Two television news anchors for the same station in Des Moines, IA were recently arrested and charged with drunken driving, according to an article at the New York Daily News. One of the anchors, 47-year-old Sonya Heitshusen, has won five Emmy Awards for her journalistic excellence according to the article.
Heitshusen was arrested on Saturday, June 7 for driving drunk. Erik Wheater, her colleague at the station and a reporter/weekend news anchor, was arrested for driving while intoxicated on Friday, June 6.
Police claim that after pulling Heitshusen over in Des Moines, she refused to step out of her vehicle; she also refused to submit to a field sobriety test. After being taken to the police station, Heitshusen also refused the breath test. She was pulled over after police noticed she was driving on the wrong side of the road; it is Heitshusen’s first offense, according to The Des Moines Register. She was put in jail but has been released.
On Friday, Erik Wheater, Heitshusen’s 25-year-old colleague, was pulled over because his vehicle did not have a front license plate. Upon exiting his vehicle, police noticed that he fumbled when searching for his license and other documents, and was unsteady on his feet. Wheater submitted to a PBT and numerous field sobriety tests, failing them all. His blood alcohol concentration was found to be .125%. He was also charged with a first OWI offense.
In Michigan, even a first-offense DUI leaves the defendant facing serious consequences if convicted. The penalties for a first drunken driving conviction include driver’s license suspension, fines, and possible jail time. There are also other penalties that may apply, and the defendant will have a criminal record. Subsequent DUI offenses result in even harsher punishment.
Individuals who are pulled over in Michigan and asked to perform field sobriety tests or a roadside breath test should politely decline. These tests are not always accurate; in fact, how well you perform a field sobriety test is ultimately the police officer’s opinion. However, it is important that anyone who is arrested for drunken driving understand that if you refuse to take the breath test at the jail/police station, you are violating the state’s Implied Consent law. This could result in your driver’s license being suspended immediately.
Ultimately, the most important thing a person can do when pulled over on suspicion of DUI is to contact a talented Michigan DUI defense lawyer immediately. Do not talk to police (other than giving your name, address, or personal information) without speaking with an attorney first. An experienced lawyer can help you avoid a conviction and resulting criminal penalties.