In what must be a record—I have certainly never seen this in my almost 25-year career defending DUIs—an Orange County man was recently arrested for DUI, his ninth in six years! Several news outlets even reported that it was actually his tenth DUI arrest in six years. This driver is (or was) a successful businessman with a company that employs over 50 people and at one time, he was paying a driver $50,000 a year to drive him around.
On January 29, after crashing his vehicle into an electrical box in Placentia, police responded and found the driver to be under the influence. Not only was he driving under the influence but he was driving on a suspended license (for prior DUIs) and he was also cited for not having an ignition interlock device on his vehicle. (I am not sure why an IID would be ordered if his license was suspended but perhaps the court had ordered the IID when, and if, his license was reinstated.)
The driver clearly has an addiction problem. Despite being sentenced to prison for his seventh DUI in 2014, he received an eighth DUI in 2015 and was sentenced to prison again. He entered rehab and agreed to take Vivitrol, a drug that is used to help with drug and alcohol dependencies. He was under Post-Release Community Supervision, when this recent DUI occurred. Post-Release Community Supervision is a type of probation supervision that is offered to non-violent offenders, mostly to relieve the California prison overcrowding.
It appears from the reports that he did stop drinking alcohol but substituted his alcohol addiction with GHB, commonly called the “date rape drug” but also abused for its effect on the central nervous system, causing the user to feel euphoric. The driver has been open with his probation officer about his need to “numb his pain.”
This driver has been booked into Orange County jail on felony charges and given his DUI history, this time he is likely to spend some very serious time in prison. Many will say he can’t seem to learn his lesson so lock him up and throw away the key. And I would agree on one level – he is just darn lucky he never injured or killed someone driving under the influence. But on a deeper level, an issue that this society, or more to the point, science, has failed to resolve is the issue of addiction itself—whether it is addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Addicts are dangerous on the road and pose many threats to our society, but as this driver told his probation officer: he is driven to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain. So many addicts are suffering from psychological and/or physical pain; it’s unfair to judge them harshly without understanding what that is like. I am not excusing driving under the influence, but until we have a better understanding of what drives the addict and how to effectively treat addiction, we will not solve the problem of the repeat DUI offender.
William Weinberg has almost 25 years of experience in defending drivers charged with driving under the influence. You may consult with him about your DUI matter by contacting him at his Irvine office at 949-474-8008 or emailing him at Bill@williamweinberg.com.