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.

Sep

11

Ohio Town Has Controversial Pay to Get Out of Jail DUI Policy

By Guest Attorney

If you feel a need to get pulled over for DUI, do it Waverly, Ohio. The Cincinnati Post recently reported that Waverly Ohio police allow DUI defendants to make a $1,000 donation to the police department in exchange for a plea bargain allowing them keep their driver’s licenses.

The Post reports that more than one-third of DUI cases in Waverly were dismissed last year. Motorists, who typically face three or more days in jail and lengthy license suspensions were allowed to make the donation and plead to a lesser charge.

Some DUI suspects with four or five prior DUI convictions were allowed back on the road with no jail time and no loss of driving privileges. In some cases, the convictions were not even reported to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, a violation of state law.

The paper said the bargaining away DUI charges for donations raised more than $91,000 for the “drug law fund” since 2001. The money went to buy fire arms and radio equipment, according to Waverly police officials.

Sep

2

Teen Not Guilty of Murder in DUI Crash

By Guest Attorney

An Elgin, Ill. teenager was acquitted of murder after driving his car into a building while drunk. Brian Poliarny was charged with first-degree murder for the crash which killed his passenger, Roman Pokorny. A second passenger was badly injured in the accident.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Kane County prosecutors had argued that Poliarny had intentionally driven into the building in an attempt to kill himself. Judge Grant Wegner said he acquitted Poliarny of the murder charge because there wasn’t clear evidence the teen had intended to kill himself or his passengers.

Poliarny had already pled guilty to two counts of felony DUI. He faces a maximum 26-year sentence on these charges.