Early Thanksgiving morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Gerard Sullivan, was stopped by Warwick police for driving erratically. Allegedly, Mr. Sullivan told the police that he was a federal prosecutor and acquaintance of the police chief. Instead of being charged with DUI, Mr. Sullivan was charged only with refusal to take a breathalyzer, a lesser civil charge.
Typically, an officer will charge a suspected drunk driver with DUI based on the surrounding circumstances (i.e. erratic driving, slurred speech, smell of alcohol and/or weed), even absent a positive breathalyzer test. The public was outraged over the lack of the more serious charge suggesting this was another case of favortism and cronyism. In fact, of 8 people stopped in Warwick over the Holiday weekend who refused a breathalyzer, Mr. Sullivan was the only person NOT charged with DUI.
Today, the Providence Journal is reporting, that Warwick will charge Mr. Sullivan with both refusal to take a breathalyzer and DUI. Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney stated “The legal review showed that the arresting officer’s observations of impaired driving in this particular case were more than sufficient probable cause to bring forward the aforementioned additional DUI charge.” Whether this was police procedure or a knee-jerk reaction to public outrage is for the public to decide.
It is also worth noting that when a lawyer is pulled over for suspicion of DUI – he (or she) refuses the breathalyzer test. This is a lesson to anyone who might find him or herself in this unfortunate circumstance.
If you have been charged with DUI and/or refusal to take a breathalyzer test, contact our office right away for a free consultation.