Tales from the Pot State: Citizen, you are Now a DUI Criminal

Welcome-to-Colorado-Marijuana-Green-Rush_grandeThat means you, Joe Colorado.  You say you don’t drink, have never done drugs and have never broken any laws in your life?  Doesn’t matter.  None of it matters to law enforcement now.  If you drive, you are a DUI criminal, just waiting to be pulled over for no reason, given your sham roadside sobriety test and fleeced by the system.

For the record, I have never, personally, had a Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI) incident.  But here in Colorado, where law enforcement is faced with fairly widespread marijuana use, the anecdotal evidence is piling up that law enforcement is abusing the ambiguity of “influence” to arrest virtually anyone and everyone they encounter and send them to jail with a false DUI charge for no reason whatsoever.

Anecdote #1: “Is this your ice cream truck, Ma’am?  You better come with us.”
Police officer conducting sobriety testOur local ice cream shop is owned by a family, like many such stores, and staffed by high school students most of the time.  The wife and co-owner is a tiny woman who spends a lot of her time running around on shop business.  She’s not very intimidating, but the local cops saw fit to haul her off to jail last week, in the middle of the afternoon, in handcuffs (behind her back), in front of her employees.  Why?  She might have been drunk, of course.  She had just arrived to drop off some supplies and was talking to her guys in the store when a couple of squad cars showed up asking if that was her car outside.  It appeared that someone, a citizen, had called in and reported her for speeding while en route.  Since the police had not witnessed the “crime,” I’m not sure what their next move should have been, but what they DID do was give the poor woman a “roadside sobriety test” right there in her ice cream shop.  Being nervous, apparently, she “failed” the test and was given some nice new bracelets to wear while her employees nearly got arrested, themselves, for their outraged cries and attempts to “interfere” with the “officers.”  This story comes, first hand, from those employees, by the way.  She cooperated, and of course, her blood alcohol level was zero (and drug-free), but that didn’t stop her from spending a little time in jail before her husband bonded her out.  Poor woman.  She didn’t know that being seen going 10 over the speed limit is now a jail crime.

Anecdote #2 “You look suspicious, Kid.  You related to Grunt?”
news1Grunt son #1 spent some time in jail last night, and I had to go bond him out, so I wasn’t too happy with him this morning.  As I reviewed the charges in the Douglas County Jail, however, my anger shifted to a different party.  It turns out that he was pulled over, in the middle of the night, for “drifting over one of the lines” on the empty, six-lane state highway he was heading home on.  He was then given a roadside sobriety test, because … you know, damn kids are always high or drunk.  Guess what?  He failed the test!  But just to be sure, he was given a breathalyzer test, on which he blew zero.  Not drunk!  Not at all.  But since you never know, apparently, he was still arrested and thrown in jail on the very serious and costly charge of DUI, and his car was towed.  I still haven’t been able to figure out where it is.  The obviously-not-high-or-drunk kid is fine.  His court dates are next month, and it’s good for him to experience lying on a county lockup bunk and listening to the woman in the next cell – who IS drunk – wailing all night about her messed up life.

But I’m not happy at all about the lesson here, which is that the local cops now expect to roadside test anyone they please, fail them even when they blow zero on the machine, and charge them falsely with DUI, with total impunity.  Is it a direct result of the legalization of marijuana in this state that is driving this new disregard for any of the old safeguards?  I suspect it is, but it’s just the latest excuse.  People are complaining of law enforcement abuse more vigorously than ever, and the people are farther than ever from having any real recourse when they are abused or falsely accused of crimes.  I found it a little amusing that while my wife and I were hanging out in the county jail waiting room to pick up our son this morning, the TV news featured a story on the dramatic increase of police misconduct caught on video.  It seems to be a national phenomenon, and nobody seems to know why.

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About GruntOfMonteCristo

Fearless and Devout Catholic Christian First, Loving Husband and Father Second, Pissed-Off Patriot Third, Rocket Engineer Dork Last.
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27 Responses to Tales from the Pot State: Citizen, you are Now a DUI Criminal

  1. zmalfoy says:

    Shared on Facebook. This whole trend is very troubling.

  2. Ed Raby Sr says:

    Having several cops as friends I understand the problem from a psychological point of view. They have been fighting this thing in the war on drugs so long it is hard for them to let go. It also is indeed dangerous to drive under the influence of Mary Jane and unlike Alcohol there is no god test for determining how high you are. It makes it difficult on their side keeping people safe so all they really have is suspicion. Unfortunately they need to keep people safe but the techniques are outdated and the technology is not there to make a good assessment.

    • I hear ya. It’s a tough line to walk. I didn’t mention above, but son#2 is actually in law enforcement, and it was an interesting conversation over the breakfast table this morning.

      In response to your comment, all I can say is that I believe the line has been warped for a very long time, and that’s not all the fault of the folks in blue (or, increasingly, in camo and SWAT black). Their job was never to keep people safe from every possible threat. You can’t do that in a free society. Everybody seems to forget that to keep the streets absolutely “safe,” you have to lock up EVERYBODY. That means you, too, Officer Friendly. Because God knows, every once in a while, you forget that you’re screaming through downtown streets at night with your siren off and you t-bone innocent people like some former (now deceased) friends of mine. It happens. Who’s out there protecting us from that?

      Look, it doesn’t take a genius. You remain disciplined and remember that you need a DAMN GOOD REASON to lock someone up and possibly ruin their life. You never do it for an ambiguous reason with little or no evidence. You err on the side of restraint. People used to get put on their way with warnings most of the time, and there was a reason for that. It never happens anymore. I think I was a teenager the last time I was let off with a warning for anything, and that was a long time ago. Now, you pay, no matter what. The last time I heard of anybody getting away with anything was when my cousin was in court in Indianapolis and he was complaining that the hard-core offenders ALL got revolving-door wrist slaps while the people in for (fairly) minor things – DV, DUI, White Collar – got reamed. No mercy. But that’s a slightly different subject: courts.

      Unfortunately, the internal guidance in law enforcement gets skewed and often overshadowed by politics and economics. I’ve seen some of it from the inside, and those guys are (sometimes) running with very little good supervision. Sometimes, there’s virtually no restraint at all, except the constant fear of f*%king up and embarrassing the unit in front of other cops. That, alone, doesn’t protect the citizens. So, nobody notices until the crimes behind the badge get really bad.

      • Ed Raby Sr says:

        Agreed and I all I wanted to point out is that psychologically speaking change is difficult. Plus there is a culture in law enforcement that needs to be changed in reflection of new laws. This of course takes time and often is too slow for most folks. For instance in New York it is illegal to arrest a woman of going topless in public. It has been their right for many years but it was only last year that women in New York noted that they were no longer harassed for doing this. It took that long to educate the officers about the law change. The problem with some institutions like Law enforcement the culture is extremely difficult to bend on a different course. That’s why I am somewhat sympathetic to them and I would like to see that culture change for their sake as much as citizens.

        • Very true, Sir! I apologize for being too willing to broadly condemn without offering much counterweight. The truth is, I have always been sympathetic to law enforcement, and continue to know men and women in the field of excellent character who are very trustworthy and admirable. I suppose it is painful to see some things get worse. Thanks for speaking up!

  3. Pingback: [Frustration Nation NEWS] Tales from the Pot State: Citizen, you are Now a DUI Criminal | forthe1789usconstitution

  4. Knight4GFC says:

    Yes, this epidemic of the abuse of power is getting a bit much! Grunt, you have my support and full understanding here. I hope that it is possible to make this situation right and hold those responsible for this wrongdoing to the line. Please relay this to your son as well. Injustice. Maddening. You may consider getting out of Colorado soon Brother. Colorado is getting crazy.

  5. Adrienne says:

    Thank goodness are local law enforcement is still pretty dang good, but that may not last. We’ve had a few dog killing incidents in the past few months and so they’re all in “how to deal with dogs school.” One of my buddies, who ran for Kootenai Cty Sheriff and is now the chief in Spirit Lake, Idaho, a neighboring community will be helping. He just got back from training dogs in Iraq.

    So far all our dealings with either Post Falls Police or Kootenai Cty Sheriffs has been really wonderful. There’s quite a bit of overlap between the police and the sheriff. We live in the county, but when you get to the end of our road we’re in Post Falls so if the sheriff is tied up a Post Falls police person will take our call. It works well.

    I’m sorry to hear about your son. That’s going to cost a couple grand. Not right. Not right at all!!!

    • Thanks, Adrienne! But it’s really not that big a deal for us this time. If the DUI is tossed, as we expect, it should be under a grand. It’s just the trend that seems a little wrong. We know others who’ve been out jobs and lost tens of thousands for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that seems pretty common.

      Are you near Post Falls? I didn’t know you were in Idaho! Very cool! So, when you’ve talked about the trading company, you mean THE Trading Company. I get it now. We have some very dear friends whose eldest son is getting married in Spokane in 2 weeks. I think he met his fiance at Gonzaga. Not going to make that trip this time, unfortunately. I need to be in Virginia, dang it.

      • Adrienne says:

        Yep – we live in Post Falls on 5 acres just off hwy 41 one mile from I-90. . We’re in this little blip that’s still part of the county. I do food demos a few weekends a month at Trading Co. (which used to be Tidymans.) One of my good friends is a law professor at GU. I also did the Ignatian Retreat in Everyday Life at GU.

        Small world!

        How are you so familiar with this area?

        It would be nice if you could head this way. We’d buy you dinner.

        P.S. Did I mention that our sheriff deputies are the cutest, evah? I may be almost 69 but I’m not dead yet. heh

        • Hah! Funny you should mention the sheriff deputies there. I actually had one of the best experiences with law enforcement ever just over the border in Washington. State Patrol, actually. Great guys! It was the only time I ever intentionally drove anywhere close to 100 mph, and it was on I-90, probably on that straight, desolate section east of Moses Lake. Was in my ’79 Porsche 924, which was built for life on the Autobahn, and I was trying to give it a glimpse of past glory, just for a few minutes, but got nailed by a WSP airplane. The patrolman was the best ever, though, and I happily mailed in my $29 ticket.

          We are very likely to be that way in the next year, and we’d be happy to have dinner with you and your good hub. It would be an honor.

          We’re not actually that familiar with northern Idaho, but love it. We’ve just always had a particular love of the Rockies from New Mexico to Jasper/Banff up in Canada. Most of our time has been spent living here in Colorado. If you’re ever near Denver, please allow us to treat you to dinner at the old St. Francis church in Castle Rock, our favorite restaurant, now the Old Stone Church Restaurant after it was decommissioned and the parish moved up the hill.

          My biggest familiarity to that area are to Gonzaga, to the Salmon River to the south and to Sand Point up north, which is Patrick McManus’s childhood homestead. McManus used to write for Field & Stream and Outdoor Life and was an old hero of mine. Still is. His accounts of growing up Catholic in northern Idaho are priceless.

          • Adrienne says:

            “We are very likely to be that way in the next year, and we’d be happy to have dinner with you and your good hub. It would be an honor.”

            OMGosh! Excited!!

      • Harvey says:

        Only a grand for being innocent? That sounds like a shakedown racket.

  6. texan59 says:

    IMO what we are seeing is the confluence of many disparate actions finally coming together. We are seeing many communities who have been receiving less and less state/Fed funding. We are seeing the fruits of the “War on Drugs” coming to a head. We have the increased militarization of our city/county constabulary without much training for appropriateness of the deployment of those resources. In CO you now add the legal weed into the mix. We have, to some extent, the dumbing down of LEO in general with affirmative action hires, and the age old problem at the county level with some patronage/cronyism hiring that has gone on for years. Mix all this together and the soup you make is not likely to taste very good. You also have some SCOTUS decisions regarding the 4th amendment and you have things like in Houston and San Antonio where there is a “No Refusal” policy on blowing into the box. Bingo, just like with the IRS, you are now assumed guilty until you prove you are innocent.

    I’ve had some long talks with my pop about this. He was and IN state popo back in the early to mid-60’s. Before/after Miranda. When he was hired on he had four years in the Navy, real world experience and was 27 when he went out on the streets. You have to remember that almost all of your patrol officers do not have any college education. LEO wants to teach you how to act and think and what to do, much like the military. Only as you move up the chain of command is it really OK to get some book learning. The other thing is that with the plethora of legal actions that come about, a cop has been given almost no leeway to “use their better judgement”. If someone is suspected of DUI, you can pretty much figure they are going to spend the night in the Iron Bar Hilton. No more following you home, or giving you a ride to a friends house. Unfortunately, it’s something else that lawyers have screwed up. If they stop someone and let them go, the little town you live in can be sued to high heaven if that dude does hurt someone later that evening. While pop was proud of the work he did, never having to draw his sidearm one time in almost six years on the force, he doesn’t think much of the state of policing as it exists today.

    Grunt, sorry to hear about this situation. It is a very valuable, but expensive, teachable moment for all involved. As for Adrienne, I too have some connections in your neck of the woods. My ex lives there and she is an attorney. I found out from her what it meant when they use the term “practicing law” as she did with me for about 17 years. 😉

    • Adrienne says:

      @Texan59

      You said: “I too have some connections in your neck of the woods” Does that mean connections to me or to Grunt?

      P.S. I lived in Houston for about 17 years during the boom years. Can you say partay? . I consider myself half Texan.

      • texan59 says:

        Glad to hear you spent some time in this great state. My connection would be to you. My ex lives in Post Falls and previously in Coeur d’Alene.

        • Adrienne says:

          I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing – or just a thing. I won’t ask you to divulge her name publicly. What type of law does she practice?

          • texan59 says:

            Across the board. Her hubby is a veterinarian with an office in CDA. You can probably figure it out. They don’t use the same last name. 🙄

  7. Deserttrek says:

    too many cops are worse than the criminals ….. wear a mask and kick down doors at night? commies and criminals do that, get shot your own fault boys ….. time for sanity to prevail and stop the gang banger cop mentality. it should never be us versus them , if that is the mind set then get out of the profession

  8. freedom1781 says:

    Oh no! Grunt, I am so sorry to hear this. I told hubby about your son’s situation; he has some advice which is probably best sent via email. Hubby has dealt with corrupt cops and knows a lot of their nasty tricks. Is the Colorado State Police just as bad as the local police?

    • I don’t think so, Freedom. And please, don’t get me wrong. I don’t really know if this constitutes malicious corruption. It may just be extreme carelessness.

      We’re just fine except for having to deal with court dates. Gruntessa has been affected more than any of us, though. She is extremely gun-shy and hesitates to drive anywhere, at all, at any time, for fear of having to deal with that question: “Ma’am, do you mind if we conduct a roadside sobriety test?” We just went out for a couple of beers tonight, but we walked down the hill rather than get in the car. I think that’s the way it’s going to be for a while. That’s all.

      Send along Hubby’s advice via email. I appreciate it!

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