Feb

28

Ohio Driver Gets Maximum DUI Prison Sentence

By Mary Ann

A Barberton Ohio man received a Sentence for DUI of 16-1/2 years in prison. Jess R Brown was sentenced after pleading guilty to his 19th and 20th DUI offenses. 16-1/2 years is the maximum sentence allowed by Ohio law.

The judge said “Not only do you have the worst DUI record I’ve ever read, you apparently have the worst DUI record for anyone in the state of Ohio. It’s only fair and fitting then that you receive the worst sentence.” Brown was convicted of his first DUI in 1977. His driver’s license was permanently suspended in 1991.

Prior to sentencing, Brown asked the judge for leniency. In his statement to the court he argued “I have a problem with alcohol. Let me get treatment instead of perishing in a cell.” The judge responded that he’d had plenty of opportunities for treatment after previous convictions and if he felt that strongly, he should have sought treatment himself.

Feb

27

Korea Sorts Out DUI Laws

By Mary Ann

Just like in the United States, Korean courts are sorting through its DUI laws. In a recent case, the South Korea Supreme Court reviewed some of the basic definitions of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The Court, in this case, looked at what the law means by “driving.”

American states define “driving” differently. In Colorado, a person is driving if he is ‘operating a motor vehicle.’ Colorado case law indicates that a person is operating a motor vehicle if he is sitting in the driver’s seat and the key is in the ignition.

In the Korean case, a cab driver in South Korea parked his cab in an alley and had drinks at a nearby restaurant. When he received a call asking him to move his car because it was blocking another driver, he moved it a few meters and returned to the restaurant. A passerby called police, alleging that the cabbie was DUI. Police approached the cab driver in the restaurant. He had a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.05, the per-se limit for DUI in South Korea. The driver appealed his fine of 1.5 million won (about $1,700), saying that it was excessive under the circumstances.

The Supreme Court ruled that the cabbie’s 6-meter drive was sufficient to charge him with DUI under Korea’s law. Another recent Supreme Court decision stated that a drunk driving charge is valid when even a tiny portion of the vehicles slips out of a roadside parking space and enters a road used for public traffic.

In South Korea, DUI is taken very seriously. The criminal punishment for DUI ranges up to 2 years in prison or fines up to 5 million won. Independent of the criminal punishment, an administrative punishment of a 100 day suspension or revocation of the driver’s license may be imposed.

Feb

26

Arizona Lawsuit to Stop Spanish DUI Program Tossed

By Mary Ann

A federal judge in Maricopa County Arizona threw out a lawsuit to abolish the county’s Spanish-language DUI courts. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas argued that the Spanish DUI programs were unconstitutional. Thomas claimed that defendants in a Spanish-language DUI program who violate the terms of their probation consistently get shorter jail sentences than defendants in the general population. In his opinion, the Judge found that Thomas had no right (‘standing’) to bring the suit because he was not a party to any action in a DUI court.

Thomas plans to appeal the issue to the US Supreme Court if necessary. A spokesman for Thomas said that “This was a technical ruling. It’s not a decision on whether race-based courts are legal. We object to it because it creates unequal courts and that is unfair to everyone.”

The DUI “courts” in question are not courts, but actually probation programs for defendants who have already been convicted of felony DUI and have spent four months in prison.  In DUI court, a judge and probation officers review the defendant’s performance in seeking treatment and complying with their probation.

The DUI courts are conducted in Spanish and English, with special provisions for Native Americans.

Feb

23

No Pink DUI Plates in Arkansas

By Mary Ann

While an Arkansas House committee endorsed legislation that could raise the speed limit on some highways to 65 mph, the committee shot down a proposal to require drivers convicted of their third DUI to have a pink license plate on their vehicles.

Representative Pam Adcock of Little Rock Arkansas had introduced a bill that would have shamed a three time DUI offenders with a pink license plate. Three time offenders already are required to have ignition interlocks installed in their vehicles.

Some House committee members speculated that the pink DUI plates might embarrass other family members who need to drive the car, especially teenagers. Adcock said the plate was meant to be a deterrent and not intended to embarrass anyone. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), of course, supported the bill.

Feb

22

Georgia Mayor Faces Second DUI in Four Years

By Mary Ann

Dawson Georgia Mayer Robert Albritten was arrested and charged with speeding and DUI. If convicted, this would be his second Georgia DUI in the past four years. A Dooly County sheriff stopped Albritten for driving 90 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. The mayor had a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.11. Georgia’s per-se BAC limit for DUI is 0.08.

Albritten pled guilty to DUI and following too closely in January, 2003, after his car crashed into another vehicle and a woman was injured.

The 2003 charges came amid allegations that Albritten, a funeral director and former insurance salesman, had falsified life insurance forms for 10 personal care home residents who either did not know or understand that they were purchasing insurance policies. He was sentenced to 12 months probation and fined $9,000 under a plea bargain. 

Albritten was re-elected as mayor of Dawson in November 2002 despite the swirling fraud allegations.   He was re-elected again in 2004. The people of Dawson must really like this guy.

Feb

21

Nicole Richie Enters Not Guilty Plea to California DUI

By Mary Ann

Nicole Richie’s lawyer appeared on her behalf and entered a plea of not guilty in Richie’s California DUI case. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for April 2.   She was arrested in December after a 911 caller reported seeing her car heading the wrong way on a freeway in Burbank California. Richie volunteered that she had smoked marijuana and taken the prescription painkiller Vicodin. She was arrested after failing a field sobriety test.

Richie is facing her second DUI conviction. She has a prior DUI conviction in June 2003. California law specifies that if convicted of DUI twice within 10 years, a person can be sentenced to between 90 days and a year in jail, fined between $390 and $1,000, and have driving privileges suspended.

Feb

21

US Airways CEO to Spend One Day in Arizona Jail for DUI

By Mary Ann

US Airways CEO Doug Parker will spend one day in jail and pay a $1,646.25 fine after pleading guilty to DUI in Arizona. Parker was arrested in Scottsdale Arizona in January after being pulled over for driving 20 mph over the speed limit. Shortly before his arrest, his company’s $9.8 billion bid for Delta Air Lines had been rejected.

Parker had a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.096 percent, just over Arizona’s legal limit for DUI. Earlier today, National Public Radio, in a display of its weakened news reporting, stated that Parker’s BAC would not be considered intoxicated in many states. Every state follows the per-se BAC limit mandated by the federal government for DUI of 0.08 percent.

Feb

20

Illinois DUI Charges Filed Against Illini Basketball Player Jamar Smith

By Mary Ann

University of Illinois sophomore shooting guard Jamar Smith was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of accident earlier today for his role in a crash last week which he allegedly believed killed teammate and freshman Illini center Brian Carlwell. Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said Smith had a BAC level of .176, more than twice the legal limit under Illinois DUI law, following last Monday night’s crash.

Smith was driving a 1996 Lexus with Carlwell in his passenger seat on February 12th when he crashed into a tree in heavy snow. Smith then drove the car back to his apartment complex a mile away and was seen leaving the smashed vehicle with Carlwell still inside. Concerned onlookers noticed the smashed vehicle with Carwell inside and called 9-1-1. Carlwell was taken to an Urbana hospital, where he spent four days with a serious concussion. Smith was later taken to the hospital by unidentified coaches and University of Illinois police, treated for a minor concussion and released early the next morning.  

According to Rietz’s description of University police reports, Smith and Carlwell were drinking tequila and beer at the apartment complex on the night of the incident before leaving around 11 p.m. Rietz said that it appears Smith though Carlwell had died in the accident and was extremely distraught. Smith’s Illinois DUI attorneyMark Lipton, had no comment on Tuesday. Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber did not release a statement as well.

Smith’s charges could carry some very serious DUI penalties if convicted. Rietz said that aggravated driving under the influence is a Class 4 felony carrying a sentence of up to 12 years in prison, while leaving the scene is a Class 3 felony with a possible sentence of up to five years in prison. She did add that a person convicted of either felony could be placed on probation.

Smith left the basketball team last week for the remainder of the season. Weber said that Carlwell, who sat on the Illinois bench during Sunday’s win against Northwestern at Assembly Hall, may return in the postseason. The Jamar Smith DUI is not the first time that an Illinois basketball player has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving this season. Senior guard Rich McBride was arrested for an Illinois DUI in September and later charged. McBride has not yet entered a plea in his case, which is scheduled for a hearing on March 1st. Weber suspended McBride six games for the arrest.  

Feb

20

Ray Liotta Arrested for California DUI

By Mary Ann

Actor Ray Liotta was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Pacific Palisades California. Liotta, the star of the movie Goodfellas, was arrested after crashing his SUV into two parked cars. He was taken into custody Sunday morning and booked on a misdemeanor DUI charge. No blood alcohol content (BAC) was released by the police. No one was injured and he was alone in the vehicle. Liotta was ordered to appear in court next month.

Most recently, Liotta is starring with Tim Allen and John Travolta in the buddy comedy “Wild Hogs,” set for release March 2.

Feb

20

Dominic Rhodes DUI: Colts Running Back Arrested on Suspicion of Indianapolis DUI

By Mary Ann

After zipping through the Chicago Bears’ defense earlier this month during the Indianapolis Colts 29-17 victory in Super Bowl XLI running back Dominic Rhodes was arrested on suspicion of Indiana DUI early this morning after state police caught him speeding.

Rhodes was allegedly driving 81 mph in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 65 in Indianapolis around 3 a.m. this morning, according to Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Dave Bursten, who described the incident in an abc11tv.com story as a “normal run of the mill drunk driving arrest.” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Lt. Doug Scheffel told television station RTV6 that Rhodes was taken to the downtown adult processing center early this morning.

Colts officials could not be reached for comment on Rhodes’ arrest on suspicion of Indiana DUI. Prior to his DUI arrest, Rhodes helped fuel the Colts to a Super Bowl XLI victory just a little more than two weeks ago when he rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown while coming off the bench. A backup to Edgerrin James and Joseph Addai while with the Colts, Rhodes’ Super Bowl XLI performance was his first 100-yard game since 2001 and only the sixth of his six-year career. Rhodes is currently a free agent. 

Feb

19

New Mexico Trying to Stop Liquor Sales on Airlines to Fight DUI

By Mary Ann

I realize that I write about New Mexico frequently. Having spent this past weekend in Albuquerque, I’ve seen for myself how strongly New Mexico is taking its crackdown on DUI. Although New Mexico is not a large state, it is experimenting with tougher DUI laws and stronger communication about DUI. I would expect the larger states to follow New Mexico’s lead, so keeping an eye on New Mexico can keep us ahead of the DUI game.

Now, New Mexico is attempting to crackdown on airline in-flight liquor sales. The State’s fight with the airlines stems from a gruesome accident caused by a DUI driver. Dana Pabst was driving on the wrong side of a highway when he plowed headlong into a minivan. Pabst and six members of the family riding in the minivan were killed. Authorities say that Pabst was already drunk when he boarded his US Airways flight Phoenix to Albuquerque. He continued to drink whiskey throughout the flight. The crash occurred as he was driving home from the airport. He had a blood alcohol content (BAC) four times the legal limit for DUI.

New Mexico authorities say that US Airways does not have a New Mexico liquor license. The state Regulation and Licensing Department issued cease and desist letters to US Airways and two other airlines that do not hold liquor licenses in the state, Frontier and Northwest.

Frontier, which has liquor licenses in Colorado and California, where it buys and stores its alcohol, has questioned whether it needs to do more. A spokesman said “we’re operating under the assumption that we are in compliance with the FAA and interstate commerce laws. Obtaining liquor licenses in all of the states where we fly could be cumbersome and expensive. We’ve never received a request like this before.”

John Wheeler, crime policy advisor to Governor Bill Richardson, said “this accident was an eye-opener for all of them, a real wake-up call. Frankly, I’m surprised the airlines didn’t move quicker to bring themselves into compliance and that they waited for the state to act.”

Feb

16

Join the Army, See the World … Avoid Jail for New Mexico DUI

By Mary Ann

A Kirtland New Mexico man, convicted of causing injury to his passengers while DUI, is being allowed to join the US Army as an alternative to going to jail.

Tommy Harwood pled guilty to DUI and causing great bodily harm by vehicle after he rolled his pickup truck in January 2005. He was facing a year in prison, but District Judge Thomas Hynes recently granted him a conditional discharge. His record will be wiped clean if passes a physical exam and is accepted into the Army. If Harwood isn’t accepted, the judge can revoke the conditional discharge and resentence him.

Judge Hynes said it was Harwood’s idea to join the Army in lieu of serving a jail sentence. “If he winds up in the middle of Iraq, he isn’t going to think this is a privilege. We are engaged in a war and need some people to step up to the plate.”

Feb

15

New Jersey Study Approves New DUI Breath Test Device

By Mary Ann

A new DUI breath testing machine, the Alcotest 7110, was approved by a committee appointed by New Jersey’s Supreme Court. The Court appointed a retired justice to review the Alcotest after its results were challenged by defense attorneys. Unlike the Breathalyzer, which must be configured by hand, the Alcotest is fully automated and connected to a computer.

The Breathalyzer has been so widely used, since 1954, that DUI breath test devices are generically know as a ‘breathalyzer.’ A DUI breath test device measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath and mathematically converts the alcohol concentration to blood alcohol content (BAC). Every state’s DUI law declares that a driver with a BAC of 0.08 percent is presumptively DUI.

Following a yearlong review, retired Appellate Judge Michael King recommended that the new device should be considered “acceptable for evidentiary breath tests in New Jersey.” King wrote in his report, “indeed, we find the Alcotest 7110 with proper foundational proofs much more scientifically reliable and independent of operator influence, intentional or inadvertent, than the Breathalyzer.”

Many states have replaced Breathalyzers with new devices relying on chemical processes or using infrared light readings

Feb

14

US Supreme Court Justice’s Daughter Charged With Illinois DUI

By Mary Ann

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s daughter was arrested and charged with DUI and child endangerment in Wheaton Illinois. Ann Banaszewski, Justice Scalia’s daughter, was stopped while driving away from a fast food restaurant. Wheaton Deputy Police Chief Tom Meloni said someone had called to police to report an intoxicated driver at a McDonald’s outlet.

Although Meloni said that Banaszewski had submitted to field sobriety tests, he would not comment on the result, would not release her blood alcohol content (BAC), and declined to give information on the three children in the car with Banaszewski. A police officer took the children to the home of family friend.

Feb

13

Vacationers Get More Florida DUI Arrests

By Mary Ann

Marco Island Florida police report that the number of DUI arrests among seasonal residents is up this year. Marco Island police officers say that vacation mode drinking is getting people more drunk than they may even realize. Police Captain Thom Carr said officers have arrested vacationers for DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.25 percent, more than 3 times the legal limit for DUI in Florida, as early as 4pm in the afternoon. Vacationers tend to drink more than they would at home.

For those thinking of drinking and driving, Carr says it may be a more pleasant ride in the back of a cab than in the back of a police cruiser heading to jail.