It is always a difficult and touchy situation in Virginia and elsewhere when an elected local official is arrested for drunk driving. The press coverage will usually be more intensive and the person will suffer a degree of exposure that may be extensive. This is the problem being faced recently by an Henrico County School Board member who was arrested in the early morning hours of Aug. 5 on DUI/DWI charges.
The 43-year-old pastor and vice chair of the school board was pulled over on I-64 for allegedly driving in between two lanes. Police charged him with driving under the influence but did not initially release the results of his blood alcohol level. Generally, when the police stop a driver for erratic driving, they will focus their inquiry on drunk driving only if they observe initial signs that point to impairment.
Typical characteristics that police officers look for are blood shot eyes, slurred speech and the odor of alcohol on the person. If these types of signs are present in addition to the fact of erratic driving or an accident, there is generally reasonable cause for the police to administer field tests of the suspect's reflexes along with a blood alcohol test. Based on all of the factors combined, the police will arrest the suspect for drunk driving if they believe that probable cause to do so has been established.
In this case, the defendant is a prominent pastor who comes from a family line of clergy members in Virginia. A family friend made a statement pointing out that even public figures are humans with problems. She asked for the church and others to rally in support of the pastor. Generally, where this type of situation exists in connection with DUI/DWI charges, it is best for the accused to make a statement expressing regret, accepting responsibility and asking for forgiveness. Of course, such decisions have important consequences and should always be made in consultation with one's criminal defense counsel.
Source: wtvr.com, "Henrico school board member Pastor Roscoe Cooper III arrested on I-64", Sandra Jones, Aug. 5, 2017