I am a law-abiding citizen. In July 2014, I was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, while being within the legal limit of blood-alcohol content and without any appreciable signs of impairment. I was convicted in District Court. I appealed that conviction to Superior Court. A jury found me not guilty. The dashcam video was proof of my innocence.
I was not impaired. This was a case of harassment and entrapment. I was humiliated and stunned to be handcuffed, arrested and detained for far too long without charge.
In ’80s, Asheville was a boarded-up ghost town. If we want a thriving tourism economy and a “craft brew mecca” kind of culture, then we need law enforcement officers trained to deal with this new direction our fine city is taking. Arrest is not the only way to solve an ambiguous situation; it is the only way to reach quotas used to justify federal funding for a DWI task force.
Take note of the new military-style DWI Task Force Humvees with a DWI Lab patrolling Asheville. Does this make us feel safe or does it cast a negative light on a vibrant downtown? This kind of police presence undermines the city’s stated goals and makes patrons abandon our fine restaurants, music venues and bars for fear of being persecuted incorrectly by law enforcement.
I do not condone drunk or impaired driving! I respect law enforcement. But note that North Carolina law gives officers liberal discretion in deciding whether they believe someone is driving while intoxicated. You can be charged with a DWI in North Carolina purely at the discretion of the arresting officer.
Two days after my arrest, I was inundated with mail from DUI lawyers and substance-abuse counselors. This is a racket, folks!
If this injustice continues, they are shooting themselves in the foot economically, and downtown Asheville will return to the way it was in the ’80s … barren and lifeless.
— Aileen Pearlman