Dec

30

Teens Freeze to Avoid Arrest for DUI

By Mary Ann

It’s hardly news that underage teenagers have drinking parties, unfortunately.  But this one has a bit of a twist.

Sheriff’s deputies in Florence, Wisc. were alerted to an underage drinking party.  When they arrived, a vehicle was leaving the alleged party.  When a deputy followed the vehicle, he found it in a ditch less than a mile down the road, with the occupants out of sight in the nearby woods.

Several more vehicles coming from the direction of the party, and officers duly stopped each vehicle.  One of the vehicles, however, sped off after being ordered to stop, leading the deputies on a high-speed chase for a few minutes before slamming into a snow bank in a hay field.

Five of the teens either surrendered or were captured shortly after, though deputies continued searching for a while to round up all eight teens that had spilled from the car.  Eventually, the deputies left.  Without shoes on, three of the teens stayed all night in the unheated vehicle after hiding out somewhere in the hay field.

The three suffered frostbite and were taken to a local hospital, where officers did finally catch up to them.  A total of seven minors in possession of alcohol citations were issued to the party-goers.

For more crazy DUI stories like this one, check out Total DUI’s unusual DUI news page.

Dec

29

DUI Checkpoints–How Effective Are They?

By Mary Ann

News from Portsmouth, New Hampshire calls attention to a potential thorn in the side of the extremely popular DUI sobriety checkpoint that law enforcement officials have used with some frequency across the nation over the past few years.

Sobriety checkpoints are placed along stretches of the road that have a high incidence of drunk driving, especially during heavy drinking periods, such as weekends and holidays.

Typically, a sobriety checkpoint works in one of two ways: either police officers employ a quick breath test and the drivers for each car that passes are tested, or officers will stop only certain drivers for sobriety tests.

The problem of Portsmouth stems from a series of such roadblocks set up in July 2005.  The local Seacoastonline reports that the DUI arrests made during the five-agency team effort are languishing in courts.

Of 514 drivers stopped at the DUI checkpoints, 8 were arrested.  Currently, half of the cases have been resolved with plea agreements to lesser charges, and deals are being negotiated for the remaining four cases.

Instead of DUI charges, the plea agreements so far have involved reckless driving pleas with a small fine and short suspension of license (generally, just a couple of months).  If the remaining please hold form, the end result of the roadblock effort will be NOT ONE DUI conviction.

Of course, roadblocks have faced scrutiny for allegations of unconstitutionality, since officers are stopping and investigating cars and drivers without cause.  The United States Supreme Court found that that sobriety checkpoints are constitutional, but eleven states have individually outlawed them.

Of course, the Portsmouth case could warrant a different kind of scrutiny.  If they’re questionable under civil rights laws, and ALSO unable to convict DUI suspects, then how effective are they anymore?

Dec

28

Former Yankee Jim Leyritz Arrested for DUI, Homicide

By Mary Ann

TMZ.com is reporting that former Yankee player Jim Leyritz has been arrested on suspicion of DUI and vehicular homicide.

Leyritz is reportedly in the Broward County Jail in Florida on $11,000 bond after he refused a breathalyzer test.

He was arrested after he lost control of a Ford SUV and struck another vehicle in an intersection.  The impact of the crash caused the other vehicle to roll, ejecting the female driver and killing her.

True to form, TMZ has the photo shot at Leyritz’s booking—truly scary!

Dec

27

The DUI Year in Review

By Mary Ann

After we get through the holiday season, we’ll be done with another year here at Total DUI.

Enjoy two of our recent roundup articles, exclusive to Total DUI.

Ever hear that those who can’t do teach?  How about a twist on this old saying: those who DUI, teach?

And who could forget those celebrities who have shared this year with us?

Read about Michelle Rodriguez, Kiefer Sutherland and Lindsay Lohan in the top 10 celebrity DUI arrests of 2007.

Dec

26

Cell Door Slams for Actress Michelle Rodriguez

By Mary Ann

Television and film actress Michelle Rodriguez, popular for her roles as Letty on The Fast and the Furious and Ana Lucia on TV’s “Lost,” has started her jail sentence for violation of probation in a hit-and-run case from June 2004.

As we reported in Total DUI’s Celebrity DUI Spotlight, Rodriguez was nabbed for DUI in Hawaii in 2005 as well as speeding, and spent five days in jail after a guilty plea.  She went to jail a second time for this violation of probation, and was released immediately because of overcrowding (a none too rare occurrence in California jails).

However, there was one other stipulation for the DUI probation violation: community service.  Rodriguez didn’t do the 30 hours of community service, but claimed she did on court documents.  This fabrication didn’t go over well with her judge.

Now, Rodriguez will serve 180 days, and like her fellow actor DUI offender Kiefer Sutherland, will serve jail time with no possible release.  On December 23, Sunday, two days before Christmas, Michelle Rodriguez entered jail.

177 days and counting….

Dec

14

Smile for Your Arizona DUI Mug Shot: It Could Be Posted Online

By Mary Ann

Being arrested and charged with DUI can be a scary and embarrassing experience. While most people would like to put their DUI arrest in the past, especially in the cases of those who had a one-time, temporarily lapse in judgment, actually doing so hasn’t been that easy for some Arizona DUI offenders.

The new Web site Stopduiaz.com posts the names, mug shots and blood alcohol content levels of people who have been arrested for Arizona DUI. The site has been described as a means to educate the public on DUI penalties and to get across the point that even ordinary citizens can be arrested for DUI and thus subjected to such penalties.

The site is not without controversy, as some people have decried the embarrassing aspects of this campaign. These opponents have specifically pointed out their displeasure with the principle of shaming, in which embarrassment for a crime can be used as part of a sentence.

Read more about the debate surrounding this Arizona DUI Web site in the following article:

Arizona DUI Offenders See Names and Mug Shots Go Online.

Dec

10

Donut Thief Holes Up in Krispy Kreme Truck

By Mary Ann

It’s the kind of news story that copy editors live for: a high-speed chase with police in hot pursuit of…wait for it…a donut truck!

The singularly-named Warren G. Whitelightning got nabbed for his fourth DUI offense when police officers finally caught up to his rogue Krispy Kreme truck.

Whitelightning had stolen the truck after hooking eight pickled sausages at an Open Pantry convenience store, then led police on a chase reaching speeds of over 80 mph as donuts flew out of the abducted auto.

Dec

7

Wyoming DUI Case Dismissed by Intriguing Ruling

By Mary Ann

Chad Trebby thought that he had his man.

As the Gillette, Wyoming police officer watched a seemingly drunk man stumble to his car, Trebby waited for the suspect to turn on his vehicle and drive away. Once the unnamed suspect did so, Trebby pulled him over on suspicion of DUI.

Imagine Trebby’s dismay when a judge later dismissed the DUI case on the assertion that Trebby had reasonable suspicion to think that the man was drunk and thus endangered the safety of the public by letting the suspect drive away.

The following article not only imagines Trebby’s dismay but examines the reasoning behind the judge’s decison.

Nov

28

Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa Pleads Guilty to DUI

By Mary Ann

The manager of the 2006 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, 28-year veteran Tony La Russa, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence from an incident in Florida during last year’s spring training, in which police found him asleep at a traffic light with a blood alcohol level of 0.093.

This blog earlier reported that La Russa filed a request for a trial by jury.  Rather than appear in court, La Russa filed a plea agreement to the misdemeanor charge of DUI.

In a statement he released through his DUI attorney, La Russa appeared penitent for his actions: “I accept full responsibility for my conduct, and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again.”

As part of the plea agreement, La Russa will be put on probation for six months, pay a fine of $678.50, attend a DUI school and complete 50 hours of community service.

Ironically, La Russa passed the bar exam in Florida after he graduated from law school.  I guess that legal training gave him insight into the plea agreement process, which saved him from six months in jail.

Nov

6

Drunk Ambulance Driver Kills Two

By Mary Ann

While driving a patient to the hospital this fall, a 22-year-old ambulance driver struck another car and killed the two men riding in it, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The driver had apparently been drinking before her shift and was charged with two counts of homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter, DUI and other traffic crimes.

The patient being transported to the hospital reportedly died later on, though officials maintain that this death was not caused by the crash.

Oct

25

DUI Offender on Bail Caught Drinking on Courthouse Lawn

By Mary Ann

Martin Ruiz of Nevada may be living proof that actions speak louder than words.

In January of this year, Ruiz was arrested for DUI after an accident in which he and his passenger were injured, as well as the other driver.  Ruiz was driving 70 mph with a blood alcohol level of 0.104.

After pleading with the judge at his court date to release him and promising never to drink another beer again, he released from the Douglas County Courthouse on his own recognizance.

And then he was caught drinking a 12-pack of beer on the courthouse lawn.

This time, the judge set his bail at $100,000, saying that releasing him on his own recognizance would be “completely inappropriate.”

Oct

12

Update on Washington State DUI Toxicology Problems

By Mary Ann

Earlier this week, Total DUI detailed how problems at the Washington State Toxicology Laboratory, including questions about a mixture solution testing the accuracy of breathalyzers, could affect certain DUI cases.

For more of a back story, Washington DUI attorneys had begun arguing for the dismissal of DUI cases or at least the reduction of charges after it was learned that the manager of the state toxicology lab had been signing papers saying that she had tested the ethanol-water solution when in fact she hadn’t done so.

With that said, Eastern Washington Whitman County prosecutors, fearing that certain DUI charges wouldn’t hold up in court, have agreed to plea bargains in 30 of 80 Washington DUI cases.

This decision on Wednesday could loom large throughout the state, as other county prosecutors may be forced to make similar concessions in wake of the problems at the state toxicology lab. It has been estimated that this initial hearing about the breathalyzer results in Whitman County could affect hundreds of DUI cases in the state.

Oct

5

Blogger Misunderstands Kiefer Sutherland’s DUI Charges and DUI Law

By Guest Attorney

Lea Anna Cooper suggests, on the American Chronicle Web site, that Kiefer Sutherland may face double jeopardy when tried for his recent DUI charges. Her claim of double jeopardy is simply a misunderstanding of DUI law.

Sutherland, star of the controversial hit show “24,” was arrested in September and charged with driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) above 0.08 percent and driving under the influence.

Cooper asserts that the two charges against Sutherland would amount to “double jeopardy.” Strangely, Cooper also reprints portions of a California criminal case that explains how she misunderstands DUI law, People v. Cosko, 152 Cal. App. 3d 54, 199 Cal. Rptr. 289 (1984).

As Cosko explains, Sutherland has been charged with two crimes; one is a “lesser included offense” of the other. In other words, the charge of driving with a BAC above 0.08 percent includes the elements of the misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence plus the element of having a blood alcohol level above 0.08 percent.

Cosko points out that a prosecutor has the right to charge a defendant with a crime and lesser included offenses to assure that she gets a conviction. A court cannot, however, actually convict a defendant of both the charged offense and the lesser included offenses.

Sutherland does actually face revocation of his probation stemming from his plea to driving under the influence in 2004. He was sentenced to 60 months probation and could now face up to 18 months in jail for violating his probation. However, it is very unlikely he will see any more than the 96 hours in jail required under California DUI law.

Sep

30

Kiefer Sutherland Charged With DUI and Probation Violation

By Guest Attorney

Kiefer Sutherland, star of the controversial hit show ‘24’, faces up to 18 months in prison after being charged with DUI and violating his probation from a 2004 DUI.

The L.A. Times reports that Sutherland was arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) over the 0.08 percent legal limit for DUI in California. A Los Angeles City Attorney’s spokesman said prosecutors would seek to revoke Sutherland’s probation stemming from his 2004 plea to DUI.

The actor faces a year in jail if convicted on this new DUI charge plus six months for violating his probation. At the least, if convicted under California DUI law, Sutherland would have to serve a minimum of 96 hours in jail.

Sep

18

DUI … Without the “Driving”?

By Mary Ann

A recent decision by a New Jersey appellate court will serve as a reminder to us all that sometimes the letter of the law can catch someone acting responsibly.

David Montalvo had had too much to drink, and rather than driving himself home, decided to sleep one off on the bench seat of his GMC pickup in a deli parking lot in Hamburg, New Jersey.  For the safety of pedestrians and other motorists, as well as his own safety, Montalvo made the right decision by choosing not to drive in an intoxicated state.

However, when Montalvo woke up to the sight of a Humburg police officer, his decision proved to have consequences he didn’t imagine when he went to sleep.

The officer had stopped to check on the truck, which was sitting alone in the parking lot at around 5 AM, before any of the stores in the strip mall lot were open, and whose engine was on and racing.  Because of cold temperatures outside, Montalvo had turned in the engine on to keep the heater running, and while sleeping his foot had apparently slipped on to the gas pedal.

When he noticed the smell of alcohol from Montalvo’s previous night libations, the officer requested a breathalyzer test from Montalvo, which he refused.  Montalvo was arrested and convicted of DUI.

He appealed the decision, claiming that the officer had no reasonable grounds to investigate his parked truck, but the appellate judge ruled otherwise, stating that because of Montalvo’s condition and that his car engine was running in the parking lot, the officer had the right to make sure he was okay.

Contrary to the intention behind his actions, Montalvo did not need to be “driving” to be arrested and charged with DUI.   State DUI laws vary on what it means to be operating a vehicle: in some states, having the keys in the ignition means you’re legally operating it, while in other states, simply being in the driver’s seat is enough.