This week in Alamance County District Court, former state lawmaker now city and county punchline Cary Allred tried a novel defense on charges that he was driving while impaired on June 29 in Burlington.
Namely, the police are to blame.
As a strategy for beating the rap it was exceptionally high school and altogether lame. I’m not the only one who didn’t buy it. An out-of-town judge took 10 minutes to find him guilty on Wednesday after two days of wasting valuable court time and taxpayer dollars with a slew of motions, hearings and testimony for a case in which the outcome was painfully obvious.
You see, Allred’s theory is that he’s a helpless victim, savagely targeted by Burlington police because he’s a frequent critic of the department. Forgotten in that argument is that no one listens to him anymore and that he has absolutely no authority at all over the police. I guess for Allred it beats admitting to himself that he’s loud, obnoxious and frequently out in public being both of those things with alcohol on his breath.
In truth, if he was profiled by the city police, it was not as a crusading critic of cops who’s a thorn in their side or as a political or community leader of substance who police want to take down a peg or two. No, he was profiled as a habitual drinking driver. That happens to be their job.
In focusing his attention on berating police officers because they monitored his activities instead of what he would call real criminals, Allred conveniently overlooks the fact that driving while impaired is indeed a crime and a serious one, one with potentially fatal consequences. Even on a police video taken outside the La Fiesta restaurant and bar when he confronted officers earlier in the night on June 29 Allred admitted that if he got in his car to drive he would get a DWI. A friend then drove Allred home as police watched. Twenty minutes later, Allred got back in his car and headed to another restaurant and bar. And he was shocked that police pulled him over after leaving Ruby Tuesday’s? Sounds like alert police work.
Allred had the same blind spot in 2009 when he was investigated by his colleagues in the state House of Representatives. On the night his troubles began, he was stopped by a trooper with the N.C. Highway Patrol for driving 104 mph on the interstate — and again he had alcohol on his breath. Later Allred argued with me that he was justified in driving that fast because he was a legislator driving to cast a vote and compared himself to an emergency responder driving to a fire or deadly accident.
What a load of crap.
Oddly enough, Allred’s suspicion of the police is not that uncommon, among those who break the law.
When I was in college or in my early 20s I tended to look at things differently and probably even agreed with Allred, who was soundly defeated in a write-in campaign for Alamance County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 2. In those days I liked to go out and have a good time. I felt that the police were misguided in stopping people like me who might be driving after a beer or two.
But I outgrew it more than 20 years ago. At age 63, Allred certainly should know better by now.
The sad truth is, Allred could be a community crusader for reform on every level but he has become such a sad ongoing joke that no one takes him seriously anymore. As one longtime county GOP leader told me a few weeks ago, “Cary used to be good for this county, back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s but alcohol’s done ruint his mind.”
It’s a tragedy really. The man’s a train wreck.