Feb

26

Another Top DUI Cop under Investigation in Chicago

By Mary Ann

In Illinois, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office has moved to dismiss dozens of DUI cases. This surprising action came after a second Chicago police officer was accused of framing drivers to boost DUI arrests.

Nearly a year ago, another Chicago police officer was charged with perjury, official misconduct and obstructing justice.

Officer John Haleas was accused of failing to follow proper procedure during a DUI arrest in 2005. It was alleged that Haleas failed to perform field sobriety tests and lied in his police report of the arrest.

Cook County prosecutors dropped more than 50 DUI cases that were products of Haleas’ DUI arrests.

Haleas was honored on three occasions by the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists as the officer with the most DUI arrests in Illinois. The criminal case against him is still pending.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, Officer Joe D. Parker has been given a desk job at the station while an internal police investigation of the DUI arrests he made is conducted.

Parker, 59, is a 23-year police veteran and works in the Chicago Police Department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office is also investigating Parker.

However, this is not the first instance in which Parker has been accused of making false DUI arrests.

In 2005, Parker reportedly arrested Vanessa Davis, a well-known blues singer who suffers from multiple sclerosis, for suspicion of DUI. After the arrest, Davis suffered severe anxiety, which caused severe medical complications.

Davis filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago for wrongful arrest. Her lawyer claimed that because of the arrest she had to be hospitalized for a few days. The city paid Davis $100,000 to settle the lawsuit.

The current investigations into Parker’s conduct began after it was noticed his account of a DUI arrest on a police report was disproved by a review of the dash cam video from his squad car.

Wayne Jackson has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that Parker also wrongfully arrested him for DUI.

Jackson was driving home from work in 2006 when Parker pulled him over. He was given a field sobriety test and claims that he passed; however, Parker wrote on the arrest report Jackson was swaying and slurred his speech.

Jackson also says he passed a Breathalyzer test, but on the arrest report Parker indicated he had “attempted to circumvent” the machine.

Like Haleas, Parker was honored by the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists for making 153 DUI arrests in 2006.

Feb

25

Does Kansas Need New DUI Laws?

By Mary Ann

Another day, another state legislature considering an update to their DUI laws. The debate has been ongoing in Kansas of late. Up for discussion:

  • Creation of a 21-member DUI commission to monitor laws and suggest changes
  • Creation of a centralized DUI records database
  • Felony charges after the third DUI

Kansas DUI lawyer Jay Norton says that more tweaks may be a bad idea. And the Kansas Substance Abuse Policy Board agrees. As quoted by the AP, the board says:

The Kansas Substance Abuse Policy Board says the state’s system for punishing drunken drivers is “so complex and so dysfunctional that it is likely impervious to quick fixes.

Any decisions made will be weighed in the face of cutting a state budget that may face a $1 billion deficit.

Feb

17

California DUIs Up Among Young Women

By Mary Ann

The North County Times reports on a dangerous and growing trend in California. It seems Hollywood’s starlets aren’t the only ones drinking, driving and crashing their cars.

The Times cites a report by the Automobile Club of Southern California that states DUI-related car crashes resulting in injury or death rose 124 percent in the last 10 years.

Among women 18-20-years-old, drunk driving crashes doubled.

DUI arrests also seem to be up among women in San Diego County, the Times reports. At Occupational Health Services, a group that administers court-ordered alcohol education following a drunk driving arrest, the percent of women enrolled has risen 10% in four years.

Feb

12

New South Carolina DUI Laws Take Effect

By Mary Ann

South Carolina DUI convictions now come with stricter penalties. The state’s new DUI law that increases fines and jail time for DUI offenders went into effect on Feb. 10.

Penalties for DUI in South Carolina now increase in severity according to blood alcohol content.

First-Time DUI Penalties

Under the new South Carolina DUI law, a first DUI offense will meana $400 fine and two to 30 days in jail or 48 hours of community service, unless the blood alcohol content is .10% or above.

Drivers with a blood alcohol content of .10 and .15 are now fined $500 and sentenced to three to 30 days behind bars or 72 hours of community service.

If a DUI offender has a blood alcohol content of .16% or higher, they face a $1,000 fine and a jail sentence of 30 to 60 days or 30 days of community service.

Penalties for Second DUI Conviction

The new law calls for repeat DUI offenders to be fined $2,100 to $5,100 and jailed five days to one year for a second offense DUI.

If the offender’s blood alcohol content is .10 to .15, the recommended jail sentence is increased to 30 days to two years. If a person is convicted of a second DUI with a blood alcohol content of .16 or higher, the fine is increased to $3,500 to $6,500 and face 90 days to three years behind bars.

Third DUI Penalties

Drivers convicted of a third DUI now face fines of $3,800 to $6,300 and 60 days to three years behind bars. If the offender’s blood alcohol content is .10 to .15% the fines are increased to $5,000 to $7,500 and a jail sentence of 90 days to four years is recommended.

Fines of $7,500 to $10,000 and jail sentences of six months to five years in jail are recommended for third-time DUI offenders with a blood alcohol content of .16 or higher.

Also under the new law, any driver suspected of DUI who refuses a breath test automatically has their driver’s license suspended.

South Carolina’s DUI laws had long been criticized as too lenient and a reported 43.4 percent of traffic fatalities in the state in 2007 were alcohol-related. In 2008, approximately half of all traffic fatalities in the state were alcohol-related.

The law hasn’t been in effect long enough to test its effectiveness yet. However, already newspapers and law enforcement groups were applauding the new laws.

Rapidly changing laws are just another reason to consult a DUI attorney. They will have knowledge of the any changes to the state laws, and how these changes might affect your DUI case.

Feb

9

State DUI Law Updates: West Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina

By Mary Ann

State DUI laws across the country continue to change at a rapid pace. In the past few weeks, many new laws rolled into effect, while other states began discussing revising their current DUI laws. A quick rundown:

West Virginia: State officials are reviewing the data to test the effectiveness of new DUI laws that went into effect six months ago.

The DMV commissioner reports that the usage of ignition interlock devices is up 30 percent, already. The new law was designed to increase usage of ignition interlocks in more DUI cases as part of efforts to lower jail costs and discourage repeat DUI offenders.

Maryland: In late January, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced plans to push for the creation of more than 20 new state laws. His list included a DUI bill based on recommendations from a state DUI task force.

The changes would include a mandatory one-year driver’s license suspension for second and subsequent alcohol or drug related convictions during a five-year period.

South Carolina: New graduated DUI punishments go into effect on Tuesday, Feb. 10. A first DUI with a BAC between .10 and .15 will face $500 fines and 3-30 days in jail.

A BAC above .16 will get a driver $1,000 and 30-60 days. Penalties increase exponentially for a second and third offense.

Feb

4

Should You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

By Mary Ann

A fascinating read from  the Austin American-Statesman looked at state DUI records for recent years and found that 100% of elected officials – from state senators to judges to commissioners – refused to submit a breathalyzer test when pulled over for drunk driving.

From the story:

“Among the general public, the refusal rate is about 50 percent, but at the Capitol, the refusal rate is about 100 percent,” said Shannon Edmonds, governmental relations director for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.

Police and prosecutors say politicians fall into a larger category of savvy citizens — such as Longhorn baseball coach Augie Garrido, who declined to give a breath sample when he was arrested Jan. 17 on suspicion of DWI — who know that while there technically are consequences to saying no, they are often mitigated with skilled legal advice.

In Texas, just like in most states, there are penalties for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. Typically, refusal results in an automatic driver’s license suspension. But simply refusing doesn’t mean a driver is off the hook for DWI.

Police can obtain a search warrant to force DWI suspects to give blood, considered the gold standard for proving intoxication. In recent years, some jurisdictions have begun hauling detained drivers to hospitals or jails for blood draws.

Since 2005, Dalworthington Gardens, outside of Fort Worth, has trained its police officers to draw blood from DWI suspects. Last week, Williamson County announced it had hired full-time phlebotomists for that purpose. This evening, Austin police are enforcing their third “no refusal” initiative, for which a magistrate and nurse will be on standby for DWI arrests.

Keep in mind: The statues in every state are different. If you’ve been charged with a DWI or DUI, or you lost your license because of a breathalyzer refusal, you may want to speak with a DUI lawyer. A lawyer can help explain the specifics of your case, answer your questions and tell you about the DUI laws in your state.

Feb

2

Super Sunday DUI Fallout

By Mary Ann

The DUI fallout from last night’s Super Bowl parties is being felt across the country. As predicted, law enforcement agencies across the country stepped up DUI patrols last night, and there were dozens of arrests made across the country.

In California last year, Super Bowl Sunday brought  four times the number of DUI fatalities and injuries than a typical night, reports ABC 30 in Fresno. In 2008, there were also more than 400 drivers arrested for DUI.

Numbers are still rolling in from this year, but thousands of drivers were examined in patrols and road blocks. Up the road in Santa Maria, more than 3,000 were stopped in a DUI checkpoint. Similar checkpoints in Las Vegas resulted in 12 DUI arrests.

If you or someone you know was arrested for DUI this past Sunday, you may want to speak with a DUI lawyer.