May 16, 2018 Press Release

On January 31, 2018, at approximately 4:45 p.m., Mark Edmond Pierce was arrested for Driving Under the Influence following a report of a traffic accident involving a school bus.  Pierce was arrested by the Alabama State Troopers and was booked into the Jefferson County Jail under a One Thousand Dollar ($1,000) bond.  At that time, Pierce was given a breath test and he registered 0.15% Blood Alcohol level at 5:58 p.m.

Pierce had a court date of March 27, 2018 and at that time, applied for admission into the Jefferson County DUI Deferred Prosecution Program.  Pierce and his attorney filled out the application form and each signed it.

The Jefferson County DUI Deferred Prosecution Program is designed to allow some first time DUI defendants to successfully complete a treatment program and, upon completion, have the charge dismissed.  There are strict conditions to allow for admission into the program and the conditions were determined by a cooperative effort of the District Attorney’s Office and the Judges of the Tenth Judicial Circuit. These conditions should not be deviated from as they are the conditions all agreed upon.  In this case, mistakes were made.

On May 14, when I became aware of this situation, I immediately began an internal investigation into this matter.

On March 27, 2018, Pierce, through his attorney, entered the application to Jefferson County DUI Deferred Prosecution Program and signed the Program Rules and Requirements, which indicates at the top of the page:

Pierce initialed the lines:
           I hereby certify that my blood alcohol content was less than .15 at the time of my arrest in the instant case.
           I hereby certify that my DUI charge is not related to any accident involving another vehicle, personal injury, or
           substantial property damage.

Pierce entered a plea agreement with the Deputy District Attorney handling the case wherein the BAC content was stipulated to be lowered to .14.  This should not have been agreed to by the Deputy District Attorney.  The method approved by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for the testing of blood alcohol content is through the use and proper methodology of the Drager Alcotest 7110.  That test, as administered in this case, indicated the BAC of .15.  If there is a question about the BAC, that issue should have been addressed in court.

Assuming that the above is the reason that Pierce certified his blood alcohol was below .15, the fact that the school bus had substantial damage to it based on the accident, while, for whatever reason, was not known by the Deputy District Attorney, was most certainly known by Pierce.

A mistake was made by the Deputy District Attorney for not having knowledge of the damage to the bus.

Finally, Code of Alabama states

A holder of a commercial driver’s license, an operator of a commercial motor vehicle or a commercial driver learner permit holder who is charged with a violation of a traffic law in this state shall not be eligible for a deferred prosecution program, diversion program, or any deferred imposition of judgment program.  Code of Alabama, 1975  Section 32-6-49.23 

With the above information in mind, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office will attempt to remove Pierce from the Jefferson County DUI Prosecution Program for providing false information in his application and based on his prohibited status of being placed in the program in the first place.

No children were on the bus at the time of this traffic accident and thus, no one was injured.  For that we are all certainly grateful.  But that fact does not excuse a lack of preparation in dealing with a DUI case, a case where we know all too well how quickly tragedy can strike.  We will continue to be diligent in our prosecution of DUI cases.  Obviously, had the correct information been known at the time of the application into the Program, Pierce would, and should, have been denied the benefits of the DUI Deferred Program.   Luckily, this information was discovered in time to be able to present it to the Court.

The District Attorney’s office is a team.  As District Attorney, I am the coach of this team and the responsibility for this is mine.  I have to assume that all of my players know how to catch the ball, and they do.  In this case, the ball was dropped.  I just have to teach my younger players how to catch the ball better.