By John Clark
While judges often have to take stern measures to assure that defendants show up for DUI court appearances, they rarely have to worry about the presence of the arresting officers, who are usually expected to testify at DUI trials.
However, a member of the Florida Highway Patrol recently proved this theory wrong after failing to show up for a DUI trial.
John Costa was tossed into a county jail this week for contempt of court after failing to show up for a suspect’s DUI trial, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel. Costa’s failure to appear at trial forced the judge to dismiss the defendant’s case, according to sources.
Sources say that the 41-year-old state trooper failed to show up for a hearing in Volusia County a couples weeks ago. Court officials reportedly tried to contact Costa, but he failed to answer their phone calls and also refused to answer knocks on his home’s front door.
Thanks to his stubborn refusal to show up for trial, Judge Belle Schumann took the extraordinary step of charging him with contempt of court, and Costa began serving his five-day jail sentence earlier this week.
Interestingly, officials with the Florida Highway Patrol believe this is the first time one of their members has ever been thrown into jail for contempt of court. So Costa has certainly established a dubious milestone.
Sources believe his failure to appear for his trial could potentially end Costa’s tumultuous police career. Costa, however, recently told his supervisors that he plans to resign and leave the state, so he may be spared the indignity of being fired.
Costa’s troubles started last December during a routine drunk driving arrrest on a Florida interstate, according to sources.
On December 3, Costa pulled over Stephanie Halcomb after she sped by his patrol car at the wildly illegal speed of 92 miles per hour.
Costa smelled alcohol on Halcomb’s breath and discovered an empty bottle of 99-proof liquor in her car, so he administered a series of field sobriety tests, which the defendant reportedly failed.
Later, a breath test given to Halcomb revealed that she had a blood alcohol level of 0.192, which is well above the legal limit of 0.08.
This is all to say that prosecutors felt they had a very strong case against Halcomb, who had previously been convicted for a DUI three years earlier, and was facing up to a year in prison if she was convicted for a second DUI.
But Costa’s failure to show at trial left Halcomb off the hook, and court officials are now scrambling to learn why Costa took such an extraordinary step.
By John Clark
A popular news anchor in Atlanta, Georgia, was pulled over for drunk driving this week after causing a frightening car accident, according to a recent report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Sources say that Amanda Davis, a regular anchor on Atlanta’s Fox 5 News, was driving in the wrong direction on an arterial road when she struck a vehicle traveling in the right direction.
The crash occurred after midnight on Monday night, and Davis has been arrested for a DUI, according to Gregory Lyon, a spokesman for the Atlanta police department.
According to the police report, officers arrived on the scene after Davis caused the accident, which fortunately did not result in any serious injuries.
When Davis left her car and started speaking with the police, one officer “noticed an odor of alcohol emanating from” the news anchor, according to sources.
When the officer asked Davis if she had been drinking before the accident, she reportedly responded “in the affirmative.”
Despite her alleged confession to drinking and driving, Davis refused to perform a field sobriety test. Nevertheless, the police believed they had probable cause to arrest her due to the smell of alcohol and her behavior at the scene of the accident.
For her actions, Davis was reportedly charged with reckless driving and failure to maintain her lane, in addition to the DUI charge. Sources say the police also confiscated her license before taking her to jail.
It’s difficult to speculate on her possible punishment, but DUI drivers often face potential penalties including jail time, a large fine, or the suspension of their driver’s licenses. First-time offenders generally receive lighter punishments than repeat offenders, but this varies by jurisdiction.
One interesting note in this arrest is that Davis’ employer, Fox 5, decided to go ahead and report the incident, but sources say it only printed a brief three-sentence story on its website.
Sources note that the story did not include a picture of the anchor’s mug shot, despite the fact that the station routinely posts the mug shots of people who are arrested for drunk driving.
Several commenters on the story claimed the television station was showing bias in its reporting on the incident.
And while Davis may have received some harmless preferential treatment at the hands of her current employer, the Atlanta judge who hears her case will have to put her celebrity status aside. The public expects nothing less.
By John Clark
A drunk driver allegedly struck and killed two homeless people who were sleeping on a sidewalk in downtown Los Angeles, according to a report this week from the Los Angeles Times.
Sources say that 19-year-old Carmen Elena Chavez was arrested on Sunday on a charge of vehicular manslaughter after she lost control of her Mercedes-Benz while trying to make a right turn at a high speed.
When Chavez lost control of her car, she ran over two homeless people, who were dragged behind the car for several feet, which led to their deaths. The two victims had been sleeping in the infamous Skid Row area, which serves as a shelter for thousands of people without homes.
The victims were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, sources say, although their identities have not yet been released by Los Angeles officials.
In addition to the vehicular manslaughter charge, police have also charged Chavez with driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to sources, Chavez had been drinking with friends on a Saturday night before she and four passengers got into her car and headed downtown.
She was reportedly trying to make a speedy right turn at an intersection when she lost control of the car and jumped a curb, which led her into the path of the victims, who were sleeping against the wall of a nearby building.
Somehow, Chavez continued to drive for at least 50 feet, dragging the man and woman behind her, before she finally crashed to a stop, according to the police report.
According to one witness who spoke with local reporters, the car was smoking when it came to a stop, and the woman who was trapped under the car was “bleeding bad.”
Before police arrived, some of the passengers in the car fled from the scene, but both Chavez and the owner of the car stayed at the site of the accident until police arrived.
Sources say that Chavez was booked later that night into Los Angeles County Jail, and her bail was set at the lofty sum of $100,000.
In the next few days, Chavez will have an opportunity to consult with a DUI attorney, who will likely begin the process of reducing Chavez’s potential punishment.
But if she is convicted of vehicular manslaughter or a felony DUI, Chavez could be facing a serious fine, a likely suspension of her driver’s license, and a significant prison sentence.
By John Clark
Carlton Fisk, a Hall of Fame catcher who played for both the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox, was arrested for a DUI this week after he was allegedly found unconscious behind the wheel of his car, according to an ESPN report.
The arrest gets more bizarre. Sources say that police in New Lenox, Illinois arrested Fisk after they discovered him passed out in the middle of a rural corn field.
According to New Lenox Deputy Chief Bob Pawlisz, the police “received a couple of calls about a vehicle in a field” around 7:20 p.m. on Monday night. When they responded to the calls, they discovered Fisk and his car in the middle of the field.
The officers who arrived on the scene, not surprisingly, “had reason to believe he was under the influence,” according to the understated Pawlisz.
After discovering the 64-year-old baseball celebrity, police “contacted local paramedics in New Lenox, had him examined” and transported the Hall of Famer to the local hospital.
Sources say that Fisk was eventually charged with several different criminal counts, including a lane violation, driving under the influence of alcohol, and illegally transporting an open container of alcohol in his car.
After Fisk was treated and released from the hospital, police took him to a Will County jail. Shortly after he was booked, Fisk posted bond and was released from jail. Fisk is scheduled to appear in court for his first hearing in late November.
The arrest was an embarrassing moment for the former baseball star, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame just a few years ago.
Sources say that Fisk’s career started in 1969 with the Boston Red Sox. Fisk played for Boston for 11 years before signing as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox. After a remarkably long career, especially at such a grueling position, Fisk finally retired in 1993.
On a poignant note, sources say that Fisk’s DUI arrest happened one day after the 37th anniversary of his miraculous home run in Game 6 of the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, which remains an important part of his legacy.
For his crime, Fisk could potentially face jail time, a suspended driver’s license, or a severe fine, depending on the number of previous DUI arrests he has on his record.
The severity of the incident, and the fact that he was so intoxicated he drove into a corn field and fell asleep, will not help mitigate his potential punishment.