Cops, DUIs and the “Law Enforcement Discount”
It stands to reason that police officers are hired in part because of their moral fiber. They care about the well-being of citizens and ensuring laws are being followed. But, they aren’t robots. Police officers are just as human as the rest of us. However, they often face more stress in one day than many of us do in a year. For some people, alcohol helps take away the stress of work. And that’s okay, as long as it doesn’t endanger the lives of others.
When a police officer chooses to drink and drive, it can shatter the image of them being heroes — or at least defenders — of the community. If you ask the average citizen, they will say officers should be held responsible for their actions and should face the proper consequences. But according to a recent investigation, that simply isn’t the case.
Have a Badge? Free to Go
In the past three years, 165 officers have been charged with driving under the influence. However, in just 14 of these cases — less than 10 percent — the officer’s certification was revoked by a state agency. That means the rest of the 151 officers were free to continue their careers as law enforcement officers. In many instances, they still had to pay their fines, but were essentially left off the hook otherwise.
In many cases around metro Atlanta, driving under the influence was not the only charge. They may have been speeding, or been guilty of reckless driving. However, they were given what was called the “law enforcement discount.” What that means is that they may have been cited for one or two minor charges, but were otherwise not punished.
The Case of a Sheriff’s Deputy
One particular case stuck out in the investigation: that of Matthew Guy. Guy, a former Coweta County Sheriff’s deputy, was pulled over in 2013 at 1 a.m. for speeding in Newnan. The Newnan officer approached the car and said he smelled alcohol. Guy refused a sobriety test, and a routine arrest was made. However, the Newnan officer called the Coweta Sheriff’s office, and later two Coweta deputies show up.
After brief conversation, Guy is uncuffed. He is cited for speeding and DUI — compared to the normal punishment, a slap on the wrist. Reviewing the tape, one expert said, “(Guy) clearly got preferential treatment because anyone else in that same situation would have been taken to jail.” The charge later got reduced to reckless driving, and Guy resigned.
However, that wasn’t the first time Guy had a boozy run-in with the law. The year before, he got into a drunken fight with a fellow deputy, leaving him substantially injured. The deputy had to get stitches in his face and needed thousands of dollars of dental work done. Rather than being charged with assault and battery, Guy had to pay the dental bill and was suspended for a week.
After his resignation, Guy was put on probation by a state board for his actions. Soon after, however, he was hired by the Grantville Police Department.
Facing Your Own DUI?
While police officers may sometimes be pardoned for drunk driving even while they still sit intoxicated in their car, regular citizens aren’t so lucky. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Atlanta, chances are you’re facing some serious consequences. An attorney at Hawkins Spizman Kilgo can help you fight the charges. Call today; your first consultation is free.