Aug

2

DUI victim works to keep offender in jail

By Topher

When there is a chance to affirm justice, and to see that a criminal gets their due, it is often the victim of a crime who raises the loudest voice and brings safety and security concerns into the public sphere.

That is the case in Tennessee, as a woman who had to struggle to survive after being hit by a drunk driver is raising the alarm and attempting to keep the perpetrator of that DUI behind bars.

Eveylen Turner, of Clarksville, Tennessee, was in a coma for three weeks after Joseph Chimahosky crashed into her. Chimahosky was drunk when he hit Turner. He was found guilty of the crime, and he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.

He has so far served five months of that sentence as part of his DUI penalties, but is now facing a parole board that will determine if he stays inside the joint or heads back out into the world.

With the parole hearing offering a place for Turner to state her views and potentially impact his stay in prison, Turner vowed to Channel 4 News in Nashville that she would do whatever it would take to keep Chimahosky behind bars.

“I don’t think he has served his time,” said the victim of the man’s drunk driving crash. “I think that he will get out and do the same again. The next person might not be as lucky as me.”

This was not Chimahosky’s first conviction for drunk driving, either. He had two previous convictions for DUI before his third, in the crash that almost killed an innocent person.

Turner made sure to be at Chimajosky’s parole hearing recently, bringing along pictures, X-rays and her medical bills, which totaled more than $1 million, as she built her case against him.

According to Channel 4 News, her and her family pleaded with the hearings officer to keep Chimahosky in jail.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Dotson held a similar position. “I have no faith in him getting out of here,” he said, “and endangering everybody in the roadway in this county.”

Chimahosky has been in trouble even while in jail. There are reports of an incident on four occasions. He told the parole officers that “not a day goes by I don’t think about my actions. As much as I want to, I can’t change what happened that night or what bad decisions I made that night, but I can change the decisions I make in the future.”

The parole board’s decision should take 3 to 4 weeks.

Jun

19

New Wisconsin DUI Laws Take Effect Soon

By Topher

The State of Wisconsin is working hard to overcome its perceived culture of intoxication by imposing tougher DUI penalties.

Wisconsin leads the nation in binge drinking and drunk driving crashes, according to numbers cited in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

But a new push has led to a new series of DUI laws that take effect on July 1, 2010. The new laws include stiffer penalties for drunk drivers found with young passengers, a high blood alcohol content and multiple offenses on record.

The new Wisconsin DUI laws include additional penalties for the following offenses:

  • First DUI Offense: A person convicted of a first or second DUI offense who has a passenger under the age of sixteen in the car faces a fine of $350-$1100 or jail time ranging from five days to six months. If a first time offender DUI offender has a blood alcohol level of greater than 0.15 then an interlock ignition device will be installed.
  • Third DUI Offense: A person convicted of a third DUI offense will receive at least 45 days in prison. The sentence used to be 30 days.
  • Fourth DUI Offense: If an offender is convicted a fourth time within five years, it will be considered a felony. There will also be a fine will between $600 and $10,000, and possible jail time will range between six months to six years.
  • Seventh, Eighth, or Ninth Offense: A person convicted of this many DUIs will serve at least three years in jail for each offense.
  • Tenth Offense: A person committing a tenth offense would receive at least four years of jail time.
  • Repeat DUI offenders: Repeat DUI offenders convicted of DUI causing injury would receive up to six years in jail or would be required to pay up to $2,000 in fines. This punishment would be doubled if there was a minor in the car at the time of the offense.
  • Offenders with a lower BAC will face the same penalties: Under the old regulations, offenders with a blood alcohol level below .10 but still above the legal limit were subject to lighter penalties, but that is no longer the case.

The bill is expected to cost Wisconsin an extra $12.8 million per year, largely due to the costs required to house inmates. This cost is expected to be offset by the introduction of higher fees to reinstate revoked or suspended licenses, as well as by a program that would allow judges to decrease jail time in return for offenders completing a drug or alcohol abuse course.

Supporters of the bill say that this will not only drive the cost of the bill down, but decrease the rate of repeat offenders, saving Wisconsin money in the long-term.

Polls indicate that the Wisconsin public is firmly behind the change in the drunk driving laws.

Wisconsin Public Radio and St. Norbert College conducted a survey of 400 people, 85 percent of whom support the bill. Fifty-five percent also support using a higher liquor tax to help finance the bill, though that idea was struck down by Wisconsin Assembly Democrats before the bill was passed.

May

24

Pennsylvania Man Sentenced for DUI in Death of State Senator

By Topher

In October of 2008, Pennsylvania state senator James J. Rhoades was driving down the highway when a car swerved in front of him. The two cars collided, and the injuries that Rhoades sustained proved fatal. He died the next morning.

The driver of the car that swerved in front of him was Thomas P. Senavitis, of Kunkletown. Senavitis was sentenced recently, having been found guilty of blood-alcohol content of .16 or higher and four counts of recklessly endangering another person.

For these offenses, he was charged with 200 days to 23 months in jail, according to an article in the Republican Herald. Having served that time while awaiting sentencing, Senavitis was immediately released from prison and paroled.

Senavitis did not offer many words about the case, or his sentence and release from jail. When he was asked how he felt about it, he replied, “I’m not sure yet.” With him was his wife, Dolores.

Asked what he was going to do next, Monroe County Chief Public Defender Wieslaw T. Niemoczynski said, “He’s going to check into the parole office and then go on with the rest of his life.” The parole period could last as long as 23 months.

The trial took four days in mid-March. A jury found Senavitis guilty of the charges, but did not find him guilty of felony vehicular homicide and aggravated assault, which are far more serious charges.

Senavitis must also pay a $1,000 fine, complete a drug and alcohol treatment program and have his driver’s license revoked for one year.

James J. Rhoades was a Republican from Mahanoy City, who began serving in office in 1980.

The 66-year-old had served seven terms in the Pennsylvania senate. He was actively involved in education initiatives, and had also been a teacher, a coach and a school principal before entering into public service. He was the longtime chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

He had been on his way to a function at a local high school at the time of the accident. His wife survived the accident, though she suffered major injuries.

Apr

28

New DUI Laws Proposed in British Columbia

By Topher

British Columbia officials have announced that they have proposed a tough new drunk driving law that includes swift DUI penalties for anyone convicted.

The proposed DUI laws would allow police to quickly suspend and fine drivers whose BAC level is as low as 0.05, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Billed as the toughest drunk driving law in Canada, the new law is designed to change the behavior of drivers in a dramatic fashion.

“We believe we need penalties that are clear, swift and sever,” said Solicitor-General Mike de Jong.

According to de Jong, the problem of drunk driving in British Columbia is on the rise. He cited the need to prevent others from putting people’s lives at risk.

“I hope that drivers will consider the seriousness of these sanctions while they’re sober, before they go out.”

The new law would, if enacted, enables an immediate three-day driving ban for drivers found to have a blood-alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08, which the article called the “warn range.”

The offense could also lead to vehicles being impounded and fines and fees up to $600.

If a driver was caught in this blood-alcohol level range multiple times, they could face a ban of up to 30 days and $800 in fees and fines.

Currently in British Columbia, police issue a 24-hour suspension for those with a blood-alcohol level in that range.

The new law would also be tougher on those found driving with a BAC level above the 0.08. There would be an immediate 90-day driving ban and $3,750 in fees and fines. The DUI offender would also have to use an ignition interlock device for one year.

“Under the new laws, drinking drivers will spend more money, more time, more effort earning back their driving privileges,” said de Jong.

De Jong made a speech about the bill on the legislature steps, invoking the memory of four-year-old Alexa Middelaer, who was killed in 2008 by an allegedly impaired driver as she fed horses in a field just off the road.

Canadian Premier Gordon Campbell himself stressed the importance of stronger laws. He was arrested for DUI while on vacation in Hawaii in 2003.

“The lesson that I learned … is that you should not be drinking and driving, period,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to do everything we can to make our streets as safe as possible for people.”

Apr

21

Man Arrested for DUI While Driving Barbie Car

By Topher

When we say you can be arrested for drinking and driving in any motorized vehicle, we mean: You can be arrested for DUI while driving any motorized vehicle.

Don’t believe us? Try this story on:

The Scottish Daily Record is reporting that a man was arrested for drunk driving while operating a toy Barbie car.

Paul Hutton, a 40-year-old resident of Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, was tearing down the road in a child’s motorized Barbie car. He was going the vehicle’s top speed of 4 miles per hour when police stopped him along the road at night.

Police administered a breathalyzer test and booked Hutton for driving under the influence of alcohol. His blood-alcohol content was double the legal limit.

For his offense, Hutton was banned from driving a real car for three years. After the hearing where he learned of his fate, Hutton admitted that he was “a complete twit” for earning himself the driving ban.

“I was very surprised to get done for drink-driving,” he continued. “It is designed for three-to five-year-olds.”

Hutton had found the little pink electric car ten years previous, and had begun to customize it with his son only a few months ago, adding larger wheels to it. Still, he was candid that it was not the ideal vehicle for a full-sized adult.

“You have to be a contortionist to get in and then you can’t get out,” he said of the pint-sized pink ride. He had to drive it with his knees under his chin, and it moved more slowly than a mobility scooter, according to the article.

According to Hutton, he’d been drinking as he worked on the vehicle, and had not realized how much he’d had to drink.

“When it was done,” he said, “I couldn’t resist the temptation to take it out. I wanted to show my friend.”

Hutton had actually ignored a warning from the police. They told him not to drive the vehicle, but he went against their advice and drove it away from the scene, very slowly.

“I knew it was daft, but I didn’t realize it was a criminal thing to do,” he said.

His three year ban from driving was brought down because he had previously been convicted of DUI. Chairman of the bench in the case said “I’ve never seen the like of it in 15 years on the bench.”

Apr

14

Lawnmower DUI Arrest and a Drunk Arrival at Prison

By Topher

This week in bad judgment brings two stories of stubborn and troubled drunk drivers. One decided not to yield to police while driving a lawnmower under the influence, and another decided to do his time with a buzz.

In Blountville, Tennessee, a man was arrested for drunk driving after he was pulled over while driving a lawnmower against traffic on a road near his house, according to the Kingsport Times-News.

According to police, Martin Junior McMurray ignored police sirens and loudspeaker commands from the cops for half a mile before he finally brought his vehicle to a halt.

At around 11 p.m., a deputy passed McMurray riding the lawnmower down the road. The deputy turned around and followed the mower, watching as McMurray veered across the road into the oncoming lane of traffic.

The deputy fired up his lights, but McMurray ignored them and continued on his way. The deputy even broadcast commands over the loudspeaker, to no avail.

A half mile later, McMurray finally pulled to a stop. The deputy reported that McMurray was unsteady while standing, and that he smelled like alcohol. McMurray admitted to having a few beers with dinner. The deputy then found an unopened can of brew in McMurray’s jacket pocket.

McMurray performed poorly on a field sobriety test, according to police, and they later found that McMurray’s driver’s license had been revoked. He was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license and being a habitual motor offender. His blood-alcohol content later registered at .15 percent. Most states, including Tennessee, can charge a person with DUI if they are operating any type of motor vehicle, including cars, lawnmowers, boats and motorcycles.

In a separate story, a man in Vermont didn’t wait for police to flag him down. He showed up drunk at the local prison to serve a two-day sentence for DUI.

Turns out, Timothy Carney had also driving himself to the prison while intoxicated. Prison officials called local police who performed the proper procedures before leveling DUI charges again, reports CBS news. He remained at the prison to serve out his first DUI penalty.

Mar

18

Teens and DUI Arrests: Serious Penalties for Everyone Involved

By Topher

There is a troubling variety of stories in the news about teens and drunk driving. Across the country teens find themselves arrested for DUI. Some of the worst cases involve serious injury or death while behind the wheel and impaired.

In Kennewick, Washington, for example, a 15-year-old was driving a stolen 1999 Oldsmobile when a Washington State Patrol officer attempted to stop him, according to the Tri-City Herald.

The teen fled in the car, and before police could stop him he struck a building. He was not hurt in the incident, though his 16-year-old passenger was taken to the hospital. The teen was charged with vehicular assault, driving under the influence and eluding police.

In Defuniak Springs, Florida, a teen from recently pleaded no contest to DUI manslaughter following a collision that killed a friend of hers last year.

The Associated Press is reporting that Elyse Tirico was 16-years-old when she crashed her car. Her defense team is asking that she be sentenced as a juvenile. If she is, Tirico could face a sentence ranging from probation to six years in prison. If she were tried as an adult, she could face ten years in prison.

Tirico’s accident happened after she left a party with two friends in her car. According to authorities, she ran a stop sign and crashed her car into a tree. Her blood-alcohol level was tested and determined to be 0.102 percent, well above the legal limit.

In San Diego, a teenager was arrested on suspicion of DUI recently, after allegedly running a red light and crashing into a car, injuring a woman in the other car. Police had to break the window out of the 51-year-old driver’s car to get her out of it, according to 10News. Police said that the teen, Julian Tavasci, appeared intoxicated and was arrested.

These are just a few recent examples of the serious consequences for underage DUI. Many states have special DUI laws for minors arrested for drunk driving that may carry harsh penalties. Unfortunately for many of these teens, a life lesson comes too late when the consequences are fatal.

Jan

30

Maryland Law Would Require DUI License Plates

By Topher

DUI Offenders in Maryland may soon be easy to spot.

Delmarvanow.com, the online arm of the Salisbury Daily Times, is report that state legislators have introduced a bill that would require repeat DUI offenders to place a special license plate on their vehicle.

Maryland delegate Marvin E. Holmes Jr., of Prince George’s County, has introduced the bill each year for the last several years. He has thus far been unsuccessful in getting the bill passed.

The bill proposes that those who have been convicted of three or more DUIs would be required to use a brightly colored license plate on their cars. Currently, repeat DUI offenders are subject to higher insurance rates, jail time and fines. Delegate Holmes, however, would like to see something more publicly visible in place.

Holmes called the proposal “another tool in the toolbox.” He told DelmarvaNow.com that there were several reasons to implement the highly visible license plates. One was the social stigma that would result from it, which would deter potential offenders in a kind of “scarlet letter” effect.

The second effect would be to enable police and fellow drivers to take caution when approaching a vehicle with such a license plate.

According to Caroline Cash, who is executive director of Maryland’s chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there are more than 25,000 people in the state of Maryland who would qualify for such a license plate.

Wicomico County Sherriff Mike Lewis told Delmarvanow.com that there were hundreds of people in the Lower Shore region of Maryland with three or more DUI offenses that would qualify.

Georgia, Minnesota and Ohio are states that already have such laws in place regarding special license plates as DUI penalties for repeat offenders, said Melissa Savage, program director with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Such bills have been introduced in other states like Iowa, New York and Virginia, but they did not pass.

Rather than supporting the idea, Mothers Against Drunk Driving are supporting ignition interlock devices that require a breathalyzer before the operator can start a vehicle.

“While we appreciate the idea and efforts of Delegate Holmes, we feel that the ignition interlock is the best way to avoid allowing drunk drivers in Maryland,” Cash said.

Holmes stated that he also supported ignition interlock laws, and that he thought the special license plate would add to the arsenal of deterrents.

Jul

14

Stricter DUI Penalties for Delaware

By admin

Recently Gov. Jack A Markell signed two new bills into law to create stricter DUI penalties for people convicted of a DUI offense in Delaware.

House Bill 152: Increased Fines and Jail Time

House Bill 152 increases DUI fines for subsequent offenders, especially drivers with five previous DUI convictions. The bill also called for increased jail time for subsequent DUI offenders and creating a felony DUI for drivers with six and seven DUI convictions.

Last year there were approximately 6,916 DUI arrests, of which 59 people had been previously arrested at least five other times for drunk driving. Since January of this year, 3,213 drivers have been arrested for DUI, with 40 of those people having five or more previous DUI arrests.

House Bill 177: Strict Penalties for First DUI Offense

The second bill signed into law strengthens penalties for a first time DUI offense if the driver has a blood alcohol level of .15% or higher.

If convicted of a DUI with a BAC of .15%, the period of hard revocation for those who are mandated to have an ignition interlock device is increased from 30 to 45 days.

The driver’s license is suspended for six months instead of three, and the ignition interlock device must be used for six months.

The bill limits driving authority of an ignition interlock device licensed driver to work, home, school, alcohol treatment programs and interlock service provider appointments.

Source: Sussex Countian

Feb

12

New South Carolina DUI Laws Take Effect

By Mary Ann

South Carolina DUI convictions now come with stricter penalties. The state’s new DUI law that increases fines and jail time for DUI offenders went into effect on Feb. 10.

Penalties for DUI in South Carolina now increase in severity according to blood alcohol content.

First-Time DUI Penalties

Under the new South Carolina DUI law, a first DUI offense will meana $400 fine and two to 30 days in jail or 48 hours of community service, unless the blood alcohol content is .10% or above.

Drivers with a blood alcohol content of .10 and .15 are now fined $500 and sentenced to three to 30 days behind bars or 72 hours of community service.

If a DUI offender has a blood alcohol content of .16% or higher, they face a $1,000 fine and a jail sentence of 30 to 60 days or 30 days of community service.

Penalties for Second DUI Conviction

The new law calls for repeat DUI offenders to be fined $2,100 to $5,100 and jailed five days to one year for a second offense DUI.

If the offender’s blood alcohol content is .10 to .15, the recommended jail sentence is increased to 30 days to two years. If a person is convicted of a second DUI with a blood alcohol content of .16 or higher, the fine is increased to $3,500 to $6,500 and face 90 days to three years behind bars.

Third DUI Penalties

Drivers convicted of a third DUI now face fines of $3,800 to $6,300 and 60 days to three years behind bars. If the offender’s blood alcohol content is .10 to .15% the fines are increased to $5,000 to $7,500 and a jail sentence of 90 days to four years is recommended.

Fines of $7,500 to $10,000 and jail sentences of six months to five years in jail are recommended for third-time DUI offenders with a blood alcohol content of .16 or higher.

Also under the new law, any driver suspected of DUI who refuses a breath test automatically has their driver’s license suspended.

South Carolina’s DUI laws had long been criticized as too lenient and a reported 43.4 percent of traffic fatalities in the state in 2007 were alcohol-related. In 2008, approximately half of all traffic fatalities in the state were alcohol-related.

The law hasn’t been in effect long enough to test its effectiveness yet. However, already newspapers and law enforcement groups were applauding the new laws.

Rapidly changing laws are just another reason to consult a DUI attorney. They will have knowledge of the any changes to the state laws, and how these changes might affect your DUI case.

Feb

9

State DUI Law Updates: West Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina

By Mary Ann

State DUI laws across the country continue to change at a rapid pace. In the past few weeks, many new laws rolled into effect, while other states began discussing revising their current DUI laws. A quick rundown:

West Virginia: State officials are reviewing the data to test the effectiveness of new DUI laws that went into effect six months ago.

The DMV commissioner reports that the usage of ignition interlock devices is up 30 percent, already. The new law was designed to increase usage of ignition interlocks in more DUI cases as part of efforts to lower jail costs and discourage repeat DUI offenders.

Maryland: In late January, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced plans to push for the creation of more than 20 new state laws. His list included a DUI bill based on recommendations from a state DUI task force.

The changes would include a mandatory one-year driver’s license suspension for second and subsequent alcohol or drug related convictions during a five-year period.

South Carolina: New graduated DUI punishments go into effect on Tuesday, Feb. 10. A first DUI with a BAC between .10 and .15 will face $500 fines and 3-30 days in jail.

A BAC above .16 will get a driver $1,000 and 30-60 days. Penalties increase exponentially for a second and third offense.

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

13

Stricter DUI Penalties in Kansas

By Mary Ann

The Fort Leavenworth Lamp reports that penalties for DUI in Kansas increased on July 1st. A first DUI offender with a blood alcohol level (BAC) below 0.15%, will have his or her license suspended fort 30 days, with a work and school license only, for an additional 330 days.

A second, third, or fourth time DUI offender will suffer a one year license suspension. For a fifth DUI conviction, a driver will have his or her license permanently revoked.

A driver under 21 years of age will have her license suspended for a year for the first DUI offense.

A DUI driver, with a BAC of at least 0.15%, will have her license suspended for a year for his or her first conviction. Following the suspension, he or she will be restricted to another year of driving with an ignition interlock.

Additional 0.15 percent DUI offenses will increase the length of a driver’s license suspension. On a fifth offense, the driver’s license will be permanently revoked.

In Kansas, a third DUI conviction has been and continues to be a felony DUI.

Dec

28

Retailers Argue Against Blanket DUI Penalties

By Mary Ann

According to the American Beverages Licensees (ABL), there are widespread efforts to make ignition interlocks mandatory for all drivers convicted of DUI. With a BAC limit of 0.08 percent, drivers are being arrested for behavior that, according to numerous studies, impairs them less than talking on a hands-free cell phone. Some people can reach a 0.08 BAC drinking just two glasses of wine in two hours, not what most people would consider drunk driving.

Recognizing that the average BAC of drivers involved in fatal crashes is more than twice the legal limit, most states have created enhanced-BAC penalties to allow judges to impose a more severe penalties on drivers who are likely to cause a fatal accident. Proposals to make interlocks mandatory for all drivers convicted of DUI would punish all DUIs equally, regardless of severity.

The ABL says that “ignition interlocks can be likened to attaching a device to keep a vehicle from going over 60 miles per hour to the car of a driver caught driving 100 mph in a school zone — a somewhat extreme and intrusive measure that can be justified by the driver’s reckless disregard for public safety. But you wouldn’t call for the same punishment for someone who has driven five miles over the speed limit on the highway. It is similarly illogical to mandate a one-size-fits-all penalty that lumps together contrite first-time offenders and those who brazenly and repeatedly break the law and put others in harm’s way.”

The ABL recommends that states create a graduated system of treatment and punishment, helping those who can be helped and punishing those that recklessly ignore DUI laws, rather than passing “feel good” legislation that ignores judicial discretion and shifts focus from the real cause of DUI fatalities … hard core drunk drivers and repeat offenders.

Aug

21

Repeat DUI Offender Statutes Increasingly Complex

By Mary Ann

Questions often arise as to how long the “look back” period is for purposes of enhancing DUI penalties or elevating DUI charges to felony status.

There’s no easy answer to that question and not only because state laws vary. The number of DUI convictions and the time period considered for enhanced penalties or felony DUI does vary from state to state. However, the realities are even more complex.

In some states, the period runs from date of charge to date of charge–in others, from date of conviction to date of charge. Further, some states have alternate time periods during which a different number of prior convictions qualifies for enhanced penalties or felony treatment.

For instance, in Ohio a drunk driver can be charged with a felony based on four offenses in six years or six offenses in twenty years, meaning that two separate calculations apply to every case.

If you’ve been charged and this is not your first DUI offense, make sure that you talk to a local DUI lawyer and fully understand how the repeat offender statutes apply in your case.