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DUI, Part VI: Representation

Last year my life was forever changed. I was arrested for DUI as I was driving home from a beer festival. As a long-time beer blogger and advocate of knowing when to say when, this was devastating. Over the next few weeks, I will be telling my story in hopes that my experience will resonate with my readers and deter them from taking any chances when their ability to drive after having a few beers may be impaired.

You may read this series from the beginning here.

duval_county_jail_by_dgphotographyjax-d7ace91

Duval County Jail

The echoes of the voices of incarcerated men slowly faded as I was escorted down the same hall through which I had entered the jail. The guard did not say a word, just pointed to where he wanted me to go. Though I knew I was on my way out, the walls were still daunting, cold and unforgiving. The only difference between this walk and the walk in was that this time I was not in chains.

After minutes that seemed to stretch into hours, we reached an elevator. The guard punched the down button and, when the car arrived, motioned for me to get in. As the door closed the guard turned away and headed back to the cell block. There was no goodbye or good luck wishes, I was just another number that was to be processed, filed and pushed to the next step in the judicial process.

When the elevator doors again opened I walked out to a room with only one exit and a thick window with guards moving around behind it. A speaker squawked to life and a male voice demanded my name and destination.  After satisfying his demand, I was told to go to the first window on the left and buzzed through the door.

The window resembled a ticket window at a movie theater except for the uniformed guard on the other side. As I approached I could hear the guard joking with another, unseen guard before he turned his attention to me.

“Show me your bracelet,” the guard ordered and I presented the heavy plastic bracelet that had been put on me at booking. The bracelet had my name, inmate number, description, a barcode and a small photo of me on it. The guard scanned the barcode and looked at his computer.

“Discharging, huh?” He said as if surprised. “Wait here while we get your property.”

After a few moments he returned with a brown bag – the same bag that had been given to me the night before – this time it was full of my own clothing instead of the orange scrubs worn by prisoners in the jail.

“You can go in that bathroom right there and change,” he said. “When you are done, put your scrubs in the hamper right there and come back to this window.”

Quickly I shed the scratchy prison attire and slipped back into my own clothes. It was a relief after nearly 24 hours in the scrubs and I began to feel somewhat human again.

Upon my return to the window the guard informed me I would have to sign my bond papers and pointed me to an office across the hall. As was the case throughout my stay at the Duval County jail, I had to wait for someone to get my paperwork ready in a drab, dimly lit room with only a metal bench to sit on. When finally my name was called, I was told where to sign and given copies of my release papers as well as my bond papers. I was then told to exit through a door at the far end of the hall and that there was a phone I could use to call a ride on the other side.

As the door closed behind me I could see the outside world for the first time since the previous evening. I stopped and made a call to my wife and she told me she would be there in just a few minutes. Stepping through the doors and into the night air was cathartic; it was as if a tremendous weight had been lifted from me only to be replaced by another.

When my wife arrived, I got into the car and immediately broke down. The emotions that I had held pent up since the accident flooded out uncontrollably. Part of me knew that it was normal to react this way, but another part told me I still had a long way to go before this ordeal would be over.

The next morning I began the search for a lawyer to represent my interests and guide me through the complex process set out by the courts. In all I interviewed three attorneys, one declined to take my case, one was well, scary and the third won my business by being straightforward and honest.

The first attorney office I visited was that of an outspoken and prominent DUI lawyer in Jacksonville. His commercials insisted he was the best hope for those in situations such as mine and that his was the only firm that could keep DUI offenders from further humiliation by the system. Upon entering the barrister’s office I immediately realized we had met about a year early.

On my way home from dinner out one evening, I was traveling west on J. Turner Butler Boulevard toward the northbound exit to I-95. Ahead of me was a car that had swerved from the far left lane across three lanes to the exit just in front of me. The car left the pavement of the exit ramp and careened through the grass before correcting and getting back on the ramp. I called the police and followed the drunk driver until they caught up with her and stopped her.

A few weeks later I was called to testify before the Florida Department of Highway and Motor Safety. The Lawyer whose office I was now in was the lawyer representing the drunk driver I had turned in.

We talked for a few minutes and I left knowing I would have to continue my search for an attorney.

The second lawyer I interviewed had me alarmed before he even uttered a word. His office was festooned with an assortment of military hardware that would have been the envy of an Armed Forces museum. There were guns, grenades and uniforms in every corner. When he did speak after hearing my story he informed me that I should prepare for the very real possibility of doing more jail time.

I could not get out of his office fast enough.

Finally, on the third attorney interview, I entered the office of Jason Porter and was immediately set at ease. We went over the case and explained how things would proceed. He was thorough and did not sugar coat things, but he did assure me that he thought we had a winnable case and that he would fight hard to keep this incident from haunting me the rest of my life.

The first order of business would be to deal with the Florida Department of Highway and Motor Safety.

To read the next part of this series, click here.

uber_logoThe Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “l2jkr” when you register for UBER on your smartphone.

Click HERE to sign up now!

Interested in a career driving for Uber? Click here to learn how to make it happen!

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Beer News

 

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DUI, Part V: Incarceration, continued

Last year my life was forever changed. I was arrested for DUI as I was driving home from a beer festival. As a long-time beer blogger and advocate of knowing when to say when, this was devastating. Over the next few weeks, I will be telling my story in hopes that my experience will resonate with my readers and deter them from taking any chances when their ability to drive after having a few beers may be impaired.

Read Part I of this series here , Part II here, Part III here and Part IV here.

jail2In the cold concrete and steel walls of the Duval County jail, every sound reverberates and is amplified. In the middle of the night, curled into a ball on my bunk those sounds were terrifying; a muffled moan, snoring from multiple sources, crying and the sound of another new inmate begging to be let out of his cell. In the semi-lit – it is never fully dark in jail – confines of my cell these sounds echoed in my ears and amplified my feeling of hopelessness.

For several hours, huddled there, trying to block out the sounds, ease my mind and relax my body. But, the events of the night and reality of my situation prevented any sort of relief. Scenarios ran through my mind. Clichés from prison movies and television programs insinuated themselves into my consciousness and insisted that I would be abused at best and violated at worst during my stay. But, in what seemed a complete contradiction to everything I thought I knew, none of the fears were founded.

Daily life begins early in jail. At 5:30 a.m. the lights transition from a low, twilight-like intensity to full brightness. The doors to each cell unlock and prisoners are expected to get up and begin moving around. On the outside a huge two-story, floor-to-ceiling window at the front of the common area, guards can be seen moving around an elevated observation and control room.  The raised vantage gives the guards views into each of the several cell blocks on the floor.

A door at the side of the cell block opened and the speaker mounted on the ceiling above the picture windows came to life.

“Lineup!” the voice on the speaker commanded.

At this all the inmates stood outside their cells as a two guards appeared from the opened door each using a mechanical clicker in their hand to count the inmates present. When all were counted the guards compared numbers announced their results and moved to a door opposite the one they had come in and moved to the next cell block.

Inmates who have earned the ability to work in the jail outside their cells – known as trustees – pushed large cabinets to the doors of each cell block and the prisoners inside line up on the inside. A guard stands with them and opens the door. The trustees open the cabinets and begin distributing the morning meal to those inside the door. As each prisoner takes a thick plastic tray, the guard uses a laser scanner to scan the bracelet and barcode issued to every “guest of the county” at booking and intake.

The meal consisted of a slice of white bread, grey and runny oatmeal, a piece of bruised and beaten fruit and a fruit drink. As my block mates carried their trays over to the stainless steel tables in the center of the common area, the bartering began. One inmate offered his oatmeal to the group in trade for fruit while another was collecting uneaten bread. Another was offering an item from his commissary allotment for fruit drinks. Life inside, it seems, is all about what you have and what you can trade.

After breakfast the daily routine of life inside the fortified walls of the Duval County Jail settled into a routine. Some inmates exercised, others went to one of the three telephones on the wall and made calls, still others sat around and talked. I sat at one of the tables trying not to draw the attention of anyone, but another inmate sat at the table with me and started a conversation.

Inside, other inmates are referred to by their last name or nickname. Within a few moments I learned that my conversation partner’s name was Squeak – I did not want to know why that was his name – and that he was in the middle of a four month stint for domestic battery. He told the story of how he hates the mistake he made and how he just wants to get back to his children. In fact, he said, it was his daughters fourth birthday that day and he could not wait to talk to her on the phone later in the day.

He looked rough, his arms heavily tattooed, his hair straggly and matted, his eyes just a bit wild. But, as I learned, you cannot judge a book by its cover. He was surprisingly verbose and sincere. He seemed genuinely sorry for what he did and was atoning by taking his punishment and learning from the experience.

Squeak was the person collecting uneaten bread that morning as well as packets of hot chocolate. He explained that he was going to make a prison-style birthday cake from the ingredients and anything he could salvage from lunch as dinner. The ‘cake’ consisted of the bread soaked in water and sprinkled with the hot chocolate mix then pressed tightly together between sheets of paper.

Over the course of the day I met many more of my fellow inmates through introductions by Squeak and others coming up to me out of curiosity. I did not look like them, whether for better or worse, I was more cleanly cut than most of the twenty or so others housed in my block. But, it did not seem to matter. I was treated with respect and even invited to join in a card game that is apparently universally played in jail.

Gradually, I learned the stories of many of the inmates in my block. Some were tragic others merely examples of being in the wrong place at the wrong time doing something that well, was wrong. One very large African-American man seemed to take delight in taunting and teasing the other inmate that had come in with me in the middle of the night before. The other new arrival was deep in the agony of alcohol withdrawal and was obviously an alcoholic. He was sweating profusely, shacking uncontrollably and moaning in pain. But, even his antagonizer did not go so far as to cause worry of physical abuse. It was more a sport for him.

As the day dragged on, I went to the phone and called home. My wife had already set up an account that billed my calls to our home. She had also already spoken with a bondsman who had agreed to post my bail as soon as I appeared before the judge later that afternoon. She assured me that the bondsman would get me out just a few hours after my court appearance.

Just after lunch – two slices of white bread, a grey-hued slice of bologna, a reasonably edible chocolate chip cookie and fruit cocktail – I was notified via the loud speaker that I should come to the block door to be taken to court. I was met at the door by a guard who took me to a hallway just outside of the cell block area. I was told to sit on a metal bench and not to talk to anyone else.

In a moment, several trustees arrived with two bins of chains attached to manacles. One by one, the other inmates in the hall with me were fitted with cuffs on their ankles and wrists. A chain was also placed around our waists and another connected to the waist chain was run between or wrists and ankles. The metal was cold and uncomfortable. The chains between or ankles were short and made it difficult to walk. I felt like an animal being herded to slaughter as the guards instructed us to walk to the in-jail court room.

The court room was as one would expect; paneled in dark wood with dark wooden pews for seating. In the front of the room the judge sat on a raised platform behind a large desk and an assortment of court reporters, lawyers and officials were seated in front of the judge. Instructions were given about plea choices and each prisoner was given an opportunity to speak directly to the judge.

There were at least a dozen there for the same reason as I was – DUI. The judge informed each that they could plead guilty and he would impose the minimum penalty of six-month’s license suspension, probation, community service and approximately $650 in fines. If a defendant wished to plead not guilty or not enter a plea he would set bail and a court date.

As each chained suspect took their turn before the judge, all of the DUI defendants plead guilty. When finally it was my turn the bailiff read my name and I stood to move before the judge.

“With your rights in mind and the plea offer I have provided,” the judge asked from his perch. “How do you plea?”

I considered what I had already seen and asked, “If I ask to speak to a lawyer before I make a plea what will happen?”

The judge seemed taken aback a moment then replied, “I’ll set bail for $2,500 and you will be released when bond is made.”

“Then,” I said. “I want to speak to a lawyer.”

After being returned to my cell block, I made a call to my wife and explained what needed to happen. She, in turn, called my bondsman and he promised to have me out that day.

Nearly six hours later at 9:30 p.m., after lockdown, my name was finally called over the loud-speaker along with the proclamation that I had made bail. My cell door unlocked and I walked to the cell block door. As I walked, my fellow inmates whistled and called out to me in congratulations.

One voice rose above all the others, though. It was Squeak.

“Don’t forget us,” he said.

I haven’t.

To read the next part of this series click here.

uber_logoThe Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “l2jkr” when you register for UBER on your smartphone.

Click HERE to sign up now!

Interested in a career driving for Uber? Click here to learn how to make it happen!

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Beer News

 

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DUI, Part IV: Incarceration

Last year my life was forever changed. I was arrested for DUI as I was driving home from a beer festival. As a long-time beer blogger and advocate of knowing when to say when, this was devastating. Over the next few weeks, I will be telling my story in hopes that my experience will resonate with my readers and deter them from taking any chances when their ability to drive after having a few beers may be impaired.

Read Part I of this series here , Part II here and Part III here.

PodIf the situation was not already surreal enough, things took a turn for the worse as the DUI officer took my arm, twisted it behind me and attached a handcuff to before pulling my other arm back and closing the second cuff. Time seemed to slow as he placed me in the backseat of his cruiser and we drove back to the scene of the accident.

Phycologists like to talk about how the mind copes with these types of situations by going through phases. The first phase is denial and I found myself diving into that pool head first. Clearly a mistake had been made. Surely I was not inebriated enough to warrant an arrest despite the fact that I had rear-ended a police car. I felt like I had performed well on the sobriety tests, too. The situation was definitely a mistake and once we got to the jail we would clear it all up.

At the accident scene, the DUI officer got out of the car and I could see him talking with several other officers. Phase two of coping with the situation began to creep into my consciousness; anger. Why are we stopping here again? This is a waste of time! I want to get on with this so I can make my phone call, post bond and get on with my life. But, no! We have to come back to the location of my humiliation and rub my nose in it! In my mind, that is exactly what was going on. Never mind the fact that procedure dictated each move the officers were making.

After what seemed like an hour, the DUI officer got back in the car and we resumed our journey to the jail just over a block away. Phase three of my coping mechanism began to appear.

“Are you sure we need to go through all this?” I asked from the back seat of the cruiser. “I just live a mile away.”

The officer remained silent in the front seat as we slid into jail’s receiving area.

As we came to a stop my door was opened and several armed police officers asked me to step out. I was told to follow the DUI officer as the other officers stood just out of reach to insure my compliance. We walked through secured doors into a reception area where I was led to a rack of paper grocery bags marked S, M, L, XL, XXL and XXXL. An officer grabbed a bag marked XXL and handed it to me.

“Go in that cell and change,” he said. “Put all of your clothes, including your underwear, into the bag. Make it fast.”

With that I was ushered into a plain cement-brick cell with a metal bench attached to the wall. Phase four of coping began to set in; depression. The severity and reality of my situation came crashing down on me, crushing my already crushed spirit. It was apparent that there was no way to avoid spending the night in jail. My mind reeled at the thought. Would I be with others in a cell? How would they react to me? Was I safe? Would I be abused? I felt hopeless and wanted to curl up into a ball.

“Let’s go,” the officer who had handed me my jail clothing – rough orange hospital-type scrubs with dingy grey boxers said as he slammed open the cell door. I was told to sit on a cold metal bench near an alcove with several box-office style windows. I was to wait there until someone called my name.

After another hour passed my name was finally called and an officer behind the window slid a form through a slot at the bottom. It was an inventory of the items that had been taken from me earlier when I was frisked; I was told to add my clothing to the list, sign it and to turn over my bag of clothes.

“Go back to the bench and stay there until someone calls you,” the officer told me after taking my clothes.

As I sat on that bench more prisoners were being brought in. One man was so obviously inebriated that he was not able to sit upright and slid off the bench several times. Another looked if he had been on the losing end of a ferocious fight and still another looked almost proud to be wearing jailhouse orange. It was surreal.

My name was called and I was ushered into a room with several machines about the size of a toaster oven. The machines had a tube attached to them and I realized that they were the breathalyzers used to test for blood alcohol content.

I was told to sit beside one of the machines and an officer went about the process of calibrating and testing it. As he busied himself with the machine he informed me that I had the option of a blood test, but that would require transport to the nearest hospital and I would be responsible for all charges.

“What happens if I refuse to take the breath test,” I asked.

“Your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for one year,” he informed me. “Rather than the six month suspension you face if found guilty of a first offense.”

I took the test.

In Florida, the legal limit is .08 blood alcohol content (BAC). I blew .12 more than three hours after the initial incident. Later, during conversations with my lawyer and during trial, the time interval would become an important factor. But, at the time of the test, it meant just one thing; I was legally impaired and would be spending the night in jail.

After the test, the final stage of coping – acceptance – set in. I was booked, had a mug shot taken and was presented to a nurse who gave me a cursory physical. I was hurried down a long hallway, crowded into a tiny elevator and then lined up against a wall where I was again frisked.

Finally at three in the morning, I was issued a mattress, a fitted sheet and a top sheet. I was moved down a hall past a number of large, secured rooms with cells along the back wall. When we stopped a guard opened one of the rooms and told me a cell number. I stepped through the door and waked towards the cell I had been assigned to. There were loud mechanical clicks as the door to my cell opened.

Inside the cell I could see two other prisoners; one on the top bunk of a bunk bed and the other on a bed along the other wall. Both looked unhappy to have had their sleep disturbed. The bottom bunk was unoccupied and I set my mattress on it. I crawled on to the lumpy, thin mattress, put my back against the wall and curled my knees to my chest.

To read the next part of this series click here.

uber_logoThe Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “l2jkr” when you register for UBER on your smartphone.

Click HERE to sign up now!

Interested in a career driving for Uber? Click here to learn how to make it happen!

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Beer News

 

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DUI, Part III: Evaluation

Last year my life was forever changed. I was arrested for DUI as I was driving home from a beer festival. As a long-time beer blogger and advocate of knowing when to say when, this was devastating. Over the next few weeks, I will be telling my story in hopes that my experience will resonate with my readers and deter them from taking any chances when their ability to drive after having a few beers may be impaired.

Read Part I of this series here and Part II here.

Dui_screen_cap_part_iiiAlong the perimeter of the crime scene tape that roped off the intersection, a crowd was beginning to gather. Even though it was 10:00 p.m., passers-by and residents of the nearby condo tower were assembling to gawk at the commotion that had summoned so many – at least 20 – police vehicles and shut down Bay Street in both directions. And, as if the gaggle of ordinary citizens was not enough, the media had arrived and had begun setting up cameras for their 11:00 p.m. broadcasts.

“I will be conducting the crash investigation,” the female officer said to me. “And, for now, I would like to move you to my car. You are not under arrest; I am just detaining you while I conduct my investigation.”

With that, for only the second time in my life, I was placed in the rear seat of a police cruiser. While I was not in handcuffs, I was acutely aware of where I was and how the situation seemed to be worsening by the moment. Anyone who has watched one or two episodes of Cops on television knows that “detaining” a suspect in the back seat of a police vehicle is merely a prelude to arresting that suspect. My already low spirits sank even lower.

For what seemed like an eternity, I sat in the back of that police car while outside a flurry of activity had a small army of police officers scurrying about performing various tasks. My mind was churning through all the possible outcomes of my current situation. I still did not feel impaired, my mind did not feel dulled nor did I have any issue moving from my truck across the intersection to the police vehicle.

Finally, after nearly an hour, another officer came to the police car I was detained in, opened the door and asked me to step out. The officer introduced himself as the DUI investigator and explained that the officers I spoke to previously had some concerns that I may be impaired. He said that it was his job to determine if I was impaired and make a decision on my disposition. He also explained that the entirety of our interactions would be recorded both on audio and video.

The DUI officer spent a few moments talking with me, explaining his role and what would happen next. True to most television cop shows, what was expected of me was to perform a series of exercises designed to test my ability to follow directions. What he did not tell me was that several of the exercises used to determine sobriety are what are known as ‘divided attention’ tasks.

A divided attention test – in terms of field sobriety — is defined as any evaluation that contains both physical and mental components. This type of test requires the subject to divide their attention by performing a physical task while simultaneously performing a mental task. The two standardized tests commonly used by law enforcement that fit this description are the walk and turn test and the one-leg-stand test.

Before the testing began, the DUI officer did ask if I would prefer doing the tests in another location away from the prying eyes of the public and the even more intrusive television cameras. I thankfully accepted his offer and we drove for a few minutes to a location along the Northbank River Walk.

To be sure, the sobriety test began the moment I stepped out of the back seat of the first cruiser, but the more familiar tests were about to begin. Each of the tests is designed to help officers determine if a suspect is under the influence of alcohol. I was asked to perform five of them.

The first test I was asked to perform was the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. A standardized field sobriety test, the HGN test requires the subject to follow the tip of a pen or other object as the officer moves it from side to side and up and down.  The name of this test is derived from horizontal gaze nystagmus which refers to a quick movement or jerking of the eye as it moves side to side.  This jerking motion, or nystagmus, is an indication of drug or alcohol impairment caused by the brain’s inability to properly control the eye muscles.

Next, I was asked to perform the walk and turn test, the first of the divided attention tests I was subjected to. Also a standardized test, in this test the subject is asked to stand with feet heel-to-toe and hold that stance for a few moments as the officer provides instructions. After the instructions are given, the subject must take nine steps with their feet heel-to-toe, turn and return to the starting point again heel-to-toe. Officers are looking to see if you can listen while maintaining the starting position and if you can follow the instructions given while maintaining balance. It is important to note, that guidelines state this test is not appropriate or conclusive if the subject is more than 50-pounds overweight.

Following the walk and turn test, the officer requested I perform the finger to nose test. In this divided attention test, the suspect is asked to stand with their hands to their side and eyes closed. The officer instructs the subject to touch their nose with tip of their finger and immediately return the hand to their side. The officer tells the subject which hand to use. The object is to see if the subject can perform as directed. The officer watches for swaying, whether the correct hand is used and whether the subject returns their hand to their side.

I was also asked to perform the recite the alphabet test. In this non-standardized test – meaning that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not approved the test – the suspect is asked to stand with hands to their side and eyes closed. They are then asked to lean their head back and to recite the alphabet in a non-rhythmic manner. Another divided attention test, the officer is looking to see if the subject can recite the alphabet without singing it while maintaining the requested body position without swaying or losing balance.

Finally, the DUI officer asked me to try the one-leg stand test. One of the most recognizable tests requested during field sobriety evaluations; this is also a standardized and divided attention test. The reason this test is requested so often is that it is very difficult to do. Often, like the walk and turn test, a person who is stone cold sober cannot perform this test within the parameters set forth for passing. In addition, this test is not recommended for overweight persons.

The tests are humiliating and dehumanizing. What did not help was that there was a couple sitting on a nearby bench watching intently. But, through the entire process, I remained cooperative and alert. I asked questions to ensure I understood directions correctly and performed tasks as requested.

As the officer wrote a few notes on his pad, I found a certain optimism. In my mind I had done well on the tests and my cooperative nature surely showed that I had nothing to hide. But, as the officer completed his note-taking and walked towards me my hopefulness quickly changed to hopelessness.

“Mr. Wisdom,” the officer said as he reached for his handcuffs. “Unfortunately today I am placing you under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.”

Read part IV of this series here.

uber_logoThe Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “l2jkr” when you register for UBER on your smartphone.

Click HERE to sign up now!

Interested in a career driving for Uber? Click here to learn how to make it happen!

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in Beer News

 

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DUI, Part II: Investigation

Last year my life was forever changed. I was arrested for DUI as I was driving home from a beer festival. As a long-time beer blogger and advocate of knowing when to say when, this was devastating. Over the next few weeks, I will be telling my story in hopes that my experience will resonate with my readers and deter them from taking any chances when their ability to drive after having a few beers may be impaired.

Read Part I of this series here.

Dui_screen_capThe evening was warm and clear with a slight breeze coming from the river. The type of evening that could be called a Chamber of Conference night. It was a perfect. But, in just an instant, the perfect evening was filled with sirens coming from every direction. Flashing lights began to appear from the police building just over a block behind me and from the other three directions of the intersection. The dark, quiet intersection had suddenly been transformed into a noisy, confusing tableau of flashing lights and piercing sounds.

Confusion, shock and a sudden awareness that life had just become very complicated set in. Along with these a flood of emotions washed over me. My first instinct was to get out of the truck and go to the police vehicle, but since I decided that might be a bad idea. I did not know what the reaction of the officer would be and thought it better to wait for other officers to tell me what to do.

Within seconds an officer was at the window of my truck requesting my driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. In my still shocked state, I fumbled through my wallet and extracted the requested documentation. The officer looked over the cards and told me to stay put. I tried to ask a question, but before I could frame it, he was gone.

All the activity going on around me was frightening, intimidating and disorienting. I needed to hear a friendly voice, someone who would help calm me down and tell me everything was going to be alright whether it really would be or not. I called my best friend; my wife.

“Baby,” I sobbed. “I am in trouble.”

The short conversation that followed was full of apologies from me and assurances from her. She assured me, as I had hoped, that it would be alright. She told me she would make the necessary phone calls and find out what needed to be done. She tried to sooth my by then uncontrolled sobbing. Finally, I regained control of myself. I told my wife I would call again as soon as I was able and that I loved her. I made a resolution to be cooperative, truthful and forthright with the police.

As I hung up the phone a female officer came to my car. She introduced herself as the officer that would conduct the crash investigation and told me to stay put. What I did not know at the time is that both officers I had talked to were evaluating me, and that the female officer had requested a DUI officer to further evaluate me.

After a few moments, she returned to my truck window and asked me to step out. Then the question that would shape my world for over nine months was asked.

“Mr. Wisdom,” she queried. “Have you been drinking this evening?”

“I’m not going to lie,” I said. “Yes, I have.”

Read part III of this series here.

uber_logoThe Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “l2jkr” when you register for UBER on your smartphone.

Click HERE to sign up now!

Interested in a career driving for Uber? Click here to learn how to make it happen!

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in News and Events

 

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DUI: The story I can now tell

Last year my life was forever changed. I was arrested for DUI as I was driving home from a beer festival. As a long-time beer blogger and advocate of knowing when to say when, this was devastating. Now that the ordeal is over, I want to tell my story in hopes that my experience will resonate with my readers and deter them from taking any chances when their ability to drive after having a few beers may be impaired.

Dui_screen_capIn an instant everything changed. One moment the street was clear and the lights ahead were green and in the next a car was in front of me and the light was red. That moment, the moment when I took my eyes of the road because a text came across the screen of my phone, lasted less than two seconds, but it would define my life for nearly a year.

It was May 16, 2014 and I was enjoying my slight celebrity at the annual Jacksonville Craft & Import Beer Festival. The event is hosted every year at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena by a magazine I write for and a beer distributer I have ties with.

As the Jax Beer Guy, my role was to be an ambassador and advocate for craft beer and craft beer culture. I spoke with guests extolling the wonders of craft beer, pressed flesh with visitors and represented myself, my blog and the magazine I write for. I also visited with beer company representatives, some old friends and some new and filled in pouring beer at their tables when someone needed a break.

I also tasted beer in two to three-ounce pours throughout the evening. As I walked around, speaking with guests, I stopped at tables to try a sample of new beers and old favorites. I did not drink much. I was not dulled, my speech was not slurred. But, over the course of five hours, the beer in my system accumulated. And, because I ate over the entire time of the event, the absorption of alcohol into my system was slowed.

So, when the event ended, I did not feel that I had had too much to drink. I did not think twice about getting into my truck and embarking on the short 1.5 mile trip home. Little did I know that I would not reach home for more than 24 hours after leaving the festival.

As I turned on to Bay Street I drove past the Maxwell House coffee factory and slowed as a police officer pulled out of the underground garage for the Jacksonville Sheriff Department. I slowed to give the officer room ahead of me and proceeded towards home.

Just a couple of blocks later, the screen on my phone lit up and, after checking to see that the lights were green ahead of me, looked down to see the text that had caught my attention.

And then, my life changed.

I looked back up and suddenly, the light that I had thought was green was actually red and the patrol car was in front of me. I slammed on the breaks, but it was too late. I crashed into the police vehicle causing the trunk of the car to buckle upward.

I looked up again and the light that I had thought was the green light was actually one of the green lane indicator lights. Several years ago, the City of Jacksonville had lights installed above the lanes of bay Street to indicate travel lanes. The lanes were made to be reversible so that traffic from Jaguar games could be routed in on all four lanes before the game and reversed after the game. The lights are situated mid-block and, from the higher perspective of my truck, were situated slightly below the intersection signal lights. Further, the lights on Bay Street are sequenced in such a manner that multiple green lights – including the lane marker lights – are visible down the street at the same time.

In seconds the reality of the situation set in; I had just rear-ended a police car coming home from a beer festival, my clothes smelled like beer from pouring and I was wearing a shirt with my name embroidered above one pocket and ‘Jax Beer Guy’ above the other. I was in trouble and life was about to become very complicated.

Read part II of this series here.

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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in News and Events

 

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