Friday, December 10, 2010

Taking responsibility or confessing to a crime?

Former Houston Rocket star and current Sacramento assistant coach Mario Elie was arrested last night for DUI in Sacramento. And just how did he manage to get himself in trouble? Was he swerving? Or weaving? Or driving dangerously?


He was pulled over for having a broken taillight on his car around one in the morning. The officer approached the window, smelled alcohol and decided that Mr. Elie was driving while intoxicated.

Of course, Mr. Elie did himself no favors when he decided to accept "full responsibility" and issue this confession statement:

"I was pulled over last night on my way home for having a broken taillight. I had been out and had a couple of drinks. My blood alcohol level was slightly over the legal limit. I'm very sorry, embarrassed and disappointed for the position in which I put myself and team. Rest assured, it won't happen again as I take full responsibility for my actions."
You can rest assured that Mr. Elie's attorney wasn't behind it. Did team officials suggest he issue the confession statement to ease public sentiment?  It doesn't matter now because Mr. Elie has made an admission that he was intoxicated at the time he was operating a motor vehicle. 

Blowing over .08 on the state's breath test machine isn't the "kiss of death." There are issues to be raised about the accuracy of the machine and the pseudo-science behind it. But Mr. Elie did himself no favors when he issued his confession statement.

Certainly folks want their sports celebrities to act responsibly and to be accountable for their actions. Fans grow weary of seeing booking photos of their favorite players. But, and this is a really big but, there is a difference between being accountable and confessing to a crime for which may or may not be guilty. If he said he shouldn't have put himself in that position or that, upon reflection, it's not a good idea to drive after you've been drinking (even if you aren't intoxicated) - that would be one thing. But making the statement that you knew you broke the law -- before any evidence has been presented and before anyone has investigated the case, isn't very smart.

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