The Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards officially reprimanded a Ramsey County District Court judge on May 30. The judge was arrested on drunken driving charges early on New Year’s Day. According to a news article, Judge G. Tony Atwal was also criticized for using his office to get special treatment.
The judge claimed that he said he was a judge so he would not be put in the general prison population where he may be recognized. The board, however, disregarded this claim and found Atwal in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, both for driving drunk (his blood alcohol level was .17 percent), endangering people and abusing the power of his office. The judge waived a formal public hearing and formal complaint, thus accepting the judgment of the board.
A judge’s punishment
Most charged with DUI end up spending time in jail, losing their license and paying fines. Punishment for this judge, however, is a little different. The public reprimand by the board is the highest form of punishment for a judge, yet he must also adhere to the following guidelines:
- Remain a law abiding citizen
- Follow the conditions of his probation
- Attend eight quarterly meetings with a judicial board member or judicial board executive secretary
No one is above the law
If you or a loved one face charges of driving while drunk, it is important to remember that law enforcement will not likely let you go with a warning. Even judges, law enforcement or politicians can and do get charged. No matter your circumstance, it is always wise to seek professional legal guidance. An attorney experienced in DUI understands how the legal system works and protect the rights of drivers.