By Fiona Davis and Jeff Haslam
FRESNO, CA – A judge here in In Fresno County Superior Court this week a ruled in favor of a Stage IV cancer patient who claimed he could not use a breathalyzer – required of those convicted of driving under the influence – because of conditions stemming from his chemotherapy treatment.
Alvin Williams was charged with driving on a suspended license in July of 2020. While Williams initially pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor, he ultimately entered a no contest plea in February of this year.
According to the prosecution, this is not Williams’ first driving infraction. In 2013, Williams was arrested for DUI. The prosecution, led by Rachel Whiting, noted that Williams has been cited for multiple violations of license provisions for driving with a suspended license.
According to Williams’ Deputy Public Defender Thomas Burse, the license suspensions stem from an original DUI 30 years ago.
As part of his sentence, the defendant was also placed on conditional probation, and was ordered to have an IID, or breathalyzer, installed in his vehicle.
However, on Monday, PD Burse requested that this requirement be waived.
In his argument, the deputy public defender stated that his client is currently being treated for cancer, and is going through chemo and radiation therapy.
Part of the conditions of William’s chemo treatment requires that he not use a breathalyzer, as he does not have the “proper breath” to breathe into the device.
“I believe that if he were to install a breathalyzer, he wouldn’t even be able to use it properly,” Burse noted.
Deputy District Attorney Rachel Whiting responded to the defense’s request by stating that, based on the defendant’s medical treatment conditions, the prosecution would not object to the defense request, but reiterated William’s “multiple, multiple” driving violations.
Judge Francine Zepeda, who oversaw the proceeding, determined that Williams’ chemotherapy treatment was reason enough for being unable to follow the terms of his probation. Zepeda ruled to omit the IID requirement.
A thankful Williams responded to Zepeda’s leniency by stating that he is “trying to do the right thing now.” In addition, Williams told the court that he “should have been dead last year… from stage IV cancer” and is “lucky to be alive.”
The defendant also stated that his battle with cancer has “changed his whole thinking.
“Hey, I don’t wish chemo on my worst enemy,” William stated emphatically before laughing.
Though Zepeda was forgiving in her ruling, she closed the proceeding with a stern warning to Williams not to “pick up another driving without [a] license.”