The stereotypical drunk driver is usually young, often male, and is typically driving alone or with other people his age. Rarely are drunk drivers assumed to be mothers or, heaven forbid, grandmothers.
The truth, however, is that all sorts of people are arrested for drunk driving every day. And, while young males are arrested for DUIs more often than any other age bracket, they do not hold a monopoly on driving under the influence of alcohol.
This reality was recently on display in Lancaster, California, where a grandmother of three was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol while she had three of her grandchildren in her car.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, 55-year-old Marie Shipley will soon make her first appearance in a Los Angeles County courtroom as she faces felony DUI charges for the disturbing incident.
Sources indicate that Shipley was arrested after driving drunk on a Monday afternoon while transporting three grandsons, aged 7, 11, and 13, from a local park.
While she was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, the boys began arguing, and at least one of her grandsons jumped out of the car while it was moving.
According to the police report from the incident, the boy who jumped out of the car attempted to re-enter the vehicle, but Shipley sped away, preventing him from getting back into the car. Eventually, Shipley slowed down and took the boy home after he started crying.
Shipley’s daughter later took the boy to the hospital, where he had treatment for minor injuries sustained during the incident.
While this episode seems laughable (despite its potentially severe consequences), incidents of elderly drunk driving are fairly commonplace. In addition, alcohol abuse by older Americans is often ignored and untreated.
As people age, they grow increasingly susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol. This increased sensitivity, combined with the natural loss of reflexes that occurs with aging, can sometimes have serious effects for older drivers.
While a driver may have been able to drive after a few glasses of wine in his or her younger days, that same amount of alcohol might render the person unable to drive responsibly in later years.
As the American population continues to grow older, incidents of drunk driving among older drivers may become more of a public hazard.
Of course, many drivers who operate a car under the influence of alcohol at least have the decency to leave children out of the car. And, if they do drive children, they usually don’t play games where the children are leaping in and out of a moving vehicle.
So, it seems safe to say that Shipley’s actions, while abhorrent, don’t represent typical behavior amongst older drivers.
A former middle school teacher was unable to convince the Murray County school board in Chatsworth, Ga. to renew her contract this week in light of a recent DUI charge.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Jennifer Zeigler addressed the school board in tears, telling them how much she loved the school and her students. She admitted that she had no excuse for her behavior, but insisted that she deserved a second chance.
Zeigler made these claims during a fair dismissal hearing that was held after school Superintendent Vickie Reed did not recommend that the former teacher’s contract be renewed.
The seven members of the board listened to nearly four hours of testimony before they deliberated over their verdict for close to another hour. When the board returned, they voted unanimously to uphold the superintendent’s decision.
In her own testimony, Reed claimed that Zeigler had lost the respect of students, parents and co-workers, in addition to violating the Georgia Code of Ethics.
Ziegler, on the other hand, argued that she had undergone treatment and should be rehired.
Sgt. Todd Pasley, the police officer responsible for Zeigler’s March 16th DUI arrest, also testified at the hearing.
Pasley claimed he clocked Zeigler driving 28 mph over the speed limit and that, before he could pull her over, she hit a truck stopped at a red light and nearly ran into another vehicle.
The police car camera that recorded the incident shows Zeigler stumbling around the parking lot as she insists she had not been drinking.
When blood samples were taken, Zeigler showed a blood alcohol content level of 0.31, nearly four times the 0.08 legal limit in Georgia. She pleaded no contest when charged with DUI in May, at which time she was sentenced to an alcohol treatment program and 12 months probation.
Zeigler apparently admitted in her testimony that she realized she was an alcoholic. She also stressed that she never gone to school or any school functions while under the influence.
The school’s attorney, Stanley Hawkins, accused Zeigler of not being truthful during her testimony and argued that her problems could not be fixed in one summer.
Zeigler has the option to appeal the board’s decision to the Georgia state school board. Her attorney told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that they have not decided if they will do so.
The North Carolina Senate approved a bill that would allow repeat DUI offenders with suspended driver’s licenses a chance to earn a permit back.
If the bill is passed, people convicted of habitual impaired driving will be able to ask the Division of Motor Vehicles to be reinstated if they have had a clean criminal and traffic record for 10 years.
For those who are able to obtain a license, the law wouldn’t allow them to be driving with a blood alcohol level of any level within the next seven years.
Those who favored the bill said it’s only fair that repeat DUI offenders have a chance to get their licenses restored since others who have licenses revoked for other reasons can. But critics felt that it wasn’t right to give these types of offenders another chance.
Source: The News & Observer
State Law Provides Illinois DUI Memorial Signs
Under a new Illinois DUI law, memorial signs for those killed in drunken driving accidents may be requested by the victims’ families. A sign with Caitlin’s name and the date of the accident that took her life was the first to be requested under “Tina’s Law.” The law is named for Tina Ball, a construction worker with seven children who was killed by a drunken driver while working on I-57 during September 2003. Read more.
Study Shows Felony Wisconsin DUI Offenders are Avoiding Prison
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that lawmakers intended to get repeat Wisconsin OWI (DUI) offenders off the road. However, an analysis of Wisconsin DUI sentencing has shown that less than half of the people who are sentenced for fifth-offense drunken-driving in Milwaukee County end up serving time in prison. View the full article.
Drug Testing Drivers Could Become as Simple as Breath Tests
The National Institute of Health has recently released research guidelines that may lead to the development of new testing methods for drug abuse that can be used as routinely as breath tests. These guidelines were published in the August journal Addiction. Read on.
A Committee of the Virginia General Assembly spared DUI offenders the embarrassment of displaying “scarlet letter” license plates.
While several states have proposed bright colored plates (usually pink) for drivers convicted of DUI, these proposals appear to be going down to defeat in the state legislatures.
Virginia’s scarlet letter bill would have required drivers convicted of DUI for the third time to display a yellow license plate with red numbers, showing that they were repeat DUI offenders. The plates would cost $500 and be required for five years.
Opponents of the law argued that many families share cars, so the whole family could be punished. The telltale plates could label an innocent driver as a habitual drunk driver.
The sponsor of the bill doesn’t care if family members are implicated by the plates; he has said he thinks an effective way to combat drunk driving is humiliation.