Sergeant Bluff, Iowa is buzzing with news today that Rod Earleywine, superintendent of the Sergeant Bluff-Luton Community School District, has pleaded not guilty to his recent DUI arrest. His plea stemmed from an August 5th incident in Dickinson County, the location of the Iowa Great Lakes and one of the top tourist destinations in the United States.
This is Earleywine’s first offense and it looks like he’s decided to fight the circumstances surrounding his arrest. Like all people accused of driving under the influence, it’s important to remember that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It looks like Earleywine plans to make sure that he gets his day in court and an opportunity to explain what happened during his arrest.
57-year-old Earleywine resides in Sioux City, Iowa and entered his plea on Monday in Dickinson County District Court. He faces trial on October 10th, barring any new developments in the case or a potential plea bargain offer from the prosecution. As authorities like DUIwise.com state, it’s possible to fight a DUI where you feel as if you were unfairly accused of the crime. A DUI carries with it serious consequences in Iowa, so simply entering a guilty plea and putting yourself at the mercy of the court is rarely a good idea in the very beginning.
The account of Earleywine’s arrest says that he was stopped by police at 10:29 PM for not yielding at an intersection. The report says that he turned left in front of another vehicle, causing the other driver to brake in order to avoid a collision. This caused police to suspect that Earleywine might have been driving while intoxicated and so they pulled him over. The arresting officer said that there was a strong odor of alcohol on the defendant.
Here’s where things get tricky, as they often do in a DUI confrontation. Earleywine admitted to drinking wine earlier (2 glasses) and part of a margarita. This small amount of alcohol alone may have been enough to impair someone who isn’t used to drinking or feels like they are used to drinking but might be fooling themselves. Records show that Earleywine’s BAC level was 0.097%, over the legal limit for driving in the state of Iowa. Field sobriety tests also reflected poorly on Earleywine’s ability to drive. He failed and was booked in county jail, only to be released on $1,000 bail until his upcoming trial.
The school’s superintendent faces not just mandatory 2 days in jail but he could even receive up to a year in jail depending on how serious the judge views the circumstances behind the case. Publications like DUIwise suggest getting a lawyer immediately in these circumstances, as more and more of today’s judges view DUI offenses as serious threats to public safety.
Science has shown how badly alcohol affects someone’s ability to drive. At BAC levels as low as 0.04%, some impairment in shown in driver’s that participate in these studies. Double that BAC level and you have someone making very rash and impaired decisions on the roadways, such as the ones that led Earleywine to be pulled over. During his trial, he will face tough questions from prosecutors, accounts by officers who were on the scene where he failed field sobriety tests, and many other potential witnesses, including the driver who saw him make a major error on the roadway.
What is more damning is that Earleywine admitted to consuming a potentially impairing amount of alcohol before his arrest. Remember that if you are pulled over for a DUI, you are not obligated to answer any questions from officers, although it is wise to do so. There’s kind of a “do yourself a favor” mentality about this kind of exchange. Earleywine might have been wiser to just take the breathalyzer and allow it to speak for itself, without admitting the kind of alcohol he had been consuming before he got behind the wheel of a vehicle.
So far the board at his school district hasn’t taken any disciplinary action against the school’s superintendent. Professionals like Earleywine often face intense scrutiny after a DUI arrest and this sure isn’t the last he’s going to deal with this charge, especially if a jury in the county finds him guilty of driving under the influence. A superintendent is a major administrator for high schools and middle schools. They are expected to behave in a manner that is fitting a professional who works with children. Breaking laws is not befitting the position.
For now, Earleywine simply faces his day in court. He’s fortunate to have a good lawyer at his side. With a breathalyzer that shows he was legally intoxicated at the time of the incident, it will take an especially skilled lawyer to question to facts of the arrest and whether or not he was fairly pulled over at the time. There are many things that can lead to a DUI arrest being thrown out before reaching its day in court. A faulty breathalyzer, failure to read Miranda Rights, and other procedural or technical failures in the case could lead to Earleywine continuing on like the DUI never happened. A skilled lawyer will look at all facts of the case and speak with all witnesses before moving forward and deciding to go to trial or seek a plea bargain that avoids jail time.
His future with the school district is also in question. For now, the board has failed to comment or take action about his arrest. This doesn’t mean that they will continue to take action or allow Earleywine to continue in his present position if he is found guilty of driving under the influence. School districts take DUI arrests very seriously. If Earleywine has a good lawyer on his side, though, what he may face is a plea bargain before Oct. 10th or he may have charges thrown out entirely if his lawyer can uncover good evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of arresting agencies.