Martinsburg police arrest fellow officer at sobriety checkpoint

Our last post discussed the apparent inefficacy of sobriety checkpoints in West Virginia and other states. Critics of sobriety checkpoints (also called DUI checkpoints) argue that they are expensive, inconvenient to drivers and net relatively few arrests for drunk driving. Roving patrols have proven to be more efficient and cost-effective.

Nonetheless, West Virginia law enforcement agencies continue to use sobriety checkpoints on a regular basis. In some instances their widely cast net ends up catching other law enforcement officers.

On an evening in late August, a 38-year-old driver was one of many stopped by Martinsburg police operating a sobriety checkpoint. This driver happened to have a blood-alcohol concentration of nearly twice the legal limit, which is why he was charged with aggravated driving under the influence. He also happened to be police officer who works in nearby Harpers Ferry.

There are several reasons why it is relevant to discuss a police officer being arrested for drunk driving, and none of them has to do with public shaming. Instead, this incident reinforces the idea that although drunk driving is dangerous and therefore a “bad” behavior, an individual isn’t necessarily a bad person because he made the mistake of driving under the influence.

When facing DUI charges, defendants have a lot at stake, including their reputation, their community standing, their job and their freedom. Cases like this remind us that anyone may find themselves needing help from an experienced criminal defense attorney – even those who normally issue DUI charges rather than receive them.

Source: Herald-Mail Media, “Veteran W.Va. police officer charged with drunken driving,” Matthew Umstead, Aug. 26, 2014

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