Mar

4

Major League Baseball Player Crisp Arrested for DUI

By Mike

Coco Crisp, known for a name that reminds fans of breakfast cereal and his productive major league baseball career, was arrested for DUI in Scottsdale, Arizona, during Spring Training last week.

According to MLB.com, Crisp was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol in the Spring Training home of his team, the Oakland Athletics, when police pulled him over on suspicion of DUI just after 2 a.m.

Crisp, who was driving his Rolls Royce Phantom automobile, was stopped for an inability to stay in his lane, as well as for no proof of insurance and expired registration.

Police also conducted field sobriety tests after the stop, and Crisp was arrested for drunk driving.

Arizona is a tough state in terms of DUI laws, with first-time offender penalties that include a ten-day jail sentence and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. Crisp was learning about these tough laws as he went along, though he didn’t comment about the strictness of the state’s stance on DUI issues.

“I can’t really go into the details right now,” he told MLB.com. “I guess those will come out later.”

Former NBA star Charles Barkley was one high-profile celebrity who felt the brunt of these laws after he was charged with DUI in Scottsdale several years ago. He spent three days in jail in a tent city set up for drunk drivers, and he had to complete twelve hours of work release.

Crisp apologized publicly to his fans, teammates, friends and family, saying that he was mainly embarrassed. “I’m sorry and that sorry is genuine. A lot of people look up to me and obviously this was not the right decision.”

The Oakland Athletics baseball club said that they would take the legal matter seriously, and that they were monitoring the situation. The team’s manager had already spoken to Crisp.

Of the A’s organization, Crisp told MLB.com, “they just gave me some advice. It was just like, ‘We’ll get through this.’ It’s obviously a big deal. My parents said they’re here for me if I need anything. That was nice.”

Crisp was foremost reticent about having become a distraction to his teammates as they prepare for the upcoming baseball season. “The sooner this can get out of the clubhouse the better,” he said. “I’ll deal with this myself. I don’t want to be a distraction for any of the other players. I just want to answer questions.”

This is Crisp’s first public legal issue in his nine years as a professional baseball player.

Sep

24

Arizona Judge Reverses Ruling on Breath Test Evidence

By Mary Ann

According to the Tucson Citizen, a Tucson City Court judge threw out breath test evidence in 19 alleged DUI cases.

On September 8, Judge Margarita Bernal ruled that testimony from a Superior Court case changed her mind about allowing the breath tests to be used in the trials.

In a statement given by Toby Hall, president of CMI, the company that makes the Intoxilyzer 8000, he cites anomalies, errors and issues that can have an impact on the machine’s reliability and credibility.  The Intoxilyzer 8000 machine and software is used in Arizona.

Recently, breath tests in more than 100 DUI cases in Tucson have been thrown out because of problems with CMI and the breathalyzer.  Many of these cases have been dismissed.

Jan

24

What Does Laughing about Your Victim’s Death Get You?

By Mary Ann

A Tucson woman, Melissa Arrington, was charged with negligent homicide and two counts of aggravated DUI offense after she swerved off the road in her car to hit a cyclist, Paul L’Ecuyer, in December 2006.

Arrington could have been stuck with a minimum sentence of four years, but the judge didn’t hesitate to give her a much higher sentence of 10.5 years, one year less than the maximum, for a phone call that was played at trial that he called “breathtaking in its inhumanity.”

According to court records and news reports, in the phone call a friend said that a mutual friend said Arrington should be applauded for the incident, saying she should get a parade and a medal for “taking out” a “tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman and a gay guy all in one shot.”

Arrington responded with a laugh, and when her friend admitted that it was a terrible thing to say, Arrington replied, “No, it’s not.”

How you behave in the DUI court and your contrition for your actions can go a long way in convincing the judge that you regret your DUI and the illegal or damaging actions that resulted.

The judge in this case obviously thought that Arrington’s laugh indicated she wasn’t remorseful for her actions.

Dec

14

Smile for Your Arizona DUI Mug Shot: It Could Be Posted Online

By Mary Ann

Being arrested and charged with DUI can be a scary and embarrassing experience. While most people would like to put their DUI arrest in the past, especially in the cases of those who had a one-time, temporarily lapse in judgment, actually doing so hasn’t been that easy for some Arizona DUI offenders.

The new Web site Stopduiaz.com posts the names, mug shots and blood alcohol content levels of people who have been arrested for Arizona DUI. The site has been described as a means to educate the public on DUI penalties and to get across the point that even ordinary citizens can be arrested for DUI and thus subjected to such penalties.

The site is not without controversy, as some people have decried the embarrassing aspects of this campaign. These opponents have specifically pointed out their displeasure with the principle of shaming, in which embarrassment for a crime can be used as part of a sentence.

Read more about the debate surrounding this Arizona DUI Web site in the following article:

Arizona DUI Offenders See Names and Mug Shots Go Online.

Jul

6

Bears’ Tank Johnson Not Charged in DUI

By Mary Ann

Tank Johnson, the troubled Chicago Bears player, will not be charged following his DUI arrest in Gilbert, Ariz. A blood test showed Johnson to have a blood alcohol level of 0.072 percent, slightly below Arizona’s presumptive BAC level of 0.08 percent.

Johnson had been suspended for the first eight games of the upcoming NFL season. The Bears waived him following his DUI arrest. Johnson could still have been charged with DUI, regardless of a BAC below the presumptive level.

Arizona’s DUI law states that is unlawful for someone to drive “if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.” ARS 28-1381(A)(1).

The Associated Press reported that Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Duncan declined to elaborate on the reason for not charging Johnson in the matter.

Jun

25

DUI Arrest Blows Up Tank Johnson’s Career as a Bear

By admin

After being arrested for “DUI Impaired to the Slightest Degree” early last Friday morning in Arizona, defensive lineman Terry “Tank” Johnson was released by the Chicago Bears today.

Johnson had vowed in May that he was a changed man after spending two months in jail for violating probation on a gun charge. Johnson was already facing an eight-game suspension for the start of the next season and may now have very well put his career –at least in the NFL–in severe jeopardy.

Johnson was pulled over for going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert on June 22nd. Officers suspected that Johnson was impaired, and a cooperative Johnson submitted a blood test for his BAC.

While those results aren’t expected for two weeks, the Bears’ organization didn’t need to wait for the results to get rid of Johnson after supporting him under much criticism during the last seven months.

The end of Johnson’s run as a Chicago Bear comes after a long line of embarrassing incidents. Police raided Johnson’s home last December and found six unregistered firearms, some of which were in the vicinity of Johnson’s young children.

After expressing contrition for this arrest (which violated an earlier gun charge), Johnson found himself in more trouble some two days later. His bodyguard, Willie B. Posey, was gunned down and killed during a fight at a Chicago nightclub that he and Johnson were frequenting. Johnson was suspended for one game by the Bears for the incident  but returned to the team during its Super Bowl run.

Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo said today that Johnson’s recent DUI arrest “compromised the credibility of our organization.” Head Coach Lovie Smith was described in a prepared statement as saying that Johnson did not live up to his side of the deal with the organization. Johnson was drafted by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 draft out of the University of Washington.

Jun

13

Not so Fast on Arizona Alcohol Ignition Interlocks

By Mary Ann

The Arizona Legislature may be backtracking on its new law mandating ignition interlocks for all drivers convicted of DUI. Governor Janet Napolitano signed Arizona’s interlock law during the current legislative session.

The DUI law has yet to even take effect. Now the Arizona House of Representatives has given preliminary approval to a bill to repeal the interlock requirement. The Senate may not agree to a repeal, but could allow modifications to the law.

Currently, Arizona’s pending DUI laws require all people with a first DUI offense to install and use an ignition interlock for one year. Compromise between the state Senate and House may result in a shorter time period or only requiring the interlock for drivers with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.10 percent or more. Arizona’s BAC limit for DUI is 0.08 percent.

The interlock law is set to take effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends. Regardless of whether and how the legislature and the governor amend Arizona’s pending law, interlocks will still be mandated for repeat and extreme DUI offenders.

May

2

Some Arizona Legislators Thinking Rationally About Proposed DUI Law

By Mary Ann

An amendment to a proposed Arizona DUI law is holding up passage of the new law. Some Arizona legislators are stalling the proposed law due to a provision requiring first-time DUI offenders to get ignition interlocks. Several areas around the United States are attempting to require first-time DUI offenders to get interlocks.

The purpose of the Arizona law is to increase penalties for drivers convicted of extreme-DUI. The law would send drivers with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.20 to jail for 45 days. The legal limit for DUI in Arizona is a BAC of 0.80 percent.

A recent amendment to the proposed DUI law would require ignition interlocks for any driver convicted of having a BAC of at least 0.08 percent. The interlock would prevent a driver from starting or operating his vehicle unless he can provide a clean breath-test. Enough legislators are against this interlock provision to hold up the law.

Feb

21

US Airways CEO to Spend One Day in Arizona Jail for DUI

By Mary Ann

US Airways CEO Doug Parker will spend one day in jail and pay a $1,646.25 fine after pleading guilty to DUI in Arizona. Parker was arrested in Scottsdale Arizona in January after being pulled over for driving 20 mph over the speed limit. Shortly before his arrest, his company’s $9.8 billion bid for Delta Air Lines had been rejected.

Parker had a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.096 percent, just over Arizona’s legal limit for DUI. Earlier today, National Public Radio, in a display of its weakened news reporting, stated that Parker’s BAC would not be considered intoxicated in many states. Every state follows the per-se BAC limit mandated by the federal government for DUI of 0.08 percent.

Jan

29

Arizona Proposes Legislation to Allow Extreme-DUI Offenders to Skip Jail Altogether

By Mary Ann

The Arizona state senate gave preliminary approval to a DUI law requiring drivers convicted of extreme-DUI (0.15 BAC) to serve their full 30 day sentence. The new DUI law would forbid judges from suspending any portion of extreme-DUI offenders’ sentences even if they complete court-ordered drug or alcohol screenings or programs. Before the DUI law received approval, however, Senator Jorge Garcia tacked on a provision allowing judges to completely eliminate the sentence of a driver convicted of extreme-DUI if he pays for and completes a 30-day residential treatment program.

Some Arizona lawmakers disapprove of allowing drivers to go to rehab. One senator complained that “you won’t have to serve any time at all as long as you can afford a nice rehab center.  You’ll spend your 30 days in a rehab facility instead of jail, where you belong.”

Senator Garcia responded that those who believe that programs like Sierra Tucson and the Betty Ford Clinic are little more than vacations are wrong. “They may be in cushy surroundings,” he said. “But the reality is it’s hard work for anyone who goes through a 30-day program.”

Jan

19

State Senator Proposes Crackdown on Extreme DUI in Arizona

By Mary Ann

Arizona State Senator Jim Waring proposed creating a new extreme-DUI classification for drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.20 percent or greater. The law would also require a driver found guilty of Extreme DUI (a 0.15 BAC) to serve a full 30 or 45 days in jail without possibility of a suspended sentence. Currently, in Arizona, a judge can suspend a driver’s sentence if he completes a drug or alcohol treatment, screening, or education program. 

Statistics show that drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or more accounted for two-thirds of all alcohol-related vehicle deaths in Arizona in 2005.

Although news stories conflict, Waring’s bill apparently would not raise the BAC limit for Extreme DUI from 0.15 percent to a BAC of 0.20 percent, but rather, create a new DUI classification of driving with a BAC of 0.20. None of the stories indicate what penalties would attach to conviction for DUI with a 0.20 BAC.

Jan

10

Arizona Proposes Extreme-Extreme DUI Penalty

By Mary Ann

While many states have penalties for “extreme DUI,” Arizona lawmakers have proposed an extreme-extreme DUI penalty. Arizona already has a per-se DUI level of 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) and an extreme DUI level of 0.15 percent BAC. Lawmakers have now proposed a higher penalty for repeat DUI of at least 0.20 percent BAC.

Under bills cleared by Arizona’s Senate Transportation Committee, drivers found guilty of extreme DUI (0.15 BAC) would face a mandatory 30 day jail sentence. A driver with a second conviction for driving with a 0.20 BAC would be required to serve 6 months in jail.

A Phoenix police officer said that “a person who reaches the level of 0.20 has to be an experienced drinker. He said that means someone who has developed a tolerance for alcohol — and someone who likely has driven drunk before. The officer claimed it would take a 150-pound person eight drinks in a single hour to reach that level. A Gilbert police officer agreed that anyone that intoxicated would not just accidentally drink too much. “There’s no such thing as an ‘oops’ for a 0.20,” he said.

Dec

26

Central Arizona Police Make 1,900 DUI Arrests

By Mary Ann

Since November 23, police in the Central Arizona Valley have made about 1,900 DUI arrests. So far, DUI arrests are about the same as in 2004 and 2005.  In 2004, Central Arizona police made 2,591 arrests, and in 2005 there were 2,399 DUI arrests. Several of this year’s arrests were for repeat offenses. One driver who spent a morning in court due to previous DUI arrest was picked up for DUI the same night.

The Deputy Director for the department said that the high arrest numbers are a testament to the dedication of the officers who work the streets during the holidays

Dec

25

Southern Arizona DUI Sweep Leads to 36 DUI Arrests

By Mary Ann

A DUI sweep in the Tucson Arizona area netted 36 DUI arrests over the first weekend of the holiday season. Two of the arrests were for felony DUI. In Arizona, felony DUI involves prior convictions or children in the vehicle. In the past month, 249 people have been cited for DUI, 13 felony DUI.

The Southern Arizona DUI Task Force stopped drivers over the weekend that showed even the “slightest degree” of impairment.

Nov

24

Tucson to Continue DUI Crackdown Through Year’s End

By Mary Ann

The Southern Arizona DUI Task Force announced that an enforcement crackdown on DUI would begin Friday and continue through the rest of the year. Pima County’s Sheriff announced that its department would have two checkpoints and 30-40 officers whose only job would be to catch drunk drivers. Officers will be on DUI patrol every night through the holidays.

The Sheriff said that during the holidays, people who wouldn’t normally drink and drive go to parties without considering how they’ll get home sober. He encourages people to plan ahead when they go to holiday parties and challenged hosts to take some responsibility to provide non-alcoholic beverages for their guests and when needed arrange for ways to get them home or find a place for them to spend the night.