A DUI charge can be a life-altering experience and have far-reaching consequences beyond a temporary license suspension, community service, or a prison sentence.
It can also affect your reputation and career, especially if you’re in a high-profile position.
Former Portland police commander, Steven James Jones, experienced the consequences firsthand when he was charged with a DUI in June 2018 while driving his police-issued SUV while off duty.
Are You Subject to a Morality Clause?
Several professions are required to follow a code of ethics, even during their off-time. Also called Morality Clauses, these rules are designed to protect the reputation of the employer in case an employee acts in a way that is inconsistent with the organization’s values.
The consequences for violating a morality clause include disciplinary action, and in many cases, termination of employment.
Morality clauses are becoming increasingly common (especially with the rise of social media), and a variety of organizations include them in employment contracts, including:
- Police Officers
- Actors and Television Personalities
- High-profile Executives
In the case of Jones, this charge comes with an extra side of irony. His title with the Police Bureau was Commander of the Professional Standards Division.
Jones served the police bureau for almost 25 years before the incident. The discipline he could face was bound to be severe, so he elected to resign from his position before anyone could force him or terminate him.
To serve for the Oregon Police Department requires a certification from the state police licensing agency, and a DUI could also put this certification in jeopardy.
An Expensive Mistake
Not only did Jones break the law, but he did it in a government vehicle. The financial damages he had to pay totaled $38,239.95, which covered the expense of the SUV and the cost to repair the pole he hit in the collision.
Thankfully, no one was with Jones in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Otherwise, the penalties could have been even more severe.
The Elephant in the Room
Being a police officer is a visible job and getting in an accident after driving intoxicated is a black mark on the reputation of the police force. We expect the police to take their role of “Serve and Protect” seriously, even when off duty. When Jones made a choice to drive his company vehicle with a BAC over the legal .08 limit, he put lives in danger.
Being angry at this conduct is normal, but that’s not the lesson of this blog post. The moral of this story is that even a police officer is not “above” the law. He got caught, and he has to face the consequences of his actions. What’s more, if anyone could figure out how to wiggle out of the law, a veteran police officer would certainly be able to pull it off. However, the rules on DUIs in Oregon are clear, and there are consequences.
Still, it could have been worse for Jones. Though he will feel the pinch financially (he will still get his pension, but it will be less than if he had remained on the force a few months longer and reached the 25-year milestone), he avoided jail and is on one year of probation.
To ensure you get fair legal treatment, contact a DUI attorney for a consultation.