Drunk driving is a common, yet serious crime. A DUI arrest becomes headline news when professional athletes and celebrities are involved, and political scandals in Colorado can arise when high powered politicians are charged with a crime.
However, America embraces contrition, and this strategy played out well for a young Texas lawmaker. 34-year-old state representative Naomi Gonzalez (D-El Paso) was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) after she involved in an accident. According to the Associated Press, Gonzalez struck another car, which caused it to hit a bicyclist. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, but everyone involved went to the hospital for precautionary measures.
Gonzalez sought permission to address her colleagues publicly. She explained that she was very sorry for such a lapse in judgment, and that she never intended to hurt anyone. She further stated that she was sorry about bringing shame to the House of Representative, and to the voters in her district.
House members gave her a standing ovation and some even gave her hugs. She even received flowers on her desk.
We have not seen recent stories of Colorado legislators being arrested on suspicion of DUI, but has happened before. Legislators, like other Coloradans, face the same criminal and administrative penalties. Also, they are afforded the same constitutional protections with regard to evidence and admissions of guilt. Indeed, they may have to work to earn back some of their political capital, but the time and energy necessary to gain the best possible outcome is the same.
Source: DenverPost.com, State rep ‘deeply, deeply sorry’ for DWI arrest, March 19, 2013