Seahawks Tight End Jerramy Stevens Clipped on Alleged Scottsdale DUI

By Mary Ann

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens was accused of DUI and possession of marijuana in downtown Scottsdale early Tuesday morning.

An Associated Press story details that a police officer noticed Stevens’ car traveling erratically and then made the stop around 2:15 a.m. Stevens allegedly told the officer that he had “four or five margaritas” at a downtown Scottsdale bar, and a police report indicated that the suspect looked impaired and had slurred speech. Police also said they found a “leafy green substance” believed to be marijuana in Stevens’ pocket.

The report said that Stevens dropped his wallet and cell phone when getting out of his vehicle and then stuttered around. After a second officer arrived and began to administer field sobriety tests, Stevens nearly fell down during the “walk-and-turn-test.”

Stevens declined any further testing, including a breathalyzer and blood sample. Police obtained a warrant around 5 a.m. and were able to get the blood test. However, the results have not yet been released. Stevens was booked and posted bail. His initial court appearance is set for April 2nd.

Stevens, a five-year NFL veteran and former University of Washington standout, has been in trouble in the past. He was jailed for two days after pleading guilty to reckless driving in June 2003 as part of a plea deal for a suspected drunken driving offense. While in college, Stevens spent another five days in jail when he violated his probation after driving into a nursing home in a 2000 hit-and-run case.

Stevens, an unrestricted free agent, was a first-round selection by the Seahawks in 2002. During Seattle’s run to Super Bowl XL in 2005, Stevens had his best season, catching 45 catches for 554 yards. Last year, he caught 22 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns.



Car Forfeited in DUI Case Becomes Minnesota Police Squad Car

By Mary Ann

The Elk River, Minnesota Police Department seized a 2002 Chevy Impala through the Minnesota DUI forfeiture program, and now it’s an unmarked police squad car.

Most states have a forfeiture program for property involved in drug crimes; Minnesota has a forfeiture program for DUI arrests.

Elk River Police Chief Jeff Beahen said that your first DUI can cost you your driver’s license. Your second DUI can cost you your license plates. If you get a third DUI, your could lose your vehicle.

Elk River usually sells vehicles it confiscates at auction, but the Chevy Impala was the same model as the cars used by the Elk River Police Department. The Department is currently trying to seize a Ford Expedition with just 750 miles on it.

Forfeitures can be quite profitable for some police departments. Beahen said some agencies take in $250,000 in revenue each year from forfeited vehicles, seizing everything from cars to motor homes.



Indiana Cop Arrested for Third DUI

By Mary Ann

An already suspended Indianapolis, DUI Sunday.

A trend has been sweeping the USA in recent years, where police officers are being arrested for drunk driving rather than being given a wink and a ride home.

Joshua Nygren was arrested on the far west side of Indianapolis after he ran a stop sign. Nygren reportedly told the arresting officer, “hey, I’m one of you.” He was arrested for DUI, resisting law enforcement, public intoxication and failing to obey a stop sign.

Nygren was previously arrested for DUI in 2005 and in 2006. The Indianapolis Police Department suspended Nygren after his second arrest. The IPD Chief of Police has recommended that Nygren be fired.



Massachusetts Driver Conned Into Taking Breath Test

By Mary Ann

Evidence of a Massachusetts driver’s breathalyzer test was suppressed when the judge in his DUI trial ruled the driver had been coerced into taking the test.

In every state where a driver has the option to decline a breathalyzer test, the driver must consent to the breath test knowingly and voluntarily.

Massachusetts DUI law only allows evidence of a breath or blood test taken “with the consent of the defendant.” Unlike many other states that have implied consent laws (all drivers, by obtaining a driver’s license, automatically consent to a breath test), Massachusetts’ law says that implied consent can be implied “only if the defendant has been to a licensed hospital.”

In the trial in question, a police officer properly gave a DUI suspect material written in Portuguese about his right to counsel, a separate blood test, the breath test and a telephone call, among other things. However, when the driver indicated he would exercise his right to refuse the breath test, the officer told him that failure to take the breath test would result in his being held in custody for the weekend.

This coercive and misleading statement by the officer caused the driver to change his mind and submit to the test. Because the driver had not given his consent “freely and voluntarily” the judge ruled the prosecutor could use the breath test as evidence.



New Mexico Leads in DUI Punishment Again

By Mary Ann

The New Mexico state senate passed a DUI law imposing stricter penalties on DUI offenders.

Other states have followed New Mexico’s lead in DUI legislation for some time now. The latest New Mexico bill requires ignition interlocks for drivers convicted of DUI in other states who move to New Mexico and added additional time in prison for drivers convicted of felony DUI in New Mexico.

In a move of questionable constitutionality, the senate passed a bill, part of Governor Bill Richardson’s anti-DUI package, that requires newcomers to New Mexico who’ve been convicted of DUI in other states to have ignition interlocks for a year.

Newcomers with two DUI convictions would be required to have interlocks for two years; three years for those with three convictions; and those with four DUI convictions would have a lifetime interlock requirement.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez questioned the constitutionality of the state of New Mexico imposing penalties for crimes committed outside of the state.



Illinois State Police Hiding DUI Record of State Employed Chaplain

By Mary Ann

Illinois state police officials refuse to release a copy of the arrest report on a state prison chaplain charged with DUI.

Officials claim it would be an invasion his privacy. The Associated Press has attempted to get the report through the Freedom of Information Act (FICA) which states that arrest information is public record. The FICA adds that information “that bears on the public duties of public employees” isn’t considered private.

In addition, the Illinois State Records Act explicitly requires police to allow the inspection and copying of arrest reports.

All that is known is that Reverend William M. Watts was pulled over in December near Kankakee, Illinois after a witness reported his car traveling below the minimum speed limit. The chaplain was put on administrative leave and resigned in February.

In its response to the AP, state police said releasing the documents “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” an exemption under the law. A lawyer for the Illinois Press Association said that doesn’t make sense. Arrests reports for DUI cases are routinely released by police to show they’re doing a good job.

A State Police spokesman said the arrest report contains personal information such as William’s blood alcohol content (BAC) which could jeopardize a court case, but declined to indicate what the court case was.



Mayor of Nevada Capital Arrested for DUI

By Mary Ann

Carson City, Nevada Mayor Marv Teixeira was arrested Monday night on suspicion of DUI.

A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper stopped Teixeira on a Carson City street for speeding.  The Mayor was driving 50 mph in a zone marked for 35 mph.

The trooper reported he smelled alcohol, and asked Teixeira to perform a field sobriety test. He failed. The mayor also failed a preliminary breathalyzer test. He was arrested for speeding and DUI.

Authorities say the Mayor took a blood test at the jail. Results will not be returned for several weeks.



DUI Offenders Spared Scarlet Letter License Plates in Virginia

By Mary Ann

A Committee of the Virginia General Assembly spared DUI offenders the embarrassment of displaying “scarlet letter” license plates.

While several states have proposed bright colored plates (usually pink) for drivers convicted of DUI, these proposals appear to be going down to defeat in the state legislatures.

Virginia’s scarlet letter bill would have required drivers convicted of DUI for the third time to display a yellow license plate with red numbers, showing that they were repeat DUI offenders. The plates would cost $500 and be required for five years.

Opponents of the law argued that many families share cars, so the whole family could be punished. The telltale plates could label an innocent driver as a habitual drunk driver.

The sponsor of the bill doesn’t care if family members are implicated by the plates; he has said he thinks an effective way to combat drunk driving is humiliation.



Judge Gets Off Easy on Illinois DUI

By Mary Ann

St. Clair County, Illinois Circuit Judge Patrick Young received two years of court supervision and will pay a $1,500 fine after he pleaded guilty to DUI.

Court officers may seem to receive lenient sentences in most jurisdictions when pleading guilty to DUI. In this case, Judge Young had faced a maximum of a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

Young had been charged with DUI and failure to yield after a traffic accident in Belleville. The driver of the other vehicle had to be extricated from his vehicle by emergency workers and spent several days in the hospital.

Judge Young refused field sobriety and breathlyzer tests.

A fellow judge, riding in the vehicle with Judge Young, was charged with illegal transportation of alcohol.



South Dakota Extends Pilot DUI Breath Test Program

By Mary Ann

In exchange for being allowed to drive, drivers arrested for DUI in South Dakota will have to take a breath test every morning and evening. South Dakota joins the growing list of states offering harsh choices to drivers repeatedly caught DUI. Under the two-year old pilot “24/7 Sobriety” program, if a driver fails to show up at the police station for any of his breath tests, a warrant for his arrest is issued. He then gets to spend a night in jail.

Lacey Graff was arrested a third time for DUI. She didn’t like the program, but credits it with keeping her sober. Toward the beginning of her participation in the program, Graff failed her breath test twice; she spent two nights in jail.

Hughes County South Dakota sheriff Mike Leidholt says that about 40 people are in the program in his county. Statewide, more than 1,000 people are in the 24/7 Sobriety program.

Attorney General Larry Long believes that the program has been so successful that he has convinced the state legislature to take it statewide. A bill has passed and awaits the governor’s signature. The AG said that “Alcohol drives the criminal justice system. These people come back to us time and time after time.”