Jail Time for DUI Fire Captain

We are assuming that you all feel the same way that we do about the men and women in uniform, whether it's the fire or police department-they should lead by example. Which means they should have a sterling reputation, behave properly in public and, last but not least, not see themselves as "above the law".

Hmmm. We've reported quite a bit of police misconduct in this blog, but this time it's a Long Beach fire captain who has been caught out. And he was caught out in a bad way-not only was his blood-alcohol level three times over the legal limit for driving, but he also caused great bodily injury to a cyclist. Seriously? You're supposed to be setting the standard for conduct in our society!

As far as we're aware, taxi services are readily available in the Southern California area. Yet John David Hines, 38, of Huntington Beach, drank himself silly-and let's be honest, if you've got a 0.24 blood-alcohol level, you can barely walk, let alone operate a car-at the Schooner or Later in Long Beach, then got behind the wheel of his Chevy pickup. So, you can put two and two together there: he was planning to drive to Huntington Beach from Long Beach; that's not right around the corner. Not that driving even around the corner would be acceptable!

Another piece of the puzzle: Mr. Hines was in his truck, blind drunk, at 1:20 in the afternoon. Does that sound like someone who has a drinking problem? He made it to Seal Beach before he lost control and swerved into the bike lane and dirt shoulder, and unfortunately Jeffrey Gordon, 47, was struck by Hines.

And when we say struck, Hines hit the cyclist so hard that he flew 70 feet from the site of the impact, but did he slow down? Not one bit. He continued driving to his Huntington Beach home; luckily two drivers saw the collision and followed him, calling 911 in the process. Those are two very respectable citizens, unlike Hines.

According to the O.C. Register, "Gordon was taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where he was treated for head trauma, severe lacerations and bruising to his head and body, internal injuries, and spinal and vertebrae injuries. He remained in the hospital for two weeks and continues to suffer limited physical mobility and speech and memory loss." So basically, Hines' morning bender robbed a physically active man of his freedom and his normal life.

Hines, a captain with the Long Beach Fire Department (hopefully not any more), pleaded guilty in September to the following charges: driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, hit-and-run with injury, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing great bodily injury and having a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.2 percent.

Superior Court Judge Erick Larsh and the courts seem to be taking it easy on Hines (or he had a fantastic attorney), as his sentence handed down yesterday was four years and four months in prison, but it was suspended pending successful completion of five years of probation with one year in Orange County Jail. If he violates his probation, he will complete the full sentence. Hines has also agreed to pay $102,000 in restitution which, by the sounds of things, will not cover all of Gordon's medical bills in the end.

Do you feel that this sentence is strong enough? Do you think he's getting off easy because he's a fire captain? Do you think $102,000 is too small an amount for the damage caused to the cyclist's life and mobility? Please let us know your comments, below.

If you have been injured or involved in a hit-and-run accident, or have been arrested for a DUI, please call us call the Law Offices of Glew & Kim immediately on 866-416-2161, or use our online form for a Free Case Analysis. We believe in equal access to justice for all.