Sep

12

Proposed DUI Law Would Prevent Offenders from Buying Booze

By Mike

By

A proposed DUI law in North Dakota would prohibit people with DUI convictions from purchasing alcohol, according to a report from WDAY News in Fargo, North Dakota. Predictably, many local residents are criticizing the proposed rule.

The bill, which was recently presented to the North Dakota legislature, was prompted by an accident in Jamestown, North Dakota, last year, when an entire family from Fargo was killed by a drunk driver.

This deadly accident came on the heels of another incident in which two young children in a tent were killed after being run over by another drunk driver.

Thanks to these heavily publicized accidents, Wayne Stautz, a local man with no connection to government, is trying to get state lawmakers to pass a bill that would prevent DUI offenders from buying alcohol at any store that sells adult drinks. According to Stautz, the idea for the law just came to him “one night,” and he believes that the law is a “good law” if it will “save more lives.”

The details of the proposed law are fairly simple. When someone in North Dakota is arrested for a DUI, he or she will have to get a special mark on his or her driver’s license identifying that person as a DUI offender. And if that person tried to purchase alcohol at a bar or liquor store, the people running the establishment would, in theory, see the presence of a DUI on the license, and refuse to serve that driver any liquor.

Under the terms of the proposed law, the mark would remain on a person’s identification for a year. If, however, a person causes a crash during a drunk driving incident, then the mark would stay on the license for five years. In addition, this penalty would not replace any other penalties that the court currently has the power to issue, according to sources.

The ID stays that way for a year. If you cause a crash while drinking it stays for 5 years. All of this on top of whatever the court gives you as punishment. Of course, the bill has plenty of critics. Terry Richardson, for example, believes that forcing such a punishment on first-time offenders is “crazy.” And Cole Brooks told local sources that first-time offenders shouldn’t have to suffer such a punishment, but the lawmaker concedes that someone on, say, a fifth DUI “should be banned from drinking.”

May

5

Smartphone Apps Look to Reduce DUI Arrests

By Topher

It seems like there is a smartphone app for everything these days, from silly video games to powerful GPS navigation systems. Now, several state governments are working to build apps that can help people stay safe on the roads and avoid being arrested for DUI title.

According to a story from GovTech.com, government agencies, with the help of average citizens who know how to create smartphone apps, are figuring out ways that they can use smartphone apps to cut down on drunk driving.

The Colorado Department of Transportation, for example, recently released an iPhone application called R-U-Buzzed. This app can estimate blood alcohol content by allowing the user to enter their weight and the number of drinks and alcohol type they’ve consumed. If users register as having had too much to drink and the app displays the message: “Don’t even think about it!”

Another app, created during the Apps for Democracy contest hosted by iStrategy Labs, is called Stumble Safely. This app is designed to help pedestrians walk home safely after a night out at the bars.

The app factors in crime rates, neighborhood information, bar locations, public transit options, and time of day to provide a safe path home for users.

The Office of Traffic Safety in California also announced a no-cost partnership with an app called Taxi Magic, which helps users to find a taxi cab. This app promotes finding a cab driver to drive you home instead of making a bad decision and getting a DUI or causing damage from behind the wheel.

“It gives those who need to get someplace when they’ve had too much to drink an easy way to do it,” said California OTS Spokesman Chris Cochran. “It’s one more tool in the anti-DUI tactics we have.”

He said that all a user had to do was get in the cab when it arrived, helping out anyone who can’t otherwise find a safe ride home.

Taxi Magic is a free application that was released in January of 2009. It became one of the top applications in the iTunes store. Customers with iPhones can summon a cab to their location with the press of a single button.

Apr

28

New DUI Laws Proposed in British Columbia

By Topher

British Columbia officials have announced that they have proposed a tough new drunk driving law that includes swift DUI penalties for anyone convicted.

The proposed DUI laws would allow police to quickly suspend and fine drivers whose BAC level is as low as 0.05, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Billed as the toughest drunk driving law in Canada, the new law is designed to change the behavior of drivers in a dramatic fashion.

“We believe we need penalties that are clear, swift and sever,” said Solicitor-General Mike de Jong.

According to de Jong, the problem of drunk driving in British Columbia is on the rise. He cited the need to prevent others from putting people’s lives at risk.

“I hope that drivers will consider the seriousness of these sanctions while they’re sober, before they go out.”

The new law would, if enacted, enables an immediate three-day driving ban for drivers found to have a blood-alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08, which the article called the “warn range.”

The offense could also lead to vehicles being impounded and fines and fees up to $600.

If a driver was caught in this blood-alcohol level range multiple times, they could face a ban of up to 30 days and $800 in fees and fines.

Currently in British Columbia, police issue a 24-hour suspension for those with a blood-alcohol level in that range.

The new law would also be tougher on those found driving with a BAC level above the 0.08. There would be an immediate 90-day driving ban and $3,750 in fees and fines. The DUI offender would also have to use an ignition interlock device for one year.

“Under the new laws, drinking drivers will spend more money, more time, more effort earning back their driving privileges,” said de Jong.

De Jong made a speech about the bill on the legislature steps, invoking the memory of four-year-old Alexa Middelaer, who was killed in 2008 by an allegedly impaired driver as she fed horses in a field just off the road.

Canadian Premier Gordon Campbell himself stressed the importance of stronger laws. He was arrested for DUI while on vacation in Hawaii in 2003.

“The lesson that I learned … is that you should not be drinking and driving, period,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to do everything we can to make our streets as safe as possible for people.”

Mar

16

DUI Mug Shot Web Site is Discontinued in Hawaii

By Topher

A new program in Hawaii aimed at reducing DUI arrests has been halted for further review.

The Honolulu Police Department launched a pilot program that posted the mug shots and names of DUI suspects online once a week. They hoped the extra attention on the arrests would discourage other potential drunk drivers.

This pilot program has been halted, however, to undergo a review by the Honolulu Police Department.

The Traffic Division operated the web site, which was initially intended to run for six months but made it only four. It started the day before Thanksgiving in 2009.

Every Wednesday for those four months, the photos and names of DUI suspects were posted for 24 hours on a page called “Oahu’s Drunk Drivers,” according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Critics of the program stated that it was unconstitutional to post these photos online because it could infringe on the suspects’ right to a fair trial.

Laurie Temple, an attorney for the ACLU of Hawaii, noted that innocent people are sometimes arrested, and that photos posted online could be around forever even if the HPD site only posted them for a limited time. She said that the proliferation of the photos on social media sites like Facebook has validated the concern that these photos will live on long after they aren’t posted on “Oahu’s Drunk Drivers.”

HPD spokesperson Michelle Yu said that HPD did not close down the site as a result of these concerns, though they were aware of the re-posting issue. She said that they had received both positive and negative comments about the site.

The web project will now be reviewed by HPD officials, which was the result of an administrative decision. No photos will be posted during the review process.

One individual on Facebook started a page devoted to re-posting images, so that they were available indefinitely, rather than for the HPD’s 24-hour period. The page had over 10,000 fans. The person who started it, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed she started the page in order to raise awareness of DUI after a friend was killed in an accident in which her boyfriend had been driving under the influence of alcohol.

The executive director of MADD in Hawaii assured the public that though the web site would go down, police would still be out on the streets arresting people for DUI and conducting DUI checkpoints.

Oct

25

DUI is a part of the culture for many in Montana

By admin

In the state of Montana, some believe that a culture of drunk driving and DUI arrests has become so ingrained in the community that only a community-wide change can lead to a decrease in DUI arrests and accidents.

In a recent DUI court case, a surprising number of those involved in the case had been affected by drunk driving, bringing to light the pervasiveness of DUI in Montana’s culture, even at the highest levels.

Greg Barkus, the defendant in a DUI case in Flathead County, Montana, was accused of operating a speedboat while under the influence of alcohol when he ran it into the shoreline.

According to the prosecution, his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit when the incident occurred. Barkus, a Republican state senator, had been arrested for drunk driving before.

Barkus’ DUI attorney in the case was a man who had himself been arrested for DUI before. The lawyer’s case was dismissed however, because the police officer who would’ve testified in the case was killed by a drunk driver.

In addition, the Barkus case prosecuter’s deputy attorney had a previous arrest for DUI, as did the ex-husband of the case’s original judge.

Across Montana, numerous judges, attorneys, lawmakers and celebrities around the state have faced DUI arrests. Public prominence seems to play no part in the demographic of those impacted by drunk driving.

While certainly many people across America have felt the impact of DUI arrests on friends, family and community, the Barkus case is a microscopic view of a larger problem.

Montana, which ranks among the highest in U.S. states in terms of the rate of alcohol-related vehicle accidents, has a culture of fierce independence, in which citizens are wary of giving up their personal rights.

DUI laws took longer to reach Montana, even as other states adopted them, and a colonel in the Montana Highway Patrol has stated that the prevalent culture in the state is to view drinking and driving as “Montana birthright.”

Advocates of tougher DUI laws in Montana argue that a reduction in DUI-related accidents ensure a more universal right: the right to safer roads. The only way, in their eyes, to solve the problem is to change the culture of drinking and driving in Montana, so that peer pressure and community awareness drive positive change where lawmaking may fall short.

Sep

25

Fighting a First DUI Offense

By admin

It does not matter your age, economic status or vehicle when you are in the turmoil of your first DUI offense.

It is scary.

The fear of realizing what could have happened and the fear of what will happen, these are legitimate concerns when trying to understand your DUI arrest.

When faced with a DUI, especially your first DUI, it is imperative to find a DUI lawyer.

Find an attorney who is familiar with DUI offenses and has the connections and expertise to gain the best possible outcome.

Below are some key characteristics to look for when deciding on legal counsel to help in a DUI arrest.

  • Make sure the attorney is ABA (American Bar Association) approved in your state.
  • Find out if there are any complaints against the attorney. If there are, decide how pertinent they are to your case and if they warrant continuing the search.
  • Does the lawyer have an established payment arrangement – one that meets your needs?
  • Are they available to handle your case from start to finish? Make sure the DUI attorney has the resources to handle all aspects of your case.

Finding a DUI attorney to help you fight your DUI offense, may help lighten the harm to your financial, social and overall well being.

Sep

3

Study Suggests Gender Specific DUI Road Tests

By admin

The long standing jokes about women who are pulled over by police and how they get out of tickets may have even less merit than before.

Sure there are cases where a woman may flirt to get out of a ticket or bat her doe eyes innocently at the officer in the hopes of avoiding a ticket, but now there maybe concrete evidence to prove that woman are more at a loss when it comes to the standard DUI laws than ever before.

According to an article provided by the Law Offices of Lawrence Taylor, who is Los Angeles area DUI attorney and nationally-known author of the book Drunk Driving Defense, a study out of Italy shows there is a component to a female’s bio-chemical make-up which could make women more predisposed to fail a DUI road test. The study may prove that woman may be unfairly arrested for DUI in some cases and should be given more gender specific tests.

Taylor cites researchers at the University School of Medicine in Trieste, Italy, who found that women have less alcohol dehydrogenase than men. The study asserts that with less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the stomach, women reach the same blood alcohol concentration as men after drinking only half as much.

The study goes on to state that women reached blood alcohol levels illegal in a DUI case after drinking 20 to 30% less alcohol than men of equal weight.

This could be a sturdy claim that could be asserted by many women when they find themselves eye to eye with a Trooper, but one that seems to only find merit in Italy at the moment.

In Canada, a study has shown that women taking oral contraceptives may reach peak BAC levels more quickly. This is a supposition that other attorneys have used when claiming their female clients failed a breathalyzer test due to the fact that they were taking oral contraceptives at the time of the test.

Both studies may eventually be a foundation for a compelling argument in the court room.

The underlying problem in this is that many women may not choose to argue against the validity of their failed test based on their sex. In fact, in the majority of the cases where birth control was a deciding factor for failure, it was a male attorney who plead the case.

At the end of the day, the best way to avoid this all together is to not drink and drive.

Sep

1

New Program: Calling Relative after DUI Arrest

By admin

There are certain aspects to a night out on the town which most people consider before leaving for the festivities.

“Did I bring enough money?”

“Do I have clean underwear on?”

“Did I find a designated driver?”

All are completely legitimate questions. Now the question of “who do I call from jail when arrested for DUI?” has somewhat of an answer for those who find themselves in a watering hole in Utah between now and Sept. 7th.

The new program is designed to give callers a feeling of what it would feel like to have to make that call – giving them a sense of what their mamma will say, how their spouse will react or how their Priest will have them atone for their sins.

Sounds incredibly awkward- it’s suppose to.

Teaming up together is the Utah Highway Patrol and a group of local Utah bars in the hope of letting people practice an uncomfortable call from the local lockup.The group hopes to help dissuade drinking and driving.

After all, what is more sobering than having to call your mother, father, spouse and let them know you are in the clink for a DUI offense?

A phone number has been set up to reconstruct what it would feel like to make a call after a DUI arrest. After dialing 1-877-JAIL-FON, the caller is given the option to talk to a frantic mother or a disapproving father, among others, such as an angry spouse and even a less than enthused coach and priest. A prerecorded message then plays one end of what the conversation might sound like, with the caller filling in the other half.

Slogans associated with the campaign include “Getting a DUI is easy, calling your mom from jail is hard.”

Maybe it is a testament to the overly stimulated mind of our youth which are no longer scared straight by group visits to the morgue to see a result of a drunk driving accident, or stand face-to-face with a cell mate from Block ‘C’ who is serving life for vehicular manslaughter.

But what these local bars and the Utah Highway Patrol are banking on is that young people partying are still very scared to feel the wrath of their parents for such decisions of stupidity, and a late night partier is still extremely scared to inform their spouse of their decision to stay late and drink it up rather then make their way home.

In either case, the results should hold up as a new dynamic to the fight against drunk driving in the great state of Utah.

Jul

17

Washington Court Restores $14 Million Award

By admin

On Thursday, July 16, the Supreme Court in Washington unanimously reinstated a $14 million award to a DUI accident victim.

In April 2000, Hawkeye Kinkaid was drinking at the Bellingham Moose Lodge, where is girlfriend, Alexis Chapman, was serving him as a bartender. The forensic consultant found that Kinkaid probably drank the equivalent 21 12-ounce beers or 30 ounces 80-proof alcohol.

His blood alcohol level was believed to be .32 at the time of the collision.

While he was driving home, Kinkaid crossed the center line in Ferndale, Wash. and struck Bianca Faust’s car. Fraust, from New York City, was driving with her two children and grandchild. Everyone in Faust’s car was injured and Kinkaid was killed. The accident left Faust’s 7-year-old son, Christopher, a paraplegic.

Faust sued the lodge and Chapman and was awarded $14 million in Whatcom County Superior Court. The state Court of Appeals later overturned the case because Faust needed to present “specific point-in-time evidence” that Kinkaid appeared drunk when Chapman was serving him.

Washington DUI law holds bartenders liable for damages to potential victims if they serve visibly intoxicated customers. The court said that Chapman told others that Kinkaid was too “tipsy” to be driving. At one point in the night she refused to serve him.

Source: The Associate Press

Jul

8

Cell Phone to Call a DUI Lawyer is a Right

By admin

On Monday, July 7, a judge acquitted a man on DUI charges because police denied the suspect the right to call a DUI lawyer on his cell phone.

According to Ontario Court Justice Randall Lalande, Harvey Whidden’s constitutional rights were violated when he was pulled over on June 13, 2008.

Whidden had been waved into a vehicle safety inspection lane operated by the police because his windshield had a crack in it.

When Whidden pulled over, police noticed empty beer bottles in the bed of his pickup truck. Police also noticed he smelled like alcohol, and his speech was slowed.

The police asked Whidden to take a breath test, but the officer didn’t have a breathalyzer with him. While they waited for a breathalyzer to be brought from the station, the police officer didn’t allow Whidden to use his cell phone to call a DUI attorney.

The judge ruled that since the officer knew Whidden had a cell phone, he should have allowed him to use it to call an attorney.

According to the judge, the police waited about three hours when Whidden was at the police station and formally issued a demand for a breathalyzer before allowing him to call a lawyer.

Source: The Sadbury Star

May

14

Winemakers Lobby Congress over Taxes

By Topher

California winemakers and Washington lawmakers are facing off this week over a proposed hike in alcohol tax.

Congress hopes to fund the forthcoming health care reforms by increasing the so-called “sin taxes,” including taxes from the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.

Proponents on both sides of the issue argue that increased taxes will lead to less alcohol consumption. The group of winemakers hope that they might be exempt.

“They are worried about being taxed in a major way as part of a health care bill,” Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said Wednesday, adding “I don’t think we ought to raise taxes on wine.”

The current federal tax on wine is roughly 21 cents per bottle, a rate was set in 1991. Congress argues that a raise in that amount is overdue for inflation.

“The tax rate on alcohol is well below the level that would account for the damage that drinking does to society, in particular through drunk driving,” MIT economist Jon Gruber said in a Senate Finance Committee testimony.

The wine contingency, which included executives from E&J Gallo Winery,  Bronco Wine Co. and J. Lohr Winery, among others, told Congress that any increase would affect not only their own bottom lines, but the bottom line of the state of California.

It’s an argument supported by the 250-member Congressional Wine Caucus, co-chaired by Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa.

“It harms the industry,” Radanovich said, “and it increases the price for the consumer.”

The winemakers are also in Washington to resist cuts to a farming subsidy.

May

11

Checkpoint in Vista, Calif. Results in DUI Arrests and Citations

By admin

Police officers in Vista, Calif. set up a checkpoint for drivers last weekend – and they really laid down the law.

According to the North County Times, four DUI arrests were made at the checkpoint, and 25 citations were issued for various offenses.

Among the crimes cited were marijuana possession, driving without a license, child seat violations and lack of insurance.

The North County Times also reported that more than 500 cars passed through the checkpoint and about 400 of the cars were inspected. Due to lack of insurance or unlicensed driving, 17 cars were impounded.

With so many cars going through a roadside checkpoint, it’s hard to know if the officers in charge are actually following the law. You should know state DUI laws when it comes to DUI arrests.

If you are cited for a violation at a police checkpoint, make sure you know your rights before proceeding through a trial. A DUI attorney can help clarify questions specific to your case and your local laws.

Jan

14

Lasting Impact of DUI Arrest

By Mary Ann

Both driver and passenger were charged with DUI in Lanesboro, Minn., recently.

According to the Winona Daily News, the passenger of the vehicle grabbed the wheel of the car, causing the vehicle to careen into a ditch. When officers arrived, they found both the driver and the wheel-grabbing passenger had been drinking.

Even though the passenger was only in control of the vehicle briefly, she was still charged with a DWI. That drunk driving charge may stay with her for the rest of her life. The consequences could long outlive any jail time or fines she might face.

The long-lasting consequences are well-illustrated by a story out of Canada (via Paul Kennedy). When a man applied for appointment to a judicial seat in Grand Falls-Windsor he “forgot” to list a DUI conviction from 18 years ago. When background checks discovered this fact, he was forced to resign in what he calls “the worst day of my life.”

And speaking of Canada, Marina Sedai, of MCRea & Associates points out on Twitter that a DUI may be make someone “criminally inadmissible”  from visiting or immigrating to Canada.

Add these stories together and you’ll see why so many people choose to seek the help of a DUI lawyer when fighting their DUI charge.

Oct

20

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.

Sep

26

DUI in the News

By Mary Ann

A new trial was granted to Renee Ellison after her Alaska DUI lawyer showed the judge that the jury did not hear about the victim’s previous injuries.

Ellison, 24, was originally convicted of Alaska DUI, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and two third-degree assault charges, facing up to 13 years in prison.  But she got a lucky break when the jury of her second trial convicted her of less charges, reducing her sentence to up to fiver years in prison.

At the beginning of 2009, the UK will be launching a new police surveillance network, and companies in the United States are hoping that the network will catch on here.

Redflex and American Traffic Solutions has been talking to government officials about increasing police surveillance with red light cameras and speed cameras.  The company will be introducing an optical character recognition that will allow police to capture video records of drivers and passengers.

Is Big Brother on the DUI Beat?