By John Clark
Drunk driving is never a good idea, but if you do get behind the wheel after a few drinks, the most reasonable course of action is to avoid driving directly into a parked police car. Alas, some drivers fail to follow this simple advice.
An Illinois driver was arrested for a DUI this week after crashing into the back of a police cruiser, injuring two police officers, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
Source say 47-year-old Christopher Slotwinski, a resident of Chicago, drove his car into the back of an unmarked police vehicle early Saturday evening on a busy surface street on the south side of the city.
The two officers who were in the vehicle both suffered injuries, although sources say their conditions were stabilized shortly after being treated at Advocate Christ Medical Center. The driver of the car that caused the accident was also treated at the same hospital.
According to sources, Slotwinski was driving relatively fast when he struck the police car. The impact of the collision sent a headlight flying at least a block away from the collision, sources report.
In addition, the accident reportedly caused extensive damage to the rear of the unmarked police car, which was forced onto the sidewalk and completely off the road due to the impact of the collision.
Not surprisingly, Slotwinski’s car, a four-door sedan, also suffered extensive damage to the front end of the vehicle, although sources suggest that the driver’s injuries are not life-threatening.
Recent reports also indicate that debris from the accident flew across a broad stretch of the road on which the accident occurred.
But while Slotwinski will likely survive the accident, he and his personal DUI lawyer will have a difficult task ahead of them in criminal court.
Sources say the driver has been charged with misdemeanor drunk driving, driving with a suspended license, driving without insurance, and reckless driving, according to Lauras Kubiak, a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department.
According to the police report, alcohol “may have been involved” in the high-speed accident, although the fact that the driver has already been charged with a DUI suggests that prosecutors are fairly confident that the drunk driving charge will stick.
And the prosecutors are likely to pursue the strictest possible punishment against Slotwinski, who did not have a sterling driving record even before he made the ill-advised decision to slam directly into the back of a police car.
By John Clark
Randy Travis will reportedly avoid a stint in jail after pleading guilty to drunk driving this week, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
Sources say the country music legend was arrested by police officers near Tioga, Texas, last August after crashing his Pontiac Trans Am into a construction site.
According to the police report, the 53-year-old entertainer had a blood alcohol level of 0.21 percent at the time of his arrest, which is more than twice the legal limit in Texas of 0.08 percent.
The police report also alleged that Travis was “belligerent” at the scene of the accident. Specifically, Travis initially refused to take a breathalyzer test and he also threatened to shoot the officers who worked on his case.
Even more bizarre, the incident reportedly started after a witness called 911 and told the dispatcher that a naked man, presumably Travis, was lying in the road.
For his antics, Travis was charged with “retaliation and obstruction,” in addition to the DUI charge that was leveled against him after the accident.
Sources say that Travis was able to drop the retaliation and obstruction charge by pleading guilty to driving under the influence.
Under the terms of his plea bargain, Travis will have two spend two years on probation, perform 100 hours of community service, attend an alcohol treatment facility, and pay a $2,000 fine.
In addition, the court will install an ignition interlock device on any car Travis drives. These instruments prevent drivers from starting their cars if they are intoxicated, according to sources.
However, if Travis fails to abide by the terms of his probation, he will likely be sent to jail. And local sources have been quick to note that the celebrity did not receive any favors from Grayson County officials.
According to Joe Brown, the local district attorney, Travis received a sentence that was “considerably” more strict than the sentence that is “typically received” for similar DUI cases.
Brown also said that first-time DUI offenders are “rarely forced into in-patient treatment,” and noted that the singer’s “fine and community service requirements are more than double what is usually received.”
Finally, Brown also noted that the relatively high level of punishment given to Travis was “appropriate in light of his behavior with the officers.”
To his credit, Travis thanked the court for its “courtesy” before his sentencing, and expressed gratitude to the responding officers for “taking care of me that night.”
By John Clark
Despite the modern trend against drunk driving, a rogue county in southwest Ireland has passed a law that will allow some rural drivers to drive while intoxicated, according to a report from the Huffington Post.
Sources say the Kerry County Council voted this week to pass a measure that would let rural drivers apply for special permits allowing them to drive while drunk.
Five council members voted to support the controversial measure, while only three council members voted against it, according to local sources.
According to Danny Healy-Rae, the council member who promoted the resolution, rural Irish drivers have “never killed anyone” because the areas through which they drive are so sparsely populated.
In addition to the safety argument, Healy-Rae also peddled a mental health argument, although it may not be what one would expect. Sources say the councilman claimed the law would help keep a lot of rural drinkers “from falling into depression.”
Elaborating on his bizarre claim, Healy-Rae said people in isolated rural areas have no public transportation options, and new DUI laws have kept them “at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don’t want to take the risk of losing their license.”
Of course, while Healy-Rae may have legitimate concerns about the social lives of rural folks in Kerry County, he is also the owner of a local pub, and thus may have a conflict of interest.
The plan, which would allow rural residents to drive after having two or three drinks, according to the law’s proponents, has also drawn criticism from Noel Brett, the chief executive of Ireland’s Road Safety Authority.
According to Brett, it is “unthinkable” that Ireland would reverse its course on drunk driving after making “substantial progress in Ireland in reducing deaths and injuries on our roads, particularly in rural areas which are hardest hit by road fatalities and injuries.”
The proposal has also drawn sharp criticism from Alcohol Action Ireland, a nonprofit organization that has warned Kerry County officials that almost one in three automobile deaths in Ireland are related to alcohol.
Conor Cullen, a spokesman for Alcohol Action Ireland, also questioned Healy-Rae’s appeals to the mental health of rural residents, claiming such a view is far from the truth.
In Cullen’s words, “the link between alcohol use and suicide has been well established and alcohol will exacerbate” the depression experienced by the residents of Kerry County, not reduce it.
By Mary Ann Pekara
Many people don’t know that in some states APC is the same as DUI. What is APC? APC stands for actual physical control.
Essentially what this means is that in some states, you can get a driving under the influence charge while not driving. In other states, such as California, there must be “volitional movement” for DUI.
DUI attorney, Jeff Yeh says, “If you feel it is necessary to pull over and rest, find a legitimate parking space instead of pulling over by the side of the road, which invites suspicion. An even better idea would be to move to the passenger’s seat to sleep. Moreover, make sure the engine is turned off, and preferably the keys are not in the ignition.”
The definition of actual physical control differs by state but the basic understanding centers on whether or not you have the ability (or control) to operate the vehicle.
Factors that are considered when determining actual physical control include:
- If you’re awake
- If your headlights are on
- Where the ignition key is
- If the vehicle is legally parked or in the roadway
- If your vehicle’s engine is running or the ignition is on
- Where and in what position you are found in the vehicle
As mentioned above, the laws in every state differ and each case is looked at on a case by case basis but here are some examples of cases where people have been charged with DUI and were not driving.
- Someone sleeping in the drivers’ seat of their car with the car off and their keys in their pocket.
- Someone sitting in the drivers’ seat with the keys in the ignition, just listening to music.
- Someone stumbling up to their car fumbling their keys to open the door.
- Someone walking from their car to their front door that had been seen previously drinking.
The bottom line is if you’re under the influence and in physical control of your vehicle, you may be arrested for DUI depending on what state you’re in.
After that, it will be up to the courts to decide, but hiring a competent DUI attorney to defend your case probably in your best interest.
By John Clark
Just one month after one his teammates was killed in a drunk driving crash, Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jay Ratliff has been arrested for driving while intoxicated, according to a report from the Dallas Morning News.
Sources say Ratliff, widely renowned as one of the top nose tackles in the National Football League, was arrested on Tuesday just after midnight following a two-car accident in Grapevine, Texas.
According to sources, Ratliff was driving west on a state highway when his Ford F150 truck ran into a tractor trailer. After striking the large truck, Ratliff’s car reportedly spun into a highway barrier.
Remarkably, no one was injured in the crash, so Ratliff was very fortunate to have escaped the deadly consequences suffered by his deceased teammate, 25-year-old Jerry Brown Jr.
Last month, Brown was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Josh Brent, another defensive lineman for the Cowboys, who crashed and flipped his car while driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.189, which is more than twice the legal limit in Texas.
Brown tragically died shortly after the accident, and Brent, his longtime friend and teammate, will soon face trial on a charge of intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
Fortunately, Ratliff escaped the fate of his teammates, although the 31-year-old player will likely face serious legal consequences for his actions.
According to sources, Ratliff failed a field sobriety test at the scene of the accident, although he refused to take a breathalyzer test after being booked in jail. He was, however, released from county jail Tuesday morning, after posting a $500 bond.
Under Texas law, police are allowed to obtain a warrant to draw the blood of potential drunk drivers if they refuse to take a breathalyzer test. Sources say this practice was used to draw blood from Ratliff, although police are still awaiting the results of his toxicology report.
Neither the Cowboys nor Ratliff’s agent had released a statement at press time, as both parties are likely waiting for the legal system to play its role before they jump to any conclusions about the incident.
If Ratliff is suspended by the league for any period of time, it could hurt the Cowboys in 2013. Sources say Ratliff has played in four Pro Bowls during his eight-year tenure in Dallas.
In 2011, Ratliff signed a $40 million contract extension that will pay him handsomely until 2017. Of course, the Cowboys could void his contract if he suffers a serious injury, but $18 million of the contract is guaranteed, so Ratliff has plenty of financial security.