Police Lights

One might think that since police officers are so often first-hand witnesses to the damage caused by drinking and driving, they would never get behind the wheel while under the influence. Sadly, that's not true.

An investigation in 2010 by the New York Daily News found that over an 11-year period, at least 55 active-duty New York Police Department officers were charged with DUI. The newspaper reported that all of them took plea deals and none ended up with felony charges on their records.

Crash Victims Were Friends, College Students

Now another NYPD officer is facing DUI charges and more after a tragic incident in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn in the early morning hours of July 16. The 28-year-old officer was scheduled to report for duty in a few hours when he allegedly drove his Dodge Durango onto a sidewalk and through a wrought-iron fence, severely injuring three people and killing a fourth one. According to one witness, one victim's leg "was in half." Another man was reportedly impaled on a railing.

Officer Facing Multiple Charges

Bystanders prevented the officer from exiting his vehicle while others attended to those who were injured. Another bystander captured the scene on a cellphone.

The officer, who has been on the force for less than two years and worked for the Transit Borough Manhattan Task Force, is facing multiple charges. They include vehicular manslaughter, vehicular assault, criminally negligent homicide and DUI. Authorities say that he showed signs of intoxication, but refused to submit to a blood-alcohol level test.

After being treated for minor injuries, he was arraigned and released on $300,000 bail. It was not reported whether his blood was tested while he was there. He has been suspended from his job without pay.

No one condones drinking and driving, and certainly, it can be difficult to find sympathy for anyone whose actions result in injury or death. However, everyone has legal rights that should be protected so that they're not wrongfully convicted. For those who are convicted or plead guilty to a crime, there are also alternatives that can be more productive to the community and the defendant than long-term incarceration. It's a criminal defense attorney's job to work towards those goals.