/ December 26, 2008

Drunk Driving at Your Child’s Discretion

Christmas came a few days early for a young New Jersey woman who was vindicated this week after questions regarding a police report made over three years ago were finally settled. Her call to police, made in 2005 to report her father’s drunk driving, was proclaimed sufficient evidence for stopping a vehicle. On the night of the incident, the then 17-year-old, spoke with authorities twice, first to report a domestic disturbance followed by the allegation that her father had left their home and was operating a vehicle under the influence. What ensued was three years worth of trials, appeals and disputes.

Though his initial challenge to his drunk driving charge was ignored, Paul Amelio emerged victorious from appeals court as judges determined that his teenage daughter was unreliable when it came to recognizing drunken behavior. What could have been an open and shut case was made more complex due to Mr. Amelio’s refusal to take a breathalyzer. With the court having no concrete evidence of Amelio’s alleged drunken behavior, they were forced to determine the case based on the discretion of a 17-year-old girl.

When the case arrived at the New Jersey Supreme Court this fall, justices determined after hearing arguments that pop culture along with long established legal procedure played a large role in determining the outcome. In their decision, justices note that the signs of drunken behavior have become common knowledge and would not be unrecognizable to a teenager simply because they are not of age. In addition, the mere self-identification of the teen to authorities meant she submit herself to the liability that comes with reporting illegal behavior. If authorities had determined that she had falsified the reports, she would be held accountable for these actions. Now that the evidence has been deemed valid, Amelio will finally be headed to court for his sentencing.

Source: Law.com

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