Top Utah DUI Cop Crashes Cruiser While Drunk

Lt. Fred SwainI guarantee if you or I did this in Utah, we’d be in cuffs and in a cell-block at the end of the night, not on frickin’ “paid administrative leave:”

Lt. Fred Swain veered off the shoulder of a highway in Draper early June 23, overcorrected and hit the barrier that separates the lanes, Lt. Doug McCleve said Thursday.

Swain said he fell asleep at the wheel, but officers suspected he had been drinking, said Draper police Sgt. Scott Peck. Swain refused to submit to a breathalyzer test until two patrol captains talked to him, Peck said.

The test showed that Swain’s blood-alcohol level was nearly 0.12 percent, Peck said. Utah’s legal limit is 0.08 percent.

Swain was placed on paid administrative leave while the patrol conducts an internal investigation.

Must be nice to be such a hypocrite about the DUI law (minimum sentence for first offense in Utah: 48hrs in jail, $700 fine, 90-day suspension) and get paid to hang out at home while awaiting a trial an internal investigation that will likely be dropped.

And considering he was driving a police car when this happened, it makes me wonder if he’s ever… you know, arrested someone for DUI while actually drunk himself. Talk about irony.

Update: In searching for a photo of this guy, I found out that he quit the Utah Highway Patrol on Friday. It’s too bad it took such a dramatic event for him to realize the hypocrisy of his position, but it seems justice will prevail in the end here.

13 Comments
  1. Agreed that it’s quite hypocritical, but resigning his position was truly the right thing to do. Hopefully he faces the same criminal penalties another first-time offender would receive.

  2. Is calling him a “hypocrite” warranted? Just because a cop enforces some law as part of doing his job, doesn’t mean he thinks that law is a good idea. Conversely, if he does support the particular law, and he breaks it, he’s not a hypocrite unless he thinks its OK for him to break the law.

    And, finally, what’s so awful about DUI laws? Seem like a good idea to me.

  3. Mike Laursen: I’m not against DUI laws per se, just selective enforcement (and egregious minimum sentences that ignore facts of the case). It seems that this case was resolved in a non-hypocritical manner and I noted it in my update.

    The follow-up noted that “Swain had admitted to him Friday that he had been battling a drinking problem for the past two years.”

    I would actually be defending him a bit more if he hadn’t crashed a police vehicle (or any vehicle). I’m with DAP that .08 is a bit nutty (it’s one beer), but if you’re crashing a car, I don’t care if you have .06 that’s a drunk driving crash.

  4. Drunk driving should be legal of course. There is a mitigating circumstance here though. While he shouldn’t be charged with drunk driving, he did destroy some property. I don’t care if he was drunk or not. I have to wonder: did he get his picture in the classifieds section of his newspaper, like everybody else does upon arrest, BUT NOT CONVICTION?

  5. Yes, naturally the only things that should be illegal are property damage and manslaughter, but I really don’t view legalizing drunk driving as anything we should emphasize anytime soon.

  6. “Yes, naturally the only things that should be illegal are property damage and manslaughter,”

    Aren’t those the same thing?

  7. Something we’re forgetting:

    He crashed, while drunk and driving the property of his employer. His employer has a right, both in our current system and in Libertopia, to regulate how his employees should behave with company property. In this case the employers are the nice people of Utah, and they have a right to enforce their contract (implied or written) with him that probably imply that he shouldn’t have been driving a patrol car while drunk.

  8. Oh, I agree Stuart. I personally don’t mind talking about it to people, but of course I can qualify and explain why. It’s not exactly sound biteable. The responses I get are positive, but generally more moderate like raising the BAC dramatically and lessening the penalties dramatically as well. Especially when I explain the inherent technical difficulties with breath alcohol analysis and why some people could “blow” a higher or lower reading than they really have.

  9. Roberto, I pointed out exactly what you said, but with much greater brevity.

    Yeah, to hell with the drunk driving charge, but the guy tore up the cruiser and so forth. Of course, he shouldn’t be drinking on the job, either.

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