A California driver who was arrested for a DUI faces additional criminal charges after he fled his hospital room, where he was being treated for injuries caused by his negligent driving, in order to evade police.
52-year-old James Thomas Miller, a resident of Santa Rose, California, was arrested last week on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol after allegedly causing a crash on Highway 1 near Sebastopol, California, according to a report from the Press Democrat.
When police officers responded to the scene of the accident, they discovered that Miller had driven his Ford pickup truck off the road, which caused the car to strike an embankment. The force of this collision sent the truck spinning back onto the road, where it eventually overturned.
Emergency personnel who responded to the accident sent both the driver, Miller, and his passenger to a hospital to be treated for their wounds. This is where events grew even more interesting.
When police arrived at the hospital to question the driver, they discovered 46-year-old Kimberley Turpen, who was being treated for injuries to her head and arm. Turpen told police that she had only been a passenger, and that Miller had been driving the truck at the time of the accident.
To the officers’ chagrin, when they tried to locate Miller, hospital officials told them that he had fled the premises before the police arrived.
Fortunately for police, though, the injured driver did not get very far. They soon discovered Miller at a nearby bus stop, where he was seen stumbling around a road.
When police arrested Miller at the bus stop, they determined that he was drunk because he failed a field sobriety test, and Miller was arrested for drunk driving and other charges.
Miller faces a long road to freedom, as this is not his first DUI offense. Sources indicate that Miller has been arrested for three prior DUI offenses, as well as seven suspended license infractions. Miller was also on probation at the time of the accident.
And, under California DUI laws, Miller may face an addition felony charge for being arrested for his fourth DUI within a span of 10 years.
While most states’ DUI laws are different, almost every state punishes repeat DUI offenders more harshly than people who have only committed one offense.
Possible additional punishments for repeat DUI drivers include steeper fines, longer jail sentences, possible prison sentences, and suspended licenses. If they are allowed to driver in the future, drivers with multiple DUIs may have to use breathalyzer devices in their cars to ensure that they are sober every time they drive.
After a few DUI convictions, many drivers lose their license to drive for significant periods of time, and DUI drivers may spend up to several years in prison for their transgressions.
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.