A good Samaritan Smithfield police officer was struck by a drunk driver while he was working as part of Operation Rhode Island Blue Riptide. Ironically, this is a law enforcement organization that is currently trying to cut down on the number of DUI accidents on the road in Rhode Island. Fortunately, only the officer’s car was struck in the incident. His cruiser was parked while he was writing out a citation for a motor vehicle violation on Douglas Pike. Officers are often parked on the side of the road like this and it’s the responsibility of drivers to be alert that official police business is taking place and clear the lane enough to allow this to happen.
It’s at this point that 32-year-old Derek T. Lewis of Pascoag drove along and struck the officer’s police cruiser. Rest assured that Lewis immediately drew the attention of the police officer. He was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, refusal to submit to a chemical test, refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test, operating a motor vehicle without evidence of insurance, expired vehicle registration, and prudent speeds and laned roadway violation. That is a massive checklist of violations that will be haunting Lewis in the coming months, should he choose to fight the charges.
What is exhibited here is a definite need for a DUI lawyer. Sites like DUIwise.com recommend immediately retaining a DUI lawyer before pleading guilty so that a defendant can have their best chance of getting the help they need for an incident like this. While everyone agrees that DUIs show a blatant lack of respect for laws and the people on our roadways, many times a substance abuse problem can contribute to these cases. Only when a defendant gets the help for substance abuse that they need can they finally stop violating the law such as this.
One of Lewis’s charges is refusing to submit to chemical testing and breathalyzer tests. This was a huge mistake according to DUIwise, since refusing to take a breathalyzer test looks horrible to a jury. This certainly isn’t the only thing that Derek Lewis did wrong but it may be one of the things that will hurt his case most in the future. Striking a police vehicle in the commission of a DUI is the biggest mistake of all and he’s going to need all of the legal representation he can get to fight a charge like this.
Fighting a DUI charge can be an uphill battle, especially in Rhode Island. The state strongly frowns upon DUI arrests and will go to great lengths to make sure that dangerous drivers are taken off the road and streets for as long as possible. Not only is Lewis facing a license suspension and possible jail time, but he’s going to pay hefty fines in Rhode Island courts for his mistake. His lack of respect for the police officer’s space is going to be another issue that might lead to an aggravated DUI circumstance. Aggravated DUIs can lead to much harsher penalties and plenty of consequences in the future, especially in perhaps leading to a felony DUI case in the future with an arrest this shocking.
The policeman who’s cruiser was struck will not be sidelined for long. He was back out helping with his organization the same day, trying his best to help keep drunk drivers off of Rhode Island’s highway. Operation Blue Riptide’s routine patrols are already doing good in the state and perhaps something good can come out of Derek T. Lewis’s incident. This brings more awareness of the DUI problem in Rhode Island than ever before and with a prominent policeman having been the victim of this drunk driver’s bad judgment, more awareness about the cause will come to light.
For now, Lewis faces a slew of charges in the coming months. A good DUI lawyer will negotiate with prosecutors to perhaps compromise. Some of the charges may even be dropped or reduced in the case. It’s highly unlikely, though, that Lewis will walk away from this incident without at least one charge that sticks. The damage to the police cruiser was noticeable and the fact that it took place during part of an operation to stop drunk drivers is likely to call even more attention to Lewis’s potential crime.
Despite the deck being stacked against him, even defendants like Lewis can benefit mightily when the help of a compassionate attorney gets involved. At the heart of many of these cases is a problem with alcohol and substance abuse. In the right hands, a substance abuse or alcoholism problem can lead to rehabilitation through medical treatment and rehab instead of imprisonment. Many states now have a short mandatory jail time for even a first DUI, but with the help of compassionate lawyers, more defendants than ever before are getting the help they need in medical detoxes and not just prisons. With a medical detox, an alcoholic learns of his or her disease and how to arrest it. before the defendant is arrested for a DUI like the one Lewis is facing.
Rhode Island’s DUI programs continue to put a spotlight on the DUI problem in the state. The goal of these programs is to reduce the number of DUIs that perpetrators commit each year. Thanks to officers like the one who’s police cruiser was struck by Derek T. Lewis, more people than ever before are becoming aware of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. No one wants to face a DUI charge in their lifetime, yet so many people take the chance of getting behind the wheel of a car while they’re intoxicated. Hopefully with the continued good work of officers like those in Rhode Island, more people will stay off the roadways when they’ve had anything to drink. Until then, there are good police officers to help get offenders off the road and there are good lawyers to help offenders get the help they need for their problem.