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Letters from the issue of Thursday, June 12, 2008

NAME-CALLING COWARDS

What do you have against Kentucky?: This is to the reader who withheld his name. That is, the name-calling coward. The redneck bigot who's afraid to identify himself ("Filth, vermin, death wishes," Letters, May 22).

My ancestors have lived in this area for many more years than the rednecks who've come out of the woodwork just to spread their hatred. These rednecks are from places like Kentucky, where I'll bet the majority doesn't even have a high school education.

These are idiots who barely speak English (or at least proper English) and let fear rule their lives. I would bet that these same people would say that they're devout Christians.

Actually, they're cowards who hide behind "name withheld."

I'm a fourth-generation "vermin Mexican," and I'm also a Vietnam veteran. I fought for this great country to allow these white-trash bigots to say whatever they need to say to elevate themselves to vermin-Mexican status.

If you [rednecks] need someone to read this to you, just holler.
Art Flores, Glendale

NO PLACE FOR DRINKERS

What comes around goes around: I just finished reading your article "Driving While Sober" (Sarah Fenske, May 29), and a couple of thoughts come to mind: Officer Bond Gonzalez sounds as though he may have some deep-seated power issues. Bad things do indeed happen to good people.

Which brings me to my other point: Jason Squires knowingly, in his capacity as an officer of the court, took a client who, judging from the tone of your article, was most likely guilty of extreme DUI. I have a hard time believing that Jason Squires didn't also know his client was probably guilty.

This is where my sympathy for the Squireses ends. He put a man back on the streets who will probably get drunk off his butt again and, perhaps next time, kill someone. In my book, that makes Jason Squires just as guilty as if he were driving drunk.

I know, I know. Everyone has a right to counsel, but that right has been abused [to the point that] criminals now have more rights and advantages than law-abiding citizens. Because of our skewed legal system, we now live in a country that awards millions to a woman who puts a hot cup of coffee between her legs, not having the foresight — or intelligence — to consider the consequences. We have a legal system that lets the O.J.s of the world get away with bloody murder — literally.

This is just another case of what goes around comes around. My advice to Jason Squires: Start taking cases on their merits and not on how much money you're going to make or how much of a thrill it will be to set a guilty guy free. Then maybe the next time you run afoul of a not-so-nice cop, he won't have a score to settle with you — or with someone you care about.
Penny Butera, Avondale

This man was in the car: I'm the friend of Jason Squires whom Sarah Fenske's article mentions, and I was present during these events. Heather never refused to take a Breathalyzer test; she was never given the option to take the test.

I have nothing but hatred for irresponsible drunks who've harmed others. Heather is an innocent victim. She did not deserve any of the trouble she encountered that night.

What happened to Heather can only make it more difficult to prevent crime. The arrest of innocent people and the fabrication of evidence isn't a practice that the public should find acceptable. This should lead to public outcry for increased supervision of police.

Jason, as a lawyer, advised Heather to not take the field-sobriety test. That isn't the equivalent of refusal to cooperate.

Besides this incident being unconstitutional, it suggests that the police are incapable of performing their duties. Sarah Fenske's article suggests that Gonzalez lied in his police report with regard to Heather's appearance. Gonzalez did, in fact, do just that. Heather didn't have bloodshot, watery eyes, a flushed face, or a strong odor of alcohol emanating from her breath. She wasn't drinking. Don't take our word for it. Believe the blood-alcohol results: 0.00.

Jason and I drank with dinner. Neither of us was heavily intoxicated. We were just not capable of safely driving. Heather abstained from drinking so that she could safely drive us home. Then she was falsely charged with a crime, arrested, and evidence was fabricated to use against her.

This should alarm you.
Kris Carlson, Tucson

It could happen to you: This article highlights an important issue that has concerned me for years: the concept that harsher and harsher DUI laws will solve the "problem" of driving under the influence.

Our legislatures keep passing stricter laws to get credit for "doing something" about the problem. This is safe because there is virtually no constituency for "drunk drivers."

 

The incident illustrates how a relatively simple incident can have serious consequences. Giving the officer the benefit of doubt, he did have a legitimate reason for pulling Heather Squires over. But let's say the Squireses, et al., were rude and obnoxious the whole time. It still doesn't justify booking a sober driver for failing to submit to a sobriety test. (I'm not saying that happened; just what if.) However, because our Legislature was "doing something," our draconian DUI laws have very harsh, life-altering consequences.

I think if most people knew how little it takes to be convicted of a very serious and costly crime, there would be an outcry. Or maybe not, because they think it couldn't happen to them.

One possible nightmare would be a little old lady's pulling out in front of you and causing an accident after you've had three or four beers. You are doomed even if it was the little old lady's fault. You could be doing five miles per hour under the speed limit, in full control, on a sunny afternoon. You are doomed. (By the way, I'm a big, full-figured guy; a 108-pound secretary will be doomed with just one drink.) This is not justice.

The law is so unfair that a person driving along, realizing he's impaired, pulls over to sleep it off. A cop finds him; he's busted. Sure, he was in violation, but he did the right thing. This concept encourages impaired drivers to keep going until they get home. That is not justice.

A Phoenix police spokesman recently commented on how there are thousands of impaired drivers every night on the roads. What he doesn't say is that almost all of them are getting home without incident.

I'm not saying we should allow folks who are really impaired drive. I'm saying there is too much hyperbole about this issue. Another example is the statistic about the high percentage of "alcohol-related" accidents or deaths. The phrase is "alcohol-related," not "alcohol-caused."

There has to be a better way than ruining people's lives. Remember, it could happen to you.
Dave Hunt, Gilbert

Time for a hard look at cops: Everyone should write to Governor Janet Napolitano and tell her to veto this new DUI bill that makes people undergo treatment before they're found guilty.

We're fools if we believe for one minute that [Jason Squires'] wife wasn't arrested because of whom she married.

Instead of questioning the ethics of defense attorneys, it's high time Phoenix, Gilbert, and Mesa took a hard look at why cops are pulling citizens over as soon as they leave an eatery that serves liquor (because of, say, a wide right turn).

God bless this family for holding their own — imagine those that cannot?
Marie Lagonia, Chandler

Cops on a power trip: This situation is ridiculous and so typical. It's no wonder many of us have little or no respect for the police officers in the Phoenix metro area. Far too many of them are on power trips.

My daughter and son-in-law keep odd hours (he works tech support at night). So when he has a night off, they're up, doing things the rest of us do during the day. One night, they stopped by the post office drive-through to drop off their Netflix, and after pulling out of the driveway, were stopped for being "suspicious." They were drilled with ridiculous questions for 15 minutes, just because they stopped at the mailbox at 2 a.m.

How is this right?
Paula Olson, Phoenix

It happened to David Saint — twice: Great story, and right on the money. I've been pulled over twice and accused of being DUI when, in fact, I was sober.

In one instance, the reason the officer gave for pulling me over was: "You were drifting too close to the left side of the lane, not staying in the middle, and you were varying your speed too quickly from 55 to 57 miles per hour."

Huh? Yeah, he said I changed my speed from 55 to 57 too frequently. He then threatened that if I didn't do the test, I would be arrested. I went ahead with his field-sobriety test (which he said I failed), and then he gave me a Breathalyzer. He actually did a double take when it came back 0.00.
David Saint, Phoenix

Doc, yeah, but she hadn't had a drop!: I am an emergency-room physician who regularly deals with the innocent victims (often children) of drunk drivers. This story was about the most one-sided thing I've ever read.

When I read stories like this, I think about the children under age 5 whom I have pronounced dead after their being hit by a drunk driver, and it gets me really angry. I have seen so many children run over by drunk drivers, despite tougher laws and public education.

 

I think one lawyer's wife can have a few of her "civil liberties" interrupted after a night in a bar — if it helps get other drunk drivers off the street.
Dave Schindler, Boston

Give drivers the benefit of the doubt: Though my story happened in California, I believe the circumstances to be similar. Several years ago, my daughter was coming home from dinner at a friend's house. She was involved in a traffic accident that totaled her car. Incredibly (thank goodness!), she was unharmed. She was, however, very shaken. She wasn't under the influence.

When the police arrived on scene, they made the same assumptions as the Mesa Police Department in your story. Their presumption was that, because she had pulled in front of the oncoming driver, she must have been drunk.

Then, finding no evidence of alcohol, they presumed that she must have been high on meth or cocaine because her heart rate was high. Mind you, this was after a crash had totaled her car. Of course her heart rate was high!

Upon her release from jail the following morning, on the advice of my attorney, we immediately had her blood and urine tested at an independent lab. A week later, the test results confirmed what we already knew: My daughter was not under the influence of anything.

Yet, at her hearing, the prosecutor didn't bother to bring in the police test results because he presumed her guilt, too. When we presented our test results to the judge, he ordered the prosecutor to retrieve the police results, and after confirming that my daughter had been wrongfully arrested, he dismissed the charges and immediately gave back her driver's license.

While I have no tolerance for drunk driving, I do believe that until an officer has clear evidence of intoxication or impairment, the driver deserves the benefit of the doubt.

I have friends in law enforcement who've told me that their job is just to make arrests. The more the better! If some of them get tossed in court [unjustly], oh, well.
Michael Bell, Bakersfield

Dirty cops in AZ: Cops in this state are dirty. It's a shame, but you have to move to Mexico to get away from their corruption!
William Parker, Phoenix

This is nothing new, people: First, as an attorney I can tell you this kind of thing has been going on for years. The only difference is, it gets more press now.

Cops have always been taught to report bloodshot, watery eyes, and smells of alcohol, regardless of the situation. And any sobriety test is developed to fail the suspect.
Name withheld by request

The real drunks are getting away: When five officers spend this much time arresting a sober driver, you can bet that they've missed dozens of other drivers who were actually drunk or driving recklessly.

Until DUI laws make sense again and the blood-alcohol limit is raised to a reasonable number, the police will be harassing people who've had a couple of drinks (or none), while those who are actually drunk get away.
Name withheld by request


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