Jose Cassola, Miami Herald Reporter Busted For DUI: "You Can't Get Drunk Off Vodka!"

Jose Cassola claims that the Miami Herald , where he worked as a Neighbors reporter until Wednesday, is trying to throw him under the bus by publicizing his recent DUI arrest. He also claims that he's innocent-- although he admits to driving after five to seven cocktails-- and the victim of Miami Beach Police harassment.

We're just disappointed that the Herald didn't use any of these money quotes from the arrest report.

According to the report, near 4 am on Monday morning, 34-year-old Cassola-- a Neighbors reporter who had given his notice that Friday-- drove his Honda through a stop sign at 15th Street and Michigan Avenue, without stopping and without using headlights.

When cops pulled him over, they claim, Cassola slurred: "I only had a couple of drinks, I'm fine!" Then he expounded: "You can't get drunk off of vodka!"

Cassola refused a breathalyzer and failed a sobriety test. According to the report, he then blurted: "I'm fat, I won't be able to get drunk from only seven shots!"

Reached by phone, Cassola called the quotes "ridiculous" and denied saying them. He claims he didn't run the stop sign, and that his car's lights come on automatically. When he was pulled over, he says, the officers had a vendetta against Cassola the moment they found out he was a Herald reporter.

"I didn't play the yes sir no sir game," he admits. "And I told them I was a Herald reporter, but not to abuse that position. I was just letting them know who I was, that I'm not just some schmuck off the street. I'm a professional, and I should be treated like one."

Cassola admits that he had five to seven vodka tonics before ending his night at Club Twist. But, he says, that was over a span of six hours. "I will admit that I was a little tired, a little sleepy," at the club, he says, "so I got a drink of water, because I do not condone drunk driving."

In the arrest affidavit, the police claim that Cassola professed to being "a little tipsy". Asked what he'd eaten, he replied: "Tacos and nachos."

In jail, Cassola says, an officer yelled at him: "Quit trying to bribe your way out of this!" The cop then made a crack about the reporter, who is gay, performing a "service" to get out of trouble.

Cassola denies that he was trying to bribe anybody.

The day after Cassola's adventure, he says, he disclosed the arrest to his bosses at the Herald. On Wednesday, managing editor Rich Hirsch told him that the paper was declining his two weeks' notice. They also ran the short article on the arrest.

Cassola thinks both the early dismissal and the article were "totally uncalled for... They just wanted to kick me on my ass. I worked for the Herald for seven years, and nobody ever knew me. Why? Because they kept me in Neighbors... Good riddance, Miami Herald. I'm been trying to leave for ages now."

Cassola declined to name the employer he quit the Herald for. When Riptide spoke to him, he had just left a lawyer's office. He plans on fighting the DUI charge. He says though he drinks, he is always mindful to stay under the legal limit.

"Dude, I go to Chili's all the time and have two-for-one margaritas, and then I get in my car," he posits. "Am I drunk? No!"

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Gus Garcia-Roberts