Florida Elementary School Teacher Jailed in DUI, Won’t Return to Class

By Topher

An elementary school teacher at an elementary school Florida will not be returning to her classroom after she was arrested for DUI. She is also accused of threatening the police during the stop.

Joann Tomas taught third-grade Spanish at Dr. Williams Chapman Elementary school, according to the Miami Herald. She won’t be returning to her regular duties after the incident. Instead, she has been reassigned to an office work position while the case plays out.

Tomas was pulled over on suspicion of DUI in early August by police who saw her car swerving through traffic. When they approached her SUV, police noticed that Tomas appeared to have “watery eyes, flushed face and slurred speech.” She also had difficulty locating her driver’s license, and lost her balance while she was getting out of her car. In order to walk, she had to steady herself on the car, the report said.

Tomas managed to threaten one of the police officers, the report indicates, before she was arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail. According to that report, Tomas threatened the officer by saying “I am taking your job. I am going to say you took my shirt off, lifted my skirt and touched my (expletive).”

Tomas’ combative behavior did not end with those remarks, however, police say. They say she also, at the jail, managed to work her way out of the handcuffs she was wearing and throw them at an officer, who she then allegedly kicked in the groin area.

In response, the officer Tased Tomas in the chest. That didn’t stop her, though, as she got up and tried to punch the officer, who Tasered her again.

More kicking and punching ensued as officers did what they could to restrain the feisty teacher after her DUI arrest.

Not to be deterred, Tomas continued to make offensive and threatening statements. “I am going to take your jobs,” she is reported to have said. “I have a Jewish lawyer.”

Also noted were additional racially disparaging remarks made to police officers.

Tomas is disputing the reports by officers, saying that she was “unnecessarily roughed up,” as the Miami Herald puts it. “All my knees are bruised from putting me on the floor,” Tomas stated.

She did admit to cursing at the officers, but said that she hadn’t eaten for 12 hours at the time she was pulled over.



Miami Dolphins Star Running Back Ronnie Brown Arrested for DUI

By Topher

With each new week, it seems, there comes the latest story of a star athlete who is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The latest to carry on this trend is the running back for the Miami Dolphins, Ronnie Brown, who was arrested outside of the city of Atlanta, Georgia on suspicion of DUI, according to the Miami Herald.

Brown was on a trip to his hometown during the NFL’s off-season. He was stopped by police after making what the officer labeled as a lane change without a signal.

Brown did not have a previous record of arrest, and according to the Herald’s sources, Dolphins officials were “not believed to be overly upset with Brown because of his impeccable past as a layer and a citizen.” They did not comment about the arrest.

Brown was released from jail early on the Saturday morning following his arrest.

According to the sources who spoke with the Florida newspaper, Brown was distraught over the DUI arrest. The same sources noted that Brown had not done well when administered a field sobriety test.

The results of the test had led the officers to arrest him. The arresting officer’s detailed description of the arrest and field sobriety test have not yet been released to the public.

Brown hired an attorney to defend him, and the Herald’s sources said that it was still possible that the charges could be reduced to a traffic violation.

Brown’s agent, Todd France, did not respond to the media’s request for comment.

Brown is recovering from November surgery on his foot after a fracture that he suffered that ended his playing season. He is a restricted free agent, though he is expected to return to the Dolphins next year. Off-season voluntary workouts will soon begin, and this legal situation is not expected to restrict these football activities at all.

According to the Herald, Brown is a laid-back person who has not raised flags in his personal life before. He has spent his entire career with the Dolphins so far, after being drafted in 2005.



Wild DUI Arrests in Florida and Pennsylvania

By Topher

Drunk driving and poor decisions continue to go hand in hand. This week offered several more strange stories, about two DUI suspects who were foolish enough to drink and get behind the wheel.

The first story is that of a Florida woman who was driven by a lusty urge to visit her imprisoned with a man who happened to be an inmate at the local jail.

The Associated Press reports that the woman was allegedly under the influence of alcohol when she drove to the Flagler County Jail in Bunnell, Florida. When she arrived, she demanded to see a particular inmate. Her specific request? A conjugal visit.

According to the sheriff’s office, the woman did have an appointment to visit the jail. She was late, however, so she was turned away from the appointment. She drove off and returned not long after. The guards at the jail called the police, because they suspected that she was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police found her sitting in her car, and she failed a field sobriety test. When police later tested her blood, they determined that her blood alcohol content was 0.256 percent. The legal limit for driving is 0.08 percent.

The woman had little chance of success in having her request filled as conjugal visits are not allowed at the jail.

In Pittsburgh, another story that seems improbable was reported by WTAE. A Pennsylvania firefighter was accused of stealing a casino security truck, driving it while intoxicated, and attempting to run over a woman with it.

William White was found by Rivers Casino security guards urinating in the casino’s parking garage. They stopped him, and he was too drunk to provide his name, according to the guards. Then White stole their security truck and drove off.

Later, White was seen by police driving on the wrong side of the road, observing that he almost hit a patrol car.

When the police attempted to arrest White, he fled on foot, then spit in an officer’s face.

White’s attorney expressed regret on his behalf, and apologized. White has been in a rehab program for alcohol addiction, and is on unpaid suspension from the fire department.



Florida Man Arrested for Driving Drunk in School Zone

By Mary Ann

According to News 4 in Jacksonville, Fla., a Tampa man was arrested Wednesday, August 20 for DUI while in a school zone.

The police said that Michael Trotter Shaffer, 28, had a blood alcohol level of more than four times the legal limit.

Shaffer was arrested around 2pm after being pulled over by a deputy monitoring traffic in front of an elementary school.

The breath tests registered his blood alcohol level at .376 and .367.  The officers charged Shaffer with a DUI, driving with license revoked-habitual offender, battery of a law enforcement officer and obstructing or opposing an officer.



MADD and Police Join Hands in Pilot Program

By Mary Ann

Law enforcement won’t be the only ones out on the road this Labor Day weekend. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Manatee Country Sheriff’s Department in Florida will be working together on a “first in the nation” program that will put trained MADD observers on the road to watch and report for potential drunk drivers.

The MADD volunteers will add to the high visibility enforcement many counties across the nation will be implementing. Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube announced that there would also be DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols on the road this weekend.

The volunteer teams will be in unmarked, private vehicles and using their personal cell phones to communicate with police. When people see drivers that are demonstrating signs of impairment, they will contact the sheriff’s department to respond to the situation.

The pilot program will be assessed after operating for six months to look at data collected about response times, percentage of arrests, number of observations and more.

Read more about this program in the following article:

MADD Volunteers to Deputize Themselves



Florida Seeking Tougher Penalties for Repeat Offenders

By Mary Ann

The Florida legislature has been very active in DUI matters this year.

Governor Jeb Bush is currently considering a bill that swept through both the House and Senate and will, if signed, amend the statute requiring disclosure to defendants in DUI cases to specifically preclude access to breathalyzer source code.

Another bill, which passed the House but died in the Senate Appropriations Committee this week would have instituted a mandatory minimum two year prison sentence for a fourth (or subsequent) DUI conviction. A judge would have had the authority to substitute treatment for the second year of imprisonment, but could not otherwise reduce the sentence.

The demise of the bill appears to have been based more on the increased costs associated with its enforcement than any philosophical differences, and lawmakers have vowed to re-introduce the idea next session with new cost-cutting measures attached.

If that bill passes, it will make Florida one of the toughest states in the country in sentencing offenders with more than a first DUI offense.



Breathalyzer Battle Nears an End

By Mary Ann

For months, DUI attorneys in Florida have been arguing for the release of the Intoxilyzer 5000 source code. The resistance has come not from courts or prosecutors, but from the manufacturer of the breathalyzer machine.

The company argues that the source code is a “trade secret”, and refuses to turn the information over to prosecutors and DUI attorneys.

DUI lawyers have argued that without access to that information, they can’t evaluate possible challenges to the validity of the breath test results, which are usually the primary evidence in a DUI offense.

Courts have taken the argument seriously enough that more than 400 cases currently hang in the balance–and many more could be affected, since the Intoxilyzer 5000 is or has recently been used in as many as twenty states.

Judges heard testimony this week to help them determine whether the reliability of the machines could be determined by conventional means or the source code was necessary to assessing their accuracy.