That Reese Witherspoon, Al Michaels, and Ms. Witherspoon’s hubby CAA agent James Toth got DUIs within this weekend is news only because of two things: their celebrity status, and how they handled getting the “driving while intoxicated” citation and arrest.
Al Michaels, that legendary touchstone of American Culture, who made the famous “Folks, I think we’re having an earth..” call during the 1989 Giants / Oakland A’s World Series when the 6.0 Loma Piereta Earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, was said to have been cooperative and nice to the arresting police officer. He was stopped at a DUI check-point in Santa Monica at approximately 10:00 PM on Friday. According to TMZ, which wrote their blog post as if they were copying a police report, officers “detected the smell of alcohol.” He was let out of jail at 4 AM and on his own recognizance (and it’s not noted if he posted bail).
By contrast, Reese Witherspoon and her husband were stopped here in Atlanta, and cited and arrested for DUI, but in Reese,’s case, she was charged with basically mouthing off to the police officer. James Toth was driving Friday morning when, according to Variety “the officer witnessed weaving across a double line on Atlanta’s Peachtree St. Toth appeared disheveled and his breath smelled of alcohol, according to the police report, prompting the officer to administer a sobriety test.”
But that’s when Witherspoon reportedly said “Do you know my name?” the officer answered, “No, I don’t need to know your name.” and then said, “right now.” Reece Witherspoon shot back, “You’re about to find out who I am.” and said “You are going to be on national news,” the officer said “that was fine.”
What’s wrong here is, first, neither Al Michaels or James Toth should have been drinking after driving. It’s not just the dangers of DUI, but the fact that cash-strapped municipalities feed off incidents like this to make money. Why give it to them? Second, we live in a society where a lot of people seem to be upset that they don’t have money or fame, so when Reese Witherspoon says “do you know my name?,” it just adds fuel to the fire. There are screwed up people who like to see the rich and famous treated ‘like anyone else’ – I don’t.
I am one who (has gotten a DUI and) believes that the honor of being a public figure, a person who, in Britain would be knighted, is such that police officers should not be quick to give tickets to them, if the officer can determine that releasing them is not a threat to the public safety. In Michael’s case, it reads like the court will drop his charge, because he was boarderline, and thus the breath-machine could be found to be faulty.
But in Reece’s case, that’s the totally wrong thing to do. It’s hard to justify special treatment when the person acts the way she did. The bottom line is to be nice, and to get a limo whenever possible.