Home > It's A Legal Matter > Feeling fine might be a crime

Feeling fine might be a crime

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2014-06-09


Tim is one of the youngest assistant managers at his company and makes good money for a twenty-nine year old. Heís single and works all of the time. Tim isnít a real person.

Four years ago, Timís friends took Tim out to celebrate his birthday. They bought him shots and got him drunk. Timís friends were supposed to drive him home. But, they got distracted and didnít realize Tim left the bar Ė in his truck! A police officer arrested Tim minutes later after finding him slumped over his steering wheel and asleep at a green light with his foot on the brake.

The experience changed Tim. He served a few days in jail and then completed one year of probation. Tim partied less and began working more. He worked his way up at his job and really got his act together. Tim knew how fortunate he was that he didnít hurt someone that night.

Whenever friends were going out, Tim always made a point to remind them to have designated drivers. Timís co-workers and friends often accepted his invitation to call him for a late night ride home from the bars.

Two weeks ago, Tim went out to dinner with his girlfriend, Taya. Since she was driving, Tim ordered Bourbon. Taya drank a beer and then went up to the bar to talk with a friend.

Tim finished his drink and then went up to the bar to see Taya. Taya was on her second beer and had just slammed two lemon drop shots with her friend. She seemed to be relaxed and having fun. Tim told Taya that he would drive home. Tim stopped drinking.

Tim and Taya finished dinner. Taya gladly turned her keys over to Tim. The two left after Taya finished her last beer. Tim got into the driverís seat, adjusted the mirrors and moved the seat back. Tim felt fine. Tim pulled out of the well-lit parking lot and turned right. About ten seconds later, he noticed a police car behind him.

Tim instantly tightened up. He remembered drinking the Bourbon, but he felt okay. He could talk and walk just fine. Taya was drunk, Tim wasnít.

The officerís emergency lights went on and he pulled over Timís car. The officer told Tim that failed to turn on his headlights. Tim realized that the headlights on his girlfriendís car didnít turn on automatically. The officer asked Tim if he had been drinking. Tim told him he had one drink.

After taking a portable breath test, the officer told Tim he was taking him to the jail for a certified breath test. At the jail, Tim blew .08 (gram of alcohol per 210 liters of breath), which is just over the legal limit. Tim passed field sobriety tests and even the officer commented that he thought Tim would be under the limit.

The prosecutor charged Tim with a Class D felony because he had a prior drunk driving conviction within five years. Tim went from a nice night out with his girlfriend to being charged with a crime that carries a three-year maximum prison sentence and a lengthy license suspension.

Tim no longer felt fine.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.

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