Nov

30

Maybe You Shouldn’t Bite the Cop When You’re NOT Drunk

By Mary Ann

A District Court Judge’s wife in Sydney Australia was convicted of biting a police officer during a random DUI stop. The woman claimed to suffer from a thyroid complication that affected her ability to swallow and exhale. After attempting to perform a breath test three times, resulting in invalid samples, she refused a fourth attempt, got back in her car, and refused to leave the vehicle. The woman claimed that the officer grabbed the keys and wrestled her from her car, but denied biting the officer’s finger during the struggle.

The woman was cuffed and taken to the police station where she was given a breath test resulting in a valid breath test sample. The breath sample showed a BAC of only 0.01. While the court did not convict her of DUI, she was convicted of assaulting a constable and resisting constables in the execution of their duty.  She was fined $900 (Australian). She is expected to appeal.

Nov

30

Denver Hit and Run Driver Allegedly Had BAC Twice the Legal Limit

By Mary Ann

Denver, Colorado law enforcement officials are alleging that a driver who is accused of running down a family, injuring the father and killing the mother and her two children, is alleged to have been driving under the influence (DUI) at the time. Denver TV stations have reported that a breath-test given to the driver four hours after the accident showed a BAC of 0.15 to 0.16, twice the legal limit in Colorado. The driver had fled the scene and was picked up hours later at his home in suburban Westminster. His license plate had come off his truck in the accident.

The driver is already facing charges including child abuse resulting in death, and vehicular homicide.

Nov

29

Council Proposes Tougher South Carolina DUI Laws

By Mary Ann

The South Carolina Impaired Driving Prevention Council, made up of representatives from various state agencies and organizations involved with highway safety proposed toughening South Carolina’s DUI laws. Proposals include: 1) suspending a driver’s license for a full year upon refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test (up from 90 days), 2) eliminating South Carolina’s requirement that Miranda warnings be given to a suspected drunk driver prior to administering field sobriety and breath tests (S.C. is the only state currently requiring such Miranda warnings), 3) keeping the existing 10?year window for DUI convictions to be considered as prior offenses (rather than reducing the window to 5 years), and 4) allowing magistrates and municipal judges to hear DUI cases that carry a maximum 90?day sentence (up from the current 30?day sentence limit).

Nov

29

Dealing With A DUI Charge Can Be Less Stressful With The Help Of A DUI Attorney

By Mary Ann

Getting arrested for a DUI can be a pretty stressful experience for anyone.  Enlisting the help of a local DUI attorney is usually easier than handling your DUI charge on your own.   It can be difficult for most people to navigate the court system and you shouldn’t have to suffer when an experienced DUI lawyer can assist you with the entire process.  After talking with a DUI attorney, you might find out you don’t have to just settle with receiving the maximum penalties.  Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, your case might have some weaknesses that a DUI lawyer can argue in order to possibly get the charges reduced.

Nov

28

Man Charged in Pennsylvania DUI After Hitting Ambulance

By Mary Ann

A Pennsylvania man was charged with DUI after he struck an ambulance Monday morning. The driver of a mini-van slammed into an ambulance that was transporting a patient to a hospital. He had to be cut out of his vehicle and is being treated for injuries to his legs and lower body. The patient being transported was not injured.

Nov

27

Riverside DUI Arrests Up, Traffic Deaths Down

By Mary Ann

The California Highway Patrol reported that as of Sunday afternoon, only one person had died on Riverside and San Diego County roads around Riverside California over the Thanksgiving weekend. Last year, five people died in traffic accidents during the holiday. As of 6 a.m. Sunday, police in San Diego County had made 129 DUI arrests, 14 more than last year. A San Diego County CHP officer said “You can probably attribute the amount of arrests going up (to the lower number of fatalities).  More people may be getting arrested before they can crash.”

Throughout California, the number of traffic fatalities over the Thanksgiving weekend decreased to 38 this year, 14 fewer than last year. CHP officers arrested 1,537 for DUI this year, compared with 1,418 last year.

Nov

26

Another Pittburgh DUI Defendant Drunk at Trial

By Mary Ann

A Pittsburgh Pennsylvania woman pled guilty to DUI in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. As she was being led to the probation office, an officer gave her a breath test. She was found to have a BAC more than twice the legal limit. She was immediately taken to jail. The defendant admitted that she had been frustrated with her long wait in court and had “a few vodkas” during the lunch break.

This was the second time in a month that a defendant was drunk in  Pittsburgh court during a DUI hearing. A man who was drunk at his hearing earlier this month learned that he would be spending another week in jail before he could enter the county’s recovery program. Because of the thank giving weekend he could not be released from jail until Tuesday.

Nov

25

South Carolina Governor Calls for Tougher DUI Laws

By Mary Ann

South Carolina’s Governor has called for strengthening DUI penalties in the State. A Governor’s study panel is recommending a tiered penalty system. Principally, the new laws would add penalties for driving with an aggravated BAC. The four tiers would be:

(1) Driving With An Unlawful Alcohol Concentration: Driving with a BAC of at least .08 percent but less than .10 percent. Maximum penalties would range from 30 days in jail for a first offense to five years in prison for fourth and subsequent offenses, plus fines. 

(2) Driving With An Unlawful and High Alcohol Concentration: Driving with a BAC of at least .10 percent but less than .16 percent. Maximum penalties would range from 30 days in jail for a first offense to six years in prison for fourth and subsequent offenses, plus fines.

(3) Driving With An Unlawful and Gross Alcohol Concentration: Driving with a BAC of at least .16 percent. Maximum penalties would range from 90 days in jail for a first offense to seven years in prison for fourth and subsequent offenses, plus fines.

(4) Driving While Impaired: Driving while “materially and appreciably impaired.” Maximum penalties range from 30 days in jail for a first offense to five years in prison for fourth and subsequent offenses, plus fines. Not dependant on BAC tests.

While the Governor defended his position saying that defense attorneys were profiting from the existing system, at least one DUI defense attorney declared that tougher laws would bring more business to DUI lawyers.

Nov

24

Kent Ohio Man Arrested for DUI for 16th Time

By Mary Ann

A 43 year old Kent Ohio man, already known as one of the worst drunk drivers in Ohio, was arrested for DUI again, for the 16th time. He was arrested after his vehicle was found stuck on a concrete barricade at the railroad tracks near a bridge that was under repair. He had apparently attempted to drive around the construction and had become stuck. The driver was charged with DUI, driving under suspension, and illegal license plates. He refused to take a blood-alcohol test. He pleaded not guilty in municipal court and remained in jail in lieu of a $50,000 cash bond.

The driver has not had a valid driver’s license since 1991 and has been convicted 15 previous times of drunk driving. Courts have suspended his right to drive 30 times. He had been released from state prison only three months before this most recent arrest. Surprisingly, 25 people in Ohio have been convicted of DUI at least 16 times as of December 2005. Two are tied with 19 DUI convictions.

Nov

24

Tucson to Continue DUI Crackdown Through Year’s End

By Mary Ann

The Southern Arizona DUI Task Force announced that an enforcement crackdown on DUI would begin Friday and continue through the rest of the year. Pima County’s Sheriff announced that its department would have two checkpoints and 30-40 officers whose only job would be to catch drunk drivers. Officers will be on DUI patrol every night through the holidays.

The Sheriff said that during the holidays, people who wouldn’t normally drink and drive go to parties without considering how they’ll get home sober. He encourages people to plan ahead when they go to holiday parties and challenged hosts to take some responsibility to provide non-alcoholic beverages for their guests and when needed arrange for ways to get them home or find a place for them to spend the night.

Nov

23

Laramie Adopts Wyoming DUI Law for Underage Drivers

By Mary Ann

The Laramie Wyoming City Council has incorporated Wyoming’s zero tolerance DUI policy for underage drivers into the Laramie Municipal Code. According to Wyoming State Statutes, a driver under the age of 21 shall not drive a vehicle with a BAC of 0.02 or greater. A first-time offender can be required to pay a fine up to $750. A second-time offender could again pay a $750 fine and spend up to a month in jail. A third-time offender could pay the fine once again and spend up to 6 months in jail. In addition, the driver would have his license suspended for 90 days on the first offense and six months for subsequent offenses within two years.

Laramie is home to the University of Wyoming. A Laramie Council member justified the new DUI ordinance saying “We need to be very clear that we are adopting the state statute. We can’t be less restrictive and we won’t be less restrictive.”

Nov

23

New Mexico Requires Interlocks for all DUI Convictions, But is it Working?

By Mary Ann

A New Mexico law requiring all drivers convicted of DUI, even for a first-offense, to have ignition interlocks installed in their vehicles took affect in June 2005. About 16,000 drivers have been convicted of DUI since the law took affect and about 13,000 have been ordered to obtain interlocks, but only around 6,000 have had the devices installed in their cars or trucks. New Mexico’s “DWI Czar” said that New Mexico leads the nation in ignition interlocks installed, but work remains.

The State’s DWI Czar indicated that there were reasons why a large number of convicted drivers have not gotten interlocks installed: A large percentage of motorists convicted of DUI in the first few months were arrested prior to the law taking affect and couldn’t receive a sentence under the new law; some counties allow DUI offenders to sign an affidavit stating that they do not own a vehicle; and some courts are not enforcing the law uniformly.

Nov

22

Lawmakers Defend Tennessee DUI Shame Law

By Mary Ann

A Tennessee Governor’s task panel recommended scraping Tennessee’s DUI shame law after sheriffs, judges, and even anti-drunk driving advocates criticized the State’s practice of shaming drivers convicted of DUI. Tennessee’s current law requires judges to sentence first-time offenders to 24 hours in jail and 24 hours picking up trash on Tennessee’s roads wearing a protective vest stamped with “I am a Drunk Driver.” The shame law had been passed on the last day of 2005 legislative session and went into law without the Governor’s signature. Opponents of the law point to the high cost and difficulty in applying the law. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has said that shaming may actually lead to increased alcohol abuse.

Some Tennessee sheriffs and the law’s sponsor, however, are defending the law and even recommending returning to 48 hours in jail, on top of 24 hours of shame. Opponents of the law say they don’t want the law scrapped before hard data is collected regarding its effectiveness. They plan to introduce legislation saving the DUI shame law.

Nov

21

Reading This Could Get You a DUI in New York

By Mary Ann

New York State law identifies Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated as driving with 0.18 grams of alcohol in your blood, an amount below the naturally occurring alcohol content in the human body. In a last minute legislative typo, the New York legislature inserted 0.18 grams in place in of 0.18 percent BAC into a law increasing penalties for aggravated DWI.

Prosecutors in New York counties have declared that because, as written, the statute is not prosecutable, they will not enforce the new law until the typo is corrected. They will still enforce New York’s DWI law which has the nationally recognized DUI limit of 0.08 percent BAC.

Nov

20

Real California DUI Trial Held at High School

By Mary Ann

A Chico California women charged with DUI and driving the wrong way down a one-way street was tried at Las Plumas High School. She had agreed to participate in a California program where DUI trials are held at high schools with students acting as mock juries. This was the first of seven trials to be held at California high schools this year. The presiding judge delivered the real verdict of guilty and sentenced the woman to three years probation, a $1,735 fine, and 96 hours in the county jail. The jail time was suspended due to her participation in the program.

The evidence presented was complete. The prosecution presented the police officer’s reason for the stop, results of road-side tests, two breath tests, expert testimony regarding the reliability of the breathalyzer tests and the physical affects of excess alcohol consumption. The woman had failed more than one of the road-side tests and her breath tests showed a minimum of 0.16 BAC. The woman’s defense attorney attempted to show a reasonable doubt, but both the mock jury and the judge found her guilty of DUI.

The presiding judge said most DUI cases are resolved with pleas or dismissed.   Out of 1,500 DUI cases in the County last year, only three had gone to trial. The Chico area has seen a 15 percent increase in DUI cases this past year. Butte County now sees a DUI arrest for every 100 drivers in the County each year.

The program will continue with trials at different high schools. An official involved in the program said that they “want students to be more aware of the consequences of driving under the influence and use the knowledge they get today to save people’s lives.”