On Friday, during the driving ban in which only authorized state officials and snow plow vehicles were allowed to drive, John Douglas Wright was arrested for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, Driving with an Open Container, and Driving to Endanger. The arrest came after he was reported to have almost struck another car, admitting to being drunk and an alcoholic, and telling the police that he needed help with his addiction. His level of intoxication was confirmed at the police station where he blew a 0.26 on the breathalyzer, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08.
Mr. Wright pleaded guilty to this offense at his arraignment on Monday. While I can appreciate the fact that Mr. Wright wanted to take responsibility for his actions, I am led to believe that he did not have the advice of counsel before pleading guilty. Most attorneys would advise a defendant not to plead guilty on the first court date. If he was looking to admit to the offense, take responsibility, get the help he needed and move on with his life, right away, I would have done my best to work out a deal which continued the case without a finding of guilt for the one year probationary period. This way, he could avoid a conviction on his record, which with the “guilty” finding is now precluded from being sealed or withheld from potential employers, licensing agencies, etc. for at least five years. This may be a very significant obstacle if Mr. Wright is hoping to better his own life after he gets the help he needs. Additionally, a better deal might have included having the other charges dismissed or Nolle Prosequi’ed, which would minimize the damage to his criminal record and also the hit that he will be taking to his automobile insurance, and possible future license loss consequences, at the end of his 45-day license suspension.
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