Disputes Over Breathalyzer Use Continue

By Mary Ann

As police departments continue to use Intoxilyzer 5000 and Intoxilyzer 8000 to analyze drivers’ blood alcohol level the courts continue to struggle with the admissibility of the results.

The Intoxilyzer machines are made by Kentucky-based CMI, and the company is very protective of their source code, which details how the machines operate.

Many DUI lawyers are arguing that if their clients are to receive a fair trial then they should be allowed to examine the source code to ensure the breathalyzer machines are operating accurately and properly.

The result? In Florida, a judge dismissed more than 100 DUI cases because the source code couldn’t be reviewed. In Arizona, a judge tried but was unable to order CMI to release the code.

For a good summary on the debate, check out Lawrence Taylor’s DUI Blog, which mentions that issues have arisen in Minnesota as well.



Record-Setting DUI Case

By Mary Ann

A woman in Oregon set a terrible new DUI record recently.

A 42-year-old woman was found by paramedics passed out at the wheel of her car, which had been driven into a snow bank. The car’s engine was still on and paramedics broke a window to get the driver out.

She was taken to the hospital where tests revealed a blood alcohol level of .72%.

A quick breakdown of BAC levels and some of the health risks.

  • .08 Legal limit
  • .16 Very pronounced alcohol effects, dangerous health risks
  • .20 A person may be able to injure themselves and not feel the pain. Walking may be very difficult
  • .25 Increased risk of asphyxiation.
  • .30 Death possible
  • .35 As if the person were under surgical anesthesia
  • .40 Comatose likely, high risk of respiratory arrest and death

These risks don’t include the dangers of drinking and driving, such as the high auto accident death rates.



Watch What You Drive: You Can Get a DUI on Most Vehicles

By Mary Ann

Several recent news stories highlight a DUI fact that often gets overlooked: You don’t have to be driving a car to get a DUI.

In fact, if you are in control of any motorized vehicle – even briefly – and under the influence of alcohol or drugs you could be charged with a DUI.

Also, in most states, the DUI penalties are the same regardless of what you were driving, be it a car, motorcycle, tractor or something else entirely.

Take the man in Minnesota who was recently arrested for DUI on his snowmobile. Police responded to reports of a stranded snowmobile, but found the snowmobile and its drunk driver were still running along a few of the thousands of miles of snowmobile trails in Minnesota.

Then, there is a report from Great Britain about a woman who was pulled over while taking her mobility scooter home from the grocery store. Yes, she was charged with DUI on a motorized wheel chair.

Also in Minnesota, a woman was charged with drunk driving after, as a passenger in the car, grabbed the wheel and ran the car into a ditch. The driver of the car was also charged with DUI.

The bottom line: You can get a DUI in any vehicle.



Blow into Your iPod Please – test your BAC with the new iBreath

By Mary Ann

The latest gadget for the iPod is the iBreath, allowing your iPod to tell you if you are drunk.

The attachment is a compact breathalyzer and FM transmitter. It features a BAC range of .00 to .10% and allows your iPod to play music through your radio.

If you have been out drinking, using the product can help you decide if you should be driving. According to the instructions, you unfold the blow wand and exhale for five seconds.

After about two seconds, the iBreath gives you your blood alcohol level. You can also set up a timer that will remind you when it’s time to take the next test.



Experts Say Wisconsin DUI Laws Lax and Lacking

By Mary Ann

Group to Push for Changes in Wisconsin DUI Laws

The Wisconsin law is in stark contrast to other states, where parents can be criminally charged for supplying minors with alcohol.

The New York Times recently highlighted that in Wisconsin, kids can drink legally. Children that are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, who gives consent, can be served alcohol in bars and restaurants in the state.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin also stands out as the state where more people drink and drive than anywhere else in the country. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that the state has the highest incidence of DUI-related (OWI-related) deaths in the United States.

A campaign for tougher DUI laws was recently launched by a coalition called All-Wisconsin Alcohol Risk Education. The group also wishes to promote a greater general awareness of drinking problems and will push for increased screening for alcohol abuse at health clinics.

View the full article



Man Racked Up 15 DUIs Before Going to Prison

By Mary Ann

Wisconsin is known for being one of the leading states in DUIs. According to a recent study by the Journal Sentinel more than 475,000 people have at least one DUI conviction and 8,000 have five or more DUI convictions.

Total DUI covered the study earlier this month, but a more recent story in the Journal Sentinel reported that there is a Wisconsin man with 15 DUIs.

Mark Allen Warner of River Falls was convicted of driving under the influence 15 times before his 40th birthday.

He wasn’t sentenced to prison until he had been convicted for the fifteenth time. For 11 DUI offenses, his blood alcohol level averaged .212.



News from Total DUI

By Mary Ann

Illinois Law Allows License Suspensions without DUI

Illinois has a new alcohol-related law that has led to more than 3,000 teenagers losing their driver’s licenses this year. The teens were not accused of DUI, but the “use-lose” law allows for driver’s license suspensions for those caught underage drinking.

The state law was passed after five teens died last year in an alcohol-related crash. Underage drinkers in Illinois may have their driver’s licenses suspended without any involvement with a car or driving…

Read more.



This Week on Total DUI

By Mary Ann

State Law Provides Illinois DUI Memorial Signs

Under a new Illinois DUI law, memorial signs for those killed in drunken driving accidents may be requested by the victims’ families. A sign with Caitlin’s name and the date of the accident that took her life was the first to be requested under “Tina’s Law.” The law is named for Tina Ball, a construction worker with seven children who was killed by a drunken driver while working on I-57 during September 2003. Read more.

Study Shows Felony Wisconsin DUI Offenders are Avoiding Prison

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that lawmakers intended to get repeat Wisconsin OWI (DUI) offenders off the road. However, an analysis of Wisconsin DUI sentencing has shown that less than half of the people who are sentenced for fifth-offense drunken-driving in Milwaukee County end up serving time in prison. View the full article.

Drug Testing Drivers Could Become as Simple as Breath Tests

The National Institute of Health has recently released research guidelines that may lead to the development of new testing methods for drug abuse that can be used as routinely as breath tests. These guidelines were published in the August journal Addiction. Read on.



Family Ties

By Mary Ann

According to The Chicago Tribune, Kelli Thompson, of Crown Point, Ind., was arrested for alleged DUI offense after she was pulled over.  The arresting officer found Thompson’s one-year-old son in her minivan and called relatives to come pick up the child.

When three relatives arrived to pick up the child, the police found that they too had all been drinking.  Robert Dereamer, the child’s father, was the first to arrive on the scene.

Once police discovered that he had been drinking, they charged him with DUI and driving on a suspended license.  He was taken to the same jail as his wife, who is also being charged with endangering the life of a child while driving intoxicated.

The grandparents came to pick up the child next, but both of them had also been drinking.  The grandmother, who was the driver, was not over the legal limit.  The police escorted the couple home.



Wisconsin’s new Beer Class Raising Glasses and Questions

By Mary Ann

The University of Wisconsin announced that it will be offering a beer brewing class this spring under the instruction of Jon Roll.

According to The Chicago Tribune, the Madison campus is one of the first in the nation to offer this type of course.

Roll says that the class is not inspired by the college’s party reputation – as it has been ranked the number one party school in the last few years by Playboy and Princeton Review.  Wisconsin is also known for having the highest binge drinking rate in the country.

However, Roll says the class was created because of the region’s history of making beer.  The course will teach students about fermentation.

MillerCoors donated equipment that will help the class make 10 gallons of beer.  At the end of the semester, the students will critique a sample, and the rest of the beer will be dumped.



MADD asks Everyone to be Safe this Halloween

By Mary Ann

Mothers Against Drunk Driving issued a statement asking people to designate a sober driver this Halloween weekend during festivities.  The group is especially concerned since Halloween falls on a Friday this year.

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, 66 people were killed in DUI accidents last year from October 30 to November 1 in 2007.

To be safe this Halloween, MADD advices:

  • People find a sober driver before celebrations begin;
  • People under 21 are not served alcohol;
  • If you are planing a party, include non-alcoholic drink options for people and do no serve alcohol the last hour of the party; and
  • Be ready to make sure everyone gets home safe.

Have a Happy Halloween!



In Total DUI News Spotlight

By Mary Ann

Homework Assignment Inspires DUI Bill

According to a report by the Bulletin, Paul Clymer has introduced legislation that would require mandatory ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders.

Clymer’s idea for the new legislation came from a 14-year-old boy.

Read more about how the high school sophomore’s homework assignment turned into a purposed DUI law.

The Case for Tougher DUI Penalties

A case involving a Kansas DUI arrest has Kansas residents demanding a change in the state’s DUI law and insisting on stiffer DUI penalties for repeat offenders.

Find out what these tougher laws would mean for people with a DUI conviction.



Are strict DUI laws really that strict?

By Mary Ann

After four-year-old Jon Port’s death in 1991, a grass-roots movement began to get stricter DUI laws passed in Wisconsin.

Finally in 1999, a law was passed that made a fifth offense of drinking and driving a felony.  The Wisconsin government hoped this new law would keep repeat offenders of DUIs off the road.

However, the Journal Sentinel completed an analysis that found that less than half the people sentenced for a felony DUI in Milwaukee County go to prison.

The survey looked at all criminal convictions for people convicted of five DUI offenses.  There were 161 fifth offense cases from 1999 to 2006.

According to the report, only 70 defendants went to prison, while most got their sentence reduced by completing boot camps, treatment programs or petitioning the judge.  The survey also found that about 25% of the people with fifth-offense convictions have already re-offended at least once.



This week on Total DUI

By Mary Ann

Ohio judges violate DUI law

Under a 2004 Ohio law, drivers with multiple DUI convictions who still need to drive under provisional driver’s licenses are required to have special DUI license plates assigned to their vehicles.

The DUI law mandates that judges order the DUI license plates.

Approximately 33,000 drivers in Ohio have five or more DUI convictions, only 8,500 vehicles in the entire state had been issued the special DUI license plates as of the end of last year.



Mid-tryst, couple finds out where they parked

By Mary Ann

In the early morning hours of October 5, a couple was caught by police having sex in their car, reported The Chicago Tribune.

While that might not be an unusual act for officers to find couples in parked cars committing, it is unusual to bust someone for trysting in handicapped spot in a police station parking lot.

A Pennsylvania couple was caught in the Hellertown police station parking lot, after someone called to report a suspicious vehicle parked in front of the station.

The driver, Dennis Conor Cullen, and his female passenger admitted that they were unaware about where they had parked or that they were surrounded by several marked police cars.

Cullen was charged with a DUI after admitting that he had been drinking at a Lehigh University function earlier in the evening.