DUI: A look at Legislative Mindset

Billy Bob knew for certain, without exception, that his son, Willy, was the best teenage football player in the county. He was the fastest. He was the smartest. And he was a good student too. He was a natural leader, a starting quarterback, and a future All-American. Billy Bob knew it and he was proud. He checked his e-mail at least twenty times a day after those tryouts, waiting for Mr. Coach to give him the thumbs up to Willy’s future, waiting for Mr. Coach to confirm Willy’s starting role this fall. After a few days without an e-mail, Billy Bob couldn’t take it anymore. He heard other parents had received e-mails (some even got phone calls!) inviting their sons to join the high school team, but he had received nothing. Perhaps Mr. Coach lost Billy Bob’s contact info. That’s probably what it was.

Billy Bob called Mr. Coach and broke the ice with comments about the weather, some goofy kid at the tryout, and a funny story about Mr. Coach’s assistants’ spontaneous karaoke outing at the local Mexican place the weekend before. After a few minutes of lighthearted gibber jabber, Billy Bob moved to engage Mr. Coach about Willy, the future star. From then on, it did not go well. Not at all. Not only did Mr. Coach not offer Willy the starting quarterback position, he failed to offer Willy a position at all. He suggested that perhaps Junior Varsity would be a better fit. Billy Bob slammed the phone down. He threw it across the room, breaking his window. He screamed profanities at the top of his lungs. How could Mr. Coach be so blind? How could Mr. Coach play such favorites? Does he want to lose every game? Does he have his head so far up the other parents’ asses that he can’t see the talent, the raw freaking talent, right in front of him?!

Billy Bob tried to sleep that night, but he couldn’t. He didn’t tell his son either. He just sat there. And boiled. And boiled. The next morning, he got in his car and drove in a haze to the school. He waited in the parking lot. And at exactly 8:30 a.m., he saw Mr. Coach get out of his car and start walking to the gymnasium. Billy Bob exited his vehicle, grabbed a crowbar, and followed him. “Mr. Coach!” he yelled and his voice cracked at the end, choking on his name. The rest, as they say, is history. Mr. Coach ended up with severe lacerations upon his face and head. Several teeth were broken. His skull was cracked in six places and his family, his daughter and wife, stood by his side in the hospital while the doctors put him back together. Billy Bob was charged with Aggravated Battery and sentenced to five years probation and because he had never been charged with a felony before, he was sentenced under Georgia’s First Offender Act which allowed him to keep it all off his record. Almost like it never happened!

Meanwhile, Jeannette, a straight A student, broke her foot as she dismounted her horse. It was painful, extremely painful. Her mother took her to the hospital where she was placed in a boot and she was given some moderate pain meds to help her sleep. Everything seemed to be going fine and she thanked God for being able to rest comfortably. One day, it was a Thursday, she had a morning class at Kennesaw State and, thus, she had to get up earlier than usual. She drove to KSU and as she pulled into student parking, a KSU police officer pulled in behind her. She asked what was wrong and the officer informed her that he saw her weave out of her lane a mile or so back. He asked for her license and asked if she had been drinking.

Jeannette was never one to conceal anything, so she told the officer the truth. She had not had anything to drink, but she was a little woozy from some pain meds she had been prescribed due to her broken foot. The officer raised his eyebrows and asked her to step out of the car. He arrested her right then and there for DUI Drugs. She bawled as she had never been in trouble before. Ever!

She pled guilty to the offense and asked the judge to treat her as a First Offender under the Georgia First Offender Act. The judge said that was not possible, nor was any sort of conditional discharge or pre-trial diversion. This was going on her record forever. Period! The judge explained that it was not his call; the Georgia Legislature decided that DUI was one of the very few crimes, along with murder and rape, that a defendant is not allowed to use a First Offender, Conditional Discharge, or Pre-Trial Diversion on. DUI, he said, is therefore considered in some ways more serious than even the most serious felonies in Georgia. As a result, Billy Bob’s future employment opportunities are protected, but Jeannette’s are forever limited. Sound fair? Sound just? Welcome to the mindset of the Georgia Legislature.


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