Nov

30

How is Light Beer Light? Sugar & Drunkenness

By Mary Ann

Today’s college students are finding new ways to get drunk faster. Whether its drinking a beer with a straw to chugging sugary alcoholic drinks. But you should always watch your alcohol intake and the excessive drinking will always increase your blood alcohol content.


Check out how sugar plays a role in the drunkenness in this interactive infographic.

How is Light Beer Light?

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How is Light Beer LIGHT? Sugar & Drunkenness

Talk to any college student and you’ll hear a number of ways to get drunk faster, ranging from drinking your beer with a straw to chugging sugary mixed drinks. While some of these have absolutely no scientific proof, sugar certainly has its place when it comes to intoxication. But even drinking a light beer or diet mixed drink might not save you from a hangover and you should still monitor your alcohol intake.

Do Sweet Drinks Really Get You Drunk Faster?
This is where we dive into the science. Let’s take a look at how sugar and sweet drinks can affect your night out.

  • Carbonation may get you drunk faster
  • Technically, carbonated drinks may speed up the absorption of alcohol, so a rum and Coke may get you drunk faster than just a shot of rum.
  • Most carbonated drinks are sweet, but even a diet Coke may speed the process up.
  • Sweet drinks go down faster
  • Mixed or sweet drinks can be easier to drink than straight alcohol.
  • You may not notice the amount of alcohol that you’re drinking when you down several vodka cranberries, as opposed to doing shots.
  • Sugar slows the alcohol
  • Sugar in alcoholic drinks slows the digestive process and prevents the alcohol from moving into the small intestine as quickly, where it will be absorbed faster.
  • Be aware that drinking sweet drinks may make you feel less intoxicated in the beginning, but it will hit later.

Other Factors in Intoxication
The actual drinks aren’t the only factor when it comes to intoxication. You actually have a number of things to consider:

  • Gender
  • Women tend to be smaller than men and to have more fat, so the same drinks will usually result in a higher concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream of a female than in a male.
  • Body Size
  • The larger you are, the more blood you have, which means alcohol is more diluted in larger
  • Genetics
  • It would appear that different races absorb alcohol at different rates, so your genes may affect how drunk you get.
  • Age
  • Older and younger people seem to take longer to get drunk because their bodies may process alcohol slower.

Diet or Light Drinks
Most diet drinks are simply low-caloric forms of the regular ones. In the case of diet soda, which is frequently used in mixed drinks for those trying to watch their weight, the sugar is replaced by aspertame or sucralose, which have virtually no calories.

  • Drinks made with diet sodas still have calories from the alcohol.
  • Diet mixed drinks made with carbonated liquid may boost intoxication.

The Making of Light Beer
Light beer is legally defined as having 20% fewer calories than regular beer. This will vary from brewery to brewery, depending on how many calories they usually have in their beer. Rumors circulate about breweries simply adding water to their regular beer to make it light, but in most cases, it’s a little more complicated.

  • Light beers tend to have .5% less alcohol.
  • Some light beers are brewed to have a higher alcohol level, then diluted to reach the correct balance.
  • This method is more efficient because you can brew 10,000 barrels and get 13,000 barrels worth of light beer.
  • This is done by using rice or other grains that will ferment better, creating a higher alcohol content and turning more sugars into alcohol.
  • Some breweries simply add less “fuel” during the fermentation process, resulting in fewer carbs, and therefore fewer calories.
  • There are 1,545 breweries in the U.S.
  • That’s more breweries than any other country in the world.

Alcohol is always going to contain some calories, so it’s up to you to decide just how many are acceptable. Remember that sugary drinks can still make you drunk, though it may take longer, while carbonation may cause the alcohol to affect you sooner. Always note how much alcohol you are drinking, no matter how you feel and never drink and drive.

Provided by Total DUI.

Nov

28

Pilot Sentenced to Prison for Drinking While Flying

By Mike

The typical DUI arrest takes place in a car, as police officers try to prevent land-bound drivers from hurting themselves or passengers in other cars. Arrests for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, though, rarely happen in the sky.

Such an incident, however, occurred a few years ago when a United Airlines pilot was arrested for flying while drunk. And the consequences of that poor decision recently came home to roost.

According to a report from CNN.com, a federal judge sentenced 33-year-old Aaron Jason Cope to six months of prison and six months of home detention for flying a commercial plane while intoxicated in 2009.

Cope should consider himself lucky, as the judge levied a sentence that was much lower than the possible maximum term. Sources indicate that Cope faced a possible maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, with a maximum fine of $250,000.

The relatively innocent language of the charge, which convicted Cope of “operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol,” belies the serious nature of the offense.

Cope was arrested on December 8, 2009, after a co-pilot noticed the smell of alcohol on his breath. Despite the smell, though, the co-pilot admitted that Cope “appeared to be speaking and thinking clearly.”

Fortunately for the passengers, Cope had spent the flight monitoring various systems on the airplane, and did not play a direct role in the steering of the aircraft.

When the United Express flight touched down in Denver after departing from Austin, Texas, the co-pilot, who had grown suspicious due to Cope’s odor, told Cope that he should probably go home sick.

However, after speaking with company officials, the co-pilot told Cope that the airline wanted him to take a breathalyzer test at an alcohol testing facility in Denver International Airport’s main terminal.

At that facility, Cope showed a blood alcohol content of .094, which is more than twice the legal limit for pilots of .04, as established by the Federal Aviation Administration. For comparison’s sake, the legal limit for people operating motor vehicles in most U.S. states is .08.

After he was caught with a high BAC, Cope admitted to officials that he had gone to a bar with a friend and bought beer from a convenience store the night before his flight.

Once the news struck the media, it naturally caused a firestorm of public criticism. Cope’s co-pilot, however, was praised for potentially saving the lives of several passengers.

After Cope left the flight from Austin, he had been scheduled to lead a flight full of 70 to 80 passengers later that morning. His co-pilot wisely convinced him to stay off that flight, and ultimately led him to the alcohol testing facility in the airport.

Cases of drunk flying are relatively rare, so, when they do occur, they naturally become large events. Nevertheless, despite their rarity, incidents of flying while intoxicated are taken very seriously, as evidence by the court’s decision to levy a six-month prison sentence.

Nov

26

Rodney King Pleads Not Guilty After DUI Arrest

By Mike

Rodney King, once the victim of an infamous incident of police brutality, was arrested for a DUI offense this summer, and this week he entered a plea of not guilty during an initial court appearance.

King, who is African-American, was the subject of a brutal beating by four white police officers after a seemingly routine traffic stop in southern California in 1991.

Graphic footage of the beating was soon released to the public, and people across the country expressed outrage over his treatment. The officers, however, who were involved in the beating of King were acquitted a year later.

The officers’ acquittal sparked an intense race riot in Los Angeles in 1992, which led to the deaths of 55 people and untold amounts of property damage to houses and storefronts in Los Angeles.

Since the 1991 arrest was precipitated by a traffic arrest, King’s arrest this July in southern California for driving under the influence of alcohol struck a painful chord in Los Angeles.

According to the Washington Post, prosecutors are alleging that King was impaired by alcohol and marijuana when he was driving this summer through Moreno Valley, California.

In a court filing this month, King denied the charges, entering a plea of not guilty to misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. King filed his plea in Riverside Superior Court.

King’s DUI lawyer did not return phone calls from the Washington Post seeking more information, but sources indicate that the next step in King’s legal battle will take place at a hearing in late November.

For his part, King may be nervous about the potential consequences of his arrest, because he has had a prior DUI conviction.

While judges are guided by mandatory sentencing laws, they do have some discretion with DUI sentences, and tend to deliver harsher verdicts for offenders who have committed more than one DUI violation.

In addition, repeat DUI offenders are often required to install interlock ignition devices in their cars. These devices prevent drunk drivers from being able to turn on the ignition when they are intoxicated.

And, in addition to possible interlock ignition devices and longer sentences, repeat DUI drivers may also face large fines, mandatory community service, or the loss of their licenses.

So, the results of King’s trial will likely play a major role on his future freedom.

Nov

23

Top New York Librarian Arrested for Driving Drunk in Reverse

By Mike

Librarians, particularly older and more established ones, don’t seem like the most likely culprits for a DUI arrest. A recent DUI incident in New York City, however, challenges this unfair assumption, and serves as a reminder that drunk driving is not solely an activity for the young and foolish.

According to the New York Post, Dr. Anthony Marx, the president of the New York Public Library system, was recently arrested after running his car in reverse into a sanitation truck.

Sources indicate that Marx put his 2009 Audi A4, which is registered to the library, into reverse in order to avoid a roadblock that was needed to block cars from the route of this year’s New York City Marathon.

The 52-year-old librarian narrowly avoided one truck before striking the truck that got him into trouble. The accident occurred in East Harlem around mid-afternoon.

When police officers arrived at the scene, they smelled alcohol and suspected that Marx was not sober, and administered a blood alcohol test. When he took the test, which was given about an hour after his arrest, Marx blew a .19, which is twice the legal limit of .08.

In a statement released to local media outlets, Marx was very contrite, saying that he deeply regretted “embarrassment caused to my family and to the New York Public Library.”

After his arrest, Marx was charged with an aggravated DWI (in some states, “driving while intoxicated” replaces the more common charge of “driving under the influence”) and was released without bail following a court appearance.

Sources indicate that the driver of the sanitation truck that Marx hit was able and willing to offer testimony, and he shared his story with the New York Post after the accident.

The driver, sanitation worker Franklin Hernandez, says that he jumped out of his truck after it was hit, placed his hands in front of Marx, and demanded that he stop moving. This plea apparently convinced Marx to stay in place.

Shortly after the accident, police officers who were providing security for the marathon arrived at the scene. Franklin claims that they were there only minutes after the accident.

According to Franklin, Marx had to remain handcuffed in his car for up to an hour, as police had no route out of the street until the marathon was over. Once it was over, they took Marx to the precinct headquarters and administered the blood alcohol test.

This incident offers a valuable lesson about the dangers of drunk driving. DUI arrests can strike anyone, regardless of their age or social position.

DUI arrests may be a misdemeanor or a felony, and they sometimes result in jail time, lost licenses, or hefty fines. Factors that judges consider when delivering punishments for DUI offenders include prior driving history and past alcohol-related arrests.

Nov

22

Teenager Fears Prison After Fatal DUI Crash

By Mike

Teenagers, alcohol, and late-night driving are a recipe for disaster, as was recently shown in a tragic DUI-related accident that recently occurred in northern California.

According to the San Mateo County Times, Sean Quintero, a 19-year-old resident of San Francisco who had been drinking and partying on that fatal night, was involved in a serious car accident that killed one of the passengers in his car.

Sources indicate that the teenager was driving along Highway 101 towards the southern part of San Francisco with a blood alcohol content of .16, which is twice the legal limit of .08 for adults over the age of 21.

Apparently, Quintero was driving home from a party and loudly discussing music with the four passengers in his car when he failed to notice that traffic ahead had come to a stop. The traffic had stopped because of an unrelated car collision minutes before the Quintero accident.

Tragically, Quintero noticed the stopped cars too late, and rammed his Toyota, which was his mother’s car, into the back of another vehicle.

When the accident occurred, Quintero’s friend, 17-year-old Margaret Qaqish was pressed against her seatbelt and suffered severe internal injuries. The force of the accident was so powerful that she suffered fatal damage to her internal organs.

Qaqish, who was a senior at a San Francisco high school, had been sitting in the rear middle seat of the car, so she may have also struck the back of another seat or another person. Fortunately, though, the other three passengers in the car were not seriously injured.

The accident occurred around 3:20 a.m. and all the occupants of the car had allegedly been drinking that night. Quintero, to his credit, has expressed serious remorse for the tragic accident, according to his DUI attorney.

Quintero has accepted responsibility for his actions, as he recently pleaded no contest to charges of drunk driving and causing a crash with a fatality.

The felony charges could put Quintero in prison for up to four years and four months, though his sentence will not be determined by a local judge until this January. Until then, Quintero will have to await news of his fate.

In addition to the possible prison sentence, the teenager could also face severe financial penalties. He is currently being held in jail on a 325,000 bond.

Historically, young males have disproportionately higher rates of drunk driving accidents. And DUI accidents tend to be more dangerous as the drivers grow younger and more intoxicated.

For teenagers who are out drinking and do not want to alarm their parents, there are still plenty of ways to get home without endangering friends or other drivers.

For example, public transportation, including buses or trains, and taxis offer safe, reliable ways to get home.

Nov

18

Elderly Driver Arrested in Suspected DUI Fatality

By Mike

Elderly drivers are not often viewed as drunk driving threats, but this common perception was recently proved flawed when an 83-year-old drunk driver in California struck and killed a man riding on a Segway.

According to Patch.com, Dick Chappell, a resident of Los Gatos, California, was booked into the Santa Clara County jail this past weekend after he drove his car into a Segway-riding man on a crosswalk.

Sources indicate that the incident took place early Sunday evening. Chappell was driving his 1991 Lexus SUV, and apparently ran a red light. When he crossed the intersection, Chappell struck 72-year-old Marschelle Syverson, a resident of San Jose.

Syverson did not die immediately from his injuries. He survived until he reached the San Jose Regional Medical Center, where he later passed away.

While police have not yet released information about the Chappell’s level of intoxication, it seems safe to guess that his blood alcohol content was above the legal limit.

Arresting officers determine that Chappell was probably inebriated when the interviewed him at the scene of the crime. Police also indicate that Chappell was in a state of shock after the fatal accident.

After his arrest, police charged Chappell with several counts, including driving under the influence of alcohol, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and a felony DUI.

While the incident may have been prevented if Chappell had been driving sober, it also raises interesting questions about the safety of Segway devices, which were once hailed as the future of transportation but have had a hard time gaining traction in the consumer market.

At first glance, it would seem that a person riding a Segway across a crosswalk would be more visible than a simple pedestrian. Thus, the Segway might be more easily seen by a speeding driver.

On the other hand, people operating Segway devices, particularly riders who are inexperienced, may not have a firm grasp on their maneuverability. So, when a Segway rider is in danger, he or she may not be able to respond quickly.

This, of course, is all speculation, as it is not clear whether Syverson was an experienced Segway operator. In addition, Syverson’s ability to maneuver the device in a quick fashion is not really relevant because he had the right-of-way while crossing a crosswalk.
Nevertheless, the incident does raise questions about a pedestrian’s safety while operating a Segway.

In addition, the incident shines a light on an under-appreciated aspect of DUI arrests. While DUI arrests disproportionately strike younger drivers, elderly drivers may still be capable of getting behind the wheel while they are drunk.

And, when octogenarian drive drunk, they may be further harming their already compromised reflexes. If you have a grandparent or an elderly friend who drives after drinking alcohol, remind them of the potentially fatal consequences of drunk driving.

Nov

16

New Laws Require Interlock Devices for DUI Drivers

By Mike

Sometimes, it takes the tragic death of a young victim of a drunk driving accident to convince legislators to enact effective laws against the dangerous practice.

Nevertheless, lawmakers sometimes feel they can honor a victim’s memory by ensuring that similar accidents are prevented in the future. This phenomenon recently occurred in the Oklahoma state legislature.

According to KOCO news in Oklahoma City, the newly minted Erin Swezey Act aims to monitor drivers with prior drunk driving offenses by requiring drivers convicted of a DUI to have an ignition interlock system installed in their car for at least 18 months after their conviction.

In addition, drivers who arrested for a second DUI offense will have to have an interlock device in their car for four years after their arrest. Subsequent offenses will lead to a mandatory five-year period with limited driving abilities.

The law is named after Erin Swezey, who died in 2009 at the young age of 20 after she was struck by a drunk driver going the wrong way on an Oklahoma City turnpike. The drunk driver had previously been arrested multiple times for DUIs and other traffic offenses.

By passing the Erin Swezey Act, legislators hope that DUI offenders will no longer be able to get behind the wheel after drinking.

The ignition interlock devices mandated by the new statute act as a sort of gatekeeper to the car. When an interlock device is installed, a driver must blow into it in order for the device to determine the driver’s blood alcohol level.

If the driver is sober, the car will start. If, however, the driver has been drinking, the interlock device will prevent the driver from starting the car.

The interlock devices are usually installed on a car’s dashboard, and drivers who are required to have the devices will also have a special notification on their licenses about the interlock device requirement.

Typically, interlock devices prevent driving if the driver blows between a .02 and .04. In Oklahoma, drivers are eligible for a DUI arrest if they blow above a .06.

While Oklahoma has been relatively late to join the interlock device movement, statistics compiled by the federal government show that the devices have a profoundly positive impact on the prevention of drunk driving.

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interlock devices have been able to reduce repeat DUI offenses by roughly 67 percent. In addition, the federal agency claims that the devices have reduced DUI fatalities by nearly 30 percent.

These figures certainly seem convincing, but they actually may understate the benefits of interlock devices. In Arizona, state officials say that their new interlock program has cut DUI fatalities by more than 50 percent.

Oklahoma officials hope that the Erin Swezey Act, which takes effect this week, will have a similar impact.

Nov

14

DUI Suspect Slams into Front of Police Cruiser

By Mike

All DUI arrests are not created equal. Some are quiet, relatively mundane affairs that garner little press attention. Some drunk driving arrests, though, provide excellent fodder for the evening news.

One such DUI arrest occurred last week in California when a man suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol ran his car directly into the front of a police cruiser.

According to a report in the Riverside County Press-Enterprise, 50-year-old Deepmohinder Singh Kapur was arrested for a suspected felony DUI after he slammed his car into the front of a police vehicle.

Sources indicate that the police car belonged to a member of the Riverside County Gang Task Force. The officer in the car was transporting two men to jail when the accident occurred. Fortunately, though, no one was seriously hurt in the collision.

The absence of injuries was particularly fortunate given the nature of the wreck. Apparently, immediately before the accident, both cars were head in opposite directions on an interstate highway in the early afternoon.

The police officer saw Kapur’s Volvo sedan crossing the center dividing lane, but he did not have enough time to maneuver his vehicle out of the way. All he could do was slow down.

The accident cause severe damage to the front of both the Volvo and the police cruiser, and the impact of the collision set off the drivers’ airbags in both cars.

The police officer suffered some cuts to his arm during the collision. In addition, the detainees in the back of the car, who were wearing handcuffs, suffered some facial injuries and one may have injured his wrist.

The detainees had been arrested in connection with a gang-related stabbing incident and were being transported to a detention center at the time of the accident.

Both the police officer and the detainees were taken to the hospital for their non-life-threatening injuries, which will delay the arrestee’s inevitable trip to the detention center.

As for Kapur, only time will tell what punishment a local court will eventually level against him, but he may be facing serious fines, jail time, or a suspended license, especially because this is not his first DUI offense.

In addition to standard DUI charges, Kapur may also face possible punishment for reckless driving, endangering the life of others, and whatever else a local prosecutor wishes to throw at him.

Of course, when police are usually tasked with discovering drunk drivers, they have to pull over suspects and administer a range of blood alcohol tests to determine their level of inebriation.

Here, Kapur saved the police officer a significant amount of legwork, albeit in a dangerous fashion. Usually, drunk drivers do not readily offer themselves to police in the form of a head-on collision.

Nov

11

Driver Tased 13 Times During DUI Arrest

By Mike

The annals of overzealous police behavior are full of shocking tales, but few are as unsettling as the recent allegations that a man was tased 13 times by police officers after a DUI arrest.

According to a recent report in the Santa Barbara Independent, 50-year-old Tony Denunzio was tased repeatedly by arresting officers after being pulled over for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.

Both Denunzio and witnesses of the incident claim that officer Aaron Tudor punched, kneed and tased Denunzio after the Tudor pulled him over for DUI Charges, even though Denunzio allegedly did not resist the arrest.

A mug shot of Denunzio taken a few hours after the arrest shows a badly bruised man with a contusion on his right eye and cuts on his forehead and cheeks. During the arrest, Denunzio also suffered a broken nose, broken ribs, and an injured wrist.

While both sides have their own stories—police claim Denunzio resisted the arrest, while he claims that police had no reason to beat him—extra intrigue was added to the case when authorities revealed that the entire episode had been caught on a patrol vehicle camera.

Currently, the police video is not yet available, and information about Denunzio’s level of drunkenness has also not been released, so investigators are left with competing narratives about the night.

According to the story told by police, Tudor pulled Denunzio over after the driver had executed a series of quick lane changes without using his turn signal.

Police further alleged that, after he left his truck, Denunzio started walking away from Tudor. When Tudor grabbed the driver’s arm, Denunzio resisted the physical contact. This forced Tudor to trip Denunzio and apparently slap him several times in the head.

These slaps allegedly did not subdue the driver, so Tudor eventually resorted to punching and kicking the arrestee. When these proved inadequate, and Denunzio continued to resist, Tudor began to use his Taser, which was activated 13 times.

Witnesses, however, offered a different story. According to some people on the scene, Denunzio left his car without knowing that he was being pursued by a police officer.

When Tudor yelled at him to stop, witnesses claim that Denunzio obliged and did not actively resist the arrest. In his defense, Denunzio also claimed that that he did not physically challenge Tudor, and instead “laid down like a kitten” when the officer grabbed him.

In response to public outcry over the incident, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department said that police officials had reviewed the tape of the altercation and concluded that Tudor did not violate police regulations.

While it may take authorities more time to conclude who acted irresponsibly in this incident, it is fair to say that Denunzio could have handled the situation better.

DUI arrests may lead to some fines or possible jail time, but their effects can be compounded by aggressive behavior after the arrest. Other drivers would be well advised to mind their manners in the presence of police.

Nov

9

Former Cop Pleads Not Guilty in Felony DUI Death Trial

By Mike

This week, a Florida police officer pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter after being convicted in the wake of an accident that killed a young mother.

According to the Miami Herald, 24-year-old Peter Munoz did not appear in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court for his arraignment. Rather, his DUI attorney entered a plea of not guilty for him, which is allowed under Florida law.

Sources indicate that Munoz, who had been a police officer in Coral Springs for five months before the accident, was speeding through an intersection late one night this July when he struck the car of Jennifer Gutierrez, a paralegal who was traveling home from her boyfriend’s house.

The Miami Herald reports that Munoz’s Volkswagen struck the driver’s side of Gutierrez’s BMW with such force that the victim was impaled into the driver’s side door. When paramedics arrived on the scene, they had to cut the car into several pieces in order to remove Gutierrez.

Toxicology reports taken after the accident showed that Gutierrez had not been drinking, but Munoz did not perform as well on his blood alcohol test.

A police affidavit taken shortly after the accident shows that Munoz had a blood alcohol content of .229 one hour after the crash, which is almost three times more than the legal limit of .008.

Police reports from that night also indicate that Munoz did not attempt to take any evasive action to miss the BMW; instead, he simply plowed right through it.

After the accident, Munoz was taken to a local hospital, and later released home before being arrested a few weeks later on charges of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

Understandably, the family of the victim was upset that Munoz was not immediately taken into custody, and has alleged that Munoz received special treatment from his colleagues in the Coral Springs police force.

The Coral Springs police department, however, promptly fired Munoz when he was arrested in late September. The official termination notice, though, does not explicitly mention the car crash.

Munoz likely faces a lengthy court battle, particularly in light of his not guilty plea. Sources indicate that the arrestee’s attorney believe that the victim may have been on her cell phone at the time of the accident, which may have caused her to drive recklessly.

In her defense, Gutierrez’s family claims these allegations are untrue, and that Munoz is solely responsible for the accident.

In the meantime, the family of Jennifer Gutierrez will mourn the loss of a promising young woman, who was apparently studying for her final exams at a local college on the night of the accident.

Gutierrez is survived by her 4-year-old daughter, who was not in her car at the time of the accident.

Nov

7

School Bus Driver Sentenced to Prison for Drunk Driving

By Mike

Parents in a small Pennsylvania town felt justice was served this week when a school bus driver was sentenced to several months in prison for driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to PhillyBurbs.com, 45-year-old Kim Townsend was given a prison sentence that could last between four and 23 months.

In addition, the resident of Bensalem, Pennsylvania lost her driver’s license, must pay a fine of $1,000, and must complete 100 hours of community service.

Sources indicate that Townsend had been arrested after an incident in which she ran her school bus into a small car after dropping off a load of children.

When police arrived on the scene, they administered a breathalyzer test, and discovered that her blood alcohol level was .19, well above the legal limit for school bus drivers, which is .02, and also above the legal limit of .08 for other drivers.

After being confronted by police, Townsend admitted to drinking vodka before her shift, and expressed regret that she had endangered her young passengers by drinking before she drove.

Fortunately, though, when Townsend was involved in the accident, all 22 of the children who had been traveling in her bus had already been dropped off at their homes.

Nevertheless, a judge in Bucks County Circuit Court chastised Townsend during her sentencing, saying that it was a matter of “extreme seriousness,” and that the community should be “outraged” by Townsend’s actions.

The judge also reminded Townsend that if the accident had injured any of the children, she would be facing much more serious consequences, including a significantly longer prison sentence.

After the accident, Townsend, who had driving school buses in the district for more than 11 years, immediately resigned from her job, and apologized to the parents whose children she had endangered.

In court this week, Townsend admitted that she had “betrayed the trust” of her students and their families, and she promised that it “will never happen again.”

Of course, the odds of Townsend being re-admitted to the ranks of school bus drivers after her DUI arrest are very slim, so she may not have the opportunity to actively fulfill her promise.

At trial, a number of community members came to support Townsend, and her attorney recognized that the incident may eventually prove beneficial for the school bus driver, who will also seek counseling for her substance abuse problems while serving her jail sentence.

And, despite the outrage expressed by the judge, community members did not show up in droves to castigate the defendant. Even though prosecutors asked the parents of the children in Townsend’s bus to come support their case, no parents actually came to the trial.

It seems the community did not feel the need to further punish Townsend, whose record had been completely clear before the recent charges of drunk driving, child endangerment, and careless driving.

Nov

4

Drunk Dad Avoids DUI by Giving Keys to 9 Year Old

By Mike

In order to avoid being arrested for a DUI, many would-be drivers opt to hand the keys to someone who is sober. This strategy, however, only works when the driver is legally licensed, and is not a child.

According to a report in USA Today, a Michigan man began his campaign for “Worst Dad of the Year” by asking his 9-year-old daughter to drive the family’s van after he became too intoxicated to drive.

Sources indicate that Shawn Weimer, 39, recently let his daughter drive his van home around 3:00 a.m., as Weimer rested comfortably in the van’s passenger seat.

Footage from a surveillance video filmed at a gas station near Woodhaven, Michigan shows Weimer telling a station clerk that his daughter was his designated driver.

Allegedly, the video catches Weimer telling the clerk, “Nine years old. Nine. Dad drinking. Listen, we’re leaving, and she’s driving.”

Predictably, the news of Weimer and his daughter’s adventure struck the girl’s mother as very frightening. Heather Hammon, the mother of the young driver, told reporters that she was “mortified” when she learned the news.

While he did manage to escape drunk driving charges, Weimer found himself in court this week facing charges of child abuse and other charges related to his allegedly habitual drinking problems.

And, while Hammon obviously disapproved of his behavior, she did tell reporters that Weimer was otherwise an attentive, dutiful father who always paid his child support on time. In a classy understatement, Hammon said that he “just made a bad choice.”

The two parents separated before their daughter was born, but she visits her father every other weekend. This arrangement may change, though, as the presiding judge forbade Weimer from having contact with his daughter during the court proceedings.

Weimer’s prior criminal record is not perfectly clean, which could hurt his case in court. Sources indicate that he was arrested for driving while impaired by alcohol in 2007 after being involved in a crash.

Despite his apparent affection for his daughter, and his history as a decent father, Weimer may suffer severe consequences for his momentary loss of judgment.

Other drivers, however, should know that planning before drinking and designating a sober driver is usually a foolproof way of avoiding a drunk driving arrest. The key, of course, is to designate someone who can legally drive.

If you find yourself in a situation where a minor is the only possible sober driver, other reliable methods of getting home include taking public transportation, hailing a cab, or calling a friend, regardless of the time of day.

By making sound decisions after you find yourself too drunk to drive, you may avoid serious legal troubles, possible injuries or accidents, or, in the most egregious scenarios, unwanted national press attention.

Nov

3

Driver Sentenced to 25 Years for DUI Hit and Run

By Mike

In a sobering reminder that drunk driving often has severe consequences, a 46-year-old woman in South Carolina was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison after killing a pedestrian in a hit-and-run DUI accident.

According to The Herald, Dianne Alice Webster, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, was convicted on charges of a felony DUI with a death, leaving the scene of an accident with death and committing a hit-and-run violation with injury.

Sources indicate that Webster struck Lorenzo Hemphill and his brother, Antwan, as the two were walking down a well-traveled street in Rock Hill at roughly 9:30 p.m. Antwan died an hour after the accident, while Lorenzo suffered only minor injuries.

After hitting the two brothers, Webster allegedly sped off down the street, and ran into a building, before she recovered and was eventually pulled over for speeding by police.

When she was arrested, Webster failed to perform standard field sobriety tests. And, though her blood alcohol content was measured at .0013, which is below the legal limit of .08, she tested positive for high levels of the prescription drug Xanax.

Whatever was in her system, Webster was clearly impaired. In interviews with police after the accident, she denied that she hit any pedestrians, and also failed to remember any of the places she had been that night.

To make matters worse, Webster claimed that she did not know whose truck she was driving, and she insisted that the date was Tuesday when it was actually Saturday.

The judge, however, took some pity on Webster, and only sentenced her to 25 years for her felony DUI, when the maximum punishment could have been extended to 51 years. The judge expressed a desire for Webster to seek treatment for her addition problems in prison.

At trial, Webster’s case was also strengthened by the testimony of a number of friends, who said that Webster suffered from serious psychological and addiction issues, and had been emotionally destroyed after learning of Hemphill’s death.

The relatively lenient sentence may have disappointed the Hemphill family, who observed that Webster had displayed a pattern of dangerous driving throughout her entire life.

Sources indicate that Webster had been charged with a DUI three times before, and had been charged with driving with a suspended license four times in an eight-year span.

This tragedy raises a few key issues about DUI arrests. First, many people who are arrested for a DUI are not necessarily drunk. Abuse of prescription drugs or illegal narcotics is also a common cause of arrests for driving under the influence.

In addition, the potential consequences of a felony DUI are significantly higher than those for a DUI that is lowered to a misdemeanor.

Of course, in cases where there is a fatality, or where the driver leaves the scene of an accident, the odds are high that a driver will be subject to larger penalties.

Nov

1

Cops Impound DUI Driver’s Car with Kids Inside

By Mike

Last week, a man was arrested for a DUI after leaving his car idling in the fast lane of a Rhode Island freeway. This incident, while a bit bizarre, would probably have remained quiet were it not for the subsequent towing of the man’s vehicle while his two children remained inside.

According to a report from My Fox Boston, Fredly Misere was arrested for drunk driving in Pawtucket, Rhode Island after police discovered his Mercedes-Benz SUV completely stopped in the fast lane of a local highway.

When they approached his car, the 50-year-old driver was slumped over the steering wheel, apparently asleep, with an opened bottle of beer resting between his legs.

It took several loud pounds on the window by the police before the driver was able to awake from his deep slumber. Oddly, the incident occurred around 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

After police pulled the visibly intoxicated Misere out of his car, the driver told the officers that he was concerned about the welfare of his children. When the police asked him where the children were, however, Misere allegedly said that the kids were in Boston.

Because of Misere’s assurances, the police apparently did not think it necessary to check the car for other occupants.

In addition, since Misere’s car was dangerously blocking a lane of the heavily traveled highway, the police report indicates that a tow truck driver already had the SUV on a flatbed truck soon after police arrived.

So, after they arrested Misere, they took him to the police station, while the tow truck driver guided the SUV to its temporary resting place in an impoundment lot in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Of course, the plot soon thickened, as the truck driver heard muffled noises coming from the back seat of the Mercedes Benz soon after reaching the impoundment lot.

When he opened the car, the truck driver discovered Misere’s 4-year-old daughter and her 3-month-old sister waiting patiently in the back of the car.

Apparently, the windows of the SUV were heavily tinted, so the police and tow truck driver did not immediately see the passengers. In addition, the noise of the highway may have blocked any noises made by the two young girls.

Nevertheless, police are baffled as to how so many authorities could miss the presence of two children in the back of the car. There will likely be an investigation into the matter.

To be fair, the real culprit in this fiasco is the allegedly drunk father, who, if the allegations are proved correct, is facing a significant punishment for his irresponsible actions, particularly because this is not his first drunk driving offense.

Sources indicate that Misere is being charged with numerous criminal counts, including driving while intoxicated, driving with a suspended license, driving to endanger, child endangerment, and the always-tricky charge of “failing to use care when stopping.”