California Beach Considers Posting DUIs to Facebook

By Mike

Facebook and other social media sites are playing a much larger role in the way that lawyers and lawmakers publicize information. Now, according to an article in the LA Times, officials in Huntington Beach, California, have sparked a new debate surrounding DUI information and the social media giant.

Officials in Huntington Beach are considering posting the names of suspected drunk drivers on the city’s Facebook page.

This potential tactic of publicly putting those arrested for DUI to shame by spreading their names online would be one part of a broader campaign to discourage drunk driving in the community, according to Lt. Russell Reinhart of the Huntington Police Department.

The idea came up in a City Council meeting, when Councilman Devin Dwyer put the idea on the table for police officials to consider. He posed the idea as a response to the local newspaper’s lapsed practice of publishing the names of those facing DUI charges.

“I didn’t think public shaming for driving under the influence was such a bad idea,” Dwyer told the LA Times. “I would use any tool necessary to bring down the numbers of drunk drivers.”

This isn’t the first time that a police force has had the idea, and it’s part of an aggressively anti-DUI campaign.

Other parts of the campaign include committing more police officers to focusing their attention on drunk driving arrests, and sending written notices to drinking holes and bars when someone is arrested who was patronizing the establishment.

Huntington Beach is known for its alcohol-related incidents, and what the LA Times calls “a sudsy reputation.” There were almost 1,700 DUI arrests in 2009, and 274 collisions that were attributed to alcohol impairment. These figures put it in the top tier for cities around the same size in California in terms of drunk driving and alcohol-related crashes.

A report from the city referred to the situation as “a significant DUI problem in Huntington Beach.”

Understandable, then, that officials would be willing to toss around the idea of a more direct way to get drunk driving suspects into the public eye, in hopes of deterring others from deciding to drink and drive.

Publicizing the information isn’t necessarily scandalous, as it is already public information. “Anybody could go to the counter, get it and put it on their own web page,” said Lt. Reinhart.

These won’t be the first efforts made. In similar attempts to curb the combination of booze and driving, police banned beer pong and other alcohol-related games at bars in the city’s downtown area.

The City’s attorney will review the Facebook proposal, to make sure there are no legal problems with it.



Biker With Cerebral Palsy Arrested for DUI in Utah

By Mike

In Utah, a highway patrol officer arrested a man with epilepsy and cerebral palsy for DUI, after pulling him over as he rode a motorized bicycle, according to an article in CBS News.

Mike Tilt’s disabilities would make it difficult for him to complete a field sobriety test under any circumstances, and he warned the officer who stopped him of that fact.

Nevertheless, he was asked to take the field sobriety test, including walking with one foot in front of the other. As he had predicted, he failed the test.

And when Tilt told the trooper, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Lisa Steed, that he takes medication for his ailments, he was arrested for DUI.

The Utah Highway Patrol later called CBS News to say that the arrest of Tilt for DUI was not consistent with the goals of patrol and their DUI prevention efforts, and Tilt was not charged with DUI.

The trooper who made the stop, however, has faced increased scrutiny from the media. According to those investigations, Steed has been chastised in court over several DUI cases. A judge in one case scolded her for ignoring standard Utah Highway Patrol procedures, and he called her actions “especially troubling,” and another judge said that she “lacks credibility,” according to KUTV.

Examples of her disregarding Utah Highway Patrol procedure includes cases in which Steed has conducted field sobriety tests out of view of the cameras installed on patrol cars. This was not the case in Tilt’s arrest, however.

According to a DUI defense attorney who has defended clients whom Steed has pulled over in the past, Steed is a goal-oriented trooper who wants to pull over as many people as possible to make DUI arrests.

Many came to Steed’s support, as well, including the Utah Highway Patrol, which clarified that many people are guilty of DUI when driving with prescription medication in their systems, and that Steed has a long record of success in making DUI stops and arrests.

Steed was also Trooper of the Year in 2007. She has made around 800 DUI arrests in the last eight years.

The Utah Highway Patrol is currently inquiring into Steed’s actions, though they stand behind her arrest record.



Former Yankee Jim Leyritz on Trial for DUI Manslaughter

By Mike

Jim Leyritz once played in the most famous ballparks alongside baseball stars like Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens, but now he is on trial for DUI manslaughter after a tragic night left a mother dead.

The Florida DUI trial has most recently featured the testimony of a witness who testified that Leyritz ran his Ford Expedition through a red light and hit the SUV driven by Fredia Ann Veitch, killing her.

The witness, a bouncer at a bar in Ft. Lauderdale, claimed that Leyritz appeared to be trying to make it through the intersection before a yellow light turned red. He didn’t make it, said the accident witness, as reported by the New York Daily News.

The accident took place in December of 2007, at just after 3 in the morning. Henry also said that Veitch had the green light as she entered the intersection. “She didn’t have to stop because it was green,” he testified.

Henry was cross-examined regarding the timing of his witnessing of the accident, and he did offer that he looked up to see the incident only after he heard brakes screeching nearby.

Some evidence in the case, namely that there were no skid marks before the intersection, could shed some doubt on the timing claimed by Henry. There were screech marks on the road after the traffic lights, which may suggest that Henry did not see what the state of the traffic lights was at the time that he started viewing the incident.

According to the prosecution, Jim Leyritz had been out on the town, taking shots of vodka and tequila to celebrate his birthday when he took the wheel. His blood alcohol content was measured at .14 percent, which is almost double the legal BAC limit of .08.

Leyritz has pleaded not guilty to the DUI charge and to vehicular homicide. If he is convicted of the crime, he could face 15 years in prison.

In addition to Henry’s testimony, the prosecution has said that another witness, a passenger in Leyritz’s vehicle, would also testify that Leyritz ran the red light.

Other evidence in the trial includes testimony from witnesses who say that Leyritz did not appear intoxicated following the accident. One of those witnesses is a police detective.

Prosecutors will counter those accounts by asking jurors to look at police video of Leyritz’s field sobriety test.

“What you will see is a man who is being given instructions and can’t follow those instructions, even though he is not falling-down drunk,” prosecutor Stefanie Newman told the jury.

Leyritz had previously settled a civil suit with the family of the victim, though he did not admit any liability.



Oklahoma State Football Player Apologizes Following DUI Arrest

By Mike

Justin Blackmon, a sophomore receiver on the Oklahoma State football team, was arrested under suspicion of DUI this week, after he was pulled over on the interstate around Dallas-Ft. Worth.

Blackmon announced an apology following the announcement of his DUI arrest. He apologized to his family and friends, and to the school, according to NewsOK.

“I made a mistake, and I take full responsibility for it. I look forward to redeeming myself. This isn’t who I am.”

Blackmon has been suspended for a game by head football Mike Gundy, the match-up between Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

“In our opinion, what he did deserves a suspension for this game,” said Gundy. “It was very easy for us. That’s a decision he made, and he has to suffer the consequences.”

Blackmon was stopped after being clocked driving 92 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone on Interstate 35. He was subsequently arrested for suspicion of DUI.

Blackmon didn’t have to speak to the press so soon after his arrest. However, he appeared at a press conference less than 48 hours. When asked why, he told the press, “to prove I’m not that guy and own up to my mistakes. I did it, and I should be punished for it.”

“6:51,” replied Coach Gundy about when he heard about the DUI arrest, referring to how early in the morning he got the call. “Usually when I get a call that early in the morning it’s not good.” Gundy also said that Blackmon was “a caring person who made a mistake.”

Several other OSU football players were in the car with Blackmon, though no other students have been punished by the football program for anything that occurred that night.

Blackmon has been tagged for speeding in the past, once for driving 20 to 25 miles per hour over the limit, and another time for driving 93 in a 70 mile per hour zone.

The legal investigation is still under way, so Blackmon didn’t answer any specific questions about the case.

According to Texas DUI law, a police officer doesn’t have to place a minor into custody for the Class C misdemeanor DUI.