The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “Hypocrisy” as “a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.” Hypocrisy is the subject of today’s blog.
On May 4th, 1988 Arizona DPS Officer Alley (Badge No. 2854) responded to a minor traffic accident on Interstate 17 near milepost 211.7. There, he found a woman with a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage, flushed face, watery and bloodshot eyes. She had “think-tongued” speech and her eyes demonstrated a “poor reaction to light.”
Officer Alley asked the woman what happened and she responded “someone hit me in the rear and I hit the van.” The officer asked her how much she had to drink that night and the woman responded “one scotch.”
As Officer Alley proceeded with his investigation, he noted that the rear of the woman’s car had “no evidence of contact by another vehicle.” He was also unable to discern any skid marks. Officer Alley elected to do a HGN Field Sobriety Test (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus eye test) on the woman and he determined that her alcohol concentration was above .10 (the legal limit in 1988). He called for another officer and DPS Officer Bush arrived (Badge No. 4011) and took over.
Just prior to Officer Bush’s arrival, Officer Alley noted a sign on the floor board of the back seat which had been attached the rear window and had come loose during the accident. The sign read “ARIZONA STATE SENATOR.” Officer Alley relayed this information to Officer Bush.
The woman was then asked to do more field sobriety tests, but she complained of ankle pain. She tried the tests anyway and did poorly on the One-Leg-Stand, Finger-to-Nose, Rhomberg Modified and Walk-and-Turn tests. The officer then conducted another Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus eye test and again concluded that she was above a .10 alcohol concentration.
Realizing that arresting a State Senator was something that he should report to his supervisors, Officer Bush notified Sgt. Fitch (#861) of the circumstances. Sgt. Fitch met Officer Bush at a 7-11 parking lot with the handcuffed State Senator in the backseat of his patrol car. They called Sgt. Rodgers (#1598) to notify him of the situation. In turn, Lieutenant E. Felix (#682) was notified by police dispatch.
The woman was brought to the University Station where she was to speak to Lieutenant Felix about “administrative matters.” She was polite and cooperative and stated that she only drank two scotches (as opposed to her earlier statement of only consuming one) and was not drunk. After speaking with Lieutenant Felix, he and Sgt. Rodgers drove her to her residence at 68th and Union Hills Road.
Arizona law provides immunity from arrest to legislators while the Legislature is in session. It does not, however, provide immunity from prosecution. Charges could have been filed at any time within one year from the date of the incident. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office elected not to prosecute her.
So, how does a 1988 DUI-Accident investigation have any relevance 25 years later? The woman–State Senator Janice K. Brewer went on to become Arizona Governor Janice K. Brewer in 2009. She presided over one of the biggest crack-downs on drunk driving in Arizona history. The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety relentlessly pursues the prosecution of even minor drinking offenses. Mandatory jail time, thousands of dollars in fines and license loss are just a few of the things that await someone convicted of DUI in Arizona–yet our governor walked away unscathed.
And that’s the subject of today’s blog. And that’s hypocrisy.