By John Clark
Los Angeles police made more than 500 DUI arrests over the Fourth of July Weekend, thanks in part to an aggressive holiday monitoring campaign, according to a recent report from the Beverly Hills Courier.
Similar numbers appeared in other major U.S. cities, as police departments across the country typically send out hordes of officers to patrol the streets for drunk drivers during major holidays.
According to Wendy Brewer, a leader of the Avoid the 100 DUI Campaign, “[m]ost Americans may not realize it, but the Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes.”
She also observed that, while most celebrations begin during the day, they usually drag on until late at night, when the “dangers from impaired drivers are even higher.”
Southern California’s Avoid the 100 DUI Campaign, which began the last week of June, represents a joint effort between several law enforcement agencies to increase the presence of DUI checkpoints.
Indeed, over the latest holiday weekend, Los Angeles police specifically tasked with checking drivers’ sobriety were “out in full force,” according to Brewer.
While increasing police DUI patrols over holiday weekends may seem like a no-brainer for municipal police departments, the idea is easier to implement in theory than in practice.
To start, many police departments across the country have seen their staffing levels gutted by the decrease in tax revenues caused by the recent recession.
So many police departments have to take precious resources away from other crime priorities in order to staff DUI checkpoints, which can be very time intensive.
In addition, large cities often have a number of different police agencies that all must coordinate in order to maximize the effectiveness of initiatives aimed at reducing the amount of drunk driving accidents.
In Los Angeles, for example, city police must compare notes with a wide range of county authorities, as well as the state-run California Highway Patrol.
But as public awareness of the dangers of drunk driving has increased during the last few decades, police departments have found it easier to funnel more resources into DUI enforcement, especially over major holidays.
So revelers who like to drink during the holidays should remember that they may be at the highest risk for a DUI arrest when everyone else is partying, too.
DUI arrests could lead to heavy fines, suspended licenses, or even some jail time, so driving while drunk over the holidays just isn’t worth the risk.
The results of a recent study suggest that man are almost three times more likely than woman to be arrested for driving drunk, a finding that is sure to spur plenty of debate between the opposite sexes.
According to a report from KIVI-TV in Boise, Idaho, which cited evidence offered on an auto insurance website, men are about three times more likely to be arrested for a DUI, reckless driving, or driving without a seatbelt.
And, before male readers unleash their outrage at potentially misleading statistics, these numbers are backed up by insurance company practices.
In Idaho, for example, average car insurance premiums are 14 percent higher for men than they are for women. It seems that car insurance companies, which have a vested interest in doing ample research on safe driving, buy into the adage that men have a tendency to be more reckless behind the wheel.
In addition to the findings about DUIs, the study also discovered that roughly 80 percent of accidents involving cars hitting pedestrians are caused by men.
Of course, not everyone is convinced that men are more aggressive drivers. The report interviewed local body shops in Idaho, which confirmed that they see a 50-50 split in body work requests from drivers.
In addition, anecdotal evidence from following police blotters suggests that women are frequently asked to submit to blood alcohol tests, though it must be admitted that more male offenders seem to dot the DUI headlines each week.
And, while the debate may continue between men and women about their driving habits, there are certain demographic trends that help guide police efforts to reduce the overall instances of drunk driving.
For example, it has been conclusively shown that young people are more likely than older drivers to be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Due to this reality, ant-DUI marketing campaigns led by local governments and non-governmental organizations tend to focus their messages on younger audience to maximize the potential impact of their ad campaigns.
Thanks to the success of these forms of targeted marketing, statistics showing the proliferation of male drunk drivers may ultimately lead concerned police to target their messages to specifically male audiences.
If, in the future, anti-DUI messaging is restricted solely to young males, incidences of DUI arrests may very well decline. However, while statistics help reveal the realities behind DUIs, the act of driving while drunk has proven to be very difficult to eradicate.
Each year, millions of people get behind the wheel after having too many drinks, and a painfully small percentage of these drivers are ever caught.
By targeting DUI enforcement to certain populations, such as young males, police officers may be able to put a bigger dent in the problem of drunk driving than they would if they were casting a wider enforcement net.
Yes, this could be viewed as gender or age profiling, but in a country that sees 40,000 traffic deaths each year, drastic measures could be necessary to reduce the number of fatalities on American roads.
While there are many factors that drive one to become an alcoholic, they all converge at the brain’s reward system. With out proper care to stop alcoholism, one can greatly destroy their body. See what internal mechanisms make drinking enjoyable and the dangers of drinking for the human body.
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Alcoholism Cause and Effect
While there are many factors that drive someone to become an alcoholic, they all converge at the brain’s reward system.
1. The main chemical involved in this system is the neurotransmitter Dopamine.
2. Dopamine is released when the driver has a positive experience. Through various processes, alcohol increases the effects of dopamine in the brain, and happy feelings are chemically amplified. The dopamine has the greatest effect on the Mesolimbic system.
A. The wave of dopamine begins in the Ventral Tegmental Area.
B. Next, the dopamine signals enter the Nucleus Accumbens where rewarding feelings are generated.
C. Once a rewarding feeling is generated the Amygdala is signaled to analyze the emotion.
D. Finally, after these steps are repeated many times, the Hippocampus stores a long term link between alcohol and happiness.
3. A neurological link between happiness and alcohol, combines with other gradual chemical changes in the brain, produce symptoms of addiction.
Nervous and Neurological
- Prospective memory is impaired
- Sleep cycle is disrupted
- Brain shrinks in physical size
- Brain lesions are common and more wide spread
- Heart failure
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Stomach inflammation
- Persistent heartburn
- Poor nutrient absorption
- Stomach bleeding
- Decreased sexual desire
- Erectile dysfunction
- Impaired orgasm
- Nerve damage
Provided by Total DUI.
Perhaps the most important rule for people fighting DUI accusations is to be sober when making court appearances. A former sheriff’s deputy in Orange County, California, failed to heed this rule, and will face the consequences.
Allan James Waters, 38, had been facing a likely sentence of 16 months in prison for his conviction on several counts, including a felony DUI and charges that he had illegally tried to obtain prescription medicines.
Waters, however, appeared at his first sentencing hearing with slurred speech and an inability to keep his balance. Waters was then placed in police custody for several weeks after the judge said he was in no condition to be sentenced.
Several weeks later, the judge finally doubled his sentence to 32 months due to Waters’ previous behavior in the courtroom.
A term of Waters’ initial $100,000 bail was that he had to remain sober. After Waters appeared drunk at his initial hearing, the judge ordered him back into police custody and raised his bail to $250,000.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Waters had been involved in a messy accident and had a history of other felony violations.
In April, Waters pled guilty to felony driving under the influence causing bodily injury after an accident involving a serious injury to a 78 year-old woman.
Waters’ legal problems, though, extended beyond the DUI charge. He was also charged with two felony counts of selling a substance in lieu of cocaine and nine felony counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance.
The DUI accident occurred in March 2010 when Waters crashed into the back of a car at a red light. Sources indicate that Waters spoke with other deputies for about 30 minutes after the accident and then promptly left the scene.
The officers’ decision to let Waters leave the scene of the first accident proved to be a mistake.
Later that same day, Waters was still driving under the influence when he swerved into oncoming traffic and struck a vehicle driven by an elderly woman. The impact was so severe that the woman needed back surgery after the accident.
Toxicology reports later revealed that Waters had been under the influence of the prescription drugs zolpidem and hydrocodone.
After the initial traffic collision, Waters’ behavior did not improve. He was cited for trading fake cocaine for prescription drugs and trying to illegally obtain drugs from doctors.
To no one’s surprise, Waters has been relieved of his duties as a sheriff’s deputy.
When 19-year-old Benjamin Repinski asked someone to drive him home he may have thought he was doing the right thing. After all, he knew he had been drinking and shouldn’t be driving.
Unfortunately, the driver who agreed had also been drinking – and was only 12-years-old.
On the way home down County Road 12 in Minnesota, she mistook the brake pedal for the gas, veered off the road, and drove through a garden. Repinski then got behind the wheel to drive the two out of the garden and hit a shed, reports CBS News.
The homeowners called the police at about 11:30 pm. When police officers arrived on the scene, they asked to see her license, but she didn’t have one.
Police were surprised to learn the girl Repinski asked for a ride is only twelve years old. They were further stunned when she submitted to a breathalyzer test and was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.09, according to the Boston Herald.
She was taken to a local hospital because she was complaining of back and side pain, where she was released to her mother. She refused to submit to a blood test.
Even though his blood alcohol level was not over 0.08, Repinski has been cited for underage drinking and driving, consumption by a minor, and allowing an unlicensed person to drive. All of these charges are misdemeanors.
He will be expected to attend an August 27, 2010 court date, reports WQOW. The twelve-year-old was cited for a fourth-degree DWI and for refusal to submit to a blood test, says WCCO.
However, those are not the only two people cited in this peculiar event. While a deputy sheriff was on his way to the hospital to interview the girl about the accident, he noticed a moped wobbling down Highway 43 while driving down the road.
The driver of the moped was wearing sunglasses even though it was the middle of the night. The deputy stopped the moped and cited Daniel G. Arndt, age 21, for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. When the deputy asked why Arndt was driving while intoxicated, Arndt replied that he was going to pick up his friend Benjamin Repinski who had been in a car accident.
Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand acknowledged the peculiarity of the event in an interview with WKBT News.
“It’s something you don’t come across every day. In my forty years of law enforcement, I’ve only come across it once or twice.”
One would hope that to be the case.
Captain Scott Patrick Sciple, a Marine Corps captain who has been decorated with three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his service, has been charged with DUI manslaughter after a fatal crash on the Florida highway.
Pedro Rivera, 48, was killed in the crash, which occurred at around 4 in the morning on April 25, on Interstate 275, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Court records revealed that police measured Capt. Sciple’s blood-alcohol content T .255, which is three times the legal driving limit. It was while behind the wheel in this condition that he allegedly drove his Chevy Impala the wrong way on the interstate, and collided with Rivera’s Chevy Malibu.
Rivera was pronounced dead after he arrived at the hospital following the crash.
“This is a horribly tragic case for everyone involved,” said attorney for Sciple John Fitzgibbons.
Sciple was a veteran of four tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was planning to return to the battlefront to serve a fifth tour of duty at the time of the accident. He was home recovering from injuries before deploying again. Fitzgibbons would not elaborate on Sciple’s war wounds.
He joined the military in 2001, and was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
“We are presently examining some very compelling circumstances,” he said of the injury situation, “which may involve legal and medical matters, but I’m not going to discuss those at the present time.”
Rivera’s wife, Carmen, was also injured in the accident, as was Sciple. They were both taken to the hospital in serious condition.
It took so long for Sciple to be charged because the court was awaiting the results of the toxicology tests in the case. This was explained as a standard procedure, according to Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant Larry Kraus.
Sciple was also charged with DUI with property damage or personal injury to go along with the DUI manslaughter charge. He was released from jail with a $25,500 bail.
After the military learned of the accident, Sciple was switched to an administrative role, where he now manages paperwork. This move was not viewed as a punishment, which would allow him to more easily deal with legal issues.
A Georgia woman who refused to stop her vehicle for police and subsequently got into a car crash will likely face charges after the death of the fetus that she was carrying.
According to an article from ABC News, Jessica Bruce was fleeing police in her car when she hit another vehicle, spun around into oncoming traffic, and then got hit by another vehicle. The accident killed the fetus that she was carrying, according to police.
The initial traffic stop was for speeding. Investigators said that Bruce was traveling about 85 miles per hour in a 65 miles per hour zone outside of Atlanta, in the suburbs. Bruce had to be cut out of the wreckage before she could be taken to the hospital. Another person involved in the crash was also taken to the hospital.
An autopsy was performed on the fetus, which authorities are awaiting the results on. That autopsy will theoretically determine if the fetus’ death was the result of the accident.
A toxicology test was also given to Bruce. Police believe that Bruce was drunk at the time of the incident, though the result of the tests will determine how prosecutors will proceed.
Douglas County District Attorney David McDade told ABC that the early information suggests that Bruce will likely face “feticide by vehicle” charges. “The preliminary investigation leads us to believe she was under the influence of alcohol,” he said. “She was fleeing police at a high rate of speed and driving dangerously.”
The vehicular feticide charge carries a 15-year prison sentence, according to ABC News.
According to McDade, the age of the child is not relevant under Georgia law, as long as it was alive just before the incident. “There will almost certainly be criminal responsibility,” he said.
Bruce won’t be charged until she leaves the hospital, according to McDade.
Twenty-four states have the “fetus as victim” written into laws that relate to DUI cases. Some states have laws that vary based on the age of the fetus. Some states have penalties starting at 7–12 weeks, while five states have laws saying that a 16-18-week-old fetus can get someone a full-blown murder charge. Three other states call 28 weeks that cut-off point.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the number of deaths caused by drunk driving decreased by seven percent between 2007 and 2008.
The number of deaths in 2007 was 13,041 and in 2008 it was recorded at 11,773, which is 1,268 fewer deaths than the previous year.
This recent decrease mirrors a trend that has been happening in the U.S. since the 80s. In 1982 there were more than 21,000 DUI related fatalities – that number has decreased 44 percent since then.
The states with the most improved rates of DUI-related deaths are Maine, Vermont and Wisconsin. Montana is the state that has the highest rate of DUI deaths – but the Montana rate did drop 10 percent from 2007 to 2008.
DUI-related fatality rates did fall in 40 states from 2007 to 2008.
According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, each state’s law enforcement actions directly affect the rate of DUI fatalities.
Famous actor Mel Gibson recently had his drunken driving conviction expunged, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Gibson was pulled over back in July 2006 by a sheriff’s deputy on the Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles, Calif.
Gibson was driving his Lexus Sedan over 85 mph. He was given a breathalyzer test and his BAC content was at 0.12 percent – the legal limit is 0.08 percent.
According to CNN, Gibson was charged with a misdemeanor of drunken driving and an open container of alcohol in his vehicle. The open container charge is considered an infraction of the California Vehicle Code.
This was Gibson’s first offense, which is why he was able to expunge his record – or remove the DUI from his record.
He was eligible to expunge it from his record after he completed the terms of his probation. Gibson attended alcohol anonymous meetings, appeared in public service announcements and paid $1,300 in fines.
After the incident, the celebrity Web site TMZ posted Gibson’s arrest report. The report shows that Gibson did not go peacefully with the officer at the time of his arrest. He allegedly had an obscene outburst and tried to flee from the arresting officer, and then threatened the officer several times.
According to CNN, Gibson also made racial slurs, which became very public after his DUI arrest.
He stated, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.“ He then continued to ask the deputy if he was Jewish. This one night of drunken rowdiness may be expunged from his record, but not from the public eye.
CNN also reported that Gibson later released a statement after he made the comments: “I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement official the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.”
He continued to state he blurted the comments out in a moment of insanity.
After Gibson’s arrest, people speculated he would get “special” treatment being a famous star, but an independent review board did find the sheriff’s department handled Gibson’s arrest “in accordance with its policies and practices.”
According to multiple news sources, police departments in several states – including California, Colorado, Illinois and Utah – are planning special DUI checkpoints on roadways for the Halloween holiday weekend.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety reported that Halloween is especially bad for drunken drivers on the roads.
Across the state of Colorado, law enforcement officers will increase patrols for DUI starting at 6:00 p.m. tonight until 3:00 a.m. on Nov. 2.
Utah state troopers warn residents, “If you’re going out to celebrate Halloween, be sure you have a designated driver.
Drunk driving is more common around holidays – and police forces across the nation know it. Lesson to be learned? If you’re going out this Halloween, be careful so you don’t end up with a DUI.
The state of Utah recently released its seventh annual DUI report, tracking DUI arrests, accidents and fatalities in the state in 2008.
The report contained significant positive developments in overall DUI arrest and fatality numbers, as well as some illuminating facts about DUI arrests and underage drinkers.
Among the positive news in the report is a decrease in DUI fatalities in the state from 2007 to 2008. In 2007, there were 42 DUI-related fatalities. In 2008, that number dropped to 34.
Utah, which often has the lowest rate of DUI-related fatalities in the nation, fell one spot to second-lowest in 2008 – Vermont edged out Utah with the lowest rate. Utah came in with a 16.7% DUI-related fatality rate. The national average for U.S. states, according to the report, is 32 percent.
The report goes on to provide statistics about those arrested for DUI in Utah.
In the 2009 fiscal year, there were 15,683 DUI arrests, which represented a rise of 386 arrests from the previous year. Of those arrested, 76 percent were male and 10 percent were under the legal drinking age of 21.
The average blood alcohol content recorded in Utah DUI arrests was .14 percent, which is twice the legal limit of .08 percent. The highest blood alcohol content recorded in an arrest was .43 percent, which is five times the legal limit.
Of those arrested, 67 percent were first-time DUI offenders, 21 percent were second-time offenders and 8 percent were third-time offenders.
The average jail sentence for a DUI offense was 151 days, and the average fine for a DUI conviction was $1,468.
The creator of the report, the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, put the spotlight on not only the overall statistical element of DUI in the state, but also on the personal impact of DUI on individuals and families.
The report’s introduction tells the story of Wendy Kerbs, a 54-year-old resident of Roy, Utah, who died tragically as a result of DUI.
Kerbs was gardening in her front yard when an SUV swerved into the yard and struck her. She died soon after.
The driver of the SUV, Richard Allan Bash, lost control of his vehicle while driving more than 50 mph down the quiet residential street. He crashed through a light pole and several trees before striking Kerbs.
Police apprehended Bash despite his attempt to flee, break into and hide in a neighboring home. He was driving under the influence of alcohol as well as other drugs, and had seven previous DUI convictions on his record.
The report also outlined state efforts to highlight the dangers of DUI, as illustrated by the Kerbs story, in an extensive media campaign.
The campaign focuses on those aged 21-34, but also targets high school and college students under age 21.
Public service announcements included radio and television ads, billboards, event displays and print ads in college newspapers. The multi-media campaign is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
On Tuesday, August 18, James Dean Lessard pleaded guilty to his 11th DUI offense.
The man from Billings, Mont. has 10 previous DUI convictions in Wyoming and Montana, with his first DUI in 1990 and most recent DUI offense in 2001. Currently, a plea agreement would sentence Lessard to 10 years in prison as a persistent felony offender.
If Lessard is classified as a persistent felony offender, future DUI offenses could mean an additional prison sentence of 100 years.
Lessard admitted before District Judge Russell Fagg that he was under the influence while he was driving on April 8. His car car hit another car in a grocery store’s parking lot.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 26.
Source: Billings Gazette
Kansas University will be adding another requirement this year for some students. New students under the age of 22 will be required to take a two hour course on the affects and dangers of alcohol.
The class is part of the initiatives the University is taking after two students died in unrelated alcohol incidents last spring from underage binge drinking.
University officials believe the course is realistic because it assumes that most students do drink, regardless of age. The class teaches students about the affects alcohol consumption has on the body and decision-making abilities.
“It’s not, if you will, a message of abstinence, because, I think we are realistic that telling students not to drink at all probably isn’t as helpful as saying this is how you can be safe,” Marlesa Roney, vice provost for student success, told the press. “By providing detailed information on the effects of alcohol in an easily accessible, interactive format, we hope to help students make wise choices while in school and throughout their lifetimes.”
The University also plans to notify parents about drug and alcohol violations by students 21 or younger. Alcohol amnesty will be offered for students who call for medical assistance concerned about alcohol poisoning whether the incident involves themselves or a friend.
The changes in the University’s policy comes after the deaths of Jason Wren and Dalton Eli Hawkins. Wren, 19, was found dead at his Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on March 8. His blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit. In April, Hawkins fell off the roof of a dorm and died after drinking.
Source: Lawrence Journal World and KARE 11
Fellow DUI Bloggers:
Total DUI is looking for submissions for our first 50 Best of the Best Blogs on DUI.
People facing charges for driving under the influence search the Internet for useful information on how to handle their DUI offense. DUI bloggers are all over the Web to help those in need find out what they can expect in consequences, legal proceedings, etc…
You have all been working very hard to make sure your readers are up-to-date, so now is the time to be recognized for your efforts. The Best of the Best blogs list will be promoted throughout social media networks.
If you think your blog should be considered, please e-mail Total DUI (email@example.com) by Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 5 p.m. CST. In your e-mail please include the following:
- Description of your blog – please keep it under 200 words
- Why your blog is the best
Thank you for your suggestions and good luck!
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On the night of Saturday, July 25, the Chief of Police of Alexandria City, Virginia was arrested and charged with a DUI after he hit another vehicle near Interstate 66 and North Fairfax Drive.
David P. Baker had been driving a city-issued green Ford Explorer in Arlington County when he caused roughly $900 in damage to either vehicle. His blood alcohol level was reported to be 0.19—twice the legal limit in the state of Virginia.
Baker, 58, submitted his resignation on Monday, July 27. Prior to his resignation, Baker’s attorney James Clark insisted that his client had no intention of resigning.
City Manager James K. Hartmann initially ordered an investigation of the incident and told the Washington Post he would “wait for the findings of the internal review” before making a decision on how to proceed. In the mean time, Baker had been put on administrative leave.
Hartmann stated, “It is very disappointing when one of our colleagues makes a bad decision.”
If convicted, Baker will face a minimum of five days in jail due to his blood alcohol level more than doubly exceeding the legal limit, according to the police report.
Baker will leave his post officially on Friday and will temporarily be replaced by Deputy Police Chief Earl Cook who will serve as acting chief.
Source: Washington Post