Thursday, August 03, 2006

Vicente Padilla Drunk Driving Case 'Insignificant'

The pending adjudication of the July 7 case of suspected drunk driving against Texas Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla likely will have insignificant impact on Padilla's appearance schedule and the team's race for the playoffs. While drunk driving allegations cannot be expected to be taken lightly, prosecutors will at the very least accede to have the initial court appearance postponed until after the season. The defense will then seek to have the case dismissed or indefinitely deferred on condition of good behavior. At issue is evidence gathered by police at the time the portly righthander was stopped. While drivers are required to submit to breath analysis, prosecutors cannot concretely prove intoxication over the 0.8 blood level when the test is refused, even if the suspect appears wobbly or intoxicated. Even if the suspect submits to the test, the test can be challenged for accuracy. In the unlikely event the case goes to trial, the defense may concede that while the defendant may have consumed an "unspecified adult beverage," he had not been drinking to excess, was sober and innocent of drunk driving. That would leave prosecutors to decide whether they have enough evidence to convince a jury or magistrate to the contrary. In choosing not to bring the case to trial, prosecutors or the court might be expected to consider Padilla's record as a "good citizen," or good non-citizen. Padilla's past apologists have denied he was involved as a passenger in an unrelated, supposedly alcohol-tainted automobile collision in which he bore no culpability. And while Padilla, then with the Phillies, was reportedly accompanying former Phillies outfielder Jason Michaels on a night of disorderly revelry when Michaels was arrested in Philadelphia and charged with aggravated assault of a police officer, Padilla was not present at the moment of altercation, complicent nor subject to arrest.