New DUI Laws Proposed in British Columbia

By Topher

British Columbia officials have announced that they have proposed a tough new drunk driving law that includes swift DUI penalties for anyone convicted.

The proposed DUI laws would allow police to quickly suspend and fine drivers whose BAC level is as low as 0.05, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Billed as the toughest drunk driving law in Canada, the new law is designed to change the behavior of drivers in a dramatic fashion.

“We believe we need penalties that are clear, swift and sever,” said Solicitor-General Mike de Jong.

According to de Jong, the problem of drunk driving in British Columbia is on the rise. He cited the need to prevent others from putting people’s lives at risk.

“I hope that drivers will consider the seriousness of these sanctions while they’re sober, before they go out.”

The new law would, if enacted, enables an immediate three-day driving ban for drivers found to have a blood-alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08, which the article called the “warn range.”

The offense could also lead to vehicles being impounded and fines and fees up to $600.

If a driver was caught in this blood-alcohol level range multiple times, they could face a ban of up to 30 days and $800 in fees and fines.

Currently in British Columbia, police issue a 24-hour suspension for those with a blood-alcohol level in that range.

The new law would also be tougher on those found driving with a BAC level above the 0.08. There would be an immediate 90-day driving ban and $3,750 in fees and fines. The DUI offender would also have to use an ignition interlock device for one year.

“Under the new laws, drinking drivers will spend more money, more time, more effort earning back their driving privileges,” said de Jong.

De Jong made a speech about the bill on the legislature steps, invoking the memory of four-year-old Alexa Middelaer, who was killed in 2008 by an allegedly impaired driver as she fed horses in a field just off the road.

Canadian Premier Gordon Campbell himself stressed the importance of stronger laws. He was arrested for DUI while on vacation in Hawaii in 2003.

“The lesson that I learned … is that you should not be drinking and driving, period,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to do everything we can to make our streets as safe as possible for people.”



New Hampshire Liquor Commissioner Arrested for DWI

By Topher

Richard Simard, one of New Hampshire’s state liquor commissioners, was arrested for driving while intoxicated recently after being pulled over and refusing to take a Breathalyzer test.

As a result, Gov. John Lynch removed Simard from the liquor commissioner’s office, according to an article in the Concord Monitor.

While Lynch agreed that Simard was innocent until proven guilty, his refusal to submit to testing was not appropriate. “It is simply unacceptable for a liquor commissioner, stopped by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence, to refuse a Breathalyzer test,” he said in an email statement. “Under the circumstances, Richard Simard’s continued presence on the Liquor Commission would compromise the integrity of the Commission.”

When Simard was stopped by officers at 11:30 on a Saturday night, they smelled alcohol coming from his BMW. Officers had received a tip that a drunk driver might be headed their way, and they pulled the car over when it matched the description provided. Officers followed the car and noticed that it was being driven erratically, so they pulled it over.

They asked Simard to perform a field sobriety test, and after he refused to take the Breathalyzer they arrested him on charges of DWItitle. He was charged with speeding and released on $1,000 personal recognizance bail.

Police also noted that Simard did not answer any of their questions during the arrest.
Simard had been on the Liquor Commission since July of 2008 to fill the term of a commissioner before him who had retired. That initial term expired in 2009, but Simard remained in holdover status. This status allowed the governor to remove him from office at any time.

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission, according to the article, “regulates the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol in the state and operates the state stores that sell wine and spirits. It also enforces the state’s liquor laws.”

Sales of alcohol through the commission reached almost $500 million, and provided more than $100 million in profit to the state of New Hampshire.

Simard has owned several businesses in New Hampshire, and said at the time of taking office that he hoped to streamline distribution networks, improve stores and raise profits on alcohol sales.



Man Arrested for DUI While Driving Barbie Car

By Topher

When we say you can be arrested for drinking and driving in any motorized vehicle, we mean: You can be arrested for DUI while driving any motorized vehicle.

Don’t believe us? Try this story on:

The Scottish Daily Record is reporting that a man was arrested for drunk driving while operating a toy Barbie car.

Paul Hutton, a 40-year-old resident of Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, was tearing down the road in a child’s motorized Barbie car. He was going the vehicle’s top speed of 4 miles per hour when police stopped him along the road at night.

Police administered a breathalyzer test and booked Hutton for driving under the influence of alcohol. His blood-alcohol content was double the legal limit.

For his offense, Hutton was banned from driving a real car for three years. After the hearing where he learned of his fate, Hutton admitted that he was “a complete twit” for earning himself the driving ban.

“I was very surprised to get done for drink-driving,” he continued. “It is designed for three-to five-year-olds.”

Hutton had found the little pink electric car ten years previous, and had begun to customize it with his son only a few months ago, adding larger wheels to it. Still, he was candid that it was not the ideal vehicle for a full-sized adult.

“You have to be a contortionist to get in and then you can’t get out,” he said of the pint-sized pink ride. He had to drive it with his knees under his chin, and it moved more slowly than a mobility scooter, according to the article.

According to Hutton, he’d been drinking as he worked on the vehicle, and had not realized how much he’d had to drink.

“When it was done,” he said, “I couldn’t resist the temptation to take it out. I wanted to show my friend.”

Hutton had actually ignored a warning from the police. They told him not to drive the vehicle, but he went against their advice and drove it away from the scene, very slowly.

“I knew it was daft, but I didn’t realize it was a criminal thing to do,” he said.

His three year ban from driving was brought down because he had previously been convicted of DUI. Chairman of the bench in the case said “I’ve never seen the like of it in 15 years on the bench.”



Police Officer on DUI Patrol Hit by Drunk Driver

By Topher

According to a report by The Providence Journal, a police officer in Rhode Island was killed while on a DUI patrol when he was struck by an alleged drunk driver.

Officer Michael Troia was parked in his police cruiser on the lookout for DUI suspects when a man who was later charged with DUI slammed into the cruiser. Troia was on patrol specifically for the purpose of nabbing the very type of suspect who would come right to him.

He was taken to the hospital after the accident, where he was treated and released. He will not be at work for a few days after the incident, to fully recover before returning to duty, according to the Providence Police Department.

Officer Troia was working overtime as a part of the Blue Riptide program, in which grant money from the state’s Department of Transportation goes towards policing potential DUI offenders. Troia’s overtime pay was coming from this specific fund.

Officer Troia had pulled over another driver for a moving violation that wasn’t associated with driving under the influence, and was writing out the ticket in his own vehicle when he was struck. He called for help, which arrived in the form of a fellow officer, who spoke to the driver of the Toyota Corolla that had collided with the police cruiser.

Michael O. Mageau was driving the car. According to police, there was a strong smell of alcohol emanating from Mageau. When asked how the accident happened, the driver said that the police cruiser must have pulled out in front of him.

When informed that the cruiser had been parked with its overhead lights on, the driver claimed that “Well, it must’ve stopped suddenly then,” according to the police report.

When asked if he had been drinking, Mageau replied, “Of course I have.”

Mageau could not perform field-sobriety tests when requested from the police, and police let him stop so that he wouldn’t hurt himself. Mageau was charged with drunk driving, refusing a breath test and failure to maintain control of his vehicle.



Lawnmower DUI Arrest and a Drunk Arrival at Prison

By Topher

This week in bad judgment brings two stories of stubborn and troubled drunk drivers. One decided not to yield to police while driving a lawnmower under the influence, and another decided to do his time with a buzz.

In Blountville, Tennessee, a man was arrested for drunk driving after he was pulled over while driving a lawnmower against traffic on a road near his house, according to the Kingsport Times-News.

According to police, Martin Junior McMurray ignored police sirens and loudspeaker commands from the cops for half a mile before he finally brought his vehicle to a halt.

At around 11 p.m., a deputy passed McMurray riding the lawnmower down the road. The deputy turned around and followed the mower, watching as McMurray veered across the road into the oncoming lane of traffic.

The deputy fired up his lights, but McMurray ignored them and continued on his way. The deputy even broadcast commands over the loudspeaker, to no avail.

A half mile later, McMurray finally pulled to a stop. The deputy reported that McMurray was unsteady while standing, and that he smelled like alcohol. McMurray admitted to having a few beers with dinner. The deputy then found an unopened can of brew in McMurray’s jacket pocket.

McMurray performed poorly on a field sobriety test, according to police, and they later found that McMurray’s driver’s license had been revoked. He was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license and being a habitual motor offender. His blood-alcohol content later registered at .15 percent. Most states, including Tennessee, can charge a person with DUI if they are operating any type of motor vehicle, including cars, lawnmowers, boats and motorcycles.

In a separate story, a man in Vermont didn’t wait for police to flag him down. He showed up drunk at the local prison to serve a two-day sentence for DUI.

Turns out, Timothy Carney had also driving himself to the prison while intoxicated. Prison officials called local police who performed the proper procedures before leveling DUI charges again, reports CBS news. He remained at the prison to serve out his first DUI penalty.



Washington State Schools Leader Gets Jail Time for DUI

By Topher

The head of the state of Washington state’s public school system had what he called a lonely, sad, sleepless and devastating night in jail after serving a one-day sentence for drunk driving.

Randy Dorn’s 24 hour stint in jail was the result of his guilty plea in his DUI case that concluded a week or so ago, reports Komo 4 News in Seattle.

Dorn is the Washington state superintendent of public instruction. He was arrested on March 21 when an officer in the town of Orting observed him speeding. The officer pulled over Dorn, who then failed a field sobriety test. His blood-alcohol content also measured over the legal driving limit.

Dorn, according to the police report, volunteered for a breath test and measured a 0.097 percent, compared with the 0.08 percent limit. Several other tests showed a content even higher. Dorn admitted to having had beer at a crab feed and dance at the sports club where he and his wife are members, and that he had stayed late to help clean up after the event.

Dorn pleaded guilty in a municipal court and received a sentence of 365 days in jail, with 364 days suspended.

His night in jail left him with the urge to return home, as may be expected. “That’s what I hope to do,” he said upon leaving the jail facility, “is go home with my wife and get some sleep, because I have a long day tomorrow.”

When the judge in his case asked Dorn if he had a drinking problem, the school administrator said that he did not. “I’m a diet cola guy,” he replied. The incident overall, he said, was a “teachable moment” and he said that it would not happen again.

Dorn wants to complete his term as school superintendent, which lasts four years. He apologized to Washington’s citizens, schoolchildren and parents, and to his wife and to his staff for their support.

“The past two weeks have been the worst of my life,” he said.

Dorn said in court that his attorney advised him to seek a lesser charge in the case, based on the way that the Breathalyzer was administered. But Dorn, according to him, rejected the idea, and faced the original DUI charge.

“I am a stand-up guy,” he said. “If I make a mistake, I believe I have to accept the consequences.”



After Multiple DUI Convictions, Man in Car Wreck that Kills Two

By Topher

John Patrick Barton was convicted of DUI three times in the last 13 years. The Texas courts sent him to jail on weekends, put him on probation and even sent him to state prison for ten months. They required him even to use an ignition interlock system while driving a car.

None of these measures prevented Barton from killing two members of a young family when he got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and proceeded to rear end their vehicle.

Barton drove his wife’s Mazda into the family’s car, it went into a spin that would leave Kandace Hull, 33, and her 13-year-old daughter Autumn Caudle dead. All five members of Hull’s family were in the car. Her husband, daughter and son were injured but survived the crash, reports the Dallas Morning News.

“It’s just kind of like somebody put a concrete block on your chest and you don’t know what to do,” said Linda Agee, a friend of the family.

A witness to the event estimated that Barton was traveling 80 miles per hour when he passed her on the highway. “He was swerving in and out of the lanes, and I thought to myself that this guy was definitely drunk,” said Laura Meade. She would see the crash happen soon after, when Barton apparently swerved to avoid the HOV lane.

Barton worked as a computer technician. He was paroled in 2009 after serving ten months out of a 3-year sentence in prison for DWI.

The results of the blood-alcohol test on Barton will not be available immediately, according to officials.

Barton’s previous record with DWI convictions raise the charges in the case to the level of felony. And because the crime that he allegedly committed was clearly dangerous to human life, officials are able to pursue the murder charges.

If convicted of the charges, Barton faces life in prison. His license was, however, still valid at the time of the deadly accident.

Friends and coworkers describe the Hull family as tight knit, and involved in sports and activities around the community.

Barton was also hospitalized, but his injuries were not as serious, and he will soon be transferred to a Texas jail.



DUI Charge in Iconic Seattle Drive-In Collision

By Topher

Dick’s Drive-In is a Seattle fast-food institution, offering quick, cheap burgers, fries and shakes to an adoring public.

The Lake City Dick’s recently took a big hit on March 25, when a customer crashed straight into the drive-in’s front window, shattering it and causing the restaurant to close for more than a week.

The driver of the Ford Explorer that rammed Dick’s Drive-In has now been charged with driving under the influence, according to the Seattle PI. The suspect, Colin John Sandwith, who recently retired after 41 years at the University of Washington, has plead not guilty to those charges.

According to police, Sandwith collided into the front of the restaurant at around 9 p.m. on a Thursday evening, causing damage to its countertop, tiled wall and window. After the collision, Sandwith got out of the car and said that he had accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brake, investigators say.

The only injury came when a witness saw the SUV coming towards the restaurant and hurt his knee leaping out of the way. He was not taken to the hospital after receiving attention from local rescue.

Sandwith was taken to the police station and processed. He had no prior DUI record, and had received little more than traffic tickets in the past. His pretrial hearing for the DUI is scheduled for early May.

Dick’s representatives did not comment on the accident or provide an estimate of the damages caused in the accident. According to the article, plywood covered most of the windows, and a sign apologized for the closure and inconvenience.

The estimated closure time of the drive-in is about a little more than a week. The last recorded closure of the restaurant location for any period of time occurred when a fire started in the French fry cooker. The restaurant shut down for two weeks, and returned to business as usual soon after that.

Dick’s has been around since 1954, when the first Seattle location opened. The Lake City restaurant involved in the DUI crash has been slinging fries and burgers to hungry Pacific Northwesterners since 1963. There are currently five locations across Seattle.



This Week’s Oddest DUI-Related Accidents

By Topher

Checking in with the latest DUI mishaps that take place behind the wheel always seems to yield strange and perplexing results. This week is proving to offer the same, as several stories, one out of New Hampshire, one out of upstate New York, and a third from California, prove that anything is possible when it comes to driving under the influence.

In Rochester, New Hampshire, a man was charged with DWI after being stopped on South Main Street in town. It wasn’t hard to spot the suspected offender: the DUI suspect’s car was trailing part of the nozzle and hose of a gasoline pump from its tank.

Sgt. Stephen Burke was cruising around on patrol when he saw Robert Ross’ 1994 Pontiac Grand Am dragging the broken apparatus behind it, according to Foster’s Daily Democrat.

Sgt. Burke pulled Ross over in a pharmacy parking lot, where he was subsequently arrested for driving while intoxicated, habitual offender, and criminal mischief due to the damage to the gas pump.

The pump, it turned out, came from a nearby BP gas station. Ross had apparently simply driven off with the pump still in the tank, and had made it about 200 yards before he was stopped by police.

Officers couldn’t say whether Ross took a field sobriety test. He either took it and failed, or refused to and was still arrested because police suspected him of being intoxicated.

In upstate New York, near Albany, police say that a man was driving the wrong way down the road and under the influence of alcohol when he collided with a tractor-trailer.

George A. Vorsheim, the alleged DUI driver, managed to walk away from the accident unhurt, amazingly. His blood-alcohol content was allegedly more than three times the legal limit to drive at .26 percent, according to the Albany Times-Union. Fortunately the tractor-trailer driver was not hurt either.

Two lanes of the road were closed as the scene was cleaned up.

In a more positive story, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputy Aleksandra Kuna was presented the Thin Blue Line award in Palo Alto, California, for saving the life of a good Samaritan who had stopped to help those at the scene of a car collision.

Kuna had grabbed the good Samaritan from the path of an oncoming vehicle, saving the man as the vehicle crashed into the stopped cars, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The driver of that vehicle is now under suspicion for drunk driving.

The Thin Blue Line Award, presented by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, goes to those in law enforcement who save the lives of people threatened by those suspected of driving under the influence.