Aug 13, 2007

Garfield ducks second drunk driving conviction

Just 24 hours before jury selection was set to begin, it appears the second drunk driving charge against Rep. John Garfield, R- Rochester Hills, may be dismissed. The moral of the story seems to be with a good lawyer anything is possible, or justice is only for those who can’t afford a good lawyer.

Ingham County prosecutor Stuart Dunnings told subscription only Gongwer that he has submitted a motion to the 54-B District Court Judge to dismiss the second drunk driving charge. Dunnings said the video evidence of Garfield being pulled over by Michigan State University police on March 29 for not wearing his seat belt "doesn't jive with what was being said." I’m not really sure what that means, unless they pulled him over first because they suspected he was driving drunk at that hour of the morning and used his not wearing a seat belt as justification for pulling him over after the fact. However, that is pure speculation on my part.

But there appears to little doubt of Garfield’s guilt. His blood alcohol level was .14, and the legally drunk level is .08. The day after Garfield was arrested his chief-of-staff, Dave Jessup, said, "This is an ongoing battle he is fighting with alcohol,'' he said. ''He is home in the district and is taking steps to deal with this.''

Following his first drunk driving convention in 2005, Garfield used the standard GOP alibi and checked himself into a rehabilitation center, claiming he had a problem that was aggravated by pain medication he has taken for several years. His hometown newspaper, the Oakland Press, called for his immediate resignation following his second arrest, but it appears there will be no consequences for Garfield, either from law enforcement or the Republican “leadership.”

Ironically, in the same issue of Gongwer the Michigan Office of Highway and Safety Planning announced it is running a new advertising campaign aimed at getting people to not drink and drive as a statewide blitz on offending drivers that begins Friday. The TV ads will begin running immediately, and a state police crackdown on drunk drivers will run from Friday until September 3. "Drinking too much and driving is a dangerous combination, and the result isn't pretty," OHSP Director Michael L. Prince said. "The consequences of a drunk driving conviction, such as fines and increased insurance rates, are very serious and are a drain on offenders' wallets for years."

That is unless you have a good attorney.

UPDATE: The Detroit News on Tuesday confirmed the charges have been dropped. No word on why.


Chet said...

Garfield got lucky on this one, and while I think its not entirely fair ad agree with you on that, I'd point out that civil libertarians fought long and hard for the ability to throw out cases where the police don't line up their ducks.

But alas, Garfield is term-limited, and even (especially) Republican consultants will remember the issue if that time ever came again at another level.

Communications guru said...

I was under the mistaken belief that he should be held to a higher standard, and that does not include getting off on a technicality. There’s no excused when he has paid staffers that could, in a pinch, keep a drunk from behind the wheel.

Chet said...

He is to be held to a higher standard politically. That's why Republicans have denounced him and he won't be re-elected. In court, I can't change the way the process works -- are you arguing that technicalities should be abolished?

Communications guru said...

Wow. The Republicans really went out of their way to denounce him. The silence is deafening. Very big of you also to concede he won’t be re-elected since he’s term-limited. No, what I am arguing is perhaps lawmakers should make the law not break it.