Retired Judge Arrested for DUI
A retired circuit court judge has been arrested and charged with DUI after she crashed her vehicle. Sixty-one-year-old Amy Lee Smith-Dodgin blew a .168 according to Palm Beach authorities.
Officers were responding to a call of a hit-and-run crash when they came upon Smith-Dodgin’s vehicle which had significant front-end damage. According to police, officers attempted to pull the vehicle over several times, but the vehicle would just not pull over. When the former judge finally did pull over and exited her vehicle, officers reported that she had a difficult time maintaining her balance.
Smith-Dodgin subsequently told police she had several drinks with friends and that she knew she was in Riviera Beach but couldn’t “specify why she was in this particular neighborhood”. This, of course, is not a great thing to tell police, and you would expect a former judge to know that. The consented to a field sobriety test but informed officers she had some medical conditions that could impact the test, but she didn’t think it would be a problem. She failed the tests, failed the roadside breathalyzer, and then failed a subsequent breathalyzer back at the police station.
Who is Smith-Dodgin?
Smith-Dodgin retired from the bench in 2016 after a brain injury left her in a coma for 28 days. In a resignation letter sent to the governor, she said her ongoing rehab would consume too much of her time to maintain her duties as a judge.
It isn’t immediately clear from the incident report if anyone else was injured in the crash. There was property damage, however, and Smith-Dodgin did leave the scene of the accident without rendering aid or assistance, so those are two possible areas where additional charges seem likely.
Smith-Dodgin is definitely going to face charges for aggravated DUI since she blew twice the legal limit. Her defenses are limited since she appears to have confessed after being read her Miranda Rights.
That being said, a brain injury makes a compelling argument for a mitigating factor. While Smith-Dodgin will almost certainly face a fine and the loss of her license, she could say that her cognitive abilities were severely impaired by the brain injury. This contributed to her dangerous behavior. For this plea to stick, however, Smith-Dodgin will likely be forced into the position of surrendering her license for good. If she is claiming a medical condition is responsible for her careless behavior, she couldn’t turn around and then claim that she should be allowed to continue to drive.
In fact, medical impairments can be used as a reason to revoke or suspend a license. In these cases, the defendant must show that a doctor is willing to sign off on them getting their license back, and that they are safe to be out on the road. One of the most common ailments that require this kind of intervention is sleep apnea. A driver falls asleep at the wheel, crashes their car, and their license is revoked on medical grounds. Doctors recommend a CPAP machine and if the defendant uses the machine and gets a full night sleep, they can have their license back.
Talk to a Florida DUI Attorney Today
Even judges can be charged with DUI. If you’re facing DUI charges, call the Florida DUI defense attorneys at FL DUI Group today and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.