South Carolina is the worst state in the nation in regards to the percentage of drunken driving deaths, according to a recent study by the National Highway Safety Administration.
South Carolina had 767 traffic deaths in 2013; of those fatalities, 335, or 44 percent, were attributable to drunken driving. The national average is currently 31 percent.
Nearby states, such as North Carolina and Georgia, are both lower than the national average, at 29 percent and 25 percent respectively. Utah has the lowest percent of drunken driving deaths, at 17 percent.
While alcohol-related traffic deaths in South Carolina have decreased by 4 percent between 2012 and 2013, the state still has a lot to work on.
“Improvements aren’t being made fast enough, and it’s a shame that we lead the nation in such devastating circumstances,” MADD South Carolina Program Director Steven Burritt said. “It forces us to ask ourselves as a state once again whether we’re doing everything we know we should to drive these numbers down. We know the answer is that we’re not.”
State Trooper Hannah Wimberly of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said the department made over 500 DUI arrests in Beaufort and Jasper counties alone.
“With the amount of troopers working out here as hard as they can, we had many safety checkpoints out here to try and get these drivers off the roadway before they hurt or killed somebody,” Wimberly said.
Highway patrol has enacted several tactics to increase DUI arrests, such as increased patrol, DUI checkpoints and various targeted initiatives.
“DUI is not just a statistic…it’s somebody’s family and friends that you need to take into consideration,” said Wimberly. “If people continue to drink and drive, we will continue to arrest them and our numbers will continue to rise.”
A 31-year-old Florida woman who killed two sisters in a DUI accident was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday.
Terra Goodier was driving her SUV west on the eastbound side of State Road 44 near New Smyrna Beach, Florida around 9:30pm on January 12, 2012. Goodier drove the wrong way for roughly 3 ½ miles before she crashed her SUV into another car. The impact killed driver Linda Johnson, 57, and her sister Christine Enright, 59.
Goodier’s blood alcohol level was 0.106 percent at the time of the accident—0.08 percent above the legal limit.
The incident was Goodier’s second DUI arrest. In 2007, she accepted a plea that brought her drunken driving charge down to reckless driving. Goodier received six months of probation in the case.
Goodier pleaded no contest to two counts of DUI causing death, which are each a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in person. She accepted a plea deal that kept her potential sentence between 15 and 20 years in prison.
On Tuesday, Circuit Judge R. Michael Hutcheson ruled a guilty verdict. Goodier was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by 10 years of probation. During her probation, Goodier is forbidden from drinking any alcohol or patronizing any bars.
Hutcheson considered the probationary period of Goodier’s previous DUI arrest for his sentencing. Goodier was given a concurrent extra 6 months’ probation for producing a fraudulent urine sample. In 2013, Goodier’s bail was revoked when she tested positive for cocaine.
During her testimony, Goodier tearfully addressed the two sisters’ family members who were present in the courtroom. She stated she was not living according to the Bible or how she was raised.
The victims’ families were skeptical of Goodier’s words. Linda Johnson’s son Zach testified in court specifically about Goodier’s guilt.
“I sit here and I really struggle with whether or not you truly understand that what you did was wrong and that you are guilty because you feel bad or is it because you are worried about the next 15 to 20 years of your life,” Johnson said.
There has been no official comment from Goodier regarding her sentencing.
For a second time, Florida jurors have convicted the founder of the International Polo Club in a deadly drunken-driving accident.
John Goodman, 51, was found guilty of DUI manslaughter, failure to render aid and vehicular homicide. The verdict came after 15 days of deliberation in a retrial. He faces up to 16 years in prison.
Police say in February 2010, an intoxicated Goodman ran a stop sign and crashed his Bentley into 23-year-old Scott Patrick Wilson’s car. The collision caused Wilson’s car to roll into a canal, ultimately leading to his drowning death.
Prosecutors stated Goodman had been drinking for several hours before the 1am crash and that his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the .08 legal limit. They said Goodman knowingly left the scene and waited almost an hour before calling 911.
Goodman’s defense attorneys argued that his high blood-alcohol level was caused by his imbibing after the crash, in an attempt to quell the pain of his broken wrist. Additionally, the attorneys contended Goodman left the scene to find a phone to call 911, a misjudgment due to a concussion he suffered from the crash.
In March 2012, a Palm Beach County jury found Goodman guilty after just six hours of deliberation; the verdict was dismissed due to juror misconduct.
In addition to founding the International Polo Club, Goodman is an heir to a Texas heating and air conditioning fortune.
Goodman was immediately remanded to the Palm Beach County Jail to await sentencing. His attorneys are expected to file a motion for Goodman to be released on bond pending an appeal.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson spoke to Wilson’s parents after the final verdict was read.
“This case is about Scott Patrick Wilson,” he said. “And that’s who achieved justice today, and that’s who we all should be thinking about.”
By John Clark
A prominent North Dakota lawmaker from the city of Fargo was arrested this week for driving under the influence, according to a report from Bismarck Tribune.
Sources say Democratic Rep. Scot Kelsh was pulled over by state police on Interstate 29 in Fargo around midnight on Monday. The legislator was reportedly headed northbound on the heavily traveled highway at the time of his arrest.
The arrest was confirmed by Sgt. Troy Hischer, a member of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, who told sources that Kelsh was indeed stopped and “arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.”
When sources tried to reach Kelsh directly for comment, he did not answer cell phone messages. In addition, Chad Oban, the director of the North Dakota Democratic Party, said it was a personal matter and refused to comment.
Sources were eager to contact Kelsh for a couple reasons. First, and most obviously, any time a public official is arrested, it becomes immediate fodder for local media outlets. But this case was particularly interesting because of Kelsh’s public stance on drunk driving arrests.
According to reports, Kelsh voted earlier this year on a new North Dakota DUI law that would heighten the potential punishment for DUI offenses.
Under the new law, a first DUI offense is usually a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a potential $500 fine, $250 worth of court fees, and a suspended license, which could last for up to six months, sources say.
Ironically, Kelsh is the first legislator in North Dakota to be subject to the new DUI restrictions, which reportedly went into effect earlier this summer.
So while Kelsh received a great deal of public support, the 51-year-old politician will have to face up to the constituents who first elected him to office in 1996. He does, however, have time to earn back the public’s trust, as he is not up for reelection until later next year.
Of course, Kelsh’s actions do nothing to diminish the impact of his vote on the new DUI law. North Dakota has long had a relatively lenient stance on DUI laws, according to local sources.
A recent wave of anti-DUI momentum among state legislatures across the country has led to increased fines and jail sentences for DUI arrests for thousands of drunk driving offenders. And it appears the state of North Dakota could no longer stand still in the face of the DUI legislation trend.
By John Clark
A suspected drunk driver killed two of her car’s passengers after a fatal DUI accident this week in Los Angeles, California, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
Sources say the 22-year-old driver of the car, which crashed on the heavily traveled 110 Freeway early last Sunday, was steering a 2011 Nissan Sentra with several passengers when she careened off the road, struck a tree, and then stopped at a chain-link fence.
The one-car accident reportedly killed two passengers, Blanca Almanza, 23, and Ana Cuadra, 22, both Los Angeles residents who were pronounced dead at the scene after paramedics determined they were “beyond help,” according to sources.
The two other passengers in the car, as well as the driver, were taken to area hospitals, although no word is yet available on their conditions, according to a report from the California Highway Patrol. Sources say the young driver, a resident of San Gabriel, has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.
Sources speculate that the one-car accident occurred when the driver was going at a very high rate of speed, which, if true, would explain the severe consequences of the potential DUI.
According to reports, the accident, which took place at about 1:35 a.m. near the Avenue 52 exit, caused severe damage to the car, which hindered the ability of responding emergency officials to offer prompt aid.
According to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey, firefighters who responded to the accident had to use hydraulic prying tools to rescue at least two of the victims from the car. Of course, their timely response may have saved several lives.
In the interim, once she recovers, the driver of the car will have a significant amount of legal defense to muster, as the potential consequences of a fatal DUI accident are quite severe.
With a non-injury first-time DUI offense, many offenders can escape with simply a fine, a driver’s license suspension, and a bit of probation, depending on the nature of their crime and the quality of their DUI defense.
But fatal DUI accidents are increasingly punished with lengthy prison sentences, as many states have established strict minimum jail tenures for people convicted of felony DUIs.
And this is not to mention the incredible psychological pain the driver must be going through, knowing that she led to the death of two of her friends. The lesson, as always: Don’t drink and drive. If you feel you’re too drunk to drive, the few dollars you spend on a cab could save a lifetime of regret.
By Mary Ann Gorman
A Palm City, Florida man was arrested on DUI charges after he was found passed out in his Chevy pickup truck in a Taco Bell drive-thru.
Early in the morning on October 1st, Matthew Falkner, 30, drove through the Taco bell drive-thru in Jensen Beach, Florida, received his food and proceeded to pass out at the wheel.
Police were called because Falkner was holding up the entire drive-thru line, causing quite a commotion.
The engine of Falkner’s truck caught fire as his foot pushed down on the accelerator while the vehicle was in park and he was asleep.
When police arrived, Falkner was first woken up by the officer who then took his foot off the accelerator. The officer then asked for Falkner’s ID to which he handed the officer a taco.
When the deputy reiterated he needed the man’s ID, Falkner started eating the taco and laughing.
Falkner’s breath test yielded a BAC between .225 and .227. The legal limit is .08. He was arrested on DUI charges and taken to jail.
By John Clark
A high school volleyball player was suspended for five games this week after allegedly helping a drunk friend find her way home, according to a report from USA Today.
The school’s decision seems to fly in the face of the theory that people who help others avoid drinking and driving should be rewarded, not punished.
According to reports, Erin Cox, a senior at North Andover High School in Massachusetts, received a phone call two weeks ago from a friend who had been at a party and feared she was too drunk to drive.
This, of course, was a sound decision on the part of the friend, as even a first DUI offense can result in a suspended driver’s license, a heavy fine, and a possible jail sentence.
During the call, Cox agreed to pick up her friend, because she did not want her to attempt to drive drunk, or climb into another vehicle with a drunk driver from the party.
To Cox’s chagrin, however, when she arrived at the party, local police had already arrived on the scene, and were in the process of arresting several of her classmates for possessing alcohol under the age of 21.
When police approached Cox, she explained her story, and they did not arrest her for drinking, nor did they charge her with possessing alcohol underage. School officials, however, made a different decision.
According to reports, the school stripped Cox of her position as team captain, and suspended her for five games for being present at the ill-fated party.
In response to the school’s controversial decision, media outlets across the country have debated the merits of suspending a girl who was simply trying to help a friend avoid drinking and driving.
Sources say the girl’s parents have expressed their unconditional support. “She did what she thought was right, and I’m very proud of her,” said the driver’s mother, Eleanor Cox.
The suspended athlete’s family has reportedly hired an attorney, and they tried to file a lawsuit against the school last week, but the local judge dismissed the case because the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter.
When sources tried to reach the school superintendent and principal for comment, they refused to respond to telephone messages.
Interestingly, the Massachusetts chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a powerful advocacy group, say that Cox’s friend should have called an adult instead of her high school friend. The organization did, however, note that the driver had “good intentions.”
By John Clark
Most felony DUI convictions require quite a bit of legwork on the part of prosecutors, but one Ohio man appears to have made this job easier after confessing to his crime in a bizarre online video, according to a report from CNN.
Sources say a grand jury in Franklin County, Ohio, has indicted 22-year-old Matthew Cordle on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and driving a car under the influence of alcohol.
The charges come more than two months after the collision, which occurred when Cordle drove the wrong way down Interstate 670 near Columbus, Ohio, striking another car in a head-on collision and killing its driver, 61-year-old Vincent Canzani.
Remarkably, the driver may have escaped charges were it not for his stunning online admission, which has already been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, sources say.
In the video, which was posted last week, Cordle states his name and then announces that, “on June 22nd, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani.” He goes on to say that he had been out drinking with friends before the accident.
Remarkably, the confession struck a chord with Cheryl Oates, Canzani’s former wife, who said she believed the apparent remorse felt by Cordle was real. “He said I made a huge mistake, and I’m going to take what’s coming to me. You’ve got to respect him for that,” said Oates.
Oates, however, also told reporters she still believes Cordle should serve time in prison for causing the drunk driving accident. Still, she found watching the video to be “gut-wrenching,” especially since she has young sons of her own.
But prosecutors in the case aren’t impressed, and they don’t plan to lower their requested sentence. According to lead prosecutor Ron O’Brien, the state attorney’s office “had a case against him based on evidence as I know it before the video was filmed.”
If O’Brien and his team of prosecutors are able to convict Cordle, the young driver faxes a maximum sentence of eight and a half years in prison, according to reports.
And Cordle’s DUI attorney claims that his client’s video was not made with an eye on lowering the sentence he will face if he’s convicted.
According to Cordle’s attorney, “the video was meant to raise awareness related to the serious issues surrounding drinking and driving” and Cordle also hoped that his confession would “offer the Canzanis some level of closure by avoiding any lengthy, drawn out legal proceedings.”
By John Clark
The principal of a prominent Catholic school in central Florida was arrested this week for drunk driving, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel.
The school leader, 53-year-old Mary Ann Staley, faces two charges of DUI causing serious bodily injury, according to sources covering the accident that left two people seriously injured.
According to sources, the accident happened late Sunday night, after Staley crashed into the left side of an Oldsmobile that was traveling in the opposite direction.
The Florida Highway Patrol has reported that the Oldsmobile held Casteria Young, the 59-year-old driver, and a passenger, 55-year-old James Bennett, both of whom are from Ocala. And both occupants of the car suffered serious injuries, sources say.
But despite sending two people to the hospital, Staley didn’t suffer an injury in the crash, although her local DUI attorney will have a lot of work to do to defeat the charges.
Sources do not say what Staley’s blood alcohol level was at the time of the accident, but police likely collected evidence in the form of a blood or breath test when they arrived on the scene.
People who are arrested for a DUI have the right to refuse to submit to a breath test, but many states now mandate a blood test for certain types of offenders. In addition, field sobriety tests may also be used as evidence in many DUI trials.
After her arrest, Staley was booked into the Marion County Jail, but she was released later that day on a $2,500 bond. Sources say she has not yet returned phone messages from local newspapers seeking further information.
Reports indicate that Staley is the principal at St. Paul Catholic School in Leesburg, Florida. In a recent statement, Carol Brinati, the chancellor for administration of the Orlando Diocese, said the order is praying “for victims of the automobile accident and their families and for Ms. Staley and her family during this time.”
But Brinati also said the diocese “holds its principals to high standards of ministry outside of work hours as well as when school is in session,” and announced that Staley has been “placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation into the matter.”
So Staley will have to fight her DUI charges without the aid of her regular school routine, but it sounds like the diocese may give her a second chance if she is able to prove her innocence in a court of law.
By John Clark
The Denver Broncos suspended two executives who were charged with DUIs this summer, according to a report this week from CBS Sports.
A spate of arrests of NFL players in recent months has led some members of the media to question the league’s commitment to lawfulness, but the arrest of two Denver executives shows that drunk driving arrests can happen in unexpected places.
Sources say the suspended officials, both of whom will not receive pay during their punishments, include Tom Heckert, the team’s director of pro personnel, and Matt Russell, the director of player personnel.
The men will also be forced to receive alcohol treatment. “While they will be punished and held accountable, our first priority is their health and well-being. We must ensure they receive any care they need and support them however possible,” said a statement released by the team.
John Elway, the team’s executive vice president, also noted it was “particularly disappointing that two members of my staff acted so irresponsibly” and told reporters their arrests were “unacceptable and inexcusable.”
Elway’s ire was aimed at both team officials, but he may have been more upset with Russell, who blew a blood alcohol reading of .246 when he was arrested, which is more than three times Colorado’s legal limit of .246, sources say.
Russell was arrested last week after crashing his Toyota Tundra into the side of a police cruiser. After Russell failed a field sobriety test, officers found a bottle of liquor inside the truck, and Russell had “no recollection of the accident,” according to a police report.
One month before Russell’s DUI arrest, fellow Broncos executive Tom Heckert was arrested for drunk driving. He reportedly had a blood alcohol content of .162, but the reading wasn’t taken until seven hours after his arrest, sources say.
Sources also note that the team seemed particularly sensitive to the arrests because news of a DUI arrest for one of its players in May also became public this week.
Following a long line of football players who have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, Broncos offensive lineman Quentin Saulsberry was reportedly pulled over for a DUI in late May, sources say.
So the Broncos seem to be setting a clear example for the team’s players by giving severe punishments to the two team officials who had the misfortune of being arrested for a DUI. Time will tell whether the players receive the intended message.
By John Clark
After a drunk driving accident that may have had more consequences than the driver expected, more than 1,000 residents of Van Nuys, California, lost electricity service, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
According to reports, the remarkable incident occurred after midnight last Wednesday when an unidentified driver steered his 1973 Tioga RV into a Van Nuys apartment building at the corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Clark Street.
Sources say the driver of the ancient recreational vehicle lost control of his car, ran into a power pole, bounced off the apartment building, sped down an alley, and ultimately stopped after slamming into a fence.
Before his arrest for a DUI, the driver reportedly hit at least 30 cars before winding up in a “pile of rubble” at the end of the alley next to the apartment building.
According to reports, the impact to the power pole knocked out power for the entire apartment, as well as several other buildings nearby. Sources say power was eventually restored, but not before the outage affected more than 1,000 people.
Remarkably, the driver only suffered minor injuries, and is expected to have a fully recovery from the crash, according to local reports.
According to a representative from the Los Angeles Fire Department who spoke with the 59-year-old driver, the man claimed that his gas pedal got stuck, which forced him to strike the building and several cars in an effort to stop.
To make the accident even more bizarre, the driver reportedly had four dogs, including three pit bulls and a Chihuahua, inside the RV at the time of the accident. The animals were unhurt and were taken away from the scene by animal control authorities, according to reports.
The impact of the crash was quite a surprise for residents of the apartment building the driver struck, according to local sources.
After the accident, the top and bottom floors of the apartment building were evacuated while building inspectors checked the structure for damage.
“When we heard it, it almost sounded like a ton of metal dropped onto the pavement or something, and it was just being dragged,” said apartment dweller Tom Nagy to sources after the incident.
“When we came out here, then we realized that obviously he was scraping right up against that building,” said Nagy.
Nagy also mentioned that the dogs involved in the crash appeared “perfectly fine for the amount of crash it was, because the camper just like basically collapsed.”
By John Clark
Lance Mackey, a four-time Iditarod champion and dog sledding legend, was arrested this week and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a report from KTVA News in Alaska.
Sources say Mackey, who is accustomed to driving vehicles under extreme circumstances, went too far this week when he allegedly drove while intoxicated, although, like every DUI defendant, the Yukon Quest champion is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty.
According to reports, police stopped Mackey early Sunday morning after his 2008 Dodge Charger was seen speeding and rapidly accelerating down a road in Fairbanks.
In 2008, Mackey reportedly traded a Dodge pickup he won after winning the 2008 Iditarod for the Charger, which was adorned with a personalized license plate reading REPEAT, in honor of Mackey’s consecutive Iditarod victories.
When the responding officer pulled Mackey over, he noticed a strong odor of alcohol and also claimed that Mackey had slurred speech, watery eyes, and was unable to stand still, according to the police report.
The officer also noted that he had seen the 43-year-old Iditarod champion in a Fairbanks bar earlier that evening, and said Mackey appeared drunk at that time, as well.
According to sources, Mackey also failed a field sobriety test and registered a blood alcohol level of 0.147 percent after taking a portable breathalyzer test.
When he arrived at the police station, however, Mackey refused to take an official breath test. As a result, he has also been charged with refusing to take a breath test, sources report.
Local sources say that Mackey gained legendary status after surviving cancer and then winning the Iditarod four years in a row.
In 2007, Mackey became the first dog sled racer to win the Yukon Quest, the sport’s other major event, and the Iditarod in the same year.
Mackey is also known for a style some describe as “brash.” Before the 2009 Iditarod, Mackey bragged about getting three speeding tickets since trading for the Dodge Charger, and told reporters that he liked “going fast, not just on dogs.”
Today, however, Mackey would be best advised to slow down. Sources say he was arraigned this weekend in Fairbanks Superior Court, but was released from jail after posting a $3,000 bail.
Sources report that an initial hearing has been set for July 24, although it could be several months before Mackey decides whether to agree to a plea bargain or take his chances in a court of law.
By John Clark
Just days after her famous mother retired from broadcasting, the daughter of Barbara Walters was arrested for a DUI after an altercation with police, according to a report from the Huffington Post.
Sources say 44-year-old Jacqueline Walters Danforth had to be tackled by police so she wouldn’t run into traffic, and she could be facing extensive criminal penalties for her actions.
Sources say Danforth was driving a Honda Pilot around 1:00 in the morning in Naples, Florida, when police pulled her over after receiving calls about a car without its lights on stopped in the middle of the highway.
When police arrived at the car, they claim that Danforth and a male passenger, who is presumed to be her boyfriend, were “extremely intoxicated.”
Indeed, according to sources, Danforth submitted to a breathalyzer test that revealed a blood alcohol content of .218, which is more than twice the legal limit of .08.
Events took a turn for the worse when the police officers attempted to place handcuffs on Danforth’s companion. When they made a move towards his hands, Danforth allegedly began shouting and tried to grab one of the responding officers.
After yelling at the police and making attempts to grab them, Danforth apparently looked as if she was about to run into traffic, so police tackled her to avoid further incident.
In the police report, the arresting officer said he “was afraid that the suspect may run into traffic on the highway, so she was taken to the ground due to her unpredictable behavior, then secured in handcuffs.”
Sources say she was eventually subdued and taken to a police station for booking. She was released a few hours later on a $1,000 bond, according to sources.
According to reports, Danforth has kept a clean criminal record as an adult, but famously had a troubled childhood, which involved drug abuse and a successful attempt to run away from home.
Sources also note that Danforth had a series of television specials with her mother in which she candidly discussed her wild teenager years. Walters also discussed her daughters’ troubles extensively in her biography, as well as several other interviews.
When Danforth was struggling with drug abuse, Walters sent her to a rehabilitation program, which helped Danforth recover from her early woes.
Thanks to the experience with her daughter, Walters started her own program for girls with substance abuse issues, but that facility eventually closed.
Guest blog post written by MrCheckpoint
For a fun and safe and celebratory weekend, MrCheckpoint recommends the following tips:
- Map out a safe route home before the festivities begin
- If you plan on drinking, find a sober driver and leave your car keys home
- Taxis, call a friend or family member or use the buses and/or trains
- Use 911 services if you recognize a potential drunk driver on the roadway
- Offer help to a drunk person in an effort to get the person home safely and take his/her keys away for their own safety
- Sign up at MrCheckpoint for free DUI Checkpoint text alerts
Sobriety Checkpoints have been discovered to be very beneficial in reducing the number of alcohol related deaths and injuries on the streets.
Therefore, checkpoints are not set up to harass drivers, but are in place as a safety measure. In addition to this, research supports the 20% decrease in alcohol related crashes.
There will be momentary stops for all drivers passing through the police checkpoints. Motorists can expect to have their licenses and insurance information checked and measures taken to determine their level of alcohol and/or drug impairment.
There are penalties involved for driving while impaired, which include things from fees, fines, DUI classes, license suspension as well as jail time.
Not having a sober, designated driver has caused fatal consequences for impaired drivers. In fact nearly 10,000 people were killed in 2011 as a result of there being at least one driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher.
Again, there is documented evidence that shows checkpoints to be very useful and effective tools for any DUI enforcement strategies. What makes them most effective is when they are well publicized.
Get real time DUI Checkpoint text alerts free when you text the word NODUI to the number 51515.
A very effective safety measure, checkpoints are an essential part of keeping motorists, pedestrians, and the general public safe. Without checkpoints, we risk more people dying and being injured. Instead of causing apprehension, DUI checkpoints should engender security with the people of any community.
By John Clark
A Chicago limo driver was arrested for a DUI this week while driving 23 high school students to their prom, according to a report this week from the Chicago Sun-Times.
The driver, 54-year-old Richard Madison raised his passengers’ suspicions from the beginning of the trip, according to several teenagers who were in the car at the time of the arrest.
According to Kelly Dano, one of the passengers, Madison appeared “sketch” at the start of the trip, which included a jump over a median, near collisions with at least three cars, and a trip to the wrong hotel.
During the harrowing trip, several of the students called their parents to complain about Madison’s driving, and a few upset parents promptly notified police, who confronted Madison once he arrived at the proper hotel.
When they approached Madison, deputies from the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office performed a field sobriety test on Madison, who eventually submitted to a blood alcohol test that revealed a BAC well above the legal limit, according to sources.
So, while the teenagers filed into the hotel to safely celebrate their prom, Madison was arrested for reckless conduct and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Madison, however, maintains that he is innocent. He told sources shortly after the incident that the limo had several mechanical problems that led to the erratic driving.
The driver also told sources that, if he was guilty, he would still be in jail, and not “at home right now.” Of course, Madison was only at home because he had posted bail, which judges often allow for criminal defendants who do not appear to be a serious flight risk.
Nevertheless, Madison will have his day in court, and may be able to mount a successful criminal defense, depending on the circumstances of his arrest.
Still, the limo driver already appears to have been convicted in the court of public opinion, as several parents told local news sources that they couldn’t believe the limo company had allowed Madison to drive the teenagers to the prom.
According to Lori Dano, the mother of Kelly Dano, she and other parents pay for limo services so that their children are safe and the parents “don’t have to worry about them driving an hour away by themselves.”
By providing an allegedly drunk driver, the limo company defeated the purpose of this common plan, and may have opened itself up to a potential lawsuit, if the parents of the teenagers are so inclined.