An Iraq combat veteran told a judge Monday that he would rather stand trial than plead guilty to driving under the influence of drugs. While that decision could leave Alexander A. Lazos in legal limbo for another year or more, what separates him from most other DUI defendants, is his likely defense.
After he brushed another car at a Peekskill gas station last July, Lazos failed to walk a straight line and tested positive for drugs, police said, leading to the misdemeanor DUI charge. The former marine contends that a 2003 battlefield brain injury caused him to flunk the field sobriety test. The “drugs,” were doctor-prescribed for his injury and permitted even when driving, Lazos says.
In a brief hearing Monday morning, Judge William Maher set Aug. 13 for a pretrial conference to discuss the issues in this unusual case.
Lazos’ case inspired the local Peekskill-Cortlandt veterans community to lobby for a bill that would help allow TBI veterans to carry identification cards that document proof of their injury. Sen. Greg Ball introduced that bill in Albany last year. Since then, it has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee, where action is expected shortly, said Ball’s director of legislative affairs Krista Gobins. It has already won unanimous approval in the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, which Ball chairs. A similar measure in the Assembly, A9473, is now before that chamber’s transportation panel.
Read Lazos’ full story .