DUI is the most common offense among California police officers



DUI is the most common offense among California police officers

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Roxanne Steward was seriously injured after being hit by George Driscoll, a Contra Costa County District Attorney’s inspector, in April 2015. Driscoll was convicted of felony DUI in connection with the crash. (Courtesy of Roxanne Steward)

By ROBERT LEWIS | Investigative Reporting Program, UC Berkeley
PUBLISHED: November 10, 2019 at 10:14 am | UPDATED: November 10, 2019 at 10:25 am


Roxanne Steward had picked up her daughter at the Reno airport and was driving to them to see family in Lassen County when her daughter screamed, “Mom! Mom!”

“All I said is, ‘I see it,’” Steward said in a recent interview, as she recalled looking through the windshield of the car headed straight at her. “I saw George Driscoll’s eyes.”

Driscoll, a Contra Costa County District Attorney’s inspector who before that spent nearly two decades in the state Attorney General’s Office, was up north in April 2015 to lead a law enforcement workshop.

In a taped deposition, Driscoll said he’d been drinking vodka from a soda bottle that day when, according to court records, he crossed the center-line on the freeway and crashed head-on into Steward.


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When it comes to risky behavior that lands police officers behind bars, no crime is more common than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In a list California compiled of about 12,000 law enforcement officers or applicants convicted of a crime in the past decade, close to half the cases were for DUI or a related crime.

Reporters reviewed a sampling of those cases that involved injuries, property damage or other questionable behavior.

Court records show San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Pineda drove his car into a ditch outside Sacramento and ran from the scene; San Jose police Sgt. Juan Ceballos got into an accident and refused to take sobriety tests; Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Jimmy Torigoe collided with two vehicles while driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit. He kept his job until another DUI arrest in 2015.

Click here to read all of the articles in this series.


Driscoll’s case was especially tragic.

Steward spent months learning to walk again. Her femur had been shattered in four places and pins were inserted in her ankle. Her grandfather died while she was in the hospital and she never got to say goodbye.

Not until four months after the crash did prosecutors file charges against Driscoll, who was also badly injured. It was more than a year later when Driscoll took a plea deal to felony DUI and records show he wasn’t sentenced until another year had passed. Driscoll was sentenced to three years probation and 90 days in jail, although he ultimately didn’t have to serve the time behind bars.

His attorney, Dirk Manoukian, attributed much of the delay to the fact Driscoll was in and out of the hospital for his own injuries from the crash. And he said state law allowed the court to consider Driscoll’s military service.

Still, a visiting judge who presided over the sentencing was quoted in the local media calling the delay “outrageous” and “highly irregular.”

Numerous law enforcement and military officials wrote letters of support for Driscoll, including the Lake County District Attorney, a Navy Commander and a retired U.S. Marshal.

Driscoll was widely praised as a war hero and longtime public servant. But Steward doesn’t remember anyone — neither Driscoll nor prosecutors — apologizing about what she went through.

“The District Attorney didn’t even reach out and check in,” Steward said.

Former Lassen County DA Stacey Montgomery didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Driscoll’s attorney, Manoukian, said Driscoll couldn’t make a formal apology when the case was pending. “He’s absolutely sick to his stomach this happened.”
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While Steward said she understands the outpouring for Driscoll, she still doesn’t feel like justice was served.

“If that was me,” she said, “if I was the one who crossed over the lines and hit somebody head-on, I’d have been in jail and the court proceedings would have been over in six months.”

Bay Area News Group Staff Writer David DeBolt contributed to this report.

This story is part of a collaboration of news organizations throughout California coordinated by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and the Bay Area News Group. Reporters participated from more than 30 newsrooms, including MediaNews Group, McClatchy, USA Today Network, Voice of San Diego, and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Click here to read more about the project. Email us at cacriminalcops@gmail.com.


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