A Suffolk man is facing serious criminal charges after being pulled over in Portsmouth this week, in a good illustration of how quickly life can change when you break the law.
Twenty-eight year old Michael Smith made a u-turn and then stopped at a green light on London Boulevard and Broad Street just before 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. His behavior prompted a traffic stop from a Portsmouth police officer.
The officer found Smith was under the influence of alcohol and failed “several sobriety tests.” According to WAVY-TV 10, he was then charged with felony DUI, indicating he had previous DUI convictions on his record. But that isn’t all.
The officer found a loaded AR-15 assault rifle in the vehicle, on the passenger seat but hidden from view. Smith will also face charges of carrying a concealed weapon while intoxicated.
While the news reports provide no backstory, it’s easy to see how a few afternoon beers with friends could result in a life-changing arrest. Sure, not very many of us ride around with an assault rifle on our passenger seat, but many Virginians carry weapons, whether lawfully or otherwise.
Maybe you got a promotion and had a few afternoon drinks or perhaps you were at a barbeque. Once you get behind the wheel, however, your celebratory day has the potential to turn tragic.
DUI charges can carry life changing penalties, even for a first-time offense. You could be spending time in jail, paying hefty fines, and losing your license– all for a few drinks with friends.
If you have a weapon with you, even if you are licensed to carry it, you could face additional penalties.
More than likely, Smith didn’t weigh the risks of driving intoxicated before he got behind the wheel. If he had, maybe he wouldn’t have started the car, or perhaps he would have—at the very least—put his gun safely in his home.
Most people arrested and facing criminal charges find themselves in situations they didn’t plan for, those they didn’t weigh the risks on or make a conscious decision at criminality. After the fact, most regret the actions that ultimately led to their arrest.
Fortunately, if you are caught violating a law and charged with a crime, you have options. Your regret for the incident could cause the judge to have some leniency, and working out a plea bargain with the prosecution could help you avoid jail time. Discussing all of your options with a criminal defense lawyer can help you determine the best course of action.