How can we explain all the people who should know better getting DUIs? Never mind the average driver, who should know better, what about the cops, the firefighters, the attorneys, even the judges who get DUIs. It happens all the time in California and in every state. In Austin Texas, the District Attorney—not a district attorney—but the District Attorney, an elected official who was the head of the District Attorney’s Office in that city of over 1 million people, was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in 2013. She was driving in a bike lane (good thing there were no bikers in the lane) for more than a mile and was also observed veering into oncoming traffic. When she was stopped by the police, they found an opened bottle of vodka on the front seat. Her BAC was 0.239! Folks, that is three times the limit and near the level that results in alcohol poisoning and loss of consciousness.

Perhaps some of these people think they are “above the law” or that they can use their influence to get out of a drunk driving arrest. But I suspect it is more likely that many of our public servants, be they police officers, firefighters, judges, district attorneys or representatives in the Legislature who have been arrested for DUI have an addiction. As with many repeat offenders who drive drunk even though they have been convicted of DUI one or more times and know the consequences will be progressively more severe, still get behind the wheel after drinking, it is the addiction that overrules common sense.

The problem is that punishment and even the alcohol education that offenders are required to complete often don’t address the underlying causes for the addiction. Scientists still don’t completely understand what causes addiction to alcohol, or to any other drug. Nor is there a treatment that works for everyone. It is considered a chronic disease because it changes the structure of the brain and it is thought to be incurable but treatable.

In the alcohol addict, the brain adapts to the influence of alcohol over time and the addict becomes increasingly tolerant to its effects. Increasingly, the addict needs more and more alcohol to achieve the intoxicating effect of the alcohol. This may explain why some people, such as the Austin District Attorney, could still be driving a car, albeit in a dangerous manner, when most of us would be conked out at three times the legal limit.

Science has long sought the holy grail of effective addiction treatment or even a cure. Some promising drug therapies target certain brain receptors, while others promote alcohol intolerance. Researchers also believe psychotherapy is a critical component in treating alcohol addiction. While “DUI school” and mandatory attendance at AA meetings may help some drivers, who are convicted of DUI, it is probably not enough for the addict. People from any walk of life can be afflicted with addiction and while the law punishes them if they drive while under the influence, we need better answers and better treatments.

Orange County DUI attorney, William Weinberg, is available for a complimentary consultation regarding your DUI matter. You may contact him at his Irvine office at (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at

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