ATLANTA — Fulton County prosecutors dropped a 2011 DUI case against former Clayton County Commission Vice Chairman Wole Ralph, who now works for the City of Atlanta.
Ralph of Jonesboro was charged with DUI, obstruction of an officer, misdemeanor reckless driving and failure to maintain lane in a Feb. 19, 2011, incident on Metropolitan Parkway.
According to records obtained by Clayton News Daily, Ralph pleaded guilty in Fulton State Court to failure to maintain lane. The rest of the charges were dropped.
He was sentenced to 12 months probation, with credit for one day served at the time of his arrest. Ralph was also ordered to undergo alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment, and pay a $1,000 fine.
After Ralph satisfies the other conditions of his sentence, his probation ends, according to the court records.
Most everything about the disposition of the case is unusual, including the length of time it took to get to court, said Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley. Mosley’s office prosecutes DUI cases in Clayton County.
“To get a DUI case reduced like that is very rare,” she said. “It’s not the norm. They are few and far between.”
The exceptions usually have to do with a poorly-investigated case, negative blood alcohol test results or facts that just don’t make sense.
“I won’t say I won’t lower a DUI to reckless driving but there has to be something really out of the ordinary,” said Mosley. “And recently, we lost a case in a jury trial of a guy who was found drunk as a skunk, asleep behind the wheel of a car in the middle of the road at 4 a.m.
“The problem was no one could find the keys,” she continued. “His argument was that he wasn’t driving. There was no doubt he was drunk but we couldn’t prove he had been driving.”
The fact that Ralph was ordered to undergo alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment shows that the court believed he was intoxicated, Mosley said.
“It’s not uncommon to order that evaluation and treatment on a charge other than DUI, particularly when the court believes the defendant was intoxicated,” she said.
Mosley said DUI cases are heard fairly promptly in Clayton County, with most of the delays because prosecutors are waiting for GBI lab reports.
“Typically, our DUI cases are heard within 90 days,” she said. “The longest part is waiting on test results but in our office, we don’t draw up an accusation until we get those results so when they come back, we are ready to go to trial.”
Ralph was arrested after being stopped in the early morning hours of Feb. 19, 2011, after pulling out of Creme nightclub parking lot. Police said he swerved across several lanes of traffic and even on the median for a time, his car creating sparks on the concrete.
During the traffic stop, Ralph reportedly argued and scuffled with officers and identified himself as a “police commissioner.” Officers said Ralph refused to take a breathalyzer or field sobriety tests.
Ralph lost a bid for re-election in August 2012.
According to Carlos Campos, interim communications director for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Ralph is an employee in the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management, working as a senior management analyst. Reed once planned then scrapped a fundraiser for Ralph when he was running for re-election to the Clayton County Commission.