By now, most people in North Texas are probably aware that Angela West, wife of Texas gubernatorial candidate Allen West, was arrested in Dallas for DUI this past Friday evening after having dinner at a restaurant and was driving home with her 3 month-old grandson in the rear seat of the vehicle. Colonel West has stated that the arrest was wrong because his wife did not have any alcohol at dinner. He made a couple of videos, that he posted on Facebook, in which he railed against the arresting officer as he held up a receipt from the restaurant indicating that his wife had lemonade and water with her dinner.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m retired from the New York City Police Department, having worked as a cop for 20 years. I served my first few years on uniformed patrol. During that time, I made many arrests for driving while intoxicated. Back then we didn’t have special units on patrol to pull over vehicles that appeared to be driving erratically. During a tour of duty, when I came across a vehicle that was moving along the roadway with an uneven pattern, I might pull the car over and check the condition of the driver.
If I found probable cause to believe the driver was inebriated, I’d place him under arrest, take him to the stationhouse and wait for the breathalyzer unit, which I had summoned by radio. My determination of probable cause was based on a number of personal observations, among which was, the driver’s reflexes and ability to speak clearly without slurring his words. Bloodshot eyes might also be a factor in my decision. Knowing the gravity of an arrest for DWI, my decision to arrest was not made until I was absolutely certain the guy was a danger to himself or others.
When I watched the dashcam and bodycam videos of Angela West’s encounter with the Dallas PD, I was looking for those telltale signs of physical impairment. The dashcam on the police car showed her vehicle swaying from the right lane onto the shoulder and back again. That would have been enough reason for me to pull her over. However, after watching the bodycam video, showing the officer putting Ms. West through the paces, i.e., walking an invisible straight line, standing on one leg with arms out to the side, etc., I wasn’t convinced that the driver was impaired, much less drunk.
Moreover, after the officer attempted 3 times to administer the breathalyzer, which apparently didn’t work properly, I was stunned when I saw the handcuffs being placed on Ms. West’s wrists, followed by her being placed in the rear seat of the radio car. I’m as pro-police as one can get, and I realize that I was not there to see things that the officer may have seen, but, based on that video I can’t understand why the woman was arrested. Did she fail the field sobriety test? If so, what part of it?
In the Zoom video interview, Colonel West talks about the arrest and where the case is right now.