When I see a police cruiser rolling along next to me, even at 5 am on a Saturday, the first thought that always runs through my head is, “Oh no, what am I doing wrong?” The answer is usually nothing, and we typically go our separate ways. But I never, ever, think that the Police officer could be doing something wrong. This weekend I learned to never say never.
At about 5 am on Saturday morning, a Prince George’s County police officer was involved in an accident while driving his cruiser. He was later charged with a DUI. Daniel Gonzalez was off-duty at the time, but he was still driving his police cruiser when he was involved in a single car accident at the intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Tanglewood Dr. in Bladensburg.
Gonzalez, a six-year veteran of the force, was charged with the DUI and then shortly released. There were no other cars involved in the crash, and the officer was unharmed. According to the Gazette, Gonzalez blew a 0.13 on the breathalyzer at the time of the stop. According to Maryland DUI laws, anyone blowing over a 0.08 will be charged with a DUI; police officer or otherwise.
The particulars of this case are a little jarring. The idea of a police officer operating his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, even if he was off-duty at the time, is a troubling proposition. Driving drunk is never a good idea. Doing so in a vehicle symbolic of the rules our society lives by is even more significant.
There is no word on the kind of penalties Mr. Gonzalez will face, but it is safe to assume at least a brief hiatus from the force will be one of them. The charges had yet to even been formally put in the records as of Sunday, so we will likely learn a little bit more about them as the week goes on. According to our Maryland DUI lawyers, the maximum penalties for a first-time DUI conviction can include.
• Up to one year in jail
• $1,000 fine
• Suspension of Driver’s license.
Past Gonzalez himself, this is not a good situation for the Prince George’s County police force. Not only is one of their officers getting involved in a fairly serious traffic infraction, he is doing so with the name of their organization branded onto the side of the car in big, bright and typically reflective paint. The only injury suffered as a result of this accident may just be the black eye for Prince George’s County.