A driving under the influence trail is a nerve-wracking time for an offender. Whether that person is a first time offender or has repeat DUI on record, having to answer for their actions in court can be harrowing.
But for a recent DUI offender in Marin County, California, some good may come from his DUI trial. A group of teens from a local high school were given the opportunity to sit in and watch the proceedings as part of the Real DUI Court in Schools program, and what they learned surprised them.
Jose Guadalupe Paniagua-Paniagua is only 20 years old, but he’s on his second California DUI. His trail took 4 long hours, during which evidence was presented, and the court learned he was stopped for DUI after having trouble staying in his lane on the highway. Officers pulled him over, he failed field sobriety tests, and his blood was taken shortly after. He was well over double the legal limit, registering at .22 blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Some of the students registered surprise that he had a BAC that high considering the video evidence didn’t show a man stumbling down drunk. When the jury deliberated, the students were invited to advise the Judge on whether or not they thought he was guilty. Their verdict? He was guilty of DUI, but they didn’t think he was guilty of having a BAC of .22.
The real jury saw it differently, and they found him guilty of both charges. For his crime Paniagua-Paniagua received 30 days in jail, three years probation, a driver’s license suspension for one year, and he must install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle. He’ll also have pay fines over $3,000 and complete an 18-month DUI multiple offender program.
Once it was over, the Judge had some advice for the kids who attended – given the costs of a DUI, “it would be cheaper to hire a helicopter to fly you around.”
Maybe attending the DUI trail will ensure these teens never make the mistake of drinking and driving.