An alleged drunk driver in California last week committed one of the cardinal sins of drinking and driving: showing a nearby police officer a certain middle digit.
Carlos Ruano, a resident of Sylmar, California reportedly drove by a police deputy in his Ford F-150 in a reckless manner and impolitely extended his middle finger in the officer’s direction, according to a report from SCV News.
Sources indicate that Ruano was “cutting in and out of traffic” down state highway 14 when he nearly rear-ended an unmarked police vehicle. To add to his questionable decision-making, Ruano then flipped off the officer.
According to the police report, which offers a nice summary of the incident, “[t]he pick up truck approached the deputy’s vehicle from the rear, the plain wrapped vehicle, and almost struck it. When he went by the deputy he ended up flipping off the deputy.”
Of course, the officer didn’t pursue Ruano simply because he insulted them. He also continued driving erratically after almost striking the car.
So, after the officer was rear-ended, he continued to pursue Ruano as he was traveling southbound on the highway, and called for assistance from the California Highway Patrol.
However, before the Highway Patrol was able to arrive, another nearby deputy in a marked vehicle joined the other officer in the pursuit of Ruano. After they fired their emergency lights, sources indicate that a dangerous chase ensued.
Sources say that the alleged DUI driver started to flee from the two deputies at speeds reaching as fast as 85 miles per hour through dangerously large amounts of traffic.
However, once officers from the California Highway Patrol appeared ready to join the chase, the suspect recognized that his situation was untenable, and he wisely pulled over to the side of the road.
According to the police report, Ruano “was taken into custody for fleeing police officers using a motor vehicle. He’s also been arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.” If convicted on both charges, Ruano could face some serious time in jail.
The charge for evading police officers is a serious felony offense, punishable by jail time and significant fines. But the DUI charge is no small allegation, either, as it could also lead to extra jail time, additional fines, and the loss of his license.
And, hopefully, Ruano learned some important lessons during his ordeal. Don’t drink and drive, and if you do, don’t flip off police officers and lead them on a high-speed chase.
Just one month after delivering a motivational speech about the perils of drugs and alcohol to an assembly of students, a top New Jersey school official was arrested for a DUI last week, according to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Sources indicate that Joseph Del Rossi, the Superintendent for the Medford Township School District, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after he flipped his Jeep last Sunday night in Evesham Township, New Jersey.
The arrest was both sad and ironic because Del Rossi had given an inspiring message about substance abuse to a gathering of 2,000 students and parents last month. Del Rossi has led the school district, which includes more than 3,000 students, for a decade.
And sources say that the news is another troubling black eye for a community still reeling from a sex scandal involving its former mayor and also grappling with extreme budget cuts due to sinking revenues.
According to reports, Del Rossi told police that he flipped his Jeep after swerving to avoid a deer on a local road. Police, however, believe that Del Rossi was drunk at the time of the accident, though they would not yet release the results of his breathalyzer test.
Del Rossi will face an initial hearing on April 12 in Evesham Township’s Municipal Court. The superintendent’s DUI attorney refused to speak to reporters after the incident.
In addition to his attorney’s silence, school board members have also refused to speak publicly about the matter, claiming that it is a mere “personal issue.” The board, undoubtedly, is looking to investigate the matter more thoroughly before throwing its support behind Del Rossi.
However, Randy Pace, the new mayor of Medford Township, was less cautious with his words about Del Rossi, who was driving a vehicle that was paid for by the school when the accident occurred.
According to Pace, Del Rossi is “one of the most well-known, charismatic, and well-liked individuals in the township . . . and we all make mistakes. But he allegedly was in a publicly owned vehicle and was intoxicated.”
Pace believes that the school board should take quick action, and that Del Rossi should either resign or promptly notify the board that he will go on administrative leave until the incident is resolved.
Pace, however, has no power to force the board or Del Rossi to take any action, so the board’s decision may be delayed while Del Rossi sorts out his legal troubles.
A Chicago judge may have escaped the consequences of his alleged drunk driving this week, as an Illinois court dismissed DUI charges against Cook County Judge James Gavin.
Gavin, who was elected to the circuit court in 1996, breathed a heavy sigh of relief last Wednesday after a DuPage County judge dropped the drunk driving charges that prosecutors leveled against him, claiming that there was not enough evidence for a conviction, according to Gavin’s DUI attorney.
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Gavin was initially charged in October 2011 with a misdemeanor DUI after an alert police officer pulled him over when Gavin used the shoulder of the road to pass another car.
The police report alleged that the 55-year-old veteran judge failed an eye-gaze test and smelled of alcohol, which led officers to suspect that Gavin was operating his car under the influence of alcohol.
Gavin, however, refused to submit to a blood alcohol test or a field sobriety test. Because of his intransigence, Gavin temporarily lost his license, but may have succeeded in leaving little evidence for prosecutors to prove that he was driving drunk.
And, despite the initial revocation of his license, Judge Liam Brennan, the DuPage County judge assigned to the case, ordered police to return the license to Gavin in December, claiming that the police did not have enough evidence of wrongdoing to pull Gavin over.
Oddly, Brenna told the court last week that the act of veering onto the shoulder of a road, without any further proof of intoxication or impairment, was not enough evidence to allow the case to continue.
In Brennan’s own words, “[t]he problem I have is all the other things that we typically look for to support a DUI arrest simply are not here. Mr. Gavin was polite, oriented to time, place and person. I don’t think in the context of all the other things we expect to see and don’t see that there was reasonable grounds for his arrest.”
A spokesman for the attorney’s office in DuPage County said that prosecutors were forced to drop the case due to Brennan’s ruling, and noted that Gavin still pleaded guilty to his improper shoulder passing maneuver.
For this single charge of illegal passing, Gavin was sentenced to one year of court supervision, which, given the potential financial and social consequences of a DUI conviction, Gavin is likely happy to accept.
Aldon Smith, a rookie linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, was charged late last week with driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a report from the New York Daily News.
The arrest occurred in Miami Beach, a favorite hangout of professional athletes and people who like to encounter professional athletes.
Jail records obtained from Miami-Dade County authorities show that Smith was booked on Saturday night for drunk driving and that he was being held on a $1,000 bond.
A spokesperson for Miami-Dade County Corrections told reporters that Smith had indeed been arrested by Miami Beach police, but did not offer any specifics as to the nature of the arrest.
In a statement released just hours after the arrest, the San Francisco 49ers acknowledge that they were aware of the arrest, but, perhaps not surprisingly, refused to comment on the matter.
According to the team’s statement, the organization “takes these issues very seriously, but will reserve further comment at this time, as it is an ongoing legal matter.” The team did claim, though, that it would “continue to gather the facts and monitor the developments closely.”
The arrest comes as a black eye for both Aldon Smith and the 49ers, which lost in heartbreaking fashion last week to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game.
Before their loss, however, the 49ers had experienced a wildly successful season, as new coach Jim Harbaugh oversaw a dramatic change in fortune for the previously moribund franchise.
A major part of the team’s success was its league-leading defense, which was bolstered by the sterling play of Smith, who had 14 sacks from his defensive end position in 2011. The 14 sacks ranked first in the NFL among rookies.
Smith, who was drafted in the first round as the seventh overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, entered the league with high expectations, and certainly fulfilled them during his first year by setting the franchise record for sacks by a rookie.
The recent arrest, however, has ended Smith’s honeymoon phase with the franchise. If he is indeed convicted on the DUI charges, Smith could also receive some form of punishment from the team.
While the law typically gives first-time drunk drivers some jail time, heavy fines, or a suspension of their license, professional athletes often face fines or suspensions from their teams, as well.
In some circumstances, professional league offices also step in to mete out some punishment, although it remains to be seen if Smith will draw the ire of the NFL commissioner’s office.
Experts often advise inebriated people to take public transportation rather than risk getting a DUI by driving home, but the worst possible choice is to try to combine driving and public transportation.
This dangerous mixture, however, recently occurred in San Francisco when an alleged drunk driver steered his SUV into the start of an underground train tunnel, which, predictably, caused a bit of chaos.
The driver, 40-year-old Scott Mitchell, a resident of Sebastopol, California, was charged with three different crimes, including driving under the influence, after speeding into a municipal train tunnel at 6 a.m. last Thursday morning.
Mitchell was able to progress at a clip of roughly 40 miles per hour in the inbound direction of the morning trains. His progress was stopped about a half mile into the tunnel when his car became lodged between the tracks.
Tyonne Julian, a city employee who witnessed the bizarre event, claims that Mitchell actually switched tracks halfway through his tunnel drive in order to miss an oncoming train. Observers noted that it was a miracle that Mitchell didn’t ram into a train.
When Julian saw the crazed driver, he radioed city officials to stop the morning train traffic, which was put on hold for more than two hours as cleanup crews made the tracks safe again for train travel.
Of course, this two-hour delay occurred during a weekday downtown rush hour, which caused untold frustration among the hundreds of thousands of San Francisco commuters who were adversely affected that morning.
For his efforts, police charged Mitchell with a strange combination of violations, including driving under the influence of alcohol, driving on train tracks, and failing to obey a traffic sign (which, presumably, warned drivers that the train tunnel was not, in fact, for vehicles).
And while Mitchell may have failed to correctly practice the art of taking public transportation when drunk, he was at least honing in on the correct form of transit.
For people who like to drink, and have the advantage of living in a metropolitan area, forms of public transportation such as the bus or a train offer a safe, often enjoyable way to get home.
Even people under the influence of all sorts of substances typically have the capacity to climb aboard a train or bus and stumble out at the appropriate exit. Buses and trains have likely saved countless drivers from unwanted drunk driving arrests.
Of course, trains and buses aren’t the only alternative form of transportation for people who’ve had too many drinks. If, for example, you have extra cash on hand, taxis offer a more expensive, but equally safe form of transit.
On the other hand, if you are poor in cash but rich in friends, calling someone else to drive you home or designating a sober driver at the beginning of the night can help ensure that you get home without an encounter with angry police.
There is no proper dress code for a DUI arrest, but potential drunk drivers should know that wearing nothing but underwear and socks could complicate an already difficult evening on the road.
According to a recent, tongue-in-cheek, report from the Chicago Tribune, an Illinois man wearing very little clothing (on a cold winter day, no less) was recently arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence.
The man, whose actions certainly qualify him for consideration as the year’s silliest DUI offender, was charged with a misdemeanor DUI after he rammed his black 2009 Honda into the side of a police squad car on Chicago’s Northwest Side.
Around 11:00 a.m. last Saturday morning, a concerned citizen called police to notify them that a man was driving down a back alley in the wrong direction. The caller suggested that the driver appeared to be swerving, as well.
Police quickly responded to the call, and blocked one of the alley exits. In an effort to escape the situation, the driver casually drifted into a police car.
The occupants of the police car were further surprised when the man with the poor driving skills tumbled out of his Honda wearing only underwear and some socks. Sources do not indicate the type or color of either item of clothing.
The driver, who was identified as 24-year-old Arsenio Garcia, was charged with a misdemeanor DUI, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, illegally using an alley as a through-street, failing to reduce speed, damaging public property, and driving without a license or insurance.
Garcia will also be tried in the court of public opinion on charges of bad taste. The very bad day for Garcia ended at a hospital, where he was treated for minor scrapes to his face.
The officer who was in the squad car at the time of the collision was also sent to a hospital, where he was treated and released for minor injuries.
This incident offers a few good lessons for future drivers. First, and most importantly, if you have a few drinks in your system and feel a bit wobbly, chances are that you are not in the best condition to drive.
Taking a taxi, calling a friend, or using public transportation are all much better alternatives to spending the night in jail and facing potentially thousands of dollars in fines and a loss of a driver’s license.
In addition, regardless of whether one is driving drunk or driving sober, the use of proper attire tends to make police officers somewhat more compassionate in their subsequent treatment after a traffic-related arrest.
Fully clothed drivers, to say the least, have a better chance of convincing officers of their sobriety than men clad in only their skivvies and footwear. So, noble drivers—buckled up, sober up, and, for the love of civilization, put on some pants.
In a typical DUI case, the suspect is apprehended by police officers who are wearing uniforms, or are otherwise obviously licensed police. Rarely are people suspected of DUIs arrested by civilians.
A recent incident, however, in Bassett, California illustrated what happens when good Samaritans take the law into their own hands.
According to a recent story in the San Gabriel Tribune, the suspected drunk driver—a man in his mid-40’s whose name has not yet been released—tried to flee the scene of a crash on a California freeway but was thwarted by concerned citizens.
The driver had caused a crash around 5 a.m. that clogged morning traffic on the 605 Freeway for more than an hour, according to logs from the California Highway Patrol.
The crash involved the driver’s Honda Pilot and another vehicle and, despite the driver’s high level of intoxication, the crash did not cause any serious injuries, according to an interview with CHP Officer Luis Mendoza.
In the interview, Officer Mendoza said that the drunk driver tried to flee the scene immediately after the accident. In addition, Mendoza admitted that he could not verify some reports that suggested the driver tried to steal another car when he was running away from the scene of the crash.
According to Mendoza, other drivers “saw him kind of staggering, walking away from the scene.” When they tried to hold in place, the drunk driver reportedly became “a little aggressive.”
Despite the driver’s aggressive stance, one passerby was able to handcuff the man with flexcuffs, and then forced the man to sit down. Once the man was handcuffed and seated, several citizens kept an eye on him to ensure that he wouldn’t try to flee again.
Of course, after all this effort, the driver remained uncooperative when police arrived, as he refused to take a sobriety test and did not answer the officers’ questions. Nevertheless, because of his behavior and other obvious signs, the police concluded that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When CHP officers arrived, the suspect was not cooperative and refused to submit to sobriety tests, the officer said. Officers determined he appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Now, the driver will face potential fines, a suspended license, or even jail time as a result of his transgression. If he had injured any of the other motorists, or if he had injured a police officer, the possible sentence he would face would be much worse.
And despite the courage of the other drivers who detained the drunk man, people who are not trained police officers are typically discouraged from taking the law into their own hands, particularly if the situation involves a dangerous person.
Of course, this advice didn’t stop a few brave motorists in California from detaining an obviously inebriated driver.
After a DUI arrest, suspected drunk drivers have several options. They can take a breathalyzer test or refuse to do so, they can bail themselves out or spend the night in jail, and they can determine how they behave in front of the police.
Rarely, though, do DUI suspects take the ill-advised choice of running from the police. This practice, however, seems to be growing more popular, particularly in the town of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
According to a recent report from Sioux Falls’ newspaper, The Argus Leader, local police have had a difficult time with runners, or people who sprint out of the police station while waiting for the results of a blood or breathalyzer test.
The problem is particularly acute in the case of convicted DUI drivers who must return to the police station for a daily blood alcohol test.
After a DUI conviction, South Dakota often orders offenders to participate in a 24/7 sobriety program. For a period of a few months, the offenders must have a blood test taken every day at the police station.
If the individuals pass the exam, they are free to go, and eventually graduate from the program after a certain period of documented sobriety. If, however, the individuals fail the exam, they are immediately placed into jail because they violated the terms of their DUI probation.
One hole in this system in Sioux Falls, though, is that a test-taker must wait in the police department for 15 minutes while the police officer attempts to determine the validity of the initial test.
During this waiting period, the offender waits in the lobby, which is not staffed by a security guard, and the only officer in the room is behind a desk tinkering with blood tests. In other words, it is an invitation for a concerned offender to run.
This occurs fairly frequently in Sioux Falls, according to the report, and recently happened in the case of Brad Lehrkamp. The 28-year-old Lehrkamp was waiting in the lobby and he feared that he had “blown hot,” or failed his blood test.
Lehrkamp’s fears proved accurate, and so, fearing the prospect of going back to jail, Lehrkamp bolted out of the lobby and made a run for it.
His attempt to flee, however, was quickly thwarted when he broke his leg leaping down the police department’s stairs. After being treated at a nearby clinic, a gimpy Lehrkamp was promptly delivered to a local jail.
Of course, dramatic attempts to flee are not the only possible method of escaping South Dakota’s 24/7 sobriety program. Other defendants simply refuse to show up for their appointments, which voids the terms of their probation and also leads to further jail time.
These 24/7 programs have been very popular in many states, because they save the costs of jailing a DUI offender, but also allow law enforcement officials to keep close tabs on people who may act as a danger to others.
The programs, however, also have their critics, many of whom claim that daily blood tests are too intrusive, and that they may not prevent future DUI accidents if they are too loosely enforced.
After a long legal battle, which included the resolution of a dispute about the validity of the charges at the Illinois Supreme Court, a woman finally pleaded guilty this week to an aggravated DUI after causing a multiple-car accident that killed two motorcycle drivers.
According to the Chicago Tribune, 27-year-old Alia Bernard recently pleaded guilty to the charge of aggravated felony DUI after she admitted to having marijuana in her system when the fatal crash occurred.
Sources indicate that the fatal accident occurred in May 2009, when Bernard apparently bent over to grab her sunglasses and lost control of her vehicle.
When Bernard, a resident of Aurora, Illinois, was reaching for her glasses, she rear-ended a stopped car on an Illinois state highway at a very high speed. The collision sent the stopped car flying forward, and it then struck another car that was waiting to take a left turn.
When this second collision sent the turning car further into the intersection, the car created an obstacle for two motorcyclists who were lawfully traveling through a green light. The force of the collision killed both motorcyclists.
In all, the accident that was started by Bernard’s negligent driving involved nine different vehicles, injured 12 people, and resulted in the death of Wade and Denise Thomas, who were 44 and 45 years old, respectively.
Originally, prosecutors alleged that Bernard was texting when the accident occurred, although she and her DUI lawyer offered a different story.
According to Bernard’s lawyer, “[i]t was sunny and the sun was bouncing off the chrome of the motorcycles and she went to get her sunglasses and when she looked up, there was a car in the road.”
In addition, even though tests showed that Bernard tested positive for marijuana, she claims that she had not smoked pot for three or four days before the accident and was completely sober when the collision occurred.
Despite this claim, though, prosecutors raised her charges from the lesser crime of reckless homicide when the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that any amount of an illegal substance in a driver’s system during a fatal accident warrants the charge of aggravated DUI.
This news has upset some legal experts in Illinois, as it suggests that, for example, drivers who smoked marijuana several days before getting into even a minor accident could still be liable for an aggravated DUI charge.
In response, supporters of the decision say that a zero-tolerance policy will deter drivers from getting behind the wheel if they have a shred of doubt about their sobriety.
Regardless of the validity of the decision, Bernard has admitted responsibility and pleaded guilty to the charges. Sources indicate that Bernard, who has no past criminal record, could face six to 28 years in prison.
When people face the indignity of a DUI arrest, they are best advised to refrain from attacking their arresting officers. This advice, unfortunately, has not reached all drivers, as proven by the recent antics of a man in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
The man, 46-year-old Eric J. Gross, allegedly kicked a state trooper in a police cruiser while they were traveling to the police station after Gross had been arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a report from The Morning Call.
After Gross kicked the trooper, Joseph Wasylyk, the injured officer was able to pull his car over, force Gross outside of the car, and physically restrain the arrestee to prevent future kicking.
The trooper drove Gross to the station, and then retreated to the Lehigh Valley Hospital, where he was treated and released.
Sources indicate that the bizarre incident started at roughly 6:00 p.m. when Wasylyk responded to a report of someone driving recklessly in Washington Township, Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, Gross abandoned his vehicle and started walking down a local highway.
When he responded to the scene, the trooper eventually spotted Gross and arrested him for suspicion of drunk driving. It should be noted here that, even though Gross wasn’t driving at the time, his driving earlier that night still made him eligible for a DUI offense.
After the initial arrest, the trooper placed handcuffs on Gross behind his back, and secured Gross in the back seat of his cruiser with a seat belt. His job seemingly done, Wasylyk started to drive towards the DUI Center in Allentown, where Gross would be charged and booked.
While they were driving to the DUI Center, however, Gross started cursing and moving around in the back of the cruiser. To get a better look at the anxious offender, the trooper turned on his interior lights.
Soon, Gross began kicking the armrest and computer printer located inside the cruiser, though when the trooper asked Gross to kindly refrain from harming the equipment, Gross quickly obliged.
This stern warning, however, did not prevent Gross from taking much more aggressive action later in the drive. Sources indicate that Gross lifted his legs and started kicking Gross repeatedly on the right side of his body.
In a feat of physical coordination, the trooper was somehow able to pin the man’s legs against the seat, pull the car over, and restrain Gross before driving him to the DUI Center in one piece.
For his acts of violence, Gross now faces charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and harassment.
He was held on $20,000 bail and immediately sent to Lehigh County Prison, where the guards will be best advised to watch out for his flailing legs.
Rodney King, once the victim of an infamous incident of police brutality, was arrested for a DUI offense this summer, and this week he entered a plea of not guilty during an initial court appearance.
King, who is African-American, was the subject of a brutal beating by four white police officers after a seemingly routine traffic stop in southern California in 1991.
Graphic footage of the beating was soon released to the public, and people across the country expressed outrage over his treatment. The officers, however, who were involved in the beating of King were acquitted a year later.
The officers’ acquittal sparked an intense race riot in Los Angeles in 1992, which led to the deaths of 55 people and untold amounts of property damage to houses and storefronts in Los Angeles.
Since the 1991 arrest was precipitated by a traffic arrest, King’s arrest this July in southern California for driving under the influence of alcohol struck a painful chord in Los Angeles.
According to the Washington Post, prosecutors are alleging that King was impaired by alcohol and marijuana when he was driving this summer through Moreno Valley, California.
In a court filing this month, King denied the charges, entering a plea of not guilty to misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. King filed his plea in Riverside Superior Court.
King’s DUI lawyer did not return phone calls from the Washington Post seeking more information, but sources indicate that the next step in King’s legal battle will take place at a hearing in late November.
For his part, King may be nervous about the potential consequences of his arrest, because he has had a prior DUI conviction.
While judges are guided by mandatory sentencing laws, they do have some discretion with DUI sentences, and tend to deliver harsher verdicts for offenders who have committed more than one DUI violation.
In addition, repeat DUI offenders are often required to install interlock ignition devices in their cars. These devices prevent drunk drivers from being able to turn on the ignition when they are intoxicated.
And, in addition to possible interlock ignition devices and longer sentences, repeat DUI drivers may also face large fines, mandatory community service, or the loss of their licenses.
So, the results of King’s trial will likely play a major role on his future freedom.
Librarians, particularly older and more established ones, don’t seem like the most likely culprits for a DUI arrest. A recent DUI incident in New York City, however, challenges this unfair assumption, and serves as a reminder that drunk driving is not solely an activity for the young and foolish.
According to the New York Post, Dr. Anthony Marx, the president of the New York Public Library system, was recently arrested after running his car in reverse into a sanitation truck.
Sources indicate that Marx put his 2009 Audi A4, which is registered to the library, into reverse in order to avoid a roadblock that was needed to block cars from the route of this year’s New York City Marathon.
The 52-year-old librarian narrowly avoided one truck before striking the truck that got him into trouble. The accident occurred in East Harlem around mid-afternoon.
When police officers arrived at the scene, they smelled alcohol and suspected that Marx was not sober, and administered a blood alcohol test. When he took the test, which was given about an hour after his arrest, Marx blew a .19, which is twice the legal limit of .08.
In a statement released to local media outlets, Marx was very contrite, saying that he deeply regretted “embarrassment caused to my family and to the New York Public Library.”
After his arrest, Marx was charged with an aggravated DWI (in some states, “driving while intoxicated” replaces the more common charge of “driving under the influence”) and was released without bail following a court appearance.
Sources indicate that the driver of the sanitation truck that Marx hit was able and willing to offer testimony, and he shared his story with the New York Post after the accident.
The driver, sanitation worker Franklin Hernandez, says that he jumped out of his truck after it was hit, placed his hands in front of Marx, and demanded that he stop moving. This plea apparently convinced Marx to stay in place.
Shortly after the accident, police officers who were providing security for the marathon arrived at the scene. Franklin claims that they were there only minutes after the accident.
According to Franklin, Marx had to remain handcuffed in his car for up to an hour, as police had no route out of the street until the marathon was over. Once it was over, they took Marx to the precinct headquarters and administered the blood alcohol test.
This incident offers a valuable lesson about the dangers of drunk driving. DUI arrests can strike anyone, regardless of their age or social position.
DUI arrests may be a misdemeanor or a felony, and they sometimes result in jail time, lost licenses, or hefty fines. Factors that judges consider when delivering punishments for DUI offenders include prior driving history and past alcohol-related arrests.
All DUI arrests are not created equal. Some are quiet, relatively mundane affairs that garner little press attention. Some drunk driving arrests, though, provide excellent fodder for the evening news.
One such DUI arrest occurred last week in California when a man suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol ran his car directly into the front of a police cruiser.
According to a report in the Riverside County Press-Enterprise, 50-year-old Deepmohinder Singh Kapur was arrested for a suspected felony DUI after he slammed his car into the front of a police vehicle.
Sources indicate that the police car belonged to a member of the Riverside County Gang Task Force. The officer in the car was transporting two men to jail when the accident occurred. Fortunately, though, no one was seriously hurt in the collision.
The absence of injuries was particularly fortunate given the nature of the wreck. Apparently, immediately before the accident, both cars were head in opposite directions on an interstate highway in the early afternoon.
The police officer saw Kapur’s Volvo sedan crossing the center dividing lane, but he did not have enough time to maneuver his vehicle out of the way. All he could do was slow down.
The accident cause severe damage to the front of both the Volvo and the police cruiser, and the impact of the collision set off the drivers’ airbags in both cars.
The police officer suffered some cuts to his arm during the collision. In addition, the detainees in the back of the car, who were wearing handcuffs, suffered some facial injuries and one may have injured his wrist.
The detainees had been arrested in connection with a gang-related stabbing incident and were being transported to a detention center at the time of the accident.
Both the police officer and the detainees were taken to the hospital for their non-life-threatening injuries, which will delay the arrestee’s inevitable trip to the detention center.
As for Kapur, only time will tell what punishment a local court will eventually level against him, but he may be facing serious fines, jail time, or a suspended license, especially because this is not his first DUI offense.
In addition to standard DUI charges, Kapur may also face possible punishment for reckless driving, endangering the life of others, and whatever else a local prosecutor wishes to throw at him.
Of course, when police are usually tasked with discovering drunk drivers, they have to pull over suspects and administer a range of blood alcohol tests to determine their level of inebriation.
Here, Kapur saved the police officer a significant amount of legwork, albeit in a dangerous fashion. Usually, drunk drivers do not readily offer themselves to police in the form of a head-on collision.
In a sobering reminder that drunk driving often has severe consequences, a 46-year-old woman in South Carolina was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison after killing a pedestrian in a hit-and-run DUI accident.
According to The Herald, Dianne Alice Webster, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, was convicted on charges of a felony DUI with a death, leaving the scene of an accident with death and committing a hit-and-run violation with injury.
Sources indicate that Webster struck Lorenzo Hemphill and his brother, Antwan, as the two were walking down a well-traveled street in Rock Hill at roughly 9:30 p.m. Antwan died an hour after the accident, while Lorenzo suffered only minor injuries.
After hitting the two brothers, Webster allegedly sped off down the street, and ran into a building, before she recovered and was eventually pulled over for speeding by police.
When she was arrested, Webster failed to perform standard field sobriety tests. And, though her blood alcohol content was measured at .0013, which is below the legal limit of .08, she tested positive for high levels of the prescription drug Xanax.
Whatever was in her system, Webster was clearly impaired. In interviews with police after the accident, she denied that she hit any pedestrians, and also failed to remember any of the places she had been that night.
To make matters worse, Webster claimed that she did not know whose truck she was driving, and she insisted that the date was Tuesday when it was actually Saturday.
The judge, however, took some pity on Webster, and only sentenced her to 25 years for her felony DUI, when the maximum punishment could have been extended to 51 years. The judge expressed a desire for Webster to seek treatment for her addition problems in prison.
At trial, Webster’s case was also strengthened by the testimony of a number of friends, who said that Webster suffered from serious psychological and addiction issues, and had been emotionally destroyed after learning of Hemphill’s death.
The relatively lenient sentence may have disappointed the Hemphill family, who observed that Webster had displayed a pattern of dangerous driving throughout her entire life.
Sources indicate that Webster had been charged with a DUI three times before, and had been charged with driving with a suspended license four times in an eight-year span.
This tragedy raises a few key issues about DUI arrests. First, many people who are arrested for a DUI are not necessarily drunk. Abuse of prescription drugs or illegal narcotics is also a common cause of arrests for driving under the influence.
In addition, the potential consequences of a felony DUI are significantly higher than those for a DUI that is lowered to a misdemeanor.
Of course, in cases where there is a fatality, or where the driver leaves the scene of an accident, the odds are high that a driver will be subject to larger penalties.
Last week, a man was arrested for a DUI after leaving his car idling in the fast lane of a Rhode Island freeway. This incident, while a bit bizarre, would probably have remained quiet were it not for the subsequent towing of the man’s vehicle while his two children remained inside.
According to a report from My Fox Boston, Fredly Misere was arrested for drunk driving in Pawtucket, Rhode Island after police discovered his Mercedes-Benz SUV completely stopped in the fast lane of a local highway.
When they approached his car, the 50-year-old driver was slumped over the steering wheel, apparently asleep, with an opened bottle of beer resting between his legs.
It took several loud pounds on the window by the police before the driver was able to awake from his deep slumber. Oddly, the incident occurred around 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
After police pulled the visibly intoxicated Misere out of his car, the driver told the officers that he was concerned about the welfare of his children. When the police asked him where the children were, however, Misere allegedly said that the kids were in Boston.
Because of Misere’s assurances, the police apparently did not think it necessary to check the car for other occupants.
In addition, since Misere’s car was dangerously blocking a lane of the heavily traveled highway, the police report indicates that a tow truck driver already had the SUV on a flatbed truck soon after police arrived.
So, after they arrested Misere, they took him to the police station, while the tow truck driver guided the SUV to its temporary resting place in an impoundment lot in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Of course, the plot soon thickened, as the truck driver heard muffled noises coming from the back seat of the Mercedes Benz soon after reaching the impoundment lot.
When he opened the car, the truck driver discovered Misere’s 4-year-old daughter and her 3-month-old sister waiting patiently in the back of the car.
Apparently, the windows of the SUV were heavily tinted, so the police and tow truck driver did not immediately see the passengers. In addition, the noise of the highway may have blocked any noises made by the two young girls.
Nevertheless, police are baffled as to how so many authorities could miss the presence of two children in the back of the car. There will likely be an investigation into the matter.
To be fair, the real culprit in this fiasco is the allegedly drunk father, who, if the allegations are proved correct, is facing a significant punishment for his irresponsible actions, particularly because this is not his first drunk driving offense.
Sources indicate that Misere is being charged with numerous criminal counts, including driving while intoxicated, driving with a suspended license, driving to endanger, child endangerment, and the always-tricky charge of “failing to use care when stopping.”