DWI checkpoint critic arrested as passenger in pulled-over car

by Walter Olson on March 23, 2014

“A Baton Rouge-area defense attorney known for criticizing the use of sobriety checkpoints was handcuffed and taken to jail early Wednesday after exiting the passenger side of his vehicle while intoxicated and informing his driver of her right to refuse a sobriety test, police said.” His attorney says Jarrett Ambeau, charged with obstructing an officer, “really was just trying to protect his client.” [Baton Rouge Advocate]

{ 7 comments }

1 Greg Dwyer 03.23.14 at 8:26 pm

If he wants to go this route, I have to ask whether practicing law while drunk is a violation of the rules of professional conduct

2 Bumper 03.23.14 at 10:23 pm

Greg,

Baton Rouge is in south Louisiana, Shirley you jest.

3 SmokeVanThorn 03.23.14 at 11:13 pm

So an attorney who’s had one too many must choose between (a) failing to advocate for his client by standing idly by while she takes a test she isn’t obligated to take or (b) violating the rules of professional conduct? I don’t think so.

4 marco73 03.24.14 at 8:18 am

Sure looks like the attorney did his job. From the article:

“Ambeau’s driver, Shannon Bottoms, was issued citations for improper lane usage and failure to change address on a driver’s license”

No mention of a DWI charge for the driver.

Does the local prosecutor really want to go on record that an attorney advising his client should be arrested and jailed? What do you want to bet that in a couple days, very quietly, all charges will be dropped against Ambeau.

5 Ron Miller 03.24.14 at 11:25 am

I like the way you loaded that question, Greg. But I don’t thing giving standard, garden variety legal advice that all of us have heard a million times is a violation of any ethical standard.

An overzealous police officer in the field who was unable to see the larger picture. It is a mistake but this kind of stuff is not uncommon (and I bet it is related to his opposition of sobriety checkpoints).

6 wfjag 03.24.14 at 5:04 pm

@ Greg:

One of the states I’m licensed in is Louisiana. Nothing in the Code of Professional Responsibility states that a Member of the Louisiana Bar must pass a bar — only that s/he must pass the Bar Exam (within 5 tries, and having benefit of Conditional Failures, so that all 9 subjects may not have to be re-taken). Legal advice and advisors must meet minimum levels of competence; but there is no requirement that the advice or advisor be sober. Included in the mandatory CLE each year is 1 hour of Professionalism — essentially reminding attorneys that they should treat people the way they wish to be treated. Accordingly, sometimes buying a round is expected (unless you’re from the Baptist north Louisiana, in which case you’re only expected to show up at your friend the Methodist’s or Catholic’s house with a BYOB).

On a related topic, when one of the times former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards was running for re-election, a potential voter asked him “Gov., if you’re elected, how many beers will I be able to drink and still not be DUI?” The answer is a sliding scale, depending of the amount contributed to the Parish Sheriff’s election fund — and certain times of the year, like Fat Tuesday, have special dispensations .

But, don’t under estimate the rural Parish lawyers, or, you’ll learn what it’s like to be the subject of a Cochon de Lait. The smell of Home Cookin is You.

7 JTW 03.25.14 at 1:50 am

“Sure looks like the attorney did his job. From the article:

“Ambeau’s driver, Shannon Bottoms, was issued citations for improper lane usage and failure to change address on a driver’s license”

No mention of a DWI charge for the driver. ”

Maybe because the smell of booze in the car came only from the lawyer, not the driver?
In which case he caused the driver to be subjected to alcohol testing that would not otherwise have been performed.

He should instead have advised her (and earlier) that when moving you should get the address on your driver’s license changed, which ha apparently failed to do.

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