The Oscar De La Hoya DUI arrest represents a chance to raise addiction awareness, but will it? Or will it instead lead to another celebrity media criminal case circus?
Hall of Fame boxer and celebrity Oscar De La Hoyawas charged with a DUI in Pasadena, California earlier this week. According to USA Today, after stopping De La Hoya, “the officer detected the odor of alcohol on De La Hoya’s breath.”  The report indicates that De La Hoya failed a field sobriety test.
De La Hoya spoke openly about his battles with addiction to alcohol and drugs in 2016. Said De La Hoya, “That was the toughest fight of my life. I could have easily chosen to stay down just like hundreds of thousands if not millions of people choose to stay down and most of the time and sometimes lose their life. It really takes courage to one day say to yourself, ‘You know what? I’m going to change. You have to find that strength to want to fight another round.”
Legal Commentary by Darren Kavinoky
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about addiction and celebrity arrests. Oscar De La Hoya is in the most difficult fight of his life and every day he has to choose again to find the strength, “to fight another round.”
Oscar De La Hoya’s DUI arrest is an opportunity to raise awareness and highlight issues of addiction. But unfortunately what we see time and time again, is a media obsessed with “Celebrity Justice” and a criminal justice system that ignores the real problem of addiction so as not to appear soft on crime. Instead of using celebrities to insight real change, they are used as an example to impose harsher sentences and punishments.
“Oscar De La Hoya’s DUI arrest is an opportunity to raise awareness and highlight issues of addiction.”Click to tweet
Of course, there are times when celebrity status works in favor for the accused, as it did for O.J. Simpson. But “celebrity justice” more times than not leads to harsher punishments for those in the public eye. A prime example was Paris Hilton’s early release from jail, which is a normal and often expected outcome in a criminal suit. But with the whole world watching, the justice system was afraid they looked bad releasing Hilton early, and they sent her back to jail for several weeks. As a criminal defense lawyer, I can assure you that such practices in cases like Hilton’s are par for the course. Being forced back into custody following an early release is atypical, and I can’t think of a time when I ever had a client returned to jail under similar circumstances.
What’s especially troubling for Oscar De Lay Hoya is that he is a man who needs help that prison can’t offer. Our criminal justice system needs to address the addiction problem that we have in this country and impose sentences that help prevent recidivism.
1. Mike Coppinger. January 25, 2017. USA Today. “Oscar De La Hoya charged with DUI in California.” Retrieved via http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/boxing/2017/01/25/oscar-de-la-hoya-dui-arrest-california-highway-patrol/97054182/ .
2. Steve Springer. Special for USA TODAY. May 5, 2016. “Oscar De La Hoya: Fighting addiction ’10 times’ bigger than any bout.” Retrieved via http://boxingjunkie.usatoday.com/2016/05/05/oscar-de-la-hoya-fighting-addiction-10-times-bigger-than-any-bout/ .