Friday, September 5, 2014

A Good Bust?

The phone rang late yesterday afternoon at our little Blog Cabin in the Hills of Agoura, when the call was over, I was angry and upset in so many different ways. I was so bothered by the call, I spent 2 hours (from 2am to 4am) doing's the story.

A friend of ours, Cake's mentor during her time at the Ad Agency, was arrested on "suspicion of DUI". Had she been drinking, yes. Was she over the .08 limit in California? Don't know.

Here's how it played out:

Friend leaves cook out a friend's house. Her two kids drive home in son's car, she came from work and has her car. Shares a bottle of wine before during and after dinner. Eats a grilled burger, baked beans and potato salad on top of cheese and crackers (before dinner) with her share of the wine. Friend has one more glass with her hostess and says good night.

Dark, curving suburban road in Thousand Oaks not far from her home. Friend misjudges a curve and runs over a concrete marker pylon on edge of road, minimal damage to front bumper of car. Car won't move because it's hung up on pylon. Hitting the pylon made some noise and lights go on in the neighborhood. Friend calls AAA and walks across street and talks to one of the neighbors and tells them what happened. They chat for 20 minutes. The pylon wasn't damaged and her car has less than $500 in damages. No requirement to inform police at this level in California.

AAA truck arrives, hooks car up and begins to lift it. TO cop shows up and stops process. Friend says what? Cop says "I need to investigate the accident scene." Cop sends AAA away. Cop starts a dialogue with our friend asking her what happened. Friend is upset, asks cop why he sent the tow truck away, she tells him she needs to get home, she has a meeting with a client at 7:30 in the morning. Friend doesn't yell or get nasty but asks questions of the cop. Asks him if he's going to give her a ticket. Another cop arrives, observes the scene and apparently calls for back up. Within minutes there are 5 cops surrounding our friend, 5 cop cars with lights flashing in the middle of this neighborhood where the minimum price of admission is well over a million dollars. people are standing in their yards watching. Cop has said nothing to our friend about drinking or why she is being detained. Cop finally asks if she has been drinking and shines a flashlight in her eyes. Friend says she had wine with dinner. Cop then turns her around and cuffs her. Does not perform road side sobriety test or ask her to blow a portable breathalyzer. Cop asks where she had dinner and drinks, friend tells him and he dispatches one of the cops to the home where she had dinner and cop interviews her hostess.

Handcuffed and surrounded by 4 cops asking her the same questions over and over, friend watches cops make un-authorized search of her car and purse. Cop who interviewed her hostess comes back and discusses what he found out with the first cop. Cops confer for 10 minutes. She has yet to be charged with anything and has not been given her Miranda rights. Cops don't have to give you your rights until you're charged and they have 48 hours to charge you. Until you're charged, you have no rights at all.

Sgt. shows up at midnight marches into the circle of cops and says, "we can do this the hard way or the easy way." Friend says what are you talking about?" Cop says, "we can take you to the county jail or take you to the hospital for a blood test, either way you're going to get one." Friend says, Am I being arrested?" Sgt.says nothing and asks her the same questions for another 15 minutes while she stands in the circle of cops, 6 of them now. Leaving three cops to guard our friend, the Sgt. confers with the original cop and the cop who went to the hostess's house, this takes about ten minutes.

Friend is loaded into the backseat of a cop car and taken to local hospital for blood test. When she arrives with the original cop they are joined by two more. She is frog marched into the emergency room and taken to the lab guarded by two cops, she is not allowed to sit down, the cops do. She stands and waits for a lab tech to take her blood. While she stands, handcuffed, the cops sit and shoot the shit about the Dodgers and the NFL. She has to take a pee and asks the cops if she can, they say "No" and go back to baseball. The first cop comes in and joins the discussion, she asks again if she can go to the bathroom. "No" again. She says, "I have to go so badly that you can come to the bathroom with me or one of the women from the emergency room can." Cop says, "No." Friend is convinced they want her to piss herself.

Lab tech shows up takes the blood. Friend is frog marched back through the waiting room and put back in the cop car, she is driven to the county jail annex in Simi Valley. She is put into a holding cell still handcuffed, asks if she can go to the bathroom again is told "No." She does get to sit on a bench in the holding cell. Asks cop if she can call home and tell her kids where she is, cop says "No." comes back 5 minutes later and asks how old the kids are, she says 10 and 17, cop says nothing and walks away. Friend figures the cops just wanted to cover their asses or if the kids were younger charge her with child endangerment.

She's told she is going to be held over night, she is un-cuffed, searched and given a jumpsuit and locked in a cell. She asks again if she is going to be charged, cop says, "depends on the result of your blood test." In the cell she finally gets to take a pee. Lays down on bunk, cries her eyes out until 7am

She is released on her own recognizance after being charged with 'suspicion of DUI" and finally told of her rights. Cops keep her driver's license and give her  paper permit and her clothing and personal belongings back, they tell her she will have an initial court appearance in 30 days, the court will contact her. Cop now says she can make a phone call. Friend calls her kids. 10 year old daughter is crazy with worry, 17 year old says he'll stay home with sister until she gets home. Friend asks cop if they have the results of her blood test, is told "No." Asks where her car is? Cop hands her the business card of a tow lot. Cop tells her to "have a nice day".Friend takes the card, gets a cab, pays $425 dollars to get her car out of the lot. Calls her boss, tells her she is sick and won't be in.

Gets home and comforts her daughter. Calls DUI attorney, pays $1600 deposit for his initial services.

Her attorney thinks the cops waited too long to blood test her and the result of the test will be under the limit. He also thinks they were very indecisive in the way they handled her in the beginning because they didn't feel they had solid evidence. He said they seldom do the Road Side test anymore on adults because it gets tossed because it's designed for anyone, drunk or sober to fail. The Portable Breathalyzer is generally used only on teens because it is notoriously inaccurate and is easily challenged in court. He thinks there was so much discussion between the cops at the scene was they needed to get their stories straight. Before she left his office she asked him if he thought she was treated badly, he said, 'No, what happened to you is what happens to everybody in one way or another." She said, "Really?" he added this final note, "If you were black or Hispanic they would have said you resisted arrest and then roughed you up a little just because they can. You're lucky you're a 50 year old, nicely dressed white woman driving a nice car in a nice neighborhood."

Best case scenario, case dismissed, It will cost her about 3-4,000 dollars. Worst case, conviction, total costs somewhere between 10 and 12k with the increase in insurance. Loss of license for 12 months, maybe 48 hours in jail, community service and AA meetings for a year.

Ugly huh?

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