Cab Companies offer Free “Safe Ride Home”

By Mary Ann

Coachella Valley, Calif. cab companies are offering free safe rides home this Labor Day weekend–and they’re not alone.

Many festival organizers arrange for safe rides in conjunction with their events, and San Diego has a permanent Designated Drivers Association that provides a driver to take people who have had too much to drink home in their own vehicles so that they won’t get behind the wheel.

Avoid a DUI charge (or worse) by arranging for safe transportation this holiday weekend.



Delaware Counties Fighting Breathalyzer Test Refusals

By Mary Ann

Recently, we reported that several South Carolina counties were piloting a program that would eliminate the value of refusing a breathalyzer test by obtaining a warrant for a blood sample in refusal cases.

The program is intended to reduce the effectiveness of strategic breathalyzer refusal to avoid a DUI conviction.

Delaware DUI law provides for such warrants, but for years officers have been unable to make effective use of the process because they lacked resources to get blood drawn.

A new program already underway in some counties and just being introduced in others provides on-call phlebotomists.



Repeat DUI Offender Statutes Increasingly Complex

By Mary Ann

Questions often arise as to how long the “look back” period is for purposes of enhancing DUI penalties or elevating DUI charges to felony status.

There’s no easy answer to that question and not only because state laws vary. The number of DUI convictions and the time period considered for enhanced penalties or felony DUI does vary from state to state. However, the realities are even more complex.

In some states, the period runs from date of charge to date of charge–in others, from date of conviction to date of charge. Further, some states have alternate time periods during which a different number of prior convictions qualifies for enhanced penalties or felony treatment.

For instance, in Ohio a drunk driver can be charged with a felony based on four offenses in six years or six offenses in twenty years, meaning that two separate calculations apply to every case.

If you’ve been charged and this is not your first DUI offense, make sure that you talk to a local DUI lawyer and fully understand how the repeat offender statutes apply in your case.



Anti-DUI “Blitz” in Full Swing

By Mary Ann

Just days after the Department of Transportation announced a nationwide initiative to crack down on drunk driving, local newspapers across the country are reporting on increased DUI enforcement and unusually high numbers of DUI arrests.

The Summit County, Ohio DUI Task Force plans to conduct daily DUI checkpoints “around Labor Day” as part of the “Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest” initiative.

The Florida Highway Patrols “no tolerance” campaign began on Friday, with four DUI arrests, and will include a combination of saturation patrols and roadblocks through September 6.

A “regional crackdown” dubbed “Operation Night Hawk” involves law enforcement agencies in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and West Virginia, and will include sobriety checkpoints and underage drinking sting operations.

In Wilmington, Del. alone, the drunk driving task force charged 29 drivers Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Salt Lake County, Utah police agencies made 25 DUI arrests on Friday night, while a joint Pittsburgh-Pennsylvania State Police task force credited a successful checkpoint with 20 DUI arrests.

In Tempe, Ariz., 70 to 80 additional police officers will be on duty this weekend.
These reports encompass only a small fraction of the DUI crackdown operations, checkpoints, saturation patrols and other enforcement activities in effect from now through September 6.



NHTSA Launches Anti Drunk Driving Campaign

By Mary Ann

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released 2005 statistics on DUI accidents this week. The total number of alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2005 was 16,885–virtually unchanged from 2004’s 16,919.

The data did indicate that 23 states and Puerto Rico had decreased their alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the preceding year.

In conjunction with the report,the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced a “massive new advertising blitz and enforcement crackdown.”

The $11 million media campaign will be aimed primarily at young men, since statistics showed that 58% of all alcohol-related traffic fatalities involved male drivers between the ages of 21 and 44.

The Department will also work with thousands of police agencies combat drunk driving, including enhanced DUI enforcement.



Civil Liability for DUI “Conspiracy”?

By Mary Ann

A pending civil case in California may determine whether third parties can be held liable for the consequences of a DUI accident.

The case, filed on behalf of the family of a bicyclist killed by a drunk driver, names the driver’s wife and brother.

The plaintiff’s attorney argues that by protecting the drunk driver’s property, providing him with automobile insurance, purchasing a vehicle for him and serving him alcohol after prior DUI arrests, the driver’s wife and brother took “joint action in support of a wrongful act.”

If the plaintiff prevails, the case will undoubtedly be appealed, but the ultimate outcome could open–or close–the door to a host of claims against those providing aid to drunk drivers.



North Carolina Limits Judges’ Power in DWI Cases

By Mary Ann

The North Carolina legislature recently approved a bill that will limit the authority of judges in DWI cases.

The change in language comes in response to a study that indicated that many judges were dismissing DWI charges or making not-guilty findings in cases where the breathalyzer test reading had been at .08 or above if evidence indicated that the driver had not been impaired.

Read the full story here: North Carolina Legislature Toughens DWI Law