There is perhaps no better example of the fact that anyone can make a mistake than when a police officer is accused of driving under the influence. Veteran officer of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Captain Steve Ruiz, has been removed from his post as commander of the agency’s Rampart station pending an investigation for DUI.

Green Means Go

Officers of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) investigating an unrelated traffic accident noticed Ruiz’s vehicle when other motorists on the road began honking at the car Ruiz was driving when it failed to proceed through a green light. The officers noticed that Ruiz displayed signs of intoxication and cited him for misdemeanor DUI, which allowed the former Rampart commander to avoid a night in jail but that resulted in his car being impounded and him being released to a friend or family member, according to the CHP.

Pending the investigation and subsequent outcome of any charges which may be filed, Ruiz has been placed on a “non-field assignment,” which is another way of saying that he’s been given a desk job within the agency. According to his official department biography, Ruiz has been a police officer for the LAPD since 1987, when he was 21.

Veteran Cop Should Know Better

To say the least, a man with as much law enforcement experience as Ruiz should know better than to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, assuming that allegations are correct. Correctness of charges aside, this story illustrates several factors which anyone accused of DUI should take into consideration.

First of all, an accusation of DUI can happen to anyone, even someone in charge of a police station for one of the largest police agencies in the country. Second, that being accused of driving under the influence can have a major impact on a person’s career and standing in the community. Third, that consequences for DUI, when it is a first offense and when nobody is injured or killed, can be relatively minor.

Information for the Rest

CHP officials commenting on the case stated that they would not release the results of field sobriety or chemical tests, which supports the notion that Ruiz submitted to both willingly. If he did, he didn’t have to.

There is no legal requirement for a person to ever submit to field sobriety tests. These tests are the ones that can be seen administered by police officers on the side of the road and that require a person to walk a straight line, touch the tip of the nose with a finger, and follow the tip of a pen with the eyeballs. These tests are not required because there is no way that they can actually measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s system and, therefore, are nearly worthless as evidence of actual intoxication.

Chemical testing is the most accurate way to determine the amount of alcohol in the system and is the only kind of testing that can’t be refused under implied consent laws. By submitting to a chemical test, Ruiz avoided further penalties, which is why DUI defense attorneys will generally advise members of the driving public suspected of DUI to submit to a chemical test of either blood, breath, or urine, but to remain silent through the process and to speak with legal counsel as soon as possible.