Spooky: Halloween DUI Crackdowns in Several States

By admin

According to multiple news sources, police departments in several states – including California, Colorado, Illinois and Utah – are planning special DUI checkpoints on roadways for the Halloween holiday weekend.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety reported that Halloween is especially bad for drunken drivers on the roads.

Across the state of Colorado, law enforcement officers will increase patrols for DUI starting at 6:00 p.m. tonight until 3:00 a.m. on Nov. 2.

Utah state troopers warn residents, “If you’re going out to celebrate Halloween, be sure you have a designated driver.

Drunk driving is more common around holidays – and police forces across the nation know it. Lesson to be learned? If you’re going out this Halloween, be careful so you don’t end up with a DUI.



Annual Report Shows Decreased DUI-related Fatalities in Utah

By admin

The state of Utah recently released its seventh annual DUI report, tracking DUI arrests, accidents and fatalities in the state in 2008.

The report contained significant positive developments in overall DUI arrest and fatality numbers, as well as some illuminating facts about DUI arrests and underage drinkers.

Among the positive news in the report is a decrease in DUI fatalities in the state from 2007 to 2008. In 2007, there were 42 DUI-related fatalities. In 2008, that number dropped to 34.

Utah, which often has the lowest rate of DUI-related fatalities in the nation, fell one spot to second-lowest in 2008 – Vermont edged out Utah with the lowest rate. Utah came in with a 16.7% DUI-related fatality rate. The national average for U.S. states, according to the report, is 32 percent.

The report goes on to provide statistics about those arrested for DUI in Utah.

In the 2009 fiscal year, there were 15,683 DUI arrests, which represented a rise of 386 arrests from the previous year. Of those arrested, 76 percent were male and 10 percent were under the legal drinking age of 21.

The average blood alcohol content recorded in Utah DUI arrests was .14 percent, which is twice the legal limit of .08 percent. The highest blood alcohol content recorded in an arrest was .43 percent, which is five times the legal limit.

Of those arrested, 67 percent were first-time DUI offenders, 21 percent were second-time offenders and 8 percent were third-time offenders.

The average jail sentence for a DUI offense was 151 days, and the average fine for a DUI conviction was $1,468.

The creator of the report, the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, put the spotlight on not only the overall statistical element of DUI in the state, but also on the personal impact of DUI on individuals and families.

The report’s introduction tells the story of Wendy Kerbs, a 54-year-old resident of Roy, Utah, who died tragically as a result of DUI.

Kerbs was gardening in her front yard when an SUV swerved into the yard and struck her. She died soon after.

The driver of the SUV, Richard Allan Bash, lost control of his vehicle while driving more than 50 mph down the quiet residential street. He crashed through a light pole and several trees before striking Kerbs.

Police apprehended Bash despite his attempt to flee, break into and hide in a neighboring home. He was driving under the influence of alcohol as well as other drugs, and had seven previous DUI convictions on his record.

The report also outlined state efforts to highlight the dangers of DUI, as illustrated by the Kerbs story, in an extensive media campaign.

The campaign focuses on those aged 21-34, but also targets high school and college students under age 21.

Public service announcements included radio and television ads, billboards, event displays and print ads in college newspapers. The multi-media campaign is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.



DUI is a part of the culture for many in Montana

By admin

In the state of Montana, some believe that a culture of drunk driving and DUI arrests has become so ingrained in the community that only a community-wide change can lead to a decrease in DUI arrests and accidents.

In a recent DUI court case, a surprising number of those involved in the case had been affected by drunk driving, bringing to light the pervasiveness of DUI in Montana’s culture, even at the highest levels.

Greg Barkus, the defendant in a DUI case in Flathead County, Montana, was accused of operating a speedboat while under the influence of alcohol when he ran it into the shoreline.

According to the prosecution, his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit when the incident occurred. Barkus, a Republican state senator, had been arrested for drunk driving before.

Barkus’ DUI attorney in the case was a man who had himself been arrested for DUI before. The lawyer’s case was dismissed however, because the police officer who would’ve testified in the case was killed by a drunk driver.

In addition, the Barkus case prosecuter’s deputy attorney had a previous arrest for DUI, as did the ex-husband of the case’s original judge.

Across Montana, numerous judges, attorneys, lawmakers and celebrities around the state have faced DUI arrests. Public prominence seems to play no part in the demographic of those impacted by drunk driving.

While certainly many people across America have felt the impact of DUI arrests on friends, family and community, the Barkus case is a microscopic view of a larger problem.

Montana, which ranks among the highest in U.S. states in terms of the rate of alcohol-related vehicle accidents, has a culture of fierce independence, in which citizens are wary of giving up their personal rights.

DUI laws took longer to reach Montana, even as other states adopted them, and a colonel in the Montana Highway Patrol has stated that the prevalent culture in the state is to view drinking and driving as “Montana birthright.”

Advocates of tougher DUI laws in Montana argue that a reduction in DUI-related accidents ensure a more universal right: the right to safer roads. The only way, in their eyes, to solve the problem is to change the culture of drinking and driving in Montana, so that peer pressure and community awareness drive positive change where lawmaking may fall short.



Police lack follow-up with Places where DUI suspects Drank

By admin

Questions about personal responsibility are prevalent in discussions about DUI arrests and offenses, especially in reference to bars and restaurants serving alcohol to customers who are later arrested for DUI.

Should an establishment that serves alcohol be legally responsible for the actions of someone consuming alcohol at that bar? State DUI laws vary, and Connecticut is one state in which police follow-up investigation of alcohol-serving bars and restaurants is available as a legal option.

Recent reports, however, indicate that following a crackdown on DUIs, police in Connecticut may not have followed up with the establishments where DUI suspects claimed to have been drinking.

In Connecticut, the state Liquor Control Commission has the authority to fine or suspend the liquor license of bars and restaurants based on their connection to DUI suspects. In the course of a DUI arrest, law enforcement officials often record the bar or restaurant that served those arrested for suspicion of a DUI offense.

Recently, journalists in Connecticut investigated the follow-up of these bars and restaurants, finding that police did not submit a single establishments’ information to the Liquor Control Commission in the several months of a crackdown and for weeks afterward.

The crackdown came after a rash of DUI-related accidents and deaths in Northeast Connecticut, as police increased patrols along the interstate highway, in an effort to catch more drunk drivers and to decrease alcohol-related accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Extra patrols dedicated to weekend DUI coverage, in addition to those regularly scheduled, led to more than 80 arrests. As a part of the arrest process, officers routinely asked DUI suspects where they had consumed alcoholic beverages and noted it in a standard form.

Following the crackdown, which occurred in the spring of this year, the investigation revealed that officers were not following up with the establishments in question after making an arrest, even as they gathered the necessary information to do so.

After a DUI arrest, wherein the driver tells the police where he or she drank the alcohol, police can forward that information on to the liquor commission, along with a police report.

In a response to the assertion that police weren’t pursuing this option, a police spokesperson claimed that police do follow up with the restaurants or bars that arise during the course of the arrest, noting that the context and particular details of a given incident determine the implementation and nature of the investigation.

Whatever your opinion about the responsibility of bars and restaurants in DUI cases, it would appear based on these investigations that the police in Northeast Connecticut are not taking that route. Why that may be is another question.



Women Driving Under the Influence on the Rise

By admin

Since 2007, DUI arrests for women has risen almost 30%. We see this increasing trend with many female celebrities who have been arrested for suspicion of drunken driving.

Heather Locklear was arrested back 2007 for suspicion of drinking and driving in Santa Barbara, Cali. A concerned driver on the road called the police stating Locklear was driving erratically on the road.

She plead no contest to DUI but pled guilty to a lesser charge of a misdemeanor of reckless driving. She paid a $700 fine and was sentenced to attend a 12 hour drug education program and placed on three years’ probation.

Lindsay Lohan received her DUI offense in 2007 as well. She pled no contest to driving under the influence and received three years probation. The judge also ordered her to serve 10 days community service, spend 30 days in drug rehab and complete an 18 month alcohol education program.

Her probation was recently extended as a Beverly Hills judge stated Lohan did not complete the required treatment programs because she filmed out of state. Her DUI attorney claims she can finish the required programs and feels they can overturn the extension.

Actress Joyce Dewitt was arrested in July of 2009 under a suspicion of a driving under the influence. She allegedly drove through a barricade attracting the local police department.

When they walked up to her car they could smell alcohol.  They gave her the regulated field tests and afterward she was arrested. Dewitt was released after posting $5000 bail.

Is there a connection with female celebs and the increasing percentage of females being arrested for driving under the influence? Many might look up to these famous women and follow the trend. Or could it be the increasing pressure of the economic times as many women are strong in the workforce.

At this point there are many possibilities as to why this is on the rise with woman in the U.S., but it’s only speculation at this point.



Cheap Ways to Monitor Convicted Drunk Drivers

By admin

The economy has caused many of us to make cuts not only personally but also in business, and the government is no exception.

They need to make cutbacks just like the rest of us. In order to save money they have begun using advanced technologies to monitor people with DUI convictions.

Many states closed down prisons in the past couple years making it expensive and uneconomical to fill them especially for lesser crimes such as drunk drivers. So some states have adopted electrical monitoring devices for people convicted of DUI.

Included in this development of technology is Virginia. It only costs $12 for offenders to wear this ankle monitor 24 hours a day. This is the cheaper option compared to the $150.00 it costs to keep a minor offender in the Loudon County Jail. Plus the convicted driver is the one who pays the cost to wear the anklet.

Bari Lynn Williams is learning the hard way that this ankle bracelet can cause you to think twice about drinking and driving.

Back in April 2007, Williams was pulled over by the Loudon sheriff’s deputies. She had been at a golf outing earlier that day and had partaken in a few adult beverages.

The deputies pulled her over on suspicion of drinking and driving when they found baggies with drug residue.

She pleaded guilty to drunken driving and drug possession. She got two years probation. The judge told Williams he would dismiss the charges if she followed a court program of probation, therapy, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous and periodic checks for substance abuse.

She had no problems until recently when a deputy stopped by her house for a check and her BAC content was a 0.09, a smidge over the legal limit in Virginia which is 0.08.

Williams faced up to 6 months in jail for violating the terms of her agreement- or she could wear the SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) anklet. This device has a small fuel cell located in the bracelet that’s sensitive enough to detect even the tiniest amount of alcohol that emerges from a person’s skin after drinking.

SCRAM samples perspiration every 30 minutes thus being able to detect the slightest amount of alcohol on the body. So every time an offender sweats it can sense the alcohol and alert the police.

There are about 15,000 SCRAM anklets being used throughout 46 states.

Williams states she’s thankful to be wearing the bracelet because it keeps her out of jail. Sure there is the slight embarrassment she suffers with her new fashion anklet, but to her it’s worth wearing. It keeps her from drinking and will prevent her from any future charges of drinking under the influence.



Maryland Delegate DUI Conviction Overturned

By admin

Maryland Delegate Herman Taylor II was recently acquitted for his past DUI conviction. This reversed the prior conviction in which he was found guilty of drinking and driving. He was fined Taylor was found guilty and fined $250.

Taylor was found in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven convenient store passed out in his Cadillac SUV in the around 3:30 am.

The arresting police officer, Peter Johnson said he smelled alcohol on Taylor’s breath when he found him passed out in his vehicle. He seemed disoriented and confused.

He also failed several sobriety checks and after he failed to walk on the white line without stumbling, Taylor refused to take any additional tests. Johnson then arrested him.

He did not cooperate at the station either according to police testimony and when he blew into the breathalyzer he pretended to blow but did not release any air, making the test invalid

The officers’ recorded the episode as a refusal to give a sample.

With the new trial, Taylor claimed he pulled over at the 7-Eleven to catch some rest as he was very tired. He saw police in the parking lot of the establishment and thought he would be safe.

He stuck by his decision to pull off the road stating it was the right choice

In this appeal trial, four jurors who were interviewed stated the prosecution did not prove the Delegate was passed out in his vehicle due to being under the influence. They did not have any hard evidence to support their case more than he was just exhausted.

Taylor’s attorney stated that his client was merely sleeping in his Cadillac. He was exhausted and pulled over into the 7-Eleven.

The prosecution in their rebuttal claimed that Taylor was unwilling to cooperate when police asked him to take the breathalyzer and that he smelled like alcohol when he was arrested.

According to the jury this was not enough to convince them that Taylor was drunk when he was in his vehicle and did not feel this was enough for a DUI conviction.

Taylor is known for his campaign to have special license plates for people who were convicted of drinking and driving under the influence to identify them as DUI offenders.