By John Clark
Singer Bobby Brown will only spend a few days in jail after being convicted of a DUI, but he will have to wear an ankle bracelet for several weeks so the court can monitor his movements, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
According to sources, Brown pleaded no contest to a DUI charge in February, his second such charge in 2012, and was sentenced to 55 days in jail during a hearing this week.
The county jail, however, has a surplus of inmates, so jail officials expect Brown to only spend about nine days behind bars. Upon his release, however, Brown will be outfitted with an electronic ankle bracelet, sources say.
Brown, who was also sentenced to four years of probation, will not be allowed to leave his home while he serves his jail sentence, and must also complete an alcohol treatment program that is expected to last a year and half.
The singer, who was once married to the now-deceased Whitney Houston, was initially arrested in March 2012 for driving under the influence of alcohol, sources say.
Reports indicate that police initially pulled Brown over after spotting him talking on his cellphone while driving, which is prohibited in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.
But just a few months after his March arrest, Brown was arrested for drunk driving a second time that October. The second arrest led the judge to inflate Brown’s already serious sentence.
Some media outlets have speculated that Brown received favorable treatment due to his celebrity status, but it is not uncommon for judges to sentence defendants to house arrest after multiple DUI convictions.
Prison overcrowding is a serious issue in many states, as legislators continue to inflate sentences for a wide range of crimes so judges often prefer to let non-violent offenders serve out their jail sentences elsewhere.
In addition, thanks to his four-year probationary sentence, any slip-ups by Brown in the near future could lead to a dramatically higher sentence, as well as a hefty fine, and a potential long-term suspension of his driving license.
Sources also note that Brown’s only allowed trips outside his home while he serves his “jail” sentence will be mandatory visits to Alcoholic’s Anonymous three times a week.
So the court is hopeful that Brown will be able to clean up his act. If not, the sentences for Brown’s DUI convictions will only grow more severe.
By Mary Ann Pekara
Were you already convicted of DUI in Georgia and convicted for a 2nd time? Watch out! Things could be getting more strict for you.
The Georgia Senate has approved a more strict punishment for driving under the influence convictions for multiple time offenders.
Anyone convicted of more than one DUI in a 5 year period could be looking at a longer relationship with their breath-test lock on their car ignition.
The bill has to go to the House before the law can be revised but offenders may see an increase from an 8 month probationary license to one year.
Currently, after 120 days without a valid license, a probationary license can be obtained (for 8 months) as long as their car is equipped with the ignition lock that tests the driver’s blood alcohol content before starting.
By John Clark
Peter Murphy, the legendary goth-rocker who was the lead singer for Bauhaus three decades ago, was arrested for a DUI this weekend, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
Sources say the 55-year-old performer allegedly rear-ended a Mercedes with his Subaru Forester in Glendale, California, which reportedly injured the driver of the other car. But Murphy didn’t stop there.
According to the police report, Murphy fled the scene of the accident, driving into Los Angeles, where an alert eyewitness blocked Murphy’s path after following the singer from the scene of the drunk driving accident.
Sources say one eyewitness capture a photograph of Murphy’s license plate as he was speeding away from the accident.
In addition, a Good Samaritan reportedly followed Murphy in his pickup truck, which blocked Murphy’s path until police officers arrived on the scene.
At the time of his arrest, Murphy reportedly looked “very confused,” and issued a weak attempt at an excuse for his behavior by claiming that he was suffering from jet lag.
The singer also swore that he had not had any alcohol before driving, and said the only substance in his system were prescription pills for depression, according to the police report.
Police, however, claim they found a bag of methamphetamine in the squad car where Murphy had been detained after his arrest. Prosecutors plan to argue that the bag belonged to Murphy, although the singer denies that he owned the drugs.
Sources do not say whether Murphy has a prior history of drunk driving, but even if he did have a former DUI conviction on his record, he could have avoided significant legal trouble by simply waiting at the scene of the accident until police arrived.
Courts view DUI accidents with disdain, but they’re certainly less likely to take pity on defendants who flee the scene of an accident, especially if the innocent party is injured.
Of course, fleeing the scene of an accident is also a separate offense, so Murphy has exposed to himself to a significantly longer jail sentence and higher fines.
According to sources, Murphy was formally charged this week with causing injuries while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, possessing methamphetamine, and engaging in a felony hit-and-run.
Murphy, who currently lives in Turkey and was only visiting the United States, is being held on $500,000 bail after a Los Angeles judge decided he was a legitimate flight risk, according to court reports.
By John Clark
An Arizona court has upheld a decision that allows the state to prosecute Arizona drivers for driving under the influence of marijuana even if there is no evidence that they have been smoking pot, according to a report from the Arizona Republic.
Sources say the ruling, which was issued by the state’s Court of Appeals, addressed a complicated issue relating to the chemical compounds in marijuana.
When drivers are subjected to blood and urine tests after an arrest, two different pieces of evidence related to marijuana use emerge.
The first chemical compound provides evidence that the driver is actually impaired, while the other chemical compound is something that remains in a smoker’s system for weeks after he or she has smoked marijuana, but it doesn’t impair the average person’s driving ability.
Common sense would suggest that police officers should only use the first compound as evidence of intoxicated driving, but to the dismay of some state DUI attorneys, the Arizona court decided otherwise.
According to sources, the court claimed that both compounds apply to drivers under Arizona DUI laws. So if drivers have any evidence of marijuana in their system, they can be arrested for a DUI, even if they are in a perfectly suitable driving condition.
The court said the state’s legislature created the state’s DUI laws to “protect public safety,” so the court claimed it had a responsibility to interpret the statute “broadly,” and thus include both inactive and active chemical compounds found in marijuana.
The case initially arose from a traffic stop in Maricopa County that took place in 2010. During that incident, the arrested driver’s blood test only showed trace amounts of the chemical compound that is usually found well after marijuana is inhaled, according to sources.
According to one expert who testified in the case, the particular compound found in the driver’s blood doesn’t impair driving skills, and it may remain in the bloodstream for up to four weeks.
The driver’s DUI attorney said that only the chemical compound that impairs drivers’ ability to safely navigate roads is illegal, but the appellate court disagreed with this argument.
Despite the court’s decision, the original driver’s attorney is planning to file an appeal. He believes that the testing issue should be resolved because several surrounding states have legalized marijuana.
His concern is that residents of Washington and Colorado, where marijuana will soon be legal, will have to avoid driving through Arizona in order to avoid the state’s bizarre laws, which could have a negative impact on the state’s economy.
By John Clark
The mayor of Grand Island, Nebraska was arrested this week for drunk driving, continuing a long history of public officials who have stepped behind the wheel after having too many drinks.
According to a report this week from the Grand Island Independent, the town’s mayor, Jay Vavricek, was arrested this weekend for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Reports indicate that Vavricek, a 60-year-old politician, was booked into the Valley County Jail on Saturday night, but was released shortly thereafter after posting his bond.
In a statement released earlier this week, the mayor was he was “sorry and embarrassed for the events that have occurred in the last 24 hours.”
“I apologize to my family, those dependent on me, and my community, and will take corrective action so they will never be affected like this again,” concluded the mayor.
The mayor’s new need for a personal DUI attorney comes as a surprise after he had developed a great deal of trust among the community, according to sources.
Sources note that Vavricek had released his personal cell phone number on flyers last week that were sent to several residents of Grand Island. The flyers had encouraged town residents to become more involved in local government decisions, sources say.
Of course, the mayor has been arrested, but he hasn’t yet been convicted on a DUI charge. Sources say the results of a blood test, which could exonerate the mayor, have yet to be released.
City officials, however, have refused to further address Vavricek’s arrest. In a written statement, city officials said “city staff have no comment” since the arrest “is a personal matter.”
One city official, though, did briefly express disappointment in the mayor’s actions. Bob Niemann, the president of the city council, said the mayor sees the incident as “unfortunate, and so do I.”
Only time will tell whether the DUI arrest will strike a fatal political blow for Vavricek, who was first elected mayor in Grand Island in 2002, when he served a four-year term that was widely viewed as a success.
After leaving the mayor position voluntarily, Vavricek ran for a state congressional seat, which he lost. After a four-year absence from political office, Vavricek was elected to his second term as Grand Island’s mayor in 2010.
But the second term hasn’t gone as smoothly as the first, sources say. Vavricek was formally censured by the city council last summer after firing the city’s administrator, and a movement to recall the mayor a few months ago gained widespread support before eventually failing.
By John Clark
This week, the Montana Supreme Court upheld the drunk driving conviction of a man who was initially pulled over by police because snow was covering his license plate, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Sources say Mark Haldane was stopped by police in Bozeman, Montana, in January 2011 simply because the police were unable to read the entirety of Haldane’s license plate due to the accumulation of snow and the presence of a poorly placed trailer hitch.
The police were acting pursuant to a Montana state law that requires cars to have “license plates conspicuously displayed.” The law also notes that license plates in Montana “may not be obstructed from plain view.”
As a result, the police had a “particularized suspicion” to pull him over, which is the threshold police must meet before they seize someone’s vehicle by pulling it over.
Haldane challenged the validity of the stop because of the consequences that eventually ensued. After police pulled him over, they noticed that Haldane had “red, bloodshot eyes” and asked Haldane to take a field sobriety test.
Unfortunately for the driver, Haldane failed the field sobriety test and admitted to officers that he had consumed a few beers before getting behind the wheel.
At trial, Haldane was found guilty of a misdemeanor DUI, and was sentenced to a year in jail. The judge, however, suspended most of the sentence except for three days and ordered Haldane to pay a $935 fine.
While Haldane did not challenge the fact that he was drunk, he and his DUI attorney believed that challenging the validity of the stop would invalidate the DUI arrest.
The Montana Supreme Court, however, said that Haldane’s violation of the law prohibiting the concealment of license plates, even if such concealment is unintentional, gave the police enough suspicion to pull him over.
One judge, however, had noted in previous decisions that the simple fact of an obstructed license plate, standing alone, did not give police officers enough suspicion to stop a vehicle. But his judge apparently changed his mind during Haldane’s appeal.
Despite the loss on this count, Haldane did succeed in convincing the court that his inability to pay his fine promptly led to a longer jail sentence.
Sources say the justice told the Bozeman Municipal Court to revisit Haldane’s sentencing because its first decision violated the constitutional principle that “indigency or poverty not be used as the touchstone for imposing the maximum allowable punishment.”