On the night of Saturday, July 25, the Chief of Police of Alexandria City, Virginia was arrested and charged with a DUI after he hit another vehicle near Interstate 66 and North Fairfax Drive.
David P. Baker had been driving a city-issued green Ford Explorer in Arlington County when he caused roughly $900 in damage to either vehicle. His blood alcohol level was reported to be 0.19—twice the legal limit in the state of Virginia.
Baker, 58, submitted his resignation on Monday, July 27. Prior to his resignation, Baker’s attorney James Clark insisted that his client had no intention of resigning.
City Manager James K. Hartmann initially ordered an investigation of the incident and told the Washington Post he would “wait for the findings of the internal review” before making a decision on how to proceed. In the mean time, Baker had been put on administrative leave.
Hartmann stated, “It is very disappointing when one of our colleagues makes a bad decision.”
If convicted, Baker will face a minimum of five days in jail due to his blood alcohol level more than doubly exceeding the legal limit, according to the police report.
Baker will leave his post officially on Friday and will temporarily be replaced by Deputy Police Chief Earl Cook who will serve as acting chief.
Source: Washington Post
Since 2005, when New Mexico became the first state to pass a law requiring an ignition interlock device for all people with DUI convictions, 10 other states have enacted DUI laws mandating DUI offenders install ignition interlock devices.
The ignition interlock law campaign is gaining momentum. The federal transportation funding bill that will be discussed by Congress this fall requires every state to mandate DUI offenders install ignition interlock devices. It states don’t pass such a law, the state governments may lose federal highway funding.
An ignition interlock device requires a driver blow into a breathalyzer before the car will start. It will stop the engine from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.
Currently, 47 states and Washington D.C. require ignition interlock systems for some offenders. Alabama, South Dakota and Vermont are the only states to not have any such law.
Supporters of the law point out that New Mexico was one perennial national leader in alcohol-related crashes, but when the state launched a campaign and passed an ignition interlock law, there was a 35% drop in DUI deaths.
Today, there are 150,000 vehicles that have ignition interlock systems installed. If every driver with a DUI conviction were required to install the divorce, there would be close to 1 million.
Source: USA Today
As of Sept. 1, people in Louisiana who refuse to take a breath test will have their driver’s license suspended for one year. The penalty is twice as long as the current penalty for breathalyzer refusal.
“Now … it’s worse if you refuse the test,” said DWI attorney Robert Fleming.
Under Louisiana DUI law, a driver who refuses a blood alcohol test on a first DUI offense will have his or her driver’s license suspended for six months and 18 months for a second refusal.
The new law that Gov. Bobby Jindal signed on June 1 doubles the first offense penalty and suspends the offender’s license for two years on a subsequent offense.
Supporters of the new DUI law feel that it will give drivers the incentive to cooperate with police during a DUI stop.
Many supporters say that currently the common thought among many DUI offenders in Louisiana is to refuse the breathalyzer test.
“The problem was that drivers were refusing to take the test” on the advice of DUI attorneys, said Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr.
According to Donna Tate, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Louisiana has one of the highest refusal rates in the country. In 2005, 39% of drivers pulled over for drinking and driving refused a breathalyzer, when the national average was 22.4%.
Oklahoma State Rep. Harold Wright believes DUI laws need to get tough to cut down on drunken driving deaths. The Republican lawmakers from Weatherford, Okla. wants zero tolerance laws for DUI.
People enjoying glass of wine at dinner or a bottle of beer after work could wind up in jail.
Oklahoma DUI laws currently have the legal blood alcohol limit for driving at .08%. Police also have the right to detain a driver suspected of DUI, no matter what the blood alcohol level.
The proposed legislation will be studied and discussed this fall.
“I really think I’m only borderline and not too drunk,” Jeffrey Donovan told officers during his DUI arrest, according to a report.
The “Burn Notice” star allegedly told police the only mistake he made was drinking Benadryl and three glasses of wine on the night of July 11.
Donovan, 41, was arrested after his car “quick swerved in order to avoid striking the rear of the patrol car,” his arrest affidavit states.
The actor had bloodshot and watery eyes and his breath reeked of alcohol. He failed a field sobriety test, according to police. After Donovan refused to take a breathalyzer, he was booked at Miami Beach police headquarters. He was released hours later.
Travis Peterson decided he was too drunk to drive home after attending a Dave Matthew Band Concert. The 19-year-old tried to sleep off his buzz in his car, but was awoken by a state trooped who ordered him to clear the lot.
After Peterson left the lot, just south of Milwaukee, to drive to his house in Dixon, Ill., he was pulled over and arrest for drinking and driving. Peterson was found guilty of DUI and ordered to 60 days in jail.
On Wednesday, July 15, a Wisconsin appeals court ruled in favor of Peterson, commending him for trying to sleep his buzz off instead of driving. The appeals court ruled that the DUI court was wrong not to let Peterson argue police had entrapped him.
“Drinking alcohol to excess, while inadvisable and unhealthy, is not unlawful by itself,” the press reported the appeals court as saying.
Peterson’s age was not addressed by the appeals court.
Source: The Chicago Tribune
On Thursday, July 16, the Supreme Court in Washington unanimously reinstated a $14 million award to a DUI accident victim.
In April 2000, Hawkeye Kinkaid was drinking at the Bellingham Moose Lodge, where is girlfriend, Alexis Chapman, was serving him as a bartender. The forensic consultant found that Kinkaid probably drank the equivalent 21 12-ounce beers or 30 ounces 80-proof alcohol.
His blood alcohol level was believed to be .32 at the time of the collision.
While he was driving home, Kinkaid crossed the center line in Ferndale, Wash. and struck Bianca Faust’s car. Fraust, from New York City, was driving with her two children and grandchild. Everyone in Faust’s car was injured and Kinkaid was killed. The accident left Faust’s 7-year-old son, Christopher, a paraplegic.
Faust sued the lodge and Chapman and was awarded $14 million in Whatcom County Superior Court. The state Court of Appeals later overturned the case because Faust needed to present “specific point-in-time evidence” that Kinkaid appeared drunk when Chapman was serving him.
Washington DUI law holds bartenders liable for damages to potential victims if they serve visibly intoxicated customers. The court said that Chapman told others that Kinkaid was too “tipsy” to be driving. At one point in the night she refused to serve him.
Source: The Associate Press
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, California DUI deaths have dropped 9.1% for the third year in a row. In 2007 nearly 1,132 people died in DUI accidents, while in 2008, the number decreased to 1,029.
“With this third year of declines in DUI deaths, we can truly call it a trend, a trend of life saving importance,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
“Law enforcement, state and local agencies, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other safety advocates, and the people of California have come together to address this deadly problem and are now seeing the results. As positive as these figures are, though, we can never let up until we achieve our goal of zero deaths.”
The count for 2008 marks a total decrease of nearly 21% from the most recent high statistic in 2005.
California has used many different tactics to address the DUI problem, including increasing youth public awareness programs, as well as hospital and jail based intervention programs.
The state has also expanded prosecution and probation. Police have increased DUI checkpoints, the Avoid DUI Taskforces program and Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911 campaign.
According to a survey released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fewer Americans are drinking and driving, but one in six drivers are driving while on drugs during the weekend.
The data was released on Monday, July13 from a survey conducted in 2007. The survey showed that 2.2% of drivers were legally driving drunk, with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher.
The first time this survey was conducted was in 1973, where the data showed 7.5% of drivers had a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher. This survey was also conducted in 1986 and 1996.
Although the Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is pleased to see the drunk driving battle is successful, he point out that “alcohol still kills 13,000 people a year on our rads and we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to prevent drunk driving.”
The same survey also found that 16.3% of drivers on the road on weekend nights tested positive for drugs. This was the first time the survey checked for drug use while driving.
The most commonly used drugs by drivers were marijuana at 8.6%, cocaine at 3.9% and over-the-counter and prescription drugs at 3.9%.
“This troubling data shows us, for the first time, the scope of drugged driving in America and reinforces the need to reduce drug abuse,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The 2007 survey included the answers of almost 11,000 drivers who entered random survey sites set up across the country to questions drivers who agreed to participate.
Recently Gov. Jack A Markell signed two new bills into law to create stricter DUI penalties for people convicted of a DUI offense in Delaware.
House Bill 152: Increased Fines and Jail Time
House Bill 152 increases DUI fines for subsequent offenders, especially drivers with five previous DUI convictions. The bill also called for increased jail time for subsequent DUI offenders and creating a felony DUI for drivers with six and seven DUI convictions.
Last year there were approximately 6,916 DUI arrests, of which 59 people had been previously arrested at least five other times for drunk driving. Since January of this year, 3,213 drivers have been arrested for DUI, with 40 of those people having five or more previous DUI arrests.
House Bill 177: Strict Penalties for First DUI Offense
The second bill signed into law strengthens penalties for a first time DUI offense if the driver has a blood alcohol level of .15% or higher.
If convicted of a DUI with a BAC of .15%, the period of hard revocation for those who are mandated to have an ignition interlock device is increased from 30 to 45 days.
The driver’s license is suspended for six months instead of three, and the ignition interlock device must be used for six months.
The bill limits driving authority of an ignition interlock device licensed driver to work, home, school, alcohol treatment programs and interlock service provider appointments.
Source: Sussex Countian
On Saturday, July 11, Jonathan Schultz was pulled over near Rising Sun, NC for driving 69 mph in a zone marked for 50 mph.
According to police, when the deputy approached, he smelled alcohol on the man’s breath. The deputy then noticed the man from Newark, Del. was partially exposed, with only a towel covering him below the waist.
Schultz told the police that he had lost his pants and a search of the car didn’t turn up a pair. The 41-year-old is facing DUI charges.
Pennsylvania is working to perfect face scanning technology to use in place of carding people when buying alcohol.
The face scanning kiosk machines will be at local grocery stores and be used by customers looking to buy a bottle of wine. Using your driver’s license, the wine kiosk will use face recognition software to check if the picture matches your face.
It may be possible that a breathalyzer will be added to make sure the customer isn’t too drunk to “match your wine with your meal.”
Originally, the wine kiosks were suppose to be put in stores over the next couple months, but Gov. Ed Rendell has put a hold on the project to make sure the technology will work correctly. The Governor wants to prevent minors from being able to fool the system.
Currently the machines are being used successfully in Japan to monitor beer and cigarette sales.
Source: Digital City
The North Carolina Senate approved a bill that would allow repeat DUI offenders with suspended driver’s licenses a chance to earn a permit back.
If the bill is passed, people convicted of habitual impaired driving will be able to ask the Division of Motor Vehicles to be reinstated if they have had a clean criminal and traffic record for 10 years.
For those who are able to obtain a license, the law wouldn’t allow them to be driving with a blood alcohol level of any level within the next seven years.
Those who favored the bill said it’s only fair that repeat DUI offenders have a chance to get their licenses restored since others who have licenses revoked for other reasons can. But critics felt that it wasn’t right to give these types of offenders another chance.
Source: The News & Observer
On Monday, July 7, a judge acquitted a man on DUI charges because police denied the suspect the right to call a DUI lawyer on his cell phone.
According to Ontario Court Justice Randall Lalande, Harvey Whidden’s constitutional rights were violated when he was pulled over on June 13, 2008.
Whidden had been waved into a vehicle safety inspection lane operated by the police because his windshield had a crack in it.
When Whidden pulled over, police noticed empty beer bottles in the bed of his pickup truck. Police also noticed he smelled like alcohol, and his speech was slowed.
The police asked Whidden to take a breath test, but the officer didn’t have a breathalyzer with him. While they waited for a breathalyzer to be brought from the station, the police officer didn’t allow Whidden to use his cell phone to call a DUI attorney.
The judge ruled that since the officer knew Whidden had a cell phone, he should have allowed him to use it to call an attorney.
According to the judge, the police waited about three hours when Whidden was at the police station and formally issued a demand for a breathalyzer before allowing him to call a lawyer.
Source: The Sadbury Star
This weekend is one of celebration as friends and family gather to enjoy fireworks, food and fun. Utahans will be celebrating the holiday like many other people, but the citizens of the state have a little more to be joyful over this year.
Forty years ago, the state passed a private club law, requiring people to have a membership to a bar in order to buy alcohol. The membership was designed with help from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to limit alcohol consumption and could cost anywhere between $20 and $40 a year.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. convinced the Utah Legislature to repeal the private club law because it negatively affected tourism, which brings in about $7 billion a year.
Although lawmakers repealed the law, Utah DUI laws were toughened, requiring bars to scanning driver licenses’ of patrons who are under 35 years old and keeping the records for the week.
Senate President Michael Waddoups said the number of DUI arrests or DUI accidents will be monitored to see if the law has a negative affect.
“Obviously my biggest concern is the safety of our citizens, our families, the drivers on the roads,” he told the press, but there are new tools for law enforcement to crack down on DUI, which could leave the state “better off than we were before, so I’m willing to give it a try.”
For now, Utahans are organizing barcrawls in downtown Salt Lake City to celebrate their “newfound freedom.”