Monday, October 25, 2010

Response to Leader Story

Kim Robertson of the Imperial Leader Newspaper did a story on me for the upcoming election. She called again and said they did some digging and found that I was arrested for a DWI in 2009 and wanted to know if I would comment on it. I informed her that issue was resolved and was supposed to be sealed.

I asked her what did that have to do with the election or the issues? She stated her readers would want to know and that there are other candidates in this election with similar issues. I informed her that I should not have been arrested and I would post my explanation of the incident on my blog. She stated she would note that in the follow-up story.

In December 2008, I had left a party where I had a few beers. I was not intoxicated and was driving home. It was around 1:00a.m. when I was travelling southbound on I-55 in the center lane and was passing another vehicle, which was on my right. I drive defensively and moved over into the left lane while I passed the vehicle. I do this to give myself room to react if the vehicle came into my lane. All of a sudden there was a car with their bright lights on right up on my bumper. I did not know what the driver of the vehicle was trying to do and thought he was a drunk. After travelling a short distance with the vehicle still riding my bumper I tried to take evasive action and changed lanes in the hope the vehicle would drive by. After changing lanes the vehicle changed lanes with me still riding my bumper with the bright lights on. Red lights then came on and I realized it was a police officer in the vehicle behind me. Immediately, I cautiously pulled over to the shoulder of the road. I turned on my dome light and waited for the officer to approach my vehicle.

The officer asked me to exit the vehicle to which I complied. I informed him that I was a retired police officer and was headed home. The officer asked me where I was coming from and if I had been drinking. I told him I had left a party where I had a few beers, but I am not intoxicated. He asked me why I was driving into the other lane. I told him I drive defensively especially this time at night. He stated he had a ride along reporter with him in his vehicle and when he spotted my vehicle changing lanes he told him “we’ve got a drunk.” I told him I thought he was a drunk the way he came up on my vehicle riding my bumper with the bright lights on. He told me that since I had the ride along with him he had to do something and asked if I would take some sobriety tests. I agreed.

It was very dark where we had stopped and he shined his flashlight into my eyes and told me that was one of the tests, to check my eyes. He asked me to recite my ABC’S and I did with no mistakes. He then asked me to walk a straight line, heal-to-toe, to which I complied and walked a straight line. He then asked me to stand on one foot and extend my other leg without losing my balance. I told him I had a bad ankle. I tried to hold my leg out and maintain my balance, but could not. After all, I am not a ballerina.

He told me I failed the eye test and the one-legged balance test. He stated he had to do something because he had a reporter with him and that he was going to arrest me. He then placed me under arrest and read me my rights. Therefore, I claimed my right under the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer any more questions. He locked up my truck, conveyed me to the station, where I was booked for DWI and Improper Lane Usage and released.

I contacted my attorney and informed him of the incident. After consultation I was advised to plead guilty to which I did. I paid a fine, did community service, was put on probation and the record was supposed to be sealed.

I should not have been arrested; however, I was stopped by a young officer who told his ride-along reporter that “We’ve got a Drunk.” I guess he did not want to be proved wrong in front of the reporter. I am not an alcoholic, I drink on rare occasions and I do not drive drunk.


  1. Mr. Zotta are you saying that the officer had no probable cause to stop you and the only reason he arrested you was because he had a reporter riding with him?

    You pled guilty to the DWI and being a former police officer you should know that a conviction remains on your record unless it is expunged.

    Another issue I have is you telling the officer your a retired police officer! Are you supposed to be treated any different than anyone else?

    The officer arrested you because he had probable cause to do so and he was doing his job, not because he had a reporter riding with him.

  2. Pretty lame that the officer arrested you for DUI. In my days of working patrol I have stopped countless LEO for DUI. Call them a cab and be on with it. I have stopped countless drivers for DUI. The same went with them. There would thousands of people if we arrested everyone that was DUI in our city in Southern California. I would have called you a cab or driven you home. The blue line is thin these days and they really don't care if you are brother in blue.