Lisa Orshowitz, a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, was arrested for DUI at the courthouse in St. Lucie, Florida. According to news reports, Orshowitz was on duty and operating her police cruiser while under the influence. Upon arriving at the St. Lucie County Courthouse, Orshowitz allegedly hit a curb, causing the tire on her patrol car to flatten.
She is then said to have used her police radio to call for a tow truck. However, fellow troopers who observed her at that time, claim she had blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and was having trouble keeping her balance. The news is also reporting that Orshowitz did not pass field sobriety tests that were conducted at the courthouse by other troopers.
According to her arrest report, Trooper Orshowitz told troopers that she took a sleeping pill around 1:00 a.m. because she had trouble sleeping.
If she is smart, Orshowitz will hire an intelligent defense lawyer who has experience litigating DUI’s both as a prosecutor and as criminal defense attorney. The worst thing she could do is hire a criminal lawyer who either does not know how or is unwilling to fully investigate her case to determine if she has any viable defenses. This includes looking into possible motives by her coworkers to either exaggerate the circumstances of this case or outright lie.
While breath test machines are notoriously inaccurate, blood and even urinalysis will definitely provide reliable evidence about what was or was not in her blood at the time the sample was taken. A blood analysis would be particularly valuable because it would specify the quantities of intoxicating substance (whether drugs, alcohol, or both) present in her blood at the time the sample was taken, if any.
Does her blood/urinalysis report show results that are consistent with the medication she was known to take at 1:00 a.m.? If there is a discrepancy, why does the discrepancy exist? Sometimes a defense can lie in these details.
This evidence is important because it would prove unequivocally what her level of intoxication or sobriety was at the time the sample was taken.
I also wonder what type of sleeping pill she took. Not all pills are narcotic, such as Lunesta. The effects of these pills can vary from person to person, depending on their body chemistry, metabolism, and interaction with other chemicals present. The way this one pill affected her may be unique.
This information would be especially important if her sleeping pills were mislabeled. For example, what would you think if the evidence proved her “15mg” sleeping pills were mislabeled and were actually 60mg pills? This would explain why she was groggy so long after she expected to be sober.
I think such evidence would paint a far different picture than the pill popping drunk being presented in the media.
Moreover, such mislabeling may give Orshowitz a cause of action against the pharmacy and/or the pharmaceutical company. Remember, the best lawyers are creative and are constantly thinking outside of the box. This is just one example of how a good lawyer takes the time to properly investigate a case.
I would also want to know if there were any real employment issues going on with her co-workers. Did any of the investigating troopers have prior drama with her? Did any have a reason to lie or exaggerate? Is there any documented history that may be relevant to determining if she was treated fairly and objectively.
It is easy to label Orshowitz a disgraced trooper, but I think she, like any other person accused of a crime, deserves to have her case thoroughly examined by someone with an independent brain. If she was having problems with the coworker who conducted her DUI investigation or who administered her field sobriety exercises, his/her credibility may come into question – depending on the problem.
It wouldn’t be the first time a cop lied in a police report and it wouldn’t be the first time a co-worker sabotaged a friend on the job.
On another note, if the evidence does prove that Orshowitz operated her patrol car while impaired, then she should act honorably and resolve her case by taking a plea deal. The real disgrace would be to challenge her guilt when the evidence proves it is obvious.
Obviously, Orshowitz is innocent until proven guilty and much more information is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.
As a first time offender, Orshowtiz should be able to resolve her case to the minimum penalties for a first offense DUI. This will include, among other sanctions, a minimum of 6 months probation, Level 1 DUI school, 6 months driver’s license suspension, 50 hours community service, and a $250 fine.