A Denver Colorado County judge who presides over traffic cases was charged with DUI in connection with an accident last Thursday. The judge had slammed into the back of a pickup truck. He is charged with DUI, driving without proof of insurance, following too closely, and careless driving.
The judge is on leave from hearing cases pending the resolution of his case. He will be arraigned next week. He claims to take full responsibility for his actions and will enter alcohol treatment.
Tennessee law currently requires DUI offenders to wear a distinctive-colored vest with “I am a drunk driver” written on the back while picking up trash along roadways. Members of a state panel, studying the state’s DUI laws, said that the law is more counterproductive to the offender than productive. DUI offenders were previously required to serve 48 hours in jail. With the “shame law” in place that has been cut to 24 hours of jail time plus 24 hours of picking up garbage. “It’s not going to change whether or not he re-offends,” said a traffic safety resource prosecutor with the District Attorney General’s Conference. “It might just cause more bitterness, which is common with alcohol issues.”
Other recommended changes include prohibiting passengers from carrying open containers or consuming alcohol, lowering the threshold for a seven day jail sentence from 0.2 BAC to 0.15 BAC, and providing for ignition interlocks as part of a DUI offender’s penalty.
A Monaca Pennsylvania father recently pled guilty to DUI. He had been charged with DUI and child endangerment after his son told police that he had been drinking all day and was trying to light a marijuana pipe when he crashed his vehicle in Beaver County. There were no injuries. The father was sentenced to six months probation on the DUI charge and two years probation for child endangerment.
The boy had been found walking down the highway after he refused to get back in the car with his father. He also refused to ride with his mother who had been driving a separate car. She has been charged with her second DUI and faces up to six months in jail.
While riding his bicycle in Santa Rosa California a bicyclist was struck by a car and suffered multiple broken bones and a cut on the back of his head. Then, while he was being treated for his injuries at the hospital, he was arrested on suspicion of DUI, driving his bicycle drunk.
A police officer said that it was unclear whether the bicylist was riding in the road lane or on the shoulder, both of which would be legal in Santa Rosa. The automobile driver was not cited in the accident.
Lawrence Trujillo, of Westminster Colorado, appeared in court Sunday, to hear charges of three counts of vehicular homicide involving driving under the influence, four counts of vehicular assault while driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. The accident occurred in downtown Denver, no more than 4 blocks from my home.
According to reports, Trujillo blew through two red lights and was traveling between 30 and 40 miles per hour when he struck a family crossing the street, killing three and leaving only the father to grieve. Trujillo was easily located through a license plate that fell off his truck during the accident. He and his passenger were arrested about five hours after the accident. Police are still investigating the incident, including trying to determine where the men had been drinking and how much they had.
“As a neighbor, he’s a good guy,” said a neighbor who lives across the street from Trujillo. “I don’t have anything bad to say about Larry.”
An Orange County, Texas driver was pulled over after she was seen driving erratically through a parking lot. The arresting officer noticed she had glassy eyes, slurred speech and an unsteady balance. The officer received permission from the woman to search her vehicle. He found a bottle containing a pill that he believed to be Hydrocodone, four Alprazolam and five Carisoprodol. In the center console of the vehicle he also found a bottle containing what he believed to be marijuana. The driver was charged with possession of a controlled substance, driving while intoxicated, possession of a dangerous drug (Carisoprodol) and possession of marijuana.
“The label on the prescription bottle says to not operate machinery or drive, but some people continue to do it,” said a police detective. Operating a vehicle while using legal and illegal drugs may lead to a charge of driving under the influence (DUI), as opposed to driving while intoxicated (DWI), in Texas.
A Pittsburgh man ordered his last drink and 3:00am. Later that morning, he arrived at his DUI hearing, still reeking of alcohol. The Common Pleas Court judge sentenced him to two weeks in jail.
The judge told the defendant that “no apologies [were] needed” after telling him he could not proceed with the hearing once lawyers informed him that the defendant reeked of alcohol. The judge ordered a breathalyzer test, which registered a BAC of 0.082 about eight hours after the 47-year-old had his last drink.
Rankin, Pennsylvania police had stopped the defendant for erratic driving and found an open case of beer and an open beer can behind the driver’s seat of the car he was driving. A blood test showed a 0.367 BAC. Prosecutors said it was the man’s third arrest in less than 10 years for DUI. The defendant faces 18 to 23 months house arrest, followed by 5 years probation, and possibly a detox program.
Forsyth County Georgia, sheriff’s deputies stopped a school bus after a motorist reported that the bus had been weaving and had hit a guard rail. The Fulton County bus driver failed field sobriety tests and deputies found two small bottles of wine and some prescription drugs on the bus. She was arrested and charged with DUI, failure to maintain control of the bus, and striking a fixed object. Fortunately, there were no children on the bus at the time.
About 4,000 people, nationwide, have been ordered to wear ankle bracelets that sniff their sweat for alcohol about once an hour and report the results to authorities daily through the internet. Mechanical monitoring is convenient and aimed at people who have already been convicted of DUI. South Dakota’s Attorney General declared that we’re “doing it to people who have demonstrated pretty convincingly that they are a safety risk to the rest of us.” Sweat sniffing bracelets have yet to raise widespread privacy concerns, according to The Sentencing Project, because they’re reserved for drunk drivers who are a safety risk.
Police in Fresno, California have begun an aggressive crackdown on DUI, raising privacy issues among the City’s bar patrons. Undercover police officers stake out bar parking lots at closing time and call ahead to marked squad cars when they observe a likely drunk driver. Fresno Police have even gone so far as secretly planting GPS tracking devices on vehicles owned by convicted drunken drivers.
Shannon Wilkenson, 38, was charged with DUI for the fourth time blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit of .08 when police found the woman behind the wheel of her car in a grocery store parking lot, with the car still running.
A Pennsylvania driver who was recently stopped and registered an apparent .263 BAC on a road breath test tried to escape when he was taken to the hospital for a further blood draw. At the hospital, he repeatedly asked to use the restroom. When finally allowed, he locked the door behind him and then left through the restroom’s other door. He was captured before he could leave the building and police interpreted his escape as refusal to submit to the blood test. He was charged with escape, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and DUI second offense.
Wichita Kansas’ Halloween night DUI dragnet resulted in no DUI arrests. Although 29 citations were given for various crimes, not one DUI arrest was made. Wichita police cracked down Halloween night due to the occurrence of 29 traffic deaths already this year, 4 involving drugs and alcohol. During last years’ Halloween period Wichita suffered 22 traffic fatalities, 7 involving drugs and alcohol. A police spokesman said the lack of DUI arrests was a good thing; that people “seem to be getting the message that we’re serious.”
The Florida legislature closed a loophole that caused hundreds of Florida DUI breathalyzer tests to be thrown out of court. The State outlawed the release of computer-software code used in every breath testing machine in the State. While Florida prosecutors are thrilled, how the State’s action affects DUI cases remains to be seen.