Former state senator Kathryn Bowers did not get preferential treatment in receiving a misdemeanor citation for a DUI, Memphis police spokesman Sgt. Vince Higgins said Friday.
It's common practice.
. . . .
Higgins said police handled Bowers in accordance with state law.
Such citations are issued, he said, when the alleged offender is unlikely to continue committing the violation, has a valid ID and is not a flight risk. He said Bowers met all three criteria.
"We issue thousands of those things (DUI citations) every year. ... If we locked up everybody, the jail would be busting at the seams. Seriously," Higgins said.
He said people who get such citations are arrested and processed, then released on their own recognizance until their mandatory court hearings.
"It's an arrest, but not a continued custody," Higgins said.
Sgt. Higgins gave the reporter a rationale for misdemeanor citations in general, citing jail capacity; but keeping officers in the field is the usual justification. I would be interested to see any statistics supporting the claim that "We issue thousands of those things (DUI citations) every year." The parenthetical may reflect the reporter's understanding of his claim, especially in view of the fact that Tennessee law explicitly prohibits the issuance of a citation for DUI, "unless the offender was admitted to a hospital, or detained for medical treatment for a period of at least three (3) hours, for injuries received in a driving under the influence incident." See this statute, especially subsection (b)(2)(A).
I don't question police discretion in deciding that Ms. Bowers' transport to the Med was for "injuries received in ... [the] incident." She may well have been banged up and disoriented by the collision; and certainly any arrestee in possible need of urgent medical care belongs in the Med, even in the prison ward, rather than in jail.
The reporter also wrote: "She was cited for driving under the influence, reckless driving and failure to maintain control of her vehicle, all Class B misdemeanors."
Well, according to the latest materials I have at the date of this posting, DUI is a Class A misdemeanor (see subsection (m) in this statute), reckless driving is indeed a Class B misdemeanor, but failure to maintain control (actually titled "Drivers to exercise due care") is a Class C misdemeanor.
Presented by Wintermute in the service of accurate public education. See your own lawyer for specific legal advice.
UPDATE: Finally available as a public record at this site, under booking number 06645975, the Misdemeanor Citation issued to Kathryn Bowers.