A DWI may not be what you think it is

Most everyone thinks of a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) as driving a car erratically and getting pulled over. It doesn’t always happen that way. Ask any law enforcement officer about tipsters who inform 911 about intoxicated persons.

However, even when you think you are doing the right things and playing it safe after social drinking, that may not be the case. The following letter was sent to RC Catalyst as a warning to other women. The driver felt she had been set up, entrapped, and even targeted. I also reviewed the police incident report.

Her account of the incident gives notice of how things can spin out of control and the repercussions of how a single incident changed her life.

As a single mom, I rarely go out. I was having fun and I stayed out later than expected. I stayed at the bar, but didn’t drink, until I was sure I was OK to drive.

Right before “last call” a dark-haired man wearing jeans and a black polo shirt came into the bar. He chose a seat at the bar but as close to the door as possible. Waving goodbye to the people I had been hanging out with and on my way out, the dark-haired guy held out a glass of bourbon and said, ” Here, taste this”. I did.

Looking back at that incident, it was definitely out of character. The guy wasn’t even friendly about it.
I got in my car, kicked off the high-heeled shoes I had been wearing for nine hours, and proceeded down the street. When I took a left turn to head home, I was confronted by a law enforcement road block. I was’t doing anything wrong so I had no fear of a roadblock. Things were to change very quickly.

As I approached the roadblock there were two cops at the roadblock. I rolled down my window. I was going to get my license out, however one of the cops said, ” Go ahead and get out of the car, I think you’ve had too much to drink.”

Now I was purely in shock and barefoot in the middle of the road, following his commands and blowing into a device. I blew .09 at the scene.

The officers handcuffed me and took me to the police station. They told me if I had someone to call to be a witness the next test could be postponed up to 30 minutes.

I was trying not to die from panic and asthma and as I understood the witness would need to be a lawyer. I had no idea who to call. I knew I didn’t have the funds to secure a lawyer, therefore, I did not call a witness.

I am tall and thin; the last thing I had eaten was mozzarella cheese sticks 9 hours earlier. I blew .09 at the roadblock and .11 at the station. I feel as though if I had been able to afford a witness I may not have gotten a DWI.

I was in jail that night until the sun came up. The male and female working at the jail that night said some things to me I won’t repeat and they laughed at me for crying. Even through my tears I knew it was that sip of bourbon that got me a DWI. I was never impaired. Initially I was describing the man at the bar as the devil himself. Two years later I think he was more likely a cop.

Once you are charged/ convicted of a DWI people are pretty quick to judge.

My childsitter for my required DWI class told me I should, “pay attention in class!” And then there was the teller at the bank who said,” I hope you learned your lesson “, when she asked why I was using my passport as ID to cash a check. I cannot even begin to describe the financial strain, stress, shame and humiliation I have experienced.

So let’s get the word out- single females you are vulnerable. it’s probably not a good idea to go out alone. please heed my warning of how quickly things can spin out of control even when you think you are following the rules.

The process of being arrested can be terrifying since most of us never plan for it. Most of us don’t expect to get a DWI. We don’t know what to do, how to act or who to call. Live and learn and tell your story.

From the policeman’s point of view, he smelled alcohol on her breath as he reached the car and noted that her eyes were glassy. He asked her to step out of the car and to take a breathalyzer test. According to his report she refused, but agreed to do other field sobriety tests. The officer noted in great detail her inability to perform the tests and follow instructions. After he put her under arrest, the woman agreed to the breathalyzer test and blew a .09. A .08 reading or greater indicates intoxication.

The police officer’s report is almost a textbook account of determining intoxication. The two perspectives of a single event are significantly different. I’m not going to offer a resolution. I did ask Rutherfordton Town Manager to provide a statement.

The Town of Rutherfordton and the Rutherfordton Police Department are committed to providing a safe environment for our citizens and businesses. In doing so we hold ourselves highly accountable to the public and do not engage in targeting or entrapment, especially when it comes to DWI.  Given the circumstances of this incident, it is clear that any decision to drink and drive is not a good one and can drastically change lives forever. We encourage people to avoid drinking and driving and even more so from taking drinks from unknown people.

Doug Barrick

Town Manager

2 Responses to A DWI may not be what you think it is

  1. David Chambers 05/18/2017 at 10:23 pm

    Her account of what happened is fiction. The officer did his job. Moral of story – don’t drive IMPAIRED. Call a friend, taxi or uber.

  2. Roy 05/19/2017 at 11:42 am

    Checkpoints are exactly the kind of thing that our grandparents went to war in 1941 to fight against.

    The checkpoint presumes every driver is guilty and demands each prove their innocence.

    The term ‘slippery slope’ comes to mind here.

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