An assistant district attorney from Bexar County was recently fired after advising a friend, stopped for suspicion of DWI, to refuse a breath test. With less than a year of prosecuting cases in the DA’s office, Tara D. Richardson has already been officially dismissed for her conduct during the arrest of her friend.
Earlier this month, Richardson and her friend, Ricardo Ramirez, were stopped by San Antonio officials when their vehicle was seen drifting across the highway. The officials believed Ramirez (the driver) to be under the influence of alcohol, administered a field sobriety test and requested that he also take a breath test. Upon hearing this, Richardson urged Ramirez to avoid taking the breathalyzer, even though her job forbids her from dispensing such advice.
For obvious reasons, an attorney cannot defend and prosecute the same action. Advising her friend against taking the breath test conflicts with her responsibility to uphold justice, and that advice cost her her job.
In addition to giving her friend on-the-spot legal counsel, Richardson also identified herself with her badge to officers at the scene. Her behavior was interpreted as an attempt to “pull rank” on the officers and use her position to influence their handling of Ramirez.
But more importantly, it’s interesting to see how Richardson behaved during the episode with Ramirez. With her knowledge of the justice system, Richardson clearly believed that her friend should refuse the Breath test. Richardson’s instinctive behavior shows us that she, a prosecutor, believed that the best way to avoid a DWI was to refuse the breath test. If an assistant D.A. is encouraging her friends to refuse the breath exam, then why should we as citizens consent to a breath test?
Furthermore, we should all be very cautious when it comes to submitting to any type of sobriety testing. These tests are designed to make drivers fail – even sober drivers. The failure of one of these tests can be enough to convict a person in many cases, and your DWI attorney should inform you of how harmful they are. Tasha Richardson knew that there would be serious repercussions if Ramirez were to accept the breathalyzer. Never consent to a breath or blood test. Make the officer get a warrant.