DUI Convictions Become Political Football in Illinois

By Mary Ann

A candidate for trustee in Round Lake, Illinois is condemning a mayoral candidate for his support of a fellow candidate with a DUI conviction.

DUI convictions have become the scarlet letter of the 21st century throughout the United States. In Round Lake, Trustee Ken Schnur, who is seeking reelection, is criticizing Trustee and mayoral candidate John Teubert for running on a slate including a candidate who was convicted of DUI seven years ago.

Schnur condemned Teubert for using a double standard to support Luis Martinez for village board. Last year Teubert called for the resignation of a Grayslake, Illinois elementary school board member, Kristen Coe Peek, when she pleaded guilty to DUI.

Teubert said the comparison between the two cases isn’t fair. He said he called for Coe Peek to resign because she was in a position that influences children and Martinez’s legal troubles came before he ever held or ran for elected office.

Martinez said “I don’t drink and drive. I was younger, I had a drink thinking it would be nothing and that’s what happened. It was childish and I know it’s not going to happen again.”



Black Eyed Peas Star Arrested for DUI

By Mary Ann

Jaime Luis Gomez, who calls himself Taboo – a member of the hip hop group Black Eyed Peas – was arrested for DUI outside of Los Angeles, California.

Gomez was arrested for suspicion of DUI after a crashing his SUV.

Police searched Gomez’s vehicle and found marijuana and prescription medicine for which he did not have a prescription. He was charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, possession of a prescribed medication without a prescription and DUI.

Results of field sobriety tests and breath tests have not yet been released.



DUI Convinces Arizona Legislator to go Into Rehab

By Mary Ann

Arizona State Representative Tricia Groe was arrested for DUI last week.

State legislators are no longer immune from arrest and criminal charges for drinking and driving. Groe had been cited for DUI seven years ago in California. This latest DUI convinced her to enter a 30-day alcohol rehabilitation program.

The La Paz County Attorney plans to charge Groe with aggravated DUI, a felony. Conviction for a felony is cause for removal from the state legislature in Arizona.

Her prior conviction in California will make it more difficult for Groe to plead down to a misdemeanor.

Groe was pulled over for erratic driving. She attempted three different breathalyzer tests, registering a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.168, 0.158, and 0.148 percent. 0.160 percent is twice the legal limit for DUI in Arizona.

Groe told a deputy that she was “a functioning alcoholic.” She had been sober for many years, but had relapsed. Groe said she was thankful she didn’t injure or kill anyone.



Montana County Attorney Challenges Legislators on Their DUI Claims

By Mary Ann

A Yellowstone County Montana attorney has challenged state legislators to a scientific test of their claims to have had only a few drinks, made after their DUI arrests.

As with many people throughout the United States, two Montana legislators recently claimed to have had only two or three drinks even though breath tests showed a BAC of at least 0.14 percent.

Montana Representative Scott Boggio said “I guess that, you know, anyone who goes out to dinner and has a few drinks along with their meal can get a DUI.” His breathalyzer test showed he had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.14.

Representative John Ross’s breath test showed a BAC of 0.18. He said “I shouldn’t have had that third glass of wine, evidently.”

Dennis Paxinos, a Yellowstone County attorney, responded that “these types of minimizing statements send the message to everyone else that the DUI laws are patently unfair and that anyone can be innocently ‘trapped’ with prosecution for DUI for simply having a few drinks with dinner.”

Paxinos has challenged legislators to submit to a scientific test of these minimizing statements. He has offered to pay for dinner for two legislators, including three “(or a few)” drinks. Paxinos proposes to take BAC readings on the participants, before and after a normal hour-and-a-half dinner.

After the post-dinner breath tests, they could return to the restaurant and continue drinking until the participants reach a BAC of 0.14. Paxinos wants to show how many drinks it really takes to reach a 0.14 BAC, the same concentration Donovan J. Ruff had when he killed a Yellowstone County pedestrian.

Ruff was recently sentenced to 24 years in prison.



Colorado Police Departments Make 355 DUI Arrests Over St Patrick’s Day Weekend

By Mary Ann

Law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado made 355 arrests for DUI this past weekend.

The Colorado State Patrol and 58 local police and sheriff’s departments took part in their yearly “Heat Is On” campaign over the St Patrick’s Day weekend. Between 6:00 pm Friday and 3:00 am Monday, the State Patrol alone made 106 DUI arrests.

The state of Colorado relies on the 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC) national standard to define a driver as per-se DUI.

The Colorado State Patrol reported five traffic fatalities over the weekend. It is unknown yet how many of those deaths involved alcohol.



New North Carolina DUI Laws Face Court Challenges

By Mary Ann

North Carolina DUI defense attorneys say they expect North Carolina’s new, tougher DUI laws to be challenged in court.

While New Mexico leads the way, many states are enacting tougher DUI laws, some of which may run afoul of our constitutional protections. North Carolina’s new laws took effect on December 1, 2006.

DUI defense lawyer, Griff Anderson, a former district attorney, said “It’s clear to me that the group that got together to draft this legislation was intent on removing all the defenses attorneys have used to defend drinking drivers. In doing so, I think they have run afoul of some constitutional protections in the courts. We will find out in the next year or so.”

In North Carolina, unlike most states, DUI cases are tried to a judge rather than a jury. The new laws enhance the admissibility of breath tests (Intoxilizer) and road-side sobriety tests.

Anderson says most Intoxilizer devices in the state are old, out of date, and unreliable. He also complains that the road side sobriety tests rely on a officer’s assessment of the driver’s performance in those tests.

Of course, as a DUI defense attorney, Anderson asserts that no law in North Carolina prohibits a person from drinking and then driving. “We draw the line at a level,” he said.



Tony La Russa Gets Florida DUI

By Mary Ann

St Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa was arrested for DUI in Jupiter Florida when he was found sleeping at a green light. This is just the latest celebrity DUI.

Police report that La Russa had been stopped for two green lights and vehicles were going around him to get through the intersection. He was found with his head on the wheel and his foot on the brake and did not immediately respond when a Jupiter police officer knocked on his windshield.

The 62-year old La Russa had a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.093 percent, just above Florida’s legal limit for DUI.



Utah Girl Calls Police to Stop DUI Mom

By Mary Ann

Provo, Utah police arrested Stefanie Mendoza for DUI after her daughter called police.

Around the country, children are protecting themselves by calling police when their parents are drinking and driving.

Police were waiting for Mendoza when she drove up to her home. Court documents state that her breath test results showed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.258 percent, more than 3 times the legal limit for DUI in Utah.

This was Mendoza’s fifth arrest for DUI since 2001. A neighbor said she has helped the daughter several times: “I talked to the little girl quite often. She’s asked for help once in a while. I’ve given her rides a couple of times, just to where her mom works.”



Illinois Woman Gets 3 Year Sentence for DUI Crash

By Mary Ann

An Alton, Illinois woman was sentenced to 3 years in prison for driving her pickup truck into four children walking to school last year.

Accidents involving drinking and driving and children occur far too often all around the United States. In this case, Crystal Bourland pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated driving under the influence (DUI). Another count of DUI and an unrelated forgery charge were dropped. Bourland has a record of convictions dating back to 1988, including drug possession and prostitution.

Four children were injured when Bourland slammed into a group of kids while looking for her dropped cellphone. One boy suffered a head injury and compound fractures of both legs.

Bourland was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. She was taken to hospital where blood and urine samples were taken. As part of her plea, Bourland admitted she had been under the influence of cocaine at the time of the accident.



Tennessee State Senator Turns Himself in on DUI Charge

By Mary Ann

Tennessee State Senator Jerry Cooper turned himself in on a DUI charge at the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department.

The charges stem from a wreck in February. Cooper lost control of his SUV when he was driving home. He suffered severe injuries and had to be airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The senator was charged with DUI last month after the Tennessee Highway Patrol found he had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.18 percent, more than double the legal limit for DUI in Tennessee.

Prior to the crash, Cooper had attended three lawmaker receptions in Nashville where alcohol had been served. The crash had postponed his federal land fraud trial.



New Mexico Man Gets 28th DUI Arrest

By Mary Ann

Joseph Brill was arrested for DUI for the 28th time by Albuquerque, New Mexico police after he fell out of his pickup truck.

Albuquerque deputies were working on another case nearby, when Brill pulled his truck into a driveway and literally fell out of the truck. He was charged with DUI (DWI in New Mexico) and violating his parole from a previous DUI.

Brill has now been arrested for DUI 28 times with 14 convictions. He has been imprisoned for DUI twice, serving over a year in jail. Brill’s driver’s license has been revoked for life, but his truck was properly registered in his name. A county sherriff’s deputy said people can register their vehicles with proper insurance and proof of residency.

According to the Albuquerque Tribune, under New Mexico law the maximum sentence for a seventh or subsequent DUI is three years in prison, a $5,000 fine, alcohol treatment, and lifetime driver’s license revocation.



St. Cloud, Minnesota Bars Help Patrons Avoid DUI With Cab Passes

By Mary Ann

Some bars in St. Cloud, Minnesota, home to St. Cloud State University, give cab passes to patrons who are legally too drunk to drive.

Bar owners across the country are slowly realizing it’s cheaper to help get their drunk patrons home than deal with the consequences of  DUI.

There has been a steady increase in DUI in St. Cloud over the past five years. To help discourage DUI, some downtown bars have begun giving students cab rides home after a night of drinking.

The cab passes are good business. McRudy’s Pub gives a cab pass to anyone who needs one. Bar manager Scott Christos said “People come to McRudy’s for a safe ride home, and in turn, spend their money here.”

One St. Cloud Student said, “I will sit at a bar all night from 9 pm or so until 2 am, and by that time, I have run out of money. It would be nice to get a free ride home from a bar that I just spent all my time and money at.”



Tucson DUI Arrest Benches Arizona Guard Daniel Dillon for Early March Madness Game

By Mary Ann

As detailed here yesterday, University of Arizona guard Daniel Dillon was arrested last weekend in Tucson on suspicion of DUI.

Wildcats’ Head Coach Lute Olsen suspended Dillon on Wednesday for at least Arizona’s first-round NCAA tournament game against Purdue on Friday.

Dillon had made the trip to New Orleans with the team before learning of his suspension. The school did not announce how long the suspension will last.

Dillon, a junior guard from Melbourne, Australia, issued a statement released by the Arizona athletic department. He apologized to the community for his actions and said that he supported Olsen’s decision. Dillon added that he will continue to be supportive of the team in any way he could.

Dillon, a defensive specialist on the team, was averaging just 1.9 points and 11 minutes per game. His DUI arrest is the second for an Arizona Men’s Basketball player in the last two seasons. Former Wildcat forward and current New Jersey Net, Hassan Adams, was arrested on similar charges during the 2005-06 season and later acquitted.



Montana DUI Story Gets Out-of-Hand: Suspect’s Unicorn Was Driving?

By Mary Ann

Reportedly, a Billings, Montana DUI suspect claimed a unicorn was driving when his truck crashed into a light pole.

Yellowstone County Attorney Dennis Paxinos announced at a press conference, “that did not happen.” Paxinos attributed the mistake to “black humor” among prosecutors who routinely deal with drivers who refuse to take responsibility for their actions while DUI.

The driver, Phillip Carston Holliday Jr., told a judge that someone else was driving his car, which is sometimes called the unicorn defense by prosecutors.

Due to emails sent around the County Attorney’s office, the story got out that the defendant had told police that a unicorn was driving his truck; he had actually told police a woman was driving.

Of the driver, the County Attorney said “Mr. Holliday has other serious problems, but this is not one of them.”



Arizona Wildcats’ Basketball Player Daniel Dillon Arrested on Suspicion of Tucson DUI

By Mary Ann

Tucson police revealed yesterday that University of Arizona reserve guard Daniel Dillon was arrested on suspicion of DUI last weekend.

Police reports said that Dillon was pulled over early Sunday morning by an officer who noticed a speeding car. The report added that the officer conducted a DUI investigation in which Dillon denied having anything to drink.

After undergoing field sobriety tests, Dillon was cited and arrested on suspicion of speeding, DUI and DUI with a blood alcohol content above the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent. The report did not reveal what Dillon’s BAC was.

Dillon, a junior guard from Melbourne, Australia, will turn 21 on March 19th. Arizona Men’s Basketball Coach Lute Olsen was reviewing the situation with authorities and did not offer any comment.

Arizona athletic department spokesman Tom Duddleston said that Dillon did practice with the team Tuesday and was expected to travel to New Orleans for its first round game Friday against Purdue in the NCAA Tournament. Dillon has averaged 1.9 points and 11 minutes in 29 games for the Wildcats this season.