How far would you go for a beer? I don’t mean how far you would drive. I mean, what lengths would you go to purchase one? One Maine resident arguably went too far recently. He allegedly used his own lawn mower to drive to a convenient store to purchase some beer. The store was approximately a mile from his home. Although unusual, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that 51-year-old Tony Caulder was allegedly so drunk when he stumbled into the convenient store that employees refused to let him make the alcoholic purchase. When Caulder hopped onto to his lawn mower to return home from his unsuccessful beer run, store employees called the cops. Guess what came next? Police charged Caulder with driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while his license is suspended (DWLS).
I can only imagine how entertaining his court appearances are going to be. It will probably be as entertaining as one case that I personally observed early on in my career.
I was serving as a prosecutor at the time. I recall that the defense to the DUI case was nothing short of bizarre. The defendant’s breath reading was one of the highest I had seen at that time, close to three times the legal limit. His attorney was a well dressed middle aged man who spoke with a pleasant Jamaican accent. The attorney filed a motion to throw out the breath reading alleging that the results were obtained improperly.In the documents that he filed, he failed to specify why the breath testing procedure wasn’t proper.
In spite of having a packed courtroom filled with many other defendants and attorneys who were waiting to have their cases heard, the judge patiently listened to the attorney’s argument. At no time did the attorney ever get specific about what he believed law enforcement did wrong. The attorney’s argument started to drag on and became repetitive, with no end in sight. Finally, the judge could wait no longer. He interrupted the attorney and said, ” So what are you saying was done wrong?” The attorney said, “Your honor, if you watch the video of my client as he sat waiting to breathe into the machine, it will all become clear.
With all of the courtroom attendees watching, the video taped rolled. For approximately 10 minutes, we all watched the defendant sitting in a chair, doing nothing but waiting to be instructed when to blow. The judge said, “Well, it wasn’t obvious, so you might as well just tell me what I missed.”
The attorney spoke while pointing at the television screen. He stated, “Your honor, did you see when my client ran his hands through his hair?” The judge, responded with a puzzled look on his face said, “Yeah, so?” The defense lawyer continued, “Well your honor, after running his hands through his hair, he then rubbed his hands over his mouth.” “And?,” the judge fired back. The attorney responded quickly, “Well, as his hand was rubbing over his mouth, his tongue came in contact with his hand.” The judge said,”Get to the point.” The attorney then stated, in a forceful and thunderous tone, “Well, your honor, my client would testify that he wears mousse. And it was the alcohol in the mousse that was on his hair that got onto his hands that then got into his mouth that caused him to blow so high into the machine”
Including the judge, there didn’t appear to be a single person in that courtroom who wasn’t laughing hysterically. Well, actually, the defendant and his attorney were dead serious. That made it even more hysterical.
Once the laughter died down, the judge looked over at me and the more senior prosecutor that I was standing next to. He gazed at us for about fifteen seconds before we realized that he wanted us to deal with this ridiculous and comical argument.
We gathered ourselves and then I looked at the other prosecutor. My eyes clearly conveyed to him, “This one is all yours” & “I could not possibly get through this cross examination without laughing.” So, he looked over at the defendant, trying to conceal his enormous smile and appeared careful in selecting his first question. He asked the defendant, “Sir, I understand from your attorney that you wear mousse in your hair?” The defendant replied in a soft Jamaican accent, “Yes, I do.” “Well sir,” the prosecutor continued, “What kind of mousse do you use?” The folks in the courtroom snickered as the defendant responded, “I do not know.” The prosecutor then asked, “Well, do you drink your mousse?” The courtroom again erupted in laughter as the judge firmly announced, “O.K., I’ve heard enough. Motion denied.”
DUI is a serious offense and when I’m asked my opinion about what someone should do if they’re at a bar and had a few, I always advise them to take a cab and never drink and drive. In the unfortunate scenario when that choice is made and you or someone you know is arrested for DUI, I am here to assist you. While my defense won’t be as entertaining as the mousse defense, I will be as zealous in representing you as the Maine man was in securing his daily six pack.