Every day, law enforcement officers and deputies arrest people for driving under the influence of alcohol. That individual gets put through the process of being booked, going to court for arraignment, experiencing a trial and possibly being convicted. This is probably no surprise to anyone reading this. But did you know that every week, there is a policeman, deputy sheriff or highway patrol officer arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol? In addition to going through the same steps noted above, some personnel are even further embarrassed by being arrested by their own law enforcement agency.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department does not tell employees they cannot drink. The Department does say, however, that each employee is responsible for their actions. The Department also does not tolerate the abuse of alcohol or any other mind-altering chemical by its employees. As a result, as a member of the Sheriff’s Department, if you drink and drive, you are risking the loss of your career. If you drive under the influence and are caught before being involved in an accident, you will be arrested and probably convicted. If you are involved in an accident and someone is injured or death occurs, you could be charged with murder.
In many courtrooms throughout America, many judges hand out the stiffest penalty allowed to law enforcement officers because we should know better. This means, if you find yourself in front of a judge for an alcohol-related incident, you will likely have extra bills to pay that you did not budget for. There is the expense of the lawyer. There are fines. There might be a bill for a tow truck. There may be bills to have your vehicle or another person’s vehicle repaired.
Sure, you have insurance, but we all have deductibles, and the insurance is not going to cover the lawyer or the fines. In addition to all of that, the Department will discipline you for being involved in an alcohol-related incident. This often means you will face days off without pay. (Think about it … if you receive 10 days off without pay, that is half of your monthly salary. It is tough to pay your bills with only half of your salary.)
The solution is so simple, it’s frightening. Don’t drink and drive. This is a 100% preventable situation, as you are in complete control of the choices you make! You cannot suffer any of the above consequences if you don’t drink and drive.
If you struggle to make this choice, know there are resources for you. You can call and talk to me or one of our licensed psychologists at Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500, all of whom are ready to provide confidential help to assist you.
If you are sworn, Peace Officers Fellowship (POF) is also available. POF is a group of men and women in law enforcement who have had a drinking problem. It operates under the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, where confidentiality and anonymity are absolutes. Members share their experiences with others seeking help with a drinking problem. They give person-to-person service or “sponsorship” to new members. POF offers a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol. If you are interested in finding out more information about POF, call one of the members listed above. They are always happy to assist a fellow deputy. Your phone call can be anonymous and will always be confidential.