In May, two judges in Broward County faced issues with DUI driving. One Broward County judge was suspended from the bench after being in a car collision and being arrested for DUI charges. A Broward Circuit Judge was also arrested after colliding with a parked patrol car in Fort Lauderdale. The judge in that case had trouble passing a field sobriety test but had a .000 in two breath alcohol tests. The judge alleged that she had taken Ambien before the incident. In November of last year, another Broward County judge was arrested on DUI charges following an incident in Boca Raton. The judges were booked and eventually released on bond or bail in all cases.
The charges have some questioning whether the judges should be permitted to continue serving on the bench. Judges are of course expected to be impartial and fair in DUI/DWI cases in Hollywood and other Broward County cases. If the judges are dealing with criminal conduct themselves, it can raise the question of whether they can be unbiased when faced with similar cases at work.
The arrests also have some questioning why the drunk driving charges are occurring. Drivers of course know that drunk driving can cause car accidents in Hollywood and Broward County communities. Why would educated drivers take such risks with their safety and the safety of others?
If nothing else, the arrests point to the fact that knowing that drunk driving in Hollywood is unsafe may not be enough to prevent instances of driving under the influence. There may be many reasons why drivers continue to drive inebriated:
1) Drivers may be so inebriated that they have a hard time recognizing their risks. The most recently arrested Broward Circuit Judge, when interviewed by police after her collision, claimed that she had been in an accident earlier in the day. Police reported that she had claimed that she had been forced off the road by a truck but when she showed police a cell phone video of the alleged collision they saw the judge’s vehicle weaving around the road and colliding with a barrier. No truck was apparent in the video. In addition, the judge repeatedly told police that she had not been drinking, although she had trouble standing on one leg and police reported that her speech was slurred. In some cases, such as this one, someone who is inebriated or affected by medication may have a hard time determining that they are incapable of driving safely. In these cases, it is important for others around them to prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
2) Drivers may feel little or no social pressure to avoid drinking and driving. Some drivers may feel that they will not cause a car or truck accident in Hollywood or their community and may get behind the wheel of a truck after drinking because they think they can get away with it.
3) Drivers may tell themselves that driving under the influence is acceptable “this once.” Sometimes, drivers will excuse or justify driving under the influence. Commercial truck drivers, for example, may think that they need to make a deadline or may tell themselves that they are not “that” affected. In some cases, a motorist may think they are fine to drive because they are skilled or because they have only a short distance to drive. Of course, none of these excuses are acceptable.
4) More education may be need to be done about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter medication. Medication can be just as dangerous when driving as alcohol and some drivers may be unaware of the risks of driving after taking a specific medication. Medications such as Ambien and others can and do lead to serious accidents each year. It is important for patients to read their medication instructions and for doctors and pharmacists to warn patients of the dangers.
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