The Fond Du Lac District Attorney Makes Himself Look Ridiculous
There's no nice way to say this. Fond du Lac County District Attorney Daniel Kaminsky has made himself - and his Office- look ridiculous.
And to borrow a line from that great movie, "The Godfather", a man in his position should never be made to look ridiculous.
Courtesy of the Fond du Lac Reporter, here's what authorities say happened:
Last June 11th, a Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Deputy stopped a black Mercedes being driven by an individual named Larry Schreiber heading down Highway 41. Before the stop, authorities had received a 911 call reporting that the vehicle had been weaving all over the road.
After stopping the vehicle at around 9:45 pm, the investigating Deputy smelled alcohol on Schreiber's breath. Schreiber subsequently struggled to perform field sobriety tests and ultimately blew a .168 percent blood alcohol concentration on a Breathalyzer test administered on the scene. A subsequent breath sample obtained at the Sheriff's Office came back at .13 percent. A blood draw at the hospital showed a blood alcohol concentration of .156 at 11:50 pm.
By the way, it's against the law to operate a motor vehicle in Wisconsin with a blood alcohol level over .08.
Also, Mr. Schreiber is the president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin. He is, in other words, what you might call "a wheel".
"Wheel" or not, this matter seems pretty straight forward from the perspective of the prosecutor, right? Motorist sees car weaving, cop stops car, cops smells alcohol, driver struggles with field sobriety tests, driver blows over legal limit on Breathalyzer, blood tests shows driver way over legal limit - charge case and move on.
Not in Fond du Lac County though.
Rather than proceed with a drunk driving prosecution, the DA's Office agreed to dismiss the charges in favor of a no contest plea to operating an aircraft while intoxicated! The fact that the defendant wasn't operating an aircraft while intoxicated appears to have given the DA absolutely no pause(?)! Similarly, the fact that no DA in Wisconsin appears to have ever amended an OWI charge in this fashion also gives the Fond du Lac DA no pause.
What an embarrassment!
In making the plea deal, the defendant managed to both avoid having his drivers license revoked and avoid having an ignition interlock device placed on his car. In other words, he managed to largely avoid even the slap on the wrist that is first offense drunk driving in Wisconsin!
To be clear, I don't fault Mr. Schreiber for taking a deal like this. I mean, if the DA Is dumb enough to offer a sweetheart deal like this, a defendant would be nuts to say "no". This is also first-offense drunk driving so it's not as if Schreiber is a repeat offender or anything. I don't suggest he's a danger - just that this was irresponsible on the part of the DA.
The DA says that Mr. Schreiber's position played no role in the plea deal. That may well be the case. Still, try telling that to next guy who works on the line at Mercury Marine who gets stopped for first offense drunk driving in Fond du Lac County and wants to plead to operating an airplane under the influence. Talk about making life tough for the cops on the street.
The DA's Office justifies the result in this case by saying that they had some concerns about the various breath and blood tests. The law enforcement people responsible for this case tell me that these concerns are absurd. If nothing else, the DA seems to have now called into question every drunk driving prosecution in Fond du Lac County for the foreseeable future.
I recognize that the Fond du Lac DA is relatively new to the field of criminal prosecution. I also recognize that even prosecutors with a couple of years of experience occasionally make rookie mistakes.
Regardless though, the DA in this case looks ridiculous. And a man in that position can never be made to look ridiculous.
What is perhaps worse though is that this is a completely self-inflicted wound.
Why do I think we might hear more about this case come election time?
As an aside, I wonder what was going through the mind of the judge who accepted this deal? However, we'll table that discussion until another day..