Intoxicated Owasso Vice Mayor Avoids DUI Arrest

Most DUI arrests go something like this: A police officer notices a vehicle crossing the center line, weaving within the lane, running stop signs, driving excessively slowly, or committing some other traffic infraction which typically indicates drunk driving. The officer pulls over the vehicle, asks the driver for his ID, notes the reason for the stop, and asks the driver if he has been drinking. The driver is then asked to perform one or more Standardized Field Sobriety Tests--the one-legged stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. Depending on the driver's performance on these tests, he may be asked to blow into a portable breathalyzer machine to analyze his blood alcohol concentration. Based on the erratic driving, inability to satisfactorily perform field sobriety tests, and the BAC indicated by the breath test, the driver is placed under arrest and transported to county jail on suspicion of DUI. Of course, that's most DUI stops. If you are the Vice Mayor of Owasso, Oklahoma, things might go a little differently. Police video from February 1 shows Vice Mayor Chris Kelly being pulled over on suspicion of DUI, staggering through his field sobriety tests, and then being placed under arrest. However, at that point, another officer asks the arresting officer to turn off his recorder. When video resumes, the public official is no longer under arrest, but is instead being offered a ride home. Police video of a stop of Owasso Vice-Mayor Christopher Kelley shot early Feb. 1. from Tulsa World on Vimeo. Since the video was released, many people have cried foul, saying that Kelley was shown preferential treatment, and that he should have been arrested for drunk driving. Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray, who has since been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into his office's internal affairs, ordered the city's information technology director to purge the police videos showing Kelley's traffic stop. Ray said that because no case existed, there was no reason to keep the nonevidentiary videos, in accordance with Owasso policy. Though Kelley admitted he had "a few drinks" before driving home, he insists that he was not impaired by alcohol, but rather tired during the 2:00 a.m. traffic stop. He says that police were not showing favoritism, but rather exercising discretion in providing him with a ride home rather than an arrest record. What may have been intended as a positive public relations move has turned into a public relations nightmare for the Owasso Police Department. Critics say police turned a blind eye to an act that would mean criminal charges for anyone else, and they point to the 2009 DUI arrest of Vice Mayor D.J. Gall, who was cited for DUI and speeding and stripped of his title. Most Oklahoma drivers cannot count on special treatment if they are driving while impaired. Rather, a similar traffic stop can lead to at least a night in jail, a car in impound, and criminal charges that bring fines, license suspension and more. Finding a DUI lawyer to handle your defense is critical for a positive outcome. For most of us, there is no diplomatic immunity for DUI.

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