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.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, California DUI deaths have dropped 9.1% for the third year in a row. In 2007 nearly 1,132 people died in DUI accidents, while in 2008, the number decreased to 1,029.
“With this third year of declines in DUI deaths, we can truly call it a trend, a trend of life saving importance,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
“Law enforcement, state and local agencies, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other safety advocates, and the people of California have come together to address this deadly problem and are now seeing the results. As positive as these figures are, though, we can never let up until we achieve our goal of zero deaths.”
The count for 2008 marks a total decrease of nearly 21% from the most recent high statistic in 2005.
California has used many different tactics to address the DUI problem, including increasing youth public awareness programs, as well as hospital and jail based intervention programs.
The state has also expanded prosecution and probation. Police have increased DUI checkpoints, the Avoid DUI Taskforces program and Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911 campaign.
This weekend is one of celebration as friends and family gather to enjoy fireworks, food and fun. Utahans will be celebrating the holiday like many other people, but the citizens of the state have a little more to be joyful over this year.
Forty years ago, the state passed a private club law, requiring people to have a membership to a bar in order to buy alcohol. The membership was designed with help from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to limit alcohol consumption and could cost anywhere between $20 and $40 a year.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. convinced the Utah Legislature to repeal the private club law because it negatively affected tourism, which brings in about $7 billion a year.
Although lawmakers repealed the law, Utah DUI laws were toughened, requiring bars to scanning driver licenses’ of patrons who are under 35 years old and keeping the records for the week.
Senate President Michael Waddoups said the number of DUI arrests or DUI accidents will be monitored to see if the law has a negative affect.
“Obviously my biggest concern is the safety of our citizens, our families, the drivers on the roads,” he told the press, but there are new tools for law enforcement to crack down on DUI, which could leave the state “better off than we were before, so I’m willing to give it a try.”
For now, Utahans are organizing barcrawls in downtown Salt Lake City to celebrate their “newfound freedom.”