Crime In Cinema examines what Hollywood gets right and wrong about the criminal justice system. Today, we look at a DUI scene in the 2012 comedy, The Campaign.
Cam Brady (Will Ferrell), a congressman running for reelection, is pulled over by a police officer after a tough day on the campign trail. Brady immediately pulls over upon seeing the officer’s flashing blue lights – always a good idea – but when he rolls down his window, he is offering a $100 bill to the policeman! That could constitute Bribery of a Public Servant.
Upon exiting the vehicle, Brady is asked if he has been drinking that night, and he admits he has. This immediately opens Brady up to Driving Under the Influence charges. The officer tells Brady he needs him to take a breathalyzer, at which point Brady runs for it – big mistake! At this point, Brady has put himself at risk of Obstruction of Justice – Evading Arrest.
“Try to catch me, Ranger Rick!” Brady yells, and then he makes perhaps his biggest mistake of the night: he steals the police cruiser! At this point, Rep. Brady can probably count on another count of Obstruction of Justice – Evading Arrest, as well as a charge of Theft for stealing the police cruiser.
The Charge Sheet
- Bribery of a Public Servant (Class B Felony) — 8 to 30 years in prison; fine up to $25,000
- Driving Under the Influence (1st Offense) — mandatory 48 hours incarceration, possibility of 11 months, 29 days in jail; License revocation for 1 year; $350-$1,500 fine
- Obstruction of Justice – Evading Arrest (Class A Misdemeanor) — up to 11 months and 29 days in jail; fine of up to $2,500
- Obstruction of Justice – Evading Arrest (Class D Felony, as “the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to innocent bystanders or other third parties”) — 2 to 12 years in prison; fine of up to $5,000
- Theft of property worth $60,000 or more but less than $250,000 (Class B felony) — 8 to 30 years in prison; fine up to $25,000
Worst Case: 74 years in prison, $59,000 in fines
What Went Wrong?
Rep. Brady obviously had quite the night. His first mistake was getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking; had he just called a cab, this entire fiasco could have been avoided. But like far too many Nashvillians, Brady decided to get into the car. His second mistake was, obviously, propositioning the officer with a $100 bill.
Fortunately, few Tennesseans come to my office because they tried to bribe their way out of a traffic stop. Unfortunately, many of the Tennesseans who come to me for help on DUI cases admit that they allowed the arresting officer to administer a Breathalyzer, or some other form of field sobriety test. Unless you have truly not had a drop of alcohol to drink, this is always a mistake! You have the right to deny all of these tests.
The officer at the scene will warn you that you will face penalties for refusal to cooperate on the spot, and will arrest you if you continue to refuse. In the short term this is may be inconvenient, but in court this will work to your advantage. It is important to remember that DUI convictions in Tennessee cannot be expunged; why voluntarily submit evidence to the state so it can build a case against you and slap you with a record that will follow you for life?
If you did agree to the Breathalyzer or field sobriety test, however, all is not lost – the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures means that if the police illegally stopped you and forced you to submit to the Breathalyzer, the evidence from the test can be suppressed (it wouldn’t be allowed in court, and prosecutors would not be able to use it against you).
Finally, Brady’s multiple attempts to evade the officer, both on foot and in the squad car, are wholly inadvisable. Please, just cooperate with the officer on the scene, and then call an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. Even if you believe you were illegally stopped, it is against the law to run from a police officer.
Hopefully you never have a night as eventful as the night that Rep. Cam Brady had, but if you do, please don’t hesitate to call Don Himmelberg!