EXCLUSIVE: DWI Guy Tom Anelli interview
While Lindsay Lohan is one of the most publicized DWI offender of late, she’s not exactly alone. In truth, Linds isn’t the first- and most certainly won’t be the last. The list of Hollywood offenders is more than a little scary, and they’re the only a small sample of the overall population- and overall offenders.
All of this begs the question: Are celebrities treated differently from the rest of us in the eyes of the law?
I recently had the chance to sit down with lawyer and famed “DWI Guy” Tom Anelli, asking him just that. Check out the interview after the jump and see what the DWI guy has to say about the DWI trend….
Anelli is a regular guest commentator for live trials on Tru TV with Lisa Bloom and Ashleigh Banfield and is based in Syracuse, NY. He and his team of attorneys concentrate in criminal DWI-related defense in all stages of the DWI legal process.
STELLA: When a celebrity gets busted for a DWI related offense, the debate begins as to whether or not their celebrity status attributes to how they’re treated in the eyes of the law- some claim they get off easy, while others argue they’re treated more harshly. What do you think? In your experience, are celebrities treated any differently- do they get off easy or are they often made examples of?
ANELLI: I think generally speaking celebrities are treated better than the average defendant (depending upon the judge). Celebrities have the ability to hire better lawyers, and at times, even officers of the Court can be enamored with them.
However, there comes a point when celebrities push the envelope (ignoring the Court, taking advantage of their celebrity), when judges feel it is necessary to not look like they are giving favorable treatment to the celebrity, or the judge merely becomes disgruntled with the celebrity’s behavior, at which time, the judge changes his or her approach and attempts to make an example of the celebrity.
STELLA: Leandra’s Law is a child passenger protection act in the state of New York that makes it an automatic felony on the first offense if caught driving drunk with a person under the age of 15 in the car with you. How could this law potentially impact the lifestyle of celebrities?
ANELLI: Because of the strict mandates of Leandra’s Law, celebrities charged with a DWI, if convicted, will face the mandatory ignition interlock provisions of this new law. This could put a serious crimp in a celebrity who likes to drive his or herself around in style.
STELLA: I have to ask, are DWI incidences on the rise, or just more publicized? And on that note, do you think celebrity DWI offenses, on the whole, influence and/or represent the trend of the overall population?
ANELLI: I don’t believe celebrity DWI has an influence on the numbers of DWI arrests made each year, or the number of people committing the criminal act of driving while intoxicated. I do believe that the coverage of DWI arrests and accidents is on the rise. DWI has become incredibly newsworthy, and even non-celebrity DWI is being covered by broadcast and Internet news sources, now, more than ever.
So there you have it- I’d like to thank Tom Anelli for taking time to answer these questions.