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.
By John Clark
This week, Bishop Robert McManus, the 61-year-old leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, pleaded not guilty to a charge of drunk driving, according to a report from Fox News.
Sources say McManus was arrested for a DUI in Narragansett, Rhode Island, after reportedly crashing into another car and fleeing from the scene, according to a police report.
The driver of the car that McManus allegedly struck reportedly called police after the accident. Sources also note that McManus has a vacation home near the scene of the accident.
After his arrest, McManus was briefly detained by police, but sources say the bishop pleaded not guilty during his arraignment and has been released from jail after posting a $1,000 bond.
During the arraignment, where he formally received his charges, the bishop wore his white clerical collar and sat in silence, allowing his local DUI attorney to enter the plea for him, sources say.
His attorney told reporters outside the courtroom that the bishop has been instructed to refrain from commenting on the matter.
The attorney, however, did cite a statement issued by McManus on Monday that admitted to a “terrible error in judgment” stemming from the bishop’s decision to drive after drinking a few glasses of wine earlier that evening.
In his statement, McManus said there was “no excuse for the mistake I made,” and he promised to “make amends and accept the consequences of my action.”
McManus also made a sincere plea for forgiveness from his church community, as well as his friends and family, according to sources.
Despite this apparent confession, though, McManus pleaded not guilty in court, which means his DUI attorney may believe the bishop could escape the charges of drunk driving and fleeing the scene of an accident.
Sources say McManus refused to take a blood alcohol test at the scene of the crime, which could lead to further civil penalties, but also complicates the prosecutor’s attempt to convict him.
The bishop is a native of Providence, Rhode Island, and reportedly worked as an auxiliary bishop in Rhode Island’s largest city for five years.
In 2004, McManus was appointed to lead the Worcester Diocese in Massachusetts. Sources say he has also served as the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Education.
The bishop’s next court appearance will happen on May 28, when he will begin to fight against the drunk driving charges the state has leveled against him.
By John Clark
Former NBA point guard Kenny Anderson was arrested for a DUI this week in south Florida, and has lost his job as a result of the arrest, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to sources, Anderson, 42, was pulled over by police in Pembroke Pines, Florida, last Saturday night after failing to signal before changing lanes.
After failing a field sobriety test, Anderson was asked to submit to a breathalyzer test, which revealed that his blood alcohol level was 0.194, which is well above Florida’s legal limit of 0.08.
As a result of his arrest, three days later, Anderson was reportedly fired from his job at David Posnack Jewish Day School, where he coached the basketball team.
Sources note that the school’s decision to fire Anderson after his drunk driving arrest wasn’t necessarily based on that one fateful decision.
According to reports, Anderson was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an accident in December 2011, when he reportedly drove his Cadillac Escalade into two trees on a road in Broward County, Florida.
To add suspicion to the accident, Anderson originally told responding officers that a flat tire caused him to lose control of his car, but investigators noted that none of the car’s tires were flat when they surveyed the scene after the crash.
No one was injured in the accident, and Anderson was charged with a misdemeanor driving offense, according to police reports.
So while Anderson was able to keep his job at the small, private high school following his first driving incident, he was not able to convince school officials to keep his post after the DUI arrest.
Of course, the school may have also grown tired of Anderson’s lack of success on the court. According to sources, his team finished 1-13 last season, and the team has reportedly failed to improve since he took the helm in August 2013.
The firing is a professional setback for Anderson, who played for nine NBA teams between 1991 and 2005 and has said he’d like to eventually coach college basketball.
Anderson was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, and finished his college education in 2010, receiving a degree in organization leadership from St. Thomas University in Miami, according to sources.
Anderson has previous experience coaching in the Continental Basketball Association, which may be the next place he turns as he looks to reform his reputation following his DUI arrest.
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
A Rhode Island resident was arrested for a DUI on Monday morning this week, which wouldn’t usually be a topic of national discussion. But the circumstances of the arrest have left many people wondering how this man was allowed to drive on Monday at all.
According to a report from the Boston Globe, Robert F. Levesque’s arrest was his third drunk driving incident in less than a week.
Sources say the 54-year-old man, a resident of West Warwick, stopped his car in the middle of a road this Monday at roughly 1:30 in the morning.
When police officers arrived on the scene, they discovered Levesque hunched over his steering wheel, in some state of consciousness that could fairly be described as a non-driving state of mind.
Sources note that the driver’s posture and actions led wary police officers to detect that he was “highly intoxicated at the time,” which is not the ideal description drivers want on their DUI police reports.
After removing Levesque and his vehicle from the middle of the road, police charged the man with driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license, and failing to submit to a chemical test.
These charges, of course, came on the heels of two other arrests during the past week. Police officers learned of these past charges when they brought Levesque to the Wickford Barracks to process him.
Concerned citizens may take some comfort in the knowledge that a Rhode Island court had previously revoked Levesque’s license, but some critics believe that the state could have done more to keep the dangerous man off the road.
In addition, the state decided after the man’s third arrest to take further precaution. Sources say that Levesque is currently being held with bail because he violated the terms of a prior bail with his recent drunk driving stunt.
The saga of Levesque, however, reveals the difficult balancing act courts must perform when determining whether to grant bail for someone who appears determined to continue driving under the influence.
Suspending a driver’s license keeps most honest people off the roads, but there are plenty of DUI defendants who are perfectly content to drive without a valid license. In such a case, courts are more likely to keep a drunk driver behind bars.
One method many states use to prevent such incidents is to install ignition interlock systems in convicted drunk drivers’ cars. These devices allow dangerous drivers to maintain their freedom, but prevent them from driving if they are drunk.
Say goodbye to 2012 and party all night long, but make sure you get home safely on New Year’s Day!
In the U.S., January 1 ranks second for fatal car accidents, with more than 40 percent of accidents involving alcohol. Protect yourself and start 2013 off right by having a post-party plan.
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Know Your Limits
- Think before you drink—Do you know how many drinks will keep you under the legal limit? Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) calculators can give you an idea but they’re not 100% accurate.
- BAC can be affected by height, weight, sex, body fat, even what you’ve eaten.
- Pace yourself—alternate a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.
● If you’re going out with a group of friends, choose a designated driver. (Consider having a backup as well.)
● Keep an eye on your group. Never drive with someone who’s been drinking.
Phone a Friend
● All alone and no one to take you home? Keep an emergency friend in your back pocket. (You’ll owe them big later, of course.)
Ask the Experts
● The National Directory of Designated Driver Services (NDDDS) lists profit and nonprofit organizations that will send someone out to drive you and your car home.
● AAA offers a Tipsy Tow service in some locales. You do not need to be a member. Other smaller local services may also exist, so look around.
Walk It Out
● Be careful if you’re tempted to walk home. Pedestrian-involved accidents are higher on New Year’s than any other time of the year!
Sleep It Off
● Partying at a friend’s house or a hotel and all your options are exhausted? Consider staying put. Better to crash on a couch than to crash on the road.
This infographic has been brought to you by Total DUI.
In December 2010, alcohol-related car accidents caused an average of 25 deaths per day, accounting for 30% of all motor vehicle accidents that month. New Year’s Day has been found to be the deadliest day of the year for drunk driving deaths.
In this infographic, you’ll learn how to avoid a DUI arrest this season. (hint – don’t drink and drive!)
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Who’s Most at Risk?
- Men represent 78% of the drivers invovled in fatal alcohol-related accidents.
- Drivers 21 to 34 years old were alcohol impaired and involved in fatal crashes more often than any other age group.
- Drivers on the roadways between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. were involved in 78% of alcohol-related fatalities in December 2010.
- Nearly half of drivers involved in fatal crashes from 12 a.m. to 2:59 a.m. had BACs of .15 or higher.
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
- The national DUI enforcement blitz.
- The campaign will run from December 12, 2012, to January 1, 2013.
- Local law enforcement will be on the lookout for impaired drivers.
- Plan Ahead: Find a designated driver if you’ll be drinking.
- If you’ve been drinking, stay where you are.
Time is the only thing that sobers a person.
- The liver metabolizes one drink an hour.
If you cannot stay where you are:
- Call a taxi.
- Call a family member or friend.
- Use public transportation.
Do not let anyone who’s been drinking get behind the wheel.
This report is brought to you by Total DUI.
By John Clark
A drug and alcohol counselor in California was arrested for an alleged DUI this week, which shows just how common the crime is, according to a report from ABC News.
Sources say 51-year-old Sherri Lyn Wilkins, a rehabilitation counselor at Twin Town Treatment Center in Torrance, California, is facing charges of manslaughter and drunk driving after striking and killing a pedestrian.
The details of the accident are gruesome. Sources say the victim, 31-year-old Philip Moreno, was trying to cross a busy intersection when Wilkins struck him head-on with her vehicle.
Shockingly, after striking Moreno, Wilkins continued to drive for two miles while the man was stuck in her windshield. Several witnesses reportedly forced Wilkins to stop after seeing the man in her windshield.
According to Sgt. Robert Watt, a police officer in Torrance, Wilkins “had panicked behind the wheel after striking the gentleman and did not know what to do.”
Moreno had been with friends at a bar watching a sporting event when he left early to walk home. According to his friend, Jennifer Grebb, Moreno decided to walk home instead of drive because he was “doing the right thing.”
Sadly, if the allegations are true, Wilkins certainly did the wrong thing, as she chose to drive while intoxicated despite her close personal knowledge of the dangers of drunk driving.
Sources suggest that Wilkins had her own troubles with substance abuse before stepping into the role of a rehabilitation counselor at Twin Town.
According to the facility’s CEO, David Lisonbee, who confirmed that Wilkins had been working there before the accident, “[n]o one, including counselors, are immune from the possibility of relapse.”
Lisonbee also noted that he and his cohorts were “comfortable that she was in a program of recovery for a period of time prior to this incident.” Sources say that Wilkins will be back in court this week for an initial hearing.
Alas, despite Wilkins’ intimate knowledge of the perils of drunk driving, she chose to get behind the wheel while she was intoxicated. Her story can serve as a cautionary tale to others.
In recent months, counselors, ministers, and other community leaders have all caused DUI accidents across the country. These incidents reveal that, despite the progress that has been made, drunk driving remains a common, but easily preventable, crime.
Instead of driving drunk, hail a taxi, take public transportation, or call a friend. The potential consequences of driving drunk far outweigh any perceived benefits.
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
When politicians or other public figures are arrested for a DUI, news of their arrest is usually limited to a brief blurb in the morning paper. Rarely do politicians have to contend with video footage of their embarrassing behavior.
This, however, did not prove to be the case for Phil Bonus, the mayor of Maitland, Florida, who appears “unsteady” and is shown stumbling in video footage of his DUI arrest, according to a recent report from the Orlando Sentinel.
Sources say the video was released this week by the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office after at least one curious citizen filed a request to view the public record.
The incident occurred in December 2011 in Tampa, and shows a police officer trying to guide a “glassy-eyed” Bonus through a series of basic field sobriety tests after Bonus refused to take a blood alcohol test.
In the video, Bonus was very slow to react to most of the officer’s requests, and he almost fell on several occasions as he tried to walk in a straight line in the parking lot of an IKEA furniture store.
The embarrassing video footage is taken just minutes after Bonus drunkenly slammed his car into the side of a police cruiser. Sources say Bonus also came close to striking a police officer who was trying to direct traffic.
According to the police report, the mayor had a “distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, bloodshot glassy eyes, [was] unable to follow simple directions and [had] an unsteady appearance.”
For his actions, Bonus was eventually charged with two misdemeanor DUI counts. He will have a key court appearance on October 12, according to sources.
Remarkably, though, this may not be the biggest problem Bonus currently faces. Sources say that the mayor has been hearing loud calls for his resignation thanks to his alleged link to a prostitution ring.
According to sources, a recent investigation discovered the mayor’s name on the client list of a large prostitution network in Orange County, although sources are quick to note that Bonus has not been charged with a crime linked to this discovery.
Still, the pending investigation into the mayor’s involvement with prostitution, coupled with the video footage taken from his extreme DUI arrest, will undoubtedly heighten the pressure for Bonus to resign.
Politicians, however, often seem to recover from similar ordeals, so if Bonus is determined to remain in office, he might be able to salvage his career. Stranger things have happened in the political realm.
By John Clark
A police dog captured a DUI suspect after the alleged drunk driver led police on a reckless high-speed chase, according to a report from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that reads like a scene from a Michael Bay movie.
Sources say that 19-year-old Roderick Miller was spotted driving erratically by a sheriff’s deputy in Manatee County, Florida.
When the deputy flipped on his police lights to initiate a traffic stop, Miller allegedly refused to pull over to the side of the road, and instead sped away from the police officer into neighboring Sarasota County.
According to the police report, the speed of the officer and suspect never exceeded 85 mph. Police will typically call off a car chase if speeds reach dangerous levels, or the drivers are a threat to the public, sources suggest.
In this case, the deputy believed that pursuit was still necessary, and after several minutes of driving, Miller eventually struck a traffic sign and skidded into a ditch.
After striking the ditch, though, Miller didn’t stop. In order to avoid a DUI arrest, Miller reportedly continued to drive along the ditch until he rammed into a utility pole.
The impact of the crash split the utility pole in two, and left phone lines blocking the road, according to the police report.
After striking the pole, Miller apparently jumped from his car and ran south into a patch of forest. Shortly after the accident, backup officers with a search dog quickly responded to the scene.
Miller may have escaped were it not for the efforts of the search dog. Sources say the canine discovered the DUI suspect hiding in a row of bushes about a quarter mile from the scene of the accident.
While police dogs are trained to show some restraint when dealing with suspects, this dog apparently bit Miller and left a puncture wound on the back of the suspect’s hand.
Due to the bite, emergency responders had to treat Miler at the scene, and the suspect was later transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital to receive stitches for the wound.
Miller hopefully enjoyed his stay at the hospital, because as soon as he was fit to be released, police officers promptly hauled him away to the Sarasota County Jail.
The suspect is reportedly facing charges for drunk driving, fleeing to elude, leaving the scene of an accident, and obstructing justice, according to sources.
By John Clark
Two employees of the Philadelphia Council were arrested this week for allegedly driving under the influence while operating a city-owned vehicle, according to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Sources say that 50-year-old Robin Jones, a city receptionist, and 42-year-old Darrell Williams, a sergeant-at-arms, both work in the office of the City Council’s president, and were not authorized to use city vehicles when they were arrested last weekend.
When she was caught by police, Jones was driving one of the city’s Chevy Cobalts, despite the fact that she had a suspended driver’s license.
During the ride, Jones hit a sign and then slammed into a building near downtown Philadelphia around 2:30 in the morning, according to sources.
After her accident, Jones called Williams for help, and Williams arrived in a city-owned Ford Explorer, after apparently leaving his post.
This request, however, proved to be unwise, as Williams was also “visibly intoxicated” when he arrived at the scene.
When police officers responded to reports of an accident, they arrested Jones for a DUI, and then after seeing the condition of Williams after he responded to his friend’s call, they arrested him for a DUI, as well.
Interestingly, according to Jane Roh, a communications director for the city council’s office, a receptionist such as Jones has no access to city vehicles, so Jones could be facing additional criminal charges on top of her DUI offense.
Williams, however, might be authorized to use a city vehicle due to his status as a sergeant-at-arms, but he is certainly not authorized to drive the vehicles while intoxicated.
According to Roh, both incidents represented a “flat-out unauthorized” use of city cars, and she also said that the arrests could serve as “immediate grounds for firings.”
Sources indicate that the two vehicles are part of a fleet used to haul city council members around town for various meetings, and their use is usually monitored very closely. In Roh’s words, under normal circumstances, employees “can’t just grab a key and take a city vehicle.”
If Jones and Williams are found guilty on the DUI counts, they may ultimately lose their jobs. According to their boss, if the incidents are “confirmed by authorities,” then it will prove that his employees displayed a “level of conduct and disregard for public safety that cannot be tolerated.”
In other words, if Williams and Jones are convicted of drunk driving, the odds are very slim that they’ll ever have access to the city council’s vehicles again.
By John Clark
A driver from Palatine, Illinois, could spend the next 30 years in prison after he was arrested for the seventh time on a DUI charge, according to a report this week from the Chicago Tribune.
Sources say that 47-year-old Osvaldo Collazo was arrested this week on charges of aggravated driving under the influence, according to prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois.
As is customary for drivers who have displayed such a reckless disregard for the rules of the road, the Cook County court set Collazo’s bail at $300,000.
The high bail means it is very likely that Collazo will have to stay in jail through the completion of his court proceedings, unless he can find a large amount of cash in a short period of time.
The size of the bail also suggests that the judge is skeptical that Collazo would be able to remain sober if he was released from jail pending his trial.
It should be noted, however, that despite the size of the bail, under the American judicial system, Collazo is still presumed innocent. But it’s fair to say that there are different shades of innocence.
Sources indicate that the driver was arrested last week in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, after police officers noticed his car weaving in and out of traffic.
When the officers pulled Collazo over, the driver admitted that he had been drinking beer earlier that afternoon, although officers didn’t take his word for it.
When the police administered a breathalyzer test, Collazo’s blood alcohol level was revealed to be 0.213, which is almost three times the legal Illinois limit of 0.08, according to sources.
Under normal circumstances, if this had been the driver’s first DUI arrest, he would have faced a stiff fine, a potential loss of his license, and perhaps a stint in jail.
This arrest, however, came on the heels of five prior DUI convictions, as well as a sixth arrest related to a felony weapon charge which carries a mandatory sentence range of six to 30 years, according to local sources.
In addition, when Collazo was arrested for his latest alleged drunk driving offense, he was wanted by police on a warrant for failing to appear in court for his sixth DUI charge, sources say.
The arresting officers, of course, were probably surprised to learn that their routine DUI stop had turned into the arrest of a man who had skirted the law so many times before.
If prosecutors are able to either convict Collazo, or convince him to plead guilty to the sixth and seventh DUI charges, he could spend the next three decades languishing in prison.
By John Clark
This week, a judge in Denver District Court gave a 10-year prison sentence to a drunk driver who killed a young mother while she was driving the wrong way down an interstate highway, according to a report from the Denver Post.
Sources say the drunk driver, 28-year-old Victoria Barry, had a blood alcohol level of 0.219 two hours after her head-on collision with 31-year-old Lilly Duncan, who was driving home from a family birthday party. The accident occurred on May 14, 2011.
The fact that Barry was driving the wrong way down Interstate 25 with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit was enough to warrant to heavy sentence, but her collision with Duncan’s car sealed Barry’s lengthy prison sentence.
The accident orphaned Duncan’s 13-year-old daughter, who gave a tearful plea in court asking the judge to issue a harsh sentence against the woman who killed her mother.
While judging the merits of Duncan’s arguments for mercy, Judge Sheila Rappaport reportedly weighed Barry’s grossly irresponsible actions against her clean criminal record and previous humanitarian acts, according to sources.
Judge Rappaport revealed the difficulty of her decision when she noted that “[o]ne night, one decision, one act does not and should not define Ms. Barry.”
The judge, however, also observed that she had to “factor in the fact that one night, one decision and one act defined and obliterated all that Ms. Duncan could be or would achieve in her life.”
In her final decision, it seems the judge leveled a strong decision against Barry, but withheld some punishment. Sources say that the 10-year felony DUI sentence is two years under the maximum allowed for vehicular homicide caused by drunk driving.
Duncan’s family, though, was pleased with the sentence, as one surviving member of her family told reporters that “justice was served” during this week’s sentencing.
So Barry will head to prison for a decade, for one terrible decision, and the pleas of her family didn’t seem to make much of a difference when it came time for her sentencing.
Sources say that Barry’s family told the judge about her history of humanitarian relief efforts in the Dominican Republic, and asked that part of her sentenced be relaxed in exchange for her efforts in teaching others about the dangers of drunk driving.
Observers in the courtroom, however, told reporters that Barry never directly apologized to Duncan’s family, which may have played a minor role in the judge’s final decision.
By John Clark
A woman from Gainesville, Florida, was reportedly driving to a bar with eight children in tow when she was arrested for driving under the influence, according to a shocking report this week from the Gainesville Sun.
Sources say that Lawanda Lowery-Gale, a 32-year-old mother of six children, was charged with one DUI count, eight counts of child neglect, and one count of driving with a suspended license.
Late last Friday night, members of the Gainesville Police Department arrived at the scene of an accident where a van side-swiped a smaller car on a street near the University of Florida.
The van was being driven by Lowery-Gale, who had eight children ranging in age from 10 months to 14 years in her van. Six of the children were her own, while two others were her nieces.
Before the accident, sources say the woman was trying to get to a nightclub called Fubar, although there is no indication that she had a plan for the children when she arrived at the club.
The accident occurred around 10:00 p.m., and when officers arrived at the scene of what sources call a “minor traffic crash,” they discovered a woman who appeared to be drunk, had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, and reportedly smelled like alcohol, sources say.
To make her own legal matters worse, Lowery-Gale apparently “performed poorly” on her sobriety test, and the responding officers administered a breath test to determine the level of her intoxication.
To no one’s surprise, Lowery-Gale blew a 0.166 on her blood alcohol test, which is more than twice the legal limit in Florida of 0.08.
Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident, which reportedly caused vehicle damage worth more than $1,000.
And the woman could receive a tougher sentence than she would otherwise have seen because her license has already been suspended five times and she was cited less than two years ago for failing to take an alcohol test at a traffic stop.
In addition, states across the country have started to pass laws aimed at punishing drivers who put children at risk by driving with them while intoxicated. Under many of these laws, drivers receive automatic extra jail time if children are present in the car when they are arrested.
Many of these measures have been passed in response to the alarming trend of parents driving drunk with their children in tow, a practice which Lowery-Gale seemed to push to the extreme last week.