Dec

31

Rhode Island Senator Proposes New Felony DUI Law

By Mary Ann

A Rhode Island Senator will propose a new felony DUI law. The Senator’s proposal would make it a felony to be caught driving on a license which has been suspended due to a DUI conviction. Currently, driving on a suspended license warrants an additional 3 month suspension and a fine. A second offense adds another 6 month to a driver’s suspension. A third offense causes revocation of the driver’s license.

The Senator said that “given the state’s status as having the highest percentage of traffic-related deaths caused by drunk drivers, it is clear that additional steps need to be taken.” He wants to get tough on “offenders who are punished with a suspended license simply getting back on the road again in the hope they won’t be stopped.”

Drivers convicted of DUI could also be required to turn in their license plates for the duration of their suspension. Special paper license plates would be issued during the suspension so that police could better identify the vehicle as one that has a driver restriction on it. If a DUI offender is caught driving another vehicle, the license plates for that vehicle would also be confiscated.

Dec

31

Minnesota DUI Arrests Approach Record

By Mary Ann

Law enforcement officials in Minnesota are on pace to make 40,000 DUI arrests in 2006. Officials note that Minnesota has stepped up its DUI enforcement and that 2006 is the first full year for the nationally mandated 0.08 BAC limit for DUI in Minnesota.

More than 470,000 Minnesotans have a DUI on their driving record and more than 200,000 have multiple DUIs. About one in eight current or formally licensed drivers have at least one DUI on their record.

According to officials, Minnesotans still aren’t getting the message about the dangers of drinking and driving. The State plans increased enforcement for the New Year’s holiday.

Dec

30

Asleep at the Wheel in New Jersey. But, is it DUI?

By Mary Ann

Bayonne New Jersey police spotted a man slumped over the wheel of his Volvo, Tuesday afternoon. The officers charged him with DUI. The 45 year old, Fair Lawn New Jersey man, was sound asleep. When they woke him, he had bloodshot eyes, his breath smelled of alcohol, and when he stepped out of the vehicle he was unsteady on his feet. The man failed a field sobriety test and had a BAC of 0.13, well over New Jersey’s DUI limit.

The police report did not indicate whether the car’s ignition was on. So, was the man DUI? New Jersey statutes define Driving While Intoxicated (DWI or DUI) as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor. The question for the court, here, is whether the ‘driver’ was operating a vehicle. He was asleep at the time. To be operating a vehicle, some states require that the motor be running, some that the key be in the ignition. It is unclear whether any state requires actual movement of the car.

Dec

30

New Arkansas Law Increases Penalties for DUI With Children in the Car

By Mary Ann

A new Arkansas DUI law will increase the jail time for drunk driving with children in the vehicle. The new DUI law increases the minimum time in jail for drinking and driving with a child under the age of 17 in the car from 24 hours to 7 days. With a 2nd offense, the minimum jail sentence, when a child is in the car, goes from 7 to 30 days. The 3rd offense penalty increases from 90 to 120 days. Judges may, at their discretion, order community service in lieu of jail time.

“It makes police officers mad to see a child in a car with a drunk driver,” an officer with the Rogers Arkansas police department said. “You’ve got an adult, who’s supposed to be a role model taking a child along. The adult makes the decision to drink and drive, but then they’ve got someone with them who doesn’t have a choice. Forcing their decision on them – that’s the ultimate form of bullying.”

Dec

29

Chico California Women Discusses How Easy a DUI Can Be

By Mary Ann

A Chico California women, arrested Christmas Eve, discussed her DUI with a reporter from the Chico Enterprise-Record. Just before Christmas, this unnamed professional and respected business woman found herself dealing with family problems and a romantic breakup. Her friend was also feeling the blues, so the women stopped off for a drink. One led to another and a ‘gentleman’ buying drinks for the women. A block from home, a Chico police officer pulled her over on suspicion of DUI.

The woman’s BAC was 0.20 percent, about 2-1/2 times California’s BAC limit. After her release she discovered that she faces a fine of at least $1,750, plus fees and court costs. She also faces DUI classes for up to a year, purchasing high cost high-risk auto insurance, the cost of a lawyer, and a possible 10 month suspension of her driver’s license.

The women started attending AA after a DUI in 1998. Christmas Eve was the first time she’d had a drink in two years.

Dec

29

2006 Celebrity DUI Arrests Revisted Before the New Year

By Mary Ann

2006 has been described as the year of the celebrity DUI and justifiably so as many high-profile figures were arrested on drunk driving charges. Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Mel Gibson, Tracy Morgan, Gus Van Sant, Haley Joel Osment and Michelle Rodriguez were just some major players from the big and small screen to be arrested for DUI in 2006.
The political and sports worlds were also fair game for DUI arrests in 2006 as U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island) and a slew of NFL players, including Chris Henry,  Steve Foley and Odell Thurman, faced drunk driving charges. And former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson helped punched out 2006 with his Arizona DUI early this morning.

Check out this complete list of celebrity DUI arrests in 2006.

Dec

29

Boxer Mike Tyson Arrested for DUI in Scottsdale Arizona

By Mary Ann

While few details have been released, news reports indicate that former world champion boxer Mike Tyson was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona for DUI and drug possession. He was stopped by Scottsdale police after his car almost struck a sheriff’s vehicle after leaving a nightclub. Tyson showed signs of impairment and failed field sobriety tests. Police found cocaine on his body and in the car.

Tyson was booked at the Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff’s jail and is expected to have an initial appearance on the DUI and drug possession charges, Friday.

Tyson shot to fame in 1986 when he became the youngest heavyweight champion in history at age 20. He has had several episodes with the law over the years, including serving prison time for rape. Tyson became an outcast in the boxing community in 1997 when he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear during a fight.

Tyson has been to the Maricopa County jail before, but as a guest talking to juvenile offenders about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Dec

28

Washington DUI Offenders Ignoring Orders to Install Ignition Interlocks

By Mary Ann

Seattle Washington drivers convicted of DUI are regularly ignoring court orders to have breath testing equipment (Ignition Interlocks) installed in their vehicles. Some 28,000 Washington drivers have been convicted of DUI. Under Washington law, even first-time offenders are required to have interlocks installed. Only about 4,400 of the devices have been installed, however. This figure matches the percentage of drivers actually having the devices installed in other states. With about eighty percent of DUI offenders failing to comply, the current national push for interlocks may be misguided.

An ignition interlock measures the alcohol in a driver’s breath. If his breath shows a BAC below a State mandated limit, he can start the car. Most states then require him to test every twenty or thirty minutes. If he fails to test or has a BAC over the limit, the vehicle’s engine stops running. There are also ways to cheat the device. Another person, presumably sober, could blow into the device or a DUI offender could even have the device installed and then borrow or buy another car.

Between the time a driver is ordered to install an interlock and when he tries to regain his license, there is no state agency that monitors whether the device has been installed. An interlock offender is usually caught through a stop for another offense. A violation of an interlock order is a “gross misdemeanor,” punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine, the same as for driving with a suspended license.

While drivers can ignore a court’s interlock order, they must show proof of installation in order to get their suspended licenses back. Many DUI offenders haven’t returned to the DOL to reinstate their licenses. Perhaps, orders for interlocks are leading people to simply drive without a license.

Dec

28

Retailers Argue Against Blanket DUI Penalties

By Mary Ann

According to the American Beverages Licensees (ABL), there are widespread efforts to make ignition interlocks mandatory for all drivers convicted of DUI. With a BAC limit of 0.08 percent, drivers are being arrested for behavior that, according to numerous studies, impairs them less than talking on a hands-free cell phone. Some people can reach a 0.08 BAC drinking just two glasses of wine in two hours, not what most people would consider drunk driving.

Recognizing that the average BAC of drivers involved in fatal crashes is more than twice the legal limit, most states have created enhanced-BAC penalties to allow judges to impose a more severe penalties on drivers who are likely to cause a fatal accident. Proposals to make interlocks mandatory for all drivers convicted of DUI would punish all DUIs equally, regardless of severity.

The ABL says that “ignition interlocks can be likened to attaching a device to keep a vehicle from going over 60 miles per hour to the car of a driver caught driving 100 mph in a school zone — a somewhat extreme and intrusive measure that can be justified by the driver’s reckless disregard for public safety. But you wouldn’t call for the same punishment for someone who has driven five miles over the speed limit on the highway. It is similarly illogical to mandate a one-size-fits-all penalty that lumps together contrite first-time offenders and those who brazenly and repeatedly break the law and put others in harm’s way.”

The ABL recommends that states create a graduated system of treatment and punishment, helping those who can be helped and punishing those that recklessly ignore DUI laws, rather than passing “feel good” legislation that ignores judicial discretion and shifts focus from the real cause of DUI fatalities … hard core drunk drivers and repeat offenders.

Dec

27

More Bad Ideas When Pulled Over for DUI

By Mary Ann

A Manchester New Hampshire driver was pulled over and arrested for DUI, his fourth offense. When officers approached his vehicle, the driver continued to chug from a 40-ounce bottle of Olde English. He kept drinking his beer even after being ordered him to put the bottle down. While being booked for DUI at the police station, the man told officers “you can charge me with whatever you want.  It’s not going to stop me from drinking and driving.”

Before he could be pulled over, the driver struck two cars. He has been charged a felony offense for repeat DUI, along with the misdemeanors of leaving the scene of an accident (twice), operating after suspension for DUI, disobeying a police officer, open container violations, and crossing the yellow line (three counts).

Dec

27

New Jersey Driver Arrested for DUI While Ordering Fries

By Mary Ann

A New Jersey man was arrested for DUI after a drive thru clerk called 911 to inform police that he suspected that his customer was drinking and driving. Police arrived at the Wendy’s fast food outlet following the call to find the driver ordering food. After he ordered, the officer flashed his lights. The driver pulled forward to get his food. At this point, the officer approached the car. The driver was charged with DUI, driving on a revoked license, and having an open container in public.

Whether the driver actually got to enjoy his fries was not reported.

Dec

26

Central Arizona Police Make 1,900 DUI Arrests

By Mary Ann

Since November 23, police in the Central Arizona Valley have made about 1,900 DUI arrests. So far, DUI arrests are about the same as in 2004 and 2005.  In 2004, Central Arizona police made 2,591 arrests, and in 2005 there were 2,399 DUI arrests. Several of this year’s arrests were for repeat offenses. One driver who spent a morning in court due to previous DUI arrest was picked up for DUI the same night.

The Deputy Director for the department said that the high arrest numbers are a testament to the dedication of the officers who work the streets during the holidays

Dec

26

Driver Arrested for Fourth Massachusetts DUI

By Mary Ann

An Upton Massachusetts man was arrested for his fourth DUI. A police officer manning a stationary speed radar spotted the man going 60mph in an area where the posted speed limit was 35mph. The driver failed to stop for the officer, finally plowing his car into a mailbox. A brief chase on foot ensued. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI

Police later discovered that the driver’s license had been revoked as a habitual traffic offender. He was charged with DUI (fourth offense); driving with a revoked license; failing to stop for police; a marked lanes violation; and speeding. His BAC has not yet been released.

Dec

25

Vermont Police Distribute Anti-DUI Glasses

By Mary Ann

Police in Bennington Vermont are distributing drinking glasses to combat DUI. Bennington’s anti-DUI drinking glasses are emblazoned with the Bennington Vermont Police Department logo. About 160 pint glasses, donated by the manufacturer, have been distributed to bars and restaurants in the Bennington area.

The owner of a local restaurant said “It should give awareness to people and make them pay attention a little more.”

Dec

25

Southern Arizona DUI Sweep Leads to 36 DUI Arrests

By Mary Ann

A DUI sweep in the Tucson Arizona area netted 36 DUI arrests over the first weekend of the holiday season. Two of the arrests were for felony DUI. In Arizona, felony DUI involves prior convictions or children in the vehicle. In the past month, 249 people have been cited for DUI, 13 felony DUI.

The Southern Arizona DUI Task Force stopped drivers over the weekend that showed even the “slightest degree” of impairment.