

Delaware Representative Brad Bennett must not learn from his mistakes. The Democrat was arrested for his second DUI in April 2012 after sideswiping a police car and leaving the scene of the crime. (Bennett was also charged with DUI in 2010.) He wisely decided to take a leave of absence from the Legislature to enter a long-term rehab facility to address his drinking habits and other personal problems. Looks like it’s time for a career change—Bennett is not seeking reelection this November.

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Rhode Island Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio was arrested on suspicion of DUI in March 2012. The politician, who had been driving erratically, displayed bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and even had trouble keeping his balance yet refused to submit to blood-alcohol level tests. Although the powerful senator released a statement “accepting full responsibility for his actions,�? criminal charges were dropped just one week later. Apparently it doesn’t hurt to be well connected when you break the law.  He did plead guilty to civil charges, which resulted in 10 hours of community service, a $200 fine, and a revoked license for 6 months. He is up for reelection in November.

York County Councilman Eric Winstead, who is also a chaplain for Hospice Care of South Carolina, was arrested for drunk driving in December 2011. He publicly admitted his wrongdoing and apologized to his family, his district, and the Council as well as his Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Leaders were somewhat surprised that Winstead decided to finish his current term after initially planning to resign due to his DUI arrest, but he did ask officials to remove him from reelection bids.

Driving under the influence can not only harm the person behind the wheel, but other innocent drivers on the road. When elected officials consciously decide to drive after drinking, the public is definitely going to wonder what other poor decisions they have been making in their leadership positions.

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