Florida Police Officer Caught Driving Under the Influence
People rely on police officers to keep them safe and hold them accountable for following the law, so the residents of Polk County were shocked when a Lake Wales law enforcement officer was arrested for driving under the influence. In early January of 2019, the officer—Kendrick Bridges—was driving on I-4 when he lost control of his vehicle and drove into a tree. The vehicle rolled on its side, which is where other law enforcement officers found Bridges. To make matters worse, Bridges was driving a state-owned vehicle when the crash occurred.
Anyone Can Suffer the Consequences of a DUI
Cases like this raise important questions—can your choice of career protect you from DUI charges? Do those with power and influence escape the consequences of driving while impaired? In fact, those in positions of power or prestige may find that they are held to even tougher standards. Prosecutors may want to make examples of those in the public eye to drive home the dangers of drunk driving and discourage others from taking this risk. After his arrest, Bridges was taken to Polk County Jail to await his court appearance, showing that those sworn to protect their community are expected to follow the rules they uphold.
Property and Career Damage
Driving while under the influence can be expensive. Beyond the standard fines and increased insurance risks drivers face, they are also held responsible for the damage they cause while under the influence. In this case, Bridges totaled a state vehicle and damaged local wildlife, both of which could impact the severity of his sentence.
A DUI can also weaken your career prospects. This is particularly true for those in the field of law enforcement, where a DUI charge can prevent you from even being considered for open positions. Avoiding a conviction should be a high priority for those with careers that could be negatively impacted by impaired driving charges.
Factors That Can Complicate DUI Charges
Numerous factors can complicate a DUI arrest. Much depends on what happens during the traffic stop. In this Polk County case, Bridges refused to take a Breathalyzer test. In Florida, that means a mandatory license suspension. Other circumstances can complicate this hard-and-fast rule. For example, if a traffic stop is made without probable cause, your refusal to take a Breathalyzer test can’t be used against you.
Medical issues can also change muddy the waters in a DUI traffic stop. Consider the Bridges case; the arresting officer observed orbital sway, dilated and bloodshot pupils, and Bridges’ inability to pass a field sobriety test. Certain medical diagnoses have symptoms that mimic those observed in impaired drivers, leading to the arrest of innocent people.
Don’t Take On a DUI Arrest Alone
If you’ve been stopped for driving under the influence, it’s important to act quickly to protect your rights and build a strong case. Call Lockett Law in Jacksonville Beach at (904) 858-9818 to discuss the specifics of your case.