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Expect No Mothering for Mothers Who Drive Drunk

Over the course of my legal career, I have heard many misguided expectations of what people expect in the way of leniency when facing DWI/DUI charges. There are always reasons for someone to believe their circumstances are special and worthy of getting a break. But the one that prompted this post was a national news story about a single mother DUI with her three-year-old child in the car. Unfortunately, these days, neither the Courts nor the Prosecutors office give any deference to anyone's occupation or marital status when meeting out punishment. In other words, single moms don't get any additional love, merely because they are single moms.

This particular story is about a woman who was arrested and charged with three felony counts - drug possession, a DUI for exceeding the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 BAC, and a DUI with a child under the age of 15 in the car. These charges were based on a call to the police, which was made by someone who saw her drink a few sips of a mimosa during lunch at a restaurant with her 4-year-old son. The caller also described her as having had several glasses of white wine and said that they thought she seemed "groggy". The events that unfolded should serve as a dire warning for any parents faced with DUI/DWI charges.

A Costly Mistake

The woman, it turned out, had very reasonable explanations for the set of circumstances leading to her arrest. She was groggy, but not because she was drunk or on drugs. She was in pain from spending the morning having a surgical dental procedure, for which she had been prescribed hydrocodone. She had taken one of the pills (the prescribed dose) before driving the short distance to her home. She had also ordered a mimosa to have with her lunch, but only took a few sips before leaving it half-finished and switching to water, which the caller had mistaken as white wine.

She attempted to explain and prove her innocence during and after this ordeal, and eventually did get the charges dropped - but it took her two years and around $12,000 in legal fees. If you read the whole story, you will see there are more specific details at play that actually make it even more bizarre than what I am relaying here, but I bring this up mostly to help make a point that any DUI or DWI charge can be a slippery slope.

Leniency in DWI/DUI Cases is Rarely Awarded

This woman had proof on her side. She was able to provide proof of the procedure for which she had been legally prescribed pain medication, which she had taken only as directed. She was also able to prove her BAC was considerably lower than 0.08, which had been a clerical error in the police report. Yet she still had a two-year fight to clear her name.

What I hope to illustrate with the first story is that the state of Arizona is not going to look the other way if you are thought to be guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, especially if they feel the welfare of a child is involved. Always better to be safe, rather than sorry.

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