It took less than one drink to get Shannon Wilcutt busted for felony DUI

The businessman was meeting with clients for lunch at Mimi's Café when he noticed the woman. Sitting a few tables over with her 4-year-old boy, she seemed groggy — yet she was drinking a mimosa.

It got worse. The woman ordered a glass of white wine, then another. She was so out of it, the businessman would later write in a statement to police, that she looked ready to fall asleep at the table.

When the woman paid her bill and left the restaurant, the businessman was right behind her, cell phone in hand. When she ran a stop sign in the parking lot, he called the police.

By the time the cops showed up a few minutes later, the woman already had parked at the Chandler Mall, less than a mile from Mimi's. She was buying bath salts when the businessman pointed her out to the cops.

Thanks to the businessman's intervention, Shannon Wilcutt was eventually charged with three felony counts: a DUI above 0.08, a DUI with a child under 15 in the car, and drug possession.

Justice served, right?

Hardly.

Turns out, those glasses of white wine were actually water. Wilcutt was groggy because she'd just had dental surgery. She'd thought a mimosa might be soothing, but when it stung her sutures, she pushed it away half-finished.

The proof is in the police report: Wilcutt's blood alcohol content was only 0.02, the equivalent of one drink. She wasn't even close to the legal limit.

No matter. Shannon Wilcutt was busted anyway. Her little boy was taken from her as she was handcuffed, arrested, and entered into the justice system. That meant weekly random alcohol tests, weekly phone calls to a court-appointed "counselor," and the looming possibility of heavy fines and a three-year license revocation, not to mention jail time.

It would take two years and thousands of dollars for Wilcutt to be vindicated.


Here's what really happened.

Shannon Wilcutt wasn't a big drinker, and she'd certainly never been in trouble with the law before. Her husband, Bryan, is a software engineer working on his doctorate in computer science. Shannon is a homemaker who's taking classes at the University of Phoenix, though at the time of her arrest she worked in Walgreens' inventory department. The couple have three boys and a home on a quiet street in the older part of Chandler.

On the morning of May 18, 2006, Wilcutt, then 34, underwent surgery to remove a bad set of dentures. The dentist used Novocain but didn't knock her out. After the procedure, her dentist cleared her to leave — and prescribed hydrocodone for the pain. (That medication is a generic form of Vicodin.)

Too tired to cook, Wilcutt took 4-year-old John to Mimi's Café, a chain restaurant. She ate soup and a muffin and drank half a mimosa, but the orange juice irritated her mouth, which was raw and sore from the surgery. Feeling dehydrated, she switched to water. The waitress brought her goblet after goblet.

At the very end of the meal, Wilcutt took one hydrocodone pill. She wanted to stop at the mall and get bath salts, a trip she estimated at 10 minutes, max. She figured the pain pill would kick in as she reached her house and settled into the tub.

She didn't realize that Steven Ceballes, the aforementioned businessman, had already made a phone call.

Ceballes is the owner of a commercial landscape company called Horticulture West. Dining with clients, he noticed that Wilcutt was woozy. He suspected alcohol, according to a statement he gave police, so he called the cops. He then followed Wilcutt's minivan to the Chandler Mall to point her out to the officers. (Reached by phone, Ceballes declined comment and told New Times not to include his name in this story. Then he hung up.)

At the time, Wilcutt was suffering from numerous health problems. She was significantly overweight, asthmatic, and had a herniated disc in her back. So although she did fine on some of the field sobriety tests, like counting to 30, she had difficulty walking and turning and standing on one leg.

She was also freaking out. She felt herself gasping for breath; right in front of the police officers, she took a hit on her inhaler.

Numerous academic studies have shown that inhalers can artificially increase a breathalyzer's blood alcohol reading. But the cops administered the breath test anyway, just minutes after she used her inhaler, Wilcutt says. Sure enough, it gave an inflated reading of 0.048.

Even that, of course, is well under the legal limit. But the cops were convinced Wilcutt was impaired, possibly by drugs. She said she'd taken one hydrocodone pill, but they were convinced she'd had at least two. The police report notes that Wilcutt's eyes were heavy and "her speech was slow and slurred."

"I had no teeth in," she says now, laughing. "I had just had my dentures removed, remember?"

The sketchy sobriety tests, plus Wilcutt's admission that she'd taken a hydrocodone pill, were enough to book her. She was handcuffed and taken to a jail cell, where she waited for her husband to pick her up. (John, terrified, was separated from his mother and taken to the police station to wait with the officers.)

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82 comments
kitwench
kitwench

Her driving was impaired by medication. It doesn't matter whether she drank alcohol or not - it doesn't matter that the businessman *thought* she drank alcohol.

He witnessed her, clearly impaired before and after she got in a car with her FOUR YEAR OLD.


She could have called a taxi, her husband, a friend - no.

She chose to drive. 

I hope they throw the book at her for trying to make this about alcohol when clearly it's about her impaired driving.

Read the DUI laws- you don't have to be 'drunk' to be impaired.

Chris
Chris

I dont feel completely sorry for this woman. You should NEVER drive when taking medication. PERIOD! Says so right on the bottle. If she just had oral surgery and just taken the pills how could she know what kind of effect they would have? As for the man who reported her, she did run a stop sign. So good for him.

But I think the DUI charges have gotten way out of hand. This is the best money making scheme the state has ever come up with. They get the support of the community saying "throw those drunks in jail" while taking mass quantities of money away from people who are innocent. I bet that most of those officers have had a beer at dinner and then drove their car home. Under our law that is a big no no. You telling me Napalitano doesnt have the occasional glass of wine with dinner? I better see her taking a cab home. I dont advocate drinking and driving but have you seen those people texting and driving? They are just as inattentive and slow to react.

I am sick of the guilty till proven innocent approach. They immediately take your license away even if you have only been charged with DUI. (not convicted) Why are we punishing people before they are even prosecuted? hmmm

John Henry Phelan
John Henry Phelan

Wilcutt should sue Steven Ceballes for slander, liable and intentional infliction of emotional distress to get back those attorney fees plus damages. He lied about her to the police and he lied in the report about the wine. Why is she not doing this? Why is Ceballes not charged with making a false police report about the wine? If Ceballes had a shred of decency he'd at least offer to compensate Mrs. Wilcutt.

Joey
Joey

Breathalyzers are junk science. They are totally flawed, by design. Not only do they do a poor job of detecting alcohol, they create the "score" using an absurd, inaccurate assumption about body weight and body chemistry. It seems like every citizen assumed these devices are the "truth" and cannot be questioned.

Please do a Google search about this and you will be shocked to find out how poorly breathalyzers do their job--not at all in fact. They are, by design, going to infate scores and catch innocent people!

Joey
Joey

Breathalyzers are junk science. They are totally flawed, by design. Not only do they do a poor job of detecting alcohol, they create the "score" using an absurd, inaccurate assumption about body weight and body chemistry. It seems like every citizen assumed these devices are the "truth" and cannot be questioned.

Please do a Google search about this and you will be shocked to find out how poorly breathalyzers do their job--not at all in fact. They are, by design, going to infate scores and catch innocent people!

Glad I don't live in AZ
Glad I don't live in AZ

The facts disclosed in this story don't surprise me, given AZ's draconian DUI laws and the incompetence of the police I had contact with the one time I was there...

I was visiting a friend in AZ in June of 2006. I was driving a new pickup that I had just purchased which didn't have license plates on it, (in Montana, if you order personalized plates, they give you a print out to fold and attach to your back window until you get your plates, it's rather casual).

I was stopped by an officer for, allegedly, not having license plates. It took the cop over an hour of my explaining that, no license plates in MT are not issued by the state, but by the county. He ignored that and tried to get through to someone in MT MVD about car licenses - which they know nothing about. He refused to call the county about the plates. Eventually, someone in his department or the DPS, (there were about six cops on scene from the PD, SO and DPS by this time), recalled that, yes, that was how MT licensed new vehicles. The cop was really pissed that he had to let me go.

So, after losing his big bust, he decided I was speeding and wrote me a speeding ticket. Mind you, he had never even mentioned speeding before this.

Problem was, it was impossible that the cop could have clocked me at all on his radar gun, because I was never at the place he claimed I was speeding. I tried discussing the ticket with the county attorney - I knew I was right, that the cop had only issued the ticket because he lost a bust for driving without license plates and I wanted to avoid a court appearance. The county attorney was a complete idiot, he knew nothing about how radar functions, he *said* that it *didn't matter,* because speeding tickets were just issued to make money.

Tired of talking to the idiot, I went to traffic school Things got worse there. The person teaching was an ex-cop turned prison guard. The "school" was attended by about 20 people, including me. 18 of the attendees were from out of state or where driving cars with out of state plates when they were ticketed, (realize the odds of a ratio of 9:1 for AZ vs. out of state drivers actually happening, by chance, are astronomical, which tends to indicate that the cops stop people with out of state plates more than people with AZ plates).

The "things" that the "teacher" taught were bizarre. He claimed every driver was responsible for stopping whenever they come upon an accident. I asked him if that included the freeways, during rush hour, in Phoenix. He said, "yes." [If this is true, then you can blame the 10K drivers who all have to stop, by law, when they see an accident on the 10 at rush hour in Phoenix for your hours long delays.] He also claimed that speeding in a school zone was an automatic felony arrest with one charge of "child endangerment" for every child present. That committing any traffic infraction or violation with a child in the car meant you would be arrested for felony "child endangerment" - he was a little more than fixated on child endangerment.

When asked for specific laws to back up his statements, he said he didn't have to provide any. Later, he said he would look them up and send them to me. Surprise, surprise, he never did.

I will never drive in AZ, again. It is clear that cops, from the local yokels to the county sheriff's department to DPS are either incredibly corrupt or incredibly stupid. County attorney's have no idea of what is involved in the laws they are supposed to prosecute. All they cops and the county are interested in one thing - writing tickets and taking money from people from out of state.

As far as your draconian DUI laws, YOU, the citizens of AZ are responsible for that. Given the behavior during my bogus stop, it is clear that cops in AZ are not interested in the truth or justice, they just want to arrest and abuse people. You could stop them, if you wanted to. So, if you don't like your DUI laws, deal with your legislature and get them changed. If not, don't be surprised when your cops go nuts and overcharge every time they stop someone.

gary
gary

I understand cops being very, very cautious with a kid in the vehicle. Imagine what would have happened had the driver been impaired or on drugs and they let her leave and she got into an accident. We do have to realize the cops are in a no-win situation here. They err on caution. However, after the fact, and with all the information they should drop the charges. http://www.arizonaautoinsuranc...

Marcy
Marcy

The real story here isn't the DUI laws but that cops regularly fabricate evidence and judges and juries give undue weight to what cops make up on the witness stand.

TJ
TJ

It shames me as a human to read about "falsely accused/punished" people in circumstances like these when children and adults who cause worse damage and deaths are not given anything more then a slap on the wrists, or fines so small it is equivalent to a slap on the wrist. When I was a California High School student in a driver's education class (through the high school, as early as age 16, or within 16 at end of class) we were taught road safety before we were ever allowed in a "training car" (the old Buick's with an extra-break pedal on passenger side for examiner), this included a very heavy hard-bound book, the states driver's license field test book, randomized paper driving tests, video "road" tests, and "reel" movies of actual crash scenes of DUI's... All this BEFORE we were allowed in the training car, let alone on local and eventually highway roads. I don't remember what the DUI limit was back then, I just remember the numerous pictures of people in various places strewn across the road ways. One in particular was a motorcyclist whose head was on one side of a fence and his body was still trapped under his motorcycle. Sad thing was, he wasn't the DUI driver, she was still buckled inside her car with the airbag blown - ALIVE. about that same time SADD, MADD, PADD, and other groups regard "Against Drunk Drivers" were formed, and legislatives representatives were slow in responding to laws for such offenses, in fact they still do! So these stories shared here do not surprise me...just shamed as a human, because I can not understand why innocent folks should "still" be punished (the 3rd driver was actually a passenger in the car if I read your article correctly, even though it was a "past" offense) for the wrong doings of others after twenty plus, count them 20 + years since I was in high school. It also should not surprise me that certain legal issues are still an issue, because as driver #2 pointed out, her friend in law enforcement "told her" she shouldn't have any issues, yet she still did. This advice was coming from an insider and the 2nd driver still got screwed from the legal system. Makes a person wonder just how much "the good 'ole boys" still have their hands in other folks pockets to allow the wrong doers to get off so easy (or easier), while the innocent / changed folks are paying for something they haven't done (or thought they'd cleared up). Our justice system is not about Tolerance, it's about a lack of Tolerance, a lack of trust, a lack of understanding, a lack of change, and worst of all a lack of humanity!So many "if's" or "could have" but very little else in the way of offerings in the first driver's case. If the businessman was so concerned about the "safety" of others, why didn't he ask the restaurant server/manager to assist the woman, or ask her to have someone else take them home because he was "concerned" about theirs (someone else's) safety? Why deny he had misjudged the situation and/or offer to get assistance with his claims before involving the police, and then afterwards when he "knew" the truth?? Then there is the second driver - the one with the recovering back surgery and the can't miss concert who had to rubberneck another situation.... I'm sorry she was wrongly accused and hurt worse in the jail cell (esp since actual wrong doers get "bonded" out sooner), but on that same note, if it was my back (don't even talk to me about hindsight, I am quite aware of the pain the L4/L5 herniated disk can put on the spinal cord, and effects on other body parts) that needed a prescribed pill to get through the day after major surgery (don't fool yourself w/laser surgery), I would be missing that concert! And as the designated driver and being very tired from both the excitement of the concert and my back recovery, I would have been making a call for the local taxi company. However, all of this does not in any way change the fact that the law enforcement wronged what this driver did / didn't do. They should have pulled her over, did the test(s), fined her for illegal land use and offered to follow her home / call her a taxi. Since all three were exonerated of their wrong doing, they should be refunded for their "wrongful " bills and paid for by the accusing parties (individual(s), legal, county, and state), after all isn't that what they do with folks who are wrongly accused of murder, robbery, and other harsher crimes (at least those who haven't already died in prison, or killed by inmates)? Tax payers are "always" paying for the actions of the law, why do you think so many criminals (not looking at the death penalty) would prefer jail time to fines (free tv, free food, free room & board, free exercise equipment / accessories, etc)? Did you notice I said criminals - actual wrong doers? People who know they are in the wrong and don't care? People who do the time, get out, and commit another act of crime... all to get the "free" stuff. Only a rare few of those criminals have morals, and are "attempting" to change their lives while they are incarcerated - sometimes they get out and make the change, sometimes the change is made on deaths door. What a pity this "change" can't be made before others and criminals end up in jail. What a shameful pity.

Neva L  Losh
Neva L Losh

finally told her what she was doing. She also never drives when taking any kind of drug that impairs her judgement or reactions. The fact that there is no alcohol showing in blood is of no consequence in these cases.

Interested party
Interested party

This is an interesting article.

It is my opinion that the police deparments of the USA now work directly for the insurance companies, due to MADD, which is not an organization of mother's, but an insurance company lobby. Police now ONLY are interested in arresting even people who have one or two drinks, or are speeding - hopefully over the limit as well. This at the expense of all other police work. If you watch people drive in the Phoenix area, most roll stop signs, do not use their blinkers, and often cut you off, but I have yet to see anyone be ticketed for these accident causing offenses.

Of course people should not drive drunk, and there must be penalties. But they must be relative to the crime, as your article says. And the science of proving someone is over his or her personal limit needs to be used, not an 0.08 for everyone ... the weight of the person alone makes this very specific value an unfair measurement, in fact discriminates against women.

Personal freedoms are under attack in this country, and this is just one example.

Bil
Bil

Just because you pulled my comment about the BEER ADS doesn't mean it didn't happen, you Stalinist Wannabes.

Bill
Bill

Lovin' those mixed messages! WTG with the BASS ALE ads accompanying the story. God, what a fricked up hypocritical bunch of snooping squealing arse-wipes we've become. We get what we deserve RIP America.

Dick C. Flatline
Dick C. Flatline

The problem here is that for several decades, government agencies as well as businesses have been legally required to hire ANYONE *EXCEPT* the person most qualified for the job.

And....MONTHS to get test results back???

Obviously, we're not allowed to hire the most qualified COMPANIES, either!

Welcome to the idiocracy. And keep chanting your little mantra:

Well, it didn't happen to ME!

Owen
Owen

Point Zero Eight BAC was removed here in Australia many years ago at the same time they introduced Random Breath Testing - Guilty until proven innocent - the police can pull you over anytime they want to perform one of these tests, they don't have to have a reason,try that for a loss of civil liberties.

Robert
Robert

I really hope that Steve's business, Horticulture West, suffers as a result of his stupid mistake. Let him know what you think - steve@hortwest.com

David Hina
David Hina

too bad arizona is not as tough on the real criminals

Larry
Larry

Well, the reason no one points out how the police are misused as tax collectors is, one, hardly anyone thinks that is wrong, two, the only people challenging anything are dopes like those WTO rioters who make the police look good, and three, our "leaders" are too busy hustling money or boozing it up with their friends or playing with their male or female prostitutes to worry about their constituents. If they aren't careful, there's going to end up with some mindless French Revolution action where people just go out screaming "get the ." Get with it, guys. People are getting tired of these mindless laws you pull out of your ****.

John
John

I am suprised that more people havn't realised that the police are no longer here for their protection but are realy nothing more than Bullying Tax Collecters. So why does anyone expect honesty? The police quite understand that the legal fees are worse than the fines. This makes our legal system nothing more than an armed government sponsored extorsion system. Each of these poor people were just allowed to pay their STUPID TAX. Not for doing anything wrong, but merely for being stupid enough to be noticed.

Larry
Larry

I'm sort of curious about this "businessman." Seems like someone ought to be digging around him. What kind of "business" does he run, someone so ignorant and careless of the implications of his actions that he would pull a trick like this and then run off like some sort of mangy dog. Tell you one thing, I was a little interested in relocating to Arizona once, but now, forget it. If I want to locate to Mexico, I'll go to the real one where it's cheaper. Boy, what a crum-bum state you guys have. And I thought Washington was punk. Phew! (Please excuse my rambling)_

Frank
Frank

The statistics you see about drunk driving are vastly inflated. If a passenger in a car that is rear-ended while stopped at a red light has had a few, the accident is counted as an alcohol caused accident. On and on, this happens. It is a government scam, no more no less.And good people are being hurt very badly.

Ahmed
Ahmed

"Life sucks" just about sums it all up. I'm too cynical for suicide at this point even.

Jimmy
Jimmy like.author.displayName 1 Like

Great. These poor poor women, deprived of their Vicodin lunches, restricted from hauling their brats around with them unless they're sober. How can we inflict such cruelty on these people? After all, she was just dabbling in a "Mother's Little Helper" as Mick liked to call them. I've had some tickets in my life. I was never treated in any way other than with courtesy and respect. I hadn't had a mimosa and vicodin fueled lunch. If my BA level had been checked it would have been 0.0. I'm no prude, a narcotic and some booze is fine by me, a great way to sit and watch TV. Only an idiot would try to drive like that and then seem indignant because the police were so mean to her.

For those of you that compare the police actions to Hitler's Germany...please shut up. You make light of the holocaust and disrespect the 6 million who died by making such a nonsensical comparison. You tell us that you too believe it's OK to drive if you're just a *little bit* impaired. I know, I know...you believe you're a better driver with just a little booze in your system and the cops should ignore you because you can judge how impaired you are better than others can.

Maybe next time she finishes that mimosa and then hits you head on. Ahh, justice.

$weet T
$weet T

That's why you should never tell cops anything!!! Even if they ask you if you're drunk or have been drinking, the correct answer is NOT "no," the correct answer to that and any question is "I have nothing to say"! All you are required to do is present the papers they ask for. Never say anything else!

Jeremy
Jeremy

Look, there are two sides to every story. Without knowing ALL the facts in the cases presented in this article, I can't make a judgment either way. But having just sat on a hung jury in a DUI case, I can say this with confidence: if you get *convicted* of driving under the influence, you are almost definitely deserving of the conviction.

Getting arrested under suspicion is another thing entirely...cops can be overzealous. But if you're innocent, you don't have anything to worry about, other than the loss of time and money--which sucks, yes--but if inconvenience means fewer people get killed by drunks or drug addicts on our highways, then so be it.

In the case I witnessed as a juror, the young woman on trial weighed 110 pounds and had consumed 5 beers (that she admitted to) the night she was pulled over. Even using the defenses expert witness's "best case" math with regard to alcohol absorption and burn-off, etcetera, it was clear once you ran the numbers that a) she was over the legal limit, and b) she must've consumed more drinks than she admitted to on the stand.

And yet, she walked. Why? Gee, I don't know. Might have something to do with the fact that in the U.S. 10-20% of the population are alcoholics (juries must vote to convict unanimously).

So to me, where there's smoke, there's fire.

patrick
patrick like.author.displayName 1 Like

well, now the innocent members of society are starting to suffer. suffer what, fascism, naziism, what ever you want to call it. The government of this country has finally turned the corner and is becoming a totalatrian type of governmen. Will we the people have to draft a copy of the declaration and serve it on the "government". That's what "we" did a couple of hundred years ago. I'm all for it...let's start over and having learned the lessons of the past, create democracy again, in it's newer, fairer form

Bryan
Bryan

As the story says, we were looking to adopt from CPS (older children). We were actually selected to adopt two children in Tucson (9, 11 brothers) who had been in the system for 5 years.

In the middle of it all, the adoption agency (ARISE) called us and told us they are recommending to the judge NOT to certify for adoption. We'd been going through this process for 14 months (it takes longer to get certified for adoption than it does to go thru a DUI case... funny, huh?). They didn't like that Shannon was CHARGED, who cares if it was thrown out.

We find out this Friday (5/16) if the certification is granted or not.

I know what some of you must think "But all charges were dropped, why such a rucus?" Well, that's how the adoption system works [we've been through it before]. Even being CHARGED with any of a 100 different listed crimes (see ARS 8-108) means you are DISQUALIFIED TO EVER adopt. Of course, DUI is not on that list but who cares, right? In all probability, these boys will wind up "graduating" from the foster system.

The gift of DUI keeps giving...

Bill
Bill

All of you pure idiots defending the rat who called the cops and insane cops themselves should be ashamed of yourselves. Your comments show you know nothing about DUI, law, driving, the history or the founding of the country that gave you life. You all remind me of how the Nazis were able to rise to power in Germany. You disgust me with you subservience, your licking of the boots of your masters. When they come for you, and if this state of affairs continues, they will, don't come crying to the rest of us.

sara
sara

I get a kick out of your articles everytime I read them Sarah. They all just sound like a bunch of bullshit! You need to just quit and find something else to do.

Thomas Fife
Thomas Fife

You had me agreeing with you until you began the pity party for the actual drunk drivers. Boo Hoo. My daughter, the designated driver, was the only person that had not been drinking in two vehicles when a drunk driver crossed the interstate median in Pueblo, Colorado in 1994; traveled 1000 meters and struck her head on. She was the only one who died. The other driver went to prison for six years, but nothing changes the fact that she is dead, and I have an 18 year old grandson that does not remember his mother. I miss her every day. Save your compassion for the miscarriages of justice, not for the drunk drivers that have not killed anyone, yet.

Jennifer
Jennifer

This law and enforcement is completely stupid and obviously slanted by special interest paranoia groups. God save us from those who think they know better - aka Nazi Public Heath Professionals. I was actually hit and nearly killed by a drunk driver, scarred for life even. However, I do NOT support this nonsense at all. I spent 3 years and thousands of dollars of my own money recovering from it and still think that this is absolute nonsense. To treat people like this is just plain offensive and I suspect may not stand up to Constitutionality. These are not the first stories like this I have heard. We spend way too much time worried about a tiny percentage of the driving population yet we hand out drivers licenses to the most scary sober drivers I have ever had the terror to behold. Perhaps we should focus on actually requiring people to really learn to drive, graduated drivers licensing for new and young drivers and restricted licensing for those who are advanced in age and real penalties for moving violations. Sane and reasonable solutions to the epidemic of bad drivers on Arizona's roads. Oh wait, all of these are special interest groups that have not been demonized in slick advertising campaigns. Yet again, America over reacts and rational thinking looses out.

Concerned parent
Concerned parent

DITTO! to #3 Randy Jones: "that's all this city cares about is putting you through hell for the smallest thing and taking all of your hard earned money....I'm moving!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Take Randy's advice - he's right on! This situation with moms and families at risk, in the state of Arizona is so serious that the jokesters above don't realize the destruction they have caused this young mother and her children. The criminal justice system is broken and you've all used it as a weapon to destroy her and her children.

AZ Mom
AZ Mom

Correction to above: Mimi's not Chili's -- worse yet because Mimi's is known as the best BREAKFAST and lunch restaurant around! The "business man" following her around and reporting her to the police is a perverted creep and should be investigated himself!

AZ Mom
AZ Mom

#46 Bryan -- you also hit the nail on the head. Great comment and advice! Lives are being destroyed by knee-jerk laws written in the heat of emotion and to line one's pockets. This is ruining the quality of life in the state of Arizona. As the word gets out fewer young families and professionals will move to this state. Now we understand why there is a shortage of teachers, nurses, caregivers and day care workers -- they are very much at risk for having their lives destroyed in this state. Now even stay-at-home moms can't go to a Chili's in their on their way home without being at risk! These people who vote knee-jerks laws in will not get my vote and I'll actively spread the word. They are not serving the public -- only themselves.

AZ Mom
AZ Mom

#35 by Christine Cokely: " I also found it interesting that, the bill to increase penalties for DUI, and the bill to extend last call for alcohol to 2:00am, were passed and in effect within one month of each other. Gee, funny how the same groups were backing both bills. That�s because these groups make $$ off of DUI�s; attorneys, substance-abuse programs, breathalyzer providers, insurance agencies, etc."

My comment to above: I also saw through what the legislators were doing with harsher DUI and extending last call to 2:00 am in the Scottsdale bars. Those that are responsible for this should also be called criminals -- there is malicious intent here. Scottsdale also was adding extra officers to catch those that came out at 2:00 am. What a sham -- should be a fraudulent scheme! Do the legislators and those who profit by all this think we are stupid and not paying attention?

Christine went on, "I am glad New Times published this story, if only because most people who know anything about the system are afraid of being labeled �baby-killers� if they point out the injustices. Go ahead and call me a �baby-killer�; at least I�m not lobbying for laws that deliberately set people up for DUI, so I can make even more $$ under the guise of saving babies� "

Using children and babies as fearmongering to get votes and to get draconian laws passed should be a crime in itself and also part of a fraudulent scheme for MONEY! The mothers, children and babies of the State of Arizona don't mean a thing to this state or we would not have the critical issues facing them as the government breaks apart the families and children.

Arizona moms need to pay attention to this. They are all very much at risk and those who are divorced with child custody battles, even more vulnerable. The essence of the this case is family custody cases at their worst!! We are not fooled.

Bryan
Bryan

To: Antonik Wakfer

Amen! You've spelled it out perfectly.

Drinking and driving is stupid. No one disagrees with that. However, if you are caught "borderline" or even suspected, instead of some kind of matching punishment, you are utterly and totally destroyed financially and civilally. You'll have a permanent record that'll make sure you go no where in life, and any money you once had... you no longer have.

Heard about some of the other states changing the drinking age back down to 18? I wonder if they're doing this to try and increase their DUI income. I wouldn't doubt if Az changes the drinking at to 12 so they can rake in more bucks.

Bryan

azme
azme

my uncle is a police officer and at one of our cousin's birthday parties he gave us the dirty truth about traffic stops. He administered field sobriety tests on 8 of our family members and not a single one passed. Hard to believe since we were all stone cold sober. He told us never to submit to field tests and gave us excuses to use.

Marcy
Marcy

The article could be summarized into the following points:

1) Cops lie, frequenty2) People under suspicion need to STFU and stop taking field sobriety tests3) The presumption of innocence is a joke

Kitty Antonik Wakfer
Kitty Antonik Wakfer

Eric in #32 had a very good suggestion - regarding videotaping of all police stops. In fact this technology is something my husband Paul Wakfer has recommended in his essay, "Social Ordering Technologies" ( http://selfsip.org/solutions/S... ), by everyone for everything that takes place around them when they leave their own property as a means of being able later to review for any number of reasons. Technologically it is actually possible now for a service to exist to which all such data could be transmitted to a central receiving station for later retrieval. Think how handy it would be to have objective evidence in any number of circumstances - especially of harmful incidents or accusations of such.

The comments in #34 regarding "DUIs generat[ing] a lot of income for the cash-strapped cities and there is a lot of government funding that goes with these DUI arrests" goes right along with my understanding of lots of traffic ticketing in towns both in central AZ and even many years ago when I lived in NJ. (Previous husband was law enforcement officer in both locations.) The towns/counties/state own the virtually all the roads and set the rules - it matters not to those who see opportunities for cash inflow whether the rules make any real sense for maintaining safety while keeping traffic flowing.

#35 - Thanks, Christine Cokely for not being anonymous like virtually everyone else here.

#36 - Absolutely, Bryan, the cop who stops you is NOT your friend. S/he is only interested, at the very least, in making sufficient "public contacts" so that hir personnel jacket does not contain any reprimands from hir superiors. If s/he can make lots of "successful" DUI arrests or other money-making traffic violation citations, all the better.

**Kitty Antonik Wakfer

Ima Fake
Ima Fake

Wah, I'm innocent. Wah, I'm old. You people make me sick.

If you want to live in a free country, go back to where you came from. This is the USA. You will do what we say and like it.

DanR57
DanR57

Imagine that! Who would have believed that anything like these examples could have happened in alcophonic Arizona. After all, the police, other law enforcement, the court system and their benevolent partners in MADD are only looking out for everyone else's best intrests. And they will see those peoples' best interests done to them no matter how it affects them. Of course we all know that Big Brother--oops; Big Sister...well, maybe Big Mama--truly knows what's best for everyone. And anybody that opposes Their methods for "encouraging a healthy lifestyle" in in fact a sociopath. :)

InTheKnow
InTheKnow

#38: Actually, what you don't realize is, the "concerned citizen" was picking up on her, she refused him, then called the police on her and LIED to the police about her drinking, and all sorts of other stuff.

No cop saw her drive.

No mention of her driving being impaired in any way whatsoever.

So, how do you defend your argument? Or are you just posting to be antagonistic?

Her hydrocodone bottle simply said (according to the script submitted to the courts, it is in the records) "Use caution." She did. Proof? Well, no accident, no observed driving problems whatsoever.

Further proof? All charges dropped.

Even more proof? Cops handed her keys back to her and said "have a nice day" after they drew blood.

Even mooooooorrrrrreeee proof? Third party, independant expert witness [a witness actually used by the prosecutor!] states "No problem" with any levels of drugs or alcohol.

Okay, Mr. Expert, how do you defend your argument? Or can you? ... this should be interesting. School me!

InTheKnow

CHUCKLING TOO!
CHUCKLING TOO!

"Ha ha. What I find amusing is that this wilcutt lady got lucky and didn't get a DUI. But instead of being thankful, she ran out and whined to the New Times and now all her dirty laundry is being aired out on the internet. When I first read this article I just thought, huh, sucks for you lady, but at least you didnt get a DUI (oh, and what retard thinks citrus would soothe a sore mouth?). Now I know about her crazy ex, her infidelity, and how many enemies she has.

Thanks for the good laugh."

I SECOND THIS! I've had more fun reading the bantering back and forth between the ex's more than the original article.

DUI is driving under the influence of alcohol AND/OR drugs. You can still be convicted if your results are less than .08 if impairment can be proven. My hydrocodone bottle warns NOT to operate motor vehicles until you know how you will be affected blah blah blah...

She admitted she drank alcohol AND took drugs... lab reports confirmed it... Who cares if it was 'less than' IF she was still impaired enough that a 'concerned citizen' report it.

As a DUI victim on December 5, 2003 who's experience was life altering....My hat goes off to YOU sir. THANK YOU! for choosing to get involved. *applauds*

anonymous
anonymous

#34 Scared Straight hit the nail on the head - it's all about money, as law enforcement hunts down it's own taxpayers who pay their salaries. The area gets sicker by the day.

Police and undercover agents hunting down easy targets - moms with kids, those frequenting the restaurants the area is known for, rather than hunt down the violent and those causing real problems in the city. We need to have the harsh sunlight shine on the "undercover agents". This sounds like Hitler's Nazi Germany to me.

Thanks for informing the public on the "undercover agents" being deployed in the affluent suburbs.

Bryan
Bryan

Christine,

You've reiterated a lot of what we've learned during this ordeal.

The $12k LESSONS LEARNED that I can pass on to everyone else is (some of which you've already stated)

1. By the time you are asked to do a field sobriety test, the officer has already pronounced you guilty. PERIOD. He's looking for more hard evidence. NEVER EVER DO A FIELD SOBRIETY TEST, NO MATTER WHAT! The officer will LIE TO YOU THRU HIS TEETH and tell you that if you don't, you'll go to jail. BALONEY. What you DO have to do is the Breath test and the Blood test. You CANNOT easily back out of either one of those. Don't worry, the breath test is meaningless and rarely used in court.

2. Never answer or talk to the police officer. "Had anything to drink tonite?" -- respond: "Sorry, I respectfully decline to answer your question without a lawyer present." He could ask "Weather's been hot lately, huh?" Response: "Sorry, I respectfully decline to answer you question without a lawyer present." He'll want to make friends with you, be opened about things, to try and get you to spill your guts. Common interview psychology.

The only thing you DO answer is confirmation of your name, address, and vehicle ID. Anything else, REFUSE TO ANSWER... but be respectful. Being disrespectful will give him an excuse. Remember, the officer that pulls you over IS NOT YOUR FRIEND, HE IS YOUR ENEMY. Don't forget that. A lesson we learned the hard way, but one we'll never forget.

Basically, IF YOU DID NOT CALL THE POLICE, THE POLICE ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND.

3. Never plead guilty to ANYTHING, EVER. I don't care if they caught you with 3/5th of Jake Daniels sitting between your legs, a loaded hand gun on the floor, a tied up person in the trunk, and enough alcohol fumes coming out of your mouth to lite up a rocket, DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY.

4. If you are charged, it'll be more charges than you expect. Simply put, if you break a single law [no matter what it is], you'll be charged with MULTIPLE counts. Take J-walking... "J-Walking, Endangerment, Disturbing the Peace, Interference with Traffic" are the charges you'll get. It's unconstitutional, but hey, welcome to the Nanny State.

5. If you ARE guilty, and you know it, refuse the breath and blood tests. Sure, you'll lose your license for a year or 2, but that pales to the tens of thousands of dollars in fines, jail time, and... you'll still lose your license.

6. If you are INNOCENT, NEVER PLEAD GUILTY, NEVER TAKE A PLEA BARGIN, NEVER SETTLE FOR LESS THAN COMPLETE EXONERATION OF THE CHARGES like we did.

They gave 3 charges to my wife over this. Two of the charges were gambits. Just little "toys" they could use. "Plead guility, we'll drop two charges". Well, those two charges wouldn't stand up for 1 minute in court anyway, and the prosecutor knows that. It's a GAME to them, remember that. They do this for a living, you don't. Shannon's final "meat" charge was "Driving while impaired to the slightest degree." This isn't even a DUI charge per se. Well, define "Slightest degree" please! You can be impaired to the slightest degree from a) drinking too much water, b) driving while depressed, c) talking on a cell phone, e) etc. It's a "catch all" that allows a police officer to do as he pleases.

We got an expert witness, a third party doctor, to examine the evidence. The doctor responded there was no evidence that she was impaired by any contents of her blood. Also, they had nothing on paper saying she did anything other than run a stop sign in an empty parking lot. BFD!

Bryan W.

CHRISTINE COKELY
CHRISTINE COKELY

I got a DUI four and a half years ago. I was guilty, and have no complaints about the price I paid for my crime, which included a $1200.00 fine, a $75/month for a breathalyzer in my car for a year, 10 days in Tent City, $5000.00 in attorneys� fees, $400.00 of substance-abuse classes, and an increase of $1200.00 per year in auto insurance. Since then, I have not and will not drink and drive; not only because of the price I paid, but because I truly realized how dangerous it is.

I deserved my punishment. But while in �the system�, I learned a few things most people do not know.

One of the most interesting is, field sobriety testing is not a pass/fail proposition. The police administer these �tests� for evidence-gathering purposes ONLY; you cannot �pass� a field sobriety test. If you think that, after performing these tests at optimum levels, a police officer is going to release you, guess again. Once an officer has administered these tests, you will be taken for a breathalyzer or blood test, NO MATTER WHAT. The only reason field sobriety testing is done, is to create evidence that can be used against you later. And although your scores on these �tests� may be optimal, the tests themselves are so ambiguous that the results can be easily spun as a prosecutor sees fit. Even a completely sober person may not perform well�

If you are guilty (and be honest with yourself; you know when you are), and it is just a straight DUI with no accident or injury involved, it is a waste of $$ to hire an attorney. Just allow the system to process you through, because that is what will happen anyway, but at an additional $5000.00 cost to you. There is nothing an attorney can do for you.

I also found it interesting that, the bill to increase penalties for DUI, and the bill to extend last call for alcohol to 2:00am, were passed and in effect within one month of each other. Gee, funny how the same groups were backing both bills. That�s because these groups make $$ off of DUI�s; attorneys, substance-abuse programs, breathalyzer providers, insurance agencies, etc.

I am glad New Times published this story, if only because most people who know anything about the system are afraid of being labeled �baby-killers� if they point out the injustices. Go ahead and call me a �baby-killer�; at least I�m not lobbying for laws that deliberately set people up for DUI, so I can make even more $$ under the guise of saving babies�

Christine Cokely

Scared Straight!
Scared Straight!

Sarah,

Thank you for the insightful article. It really shows that even though we all know the dangers of driving, we really need to make sure the people (police) who are supposed to protect and serve us are following the law.

While I don't feel Mrs. Wilcutt's judgment was the best that day, i.e. taking prescription drugs and drinking, I do believe the evidence shows she was neither intoxicated nor guilty of DUI. It also seems like the police rushed to judgment. I am also not a proponent of drinking and driving, but I do sympathize with Mrs. Wilcutt. I have seen the statistics and know that drinking and driving can be deadly for everyone. Unfortunately, I don't think the Wilcutt�s case and others is about protecting and serving as it is about making money for these cities.

This article couldn't have had better timing! Saturday, I was out eating dinner with some friends when we struck conversation up with the person next to us. It just happens that this person was an undercover officer for Chandler�yes, Chandler. We talked about the dangers of drinking and driving in Arizona and how tough the police and laws are here. I told him I have never seen such an overwhelming focus on DUI like here in Arizona. I had previously lived in CA where the police were focused on other things like violent crime. The officer went on to say it will only get worse. He said that DUIs generate a lot of income for the cash-strapped cities and there is a lot of government funding that goes with these DUI arrests.

He went on to tell us how our police (Gilbert) are targeting and charging people with DUI while not following the code of law they are supposed to enforce. He talked about several areas where police DUI misconduct was evident and expressed concerned that the law is not being followed. He gave an example of how an officer from another city was arrested (he didn't pull his badge) in Gilbert for DUI but was under the legal limit. The Gilbert police still took him to jail and booked him for DUI.

I also told him how I have seen (what looked to be) undercover officers in and outside of several local restaurants watching people go in and leave. I have had restaurants tell me to watch myself outside the restaurant. I have seen (what looked to be) undercover officers at a popular sushi restaurant in Mesa texting unmarked cars outside. I have seen people followed out of shopping malls and-my guess-pulled over. Steven Ceballes, may not be at your restaurant, but don�t worry�plenty of officers are there to take his place!

Whether it�s Mrs. Wilcutt or you, it sounds like we are all waiting to become a statistic and income for the police. You can have your case judged, juried and decided right in front of your eyes. If it can happen to another officer or a person who has had a sip of mimosa, it can definitely happen to everyone else! Once it does��Then you really might know what it's like... to sing the blues!�

Bryan
Bryan

To #26, #27:

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

You guys are living the Jerry Springer dream! I didn't know they ran internet into double wide trailers.

To #32:

Think about this-- if you think this is a nanny state now, the legislation is changing the law to 0.02 alcohol, and they are going to require a teaching certificate to home school your children. Piece by piece, your freedoms are outlawed.

My Wife and I have never been arrested, have no criminal record, nothing. But, with the way things are going every good citizen will eventually be a convict.

Going to jail is not the result of bad behavior, it's a statistical inevitability. Keep a bag packed.

Bryan W

 
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