The police often find themselves in unexpected – and sometimes dangerous – situations, especially when it comes to DUI arrests.
This week featured a number of unfortunate interactions between police and those charged with drunk driving.
In Massachusetts, a trooper was hit by a car driven by an allegedly drunk driver, and it sent him to the hospital. He was recently released from the hospital, but the driver will face arraignment in court, according to the News Telegram.
Captain Frank Hughes was in an intersection directing traffic around midnight after a concert and fireworks show on the fourth of July. The crash threw the trooper onto the hood of the driver’s Nissan Maxima. The driver did not stop for the trooper, even after he caused what a spokesman called “serious injuries.”
Franklin Morales, the alleged driver, faces charges of DUI, negligent driving and DUI causing serious bodily injury. According to the charge, the driver went straight instead of heeding the captain’s traffic directions. Morales registered a .15 blood-alcohol content, and failed field sobriety tests.
Also in Massachusetts, a man stopped and arrested for DUI was also charged with kicking a trooper and threatening him.
John Ross tried to run away from police on foot after he was arrested on Interstate 81. He was described by police as “very combative.” When he was taken to the hospital, he screamed profanities at the hospital staff.
There was also the threat that he made to police, who said that he “made a comment about shooting” the trooper who arrested him. Ross was charged with aggravated assault, terrorist threats, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, DUI, public drunkenness and harassment, according to Public Opinion.
A Pennsylvania man faces DUI and aggravated harassment by a prisoner charges after he repeatedly spit on the officer who arrested him for DUI, according to the York Daily Record.
Ross Eugene Bricker almost hit Officer Thomas Kibler’s patrol car in his pickup truck. Kibler stopped him, and Bricker admitted to drinking and failed a field sobriety test.
Then, as Kibler was driving Bricker to the booking station, Bricker allegedly spit at the officer, hitting him in the top of the head.
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.
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.
Pennsylvania is working to perfect face scanning technology to use in place of carding people when buying alcohol.
The face scanning kiosk machines will be at local grocery stores and be used by customers looking to buy a bottle of wine. Using your driver’s license, the wine kiosk will use face recognition software to check if the picture matches your face.
It may be possible that a breathalyzer will be added to make sure the customer isn’t too drunk to “match your wine with your meal.”
Originally, the wine kiosks were suppose to be put in stores over the next couple months, but Gov. Ed Rendell has put a hold on the project to make sure the technology will work correctly. The Governor wants to prevent minors from being able to fool the system.
Currently the machines are being used successfully in Japan to monitor beer and cigarette sales.
Source: Digital City
On Sunday, millions of people across the country will watch the Super Bowl. The event has evolved into more than just a football game, it’s a shared pop culture event.
There are also parties. Lots of Super Bowl parties. Bars and business, friends and family alike will be hosting and attending Super Bowl parties.
The police are well aware of this, and there are news reports from across the country – from Colorado to Pennsylvania – about local law enforcement units increasing DUI patrols around the Super Bowl.
In fact, many police departments increased DUI patrols around the NFL playoffs. So you can be sure they’ll be watching for drunk drivers this Sunday.
What can you do?
1. Plan ahead. Your Super Bowl party plans should include more than where you’re going and how much you’ll be eating. Make sure you have a safe ride to and from your party. Any safe ride will do: Designated driver, cab, public transportation.
2. Know your state DUI laws. There’s a lot on the line if you drink and drive. Many states now require ignition interlock devices for first offenders. If you refuse a breathalyzer test you may face immediate license suspension.
3. If you are arrested for DUI, contact a DUI lawyer immediately. A lawyer will know the DUI laws in your state, and answer any questions you have about the long-term impact of a DUI.
Be safe this weekend and enjoy the big game!
In the early morning hours of October 5, a couple was caught by police having sex in their car, reported The Chicago Tribune.
While that might not be an unusual act for officers to find couples in parked cars committing, it is unusual to bust someone for trysting in handicapped spot in a police station parking lot.
A Pennsylvania couple was caught in the Hellertown police station parking lot, after someone called to report a suspicious vehicle parked in front of the station.
The driver, Dennis Conor Cullen, and his female passenger admitted that they were unaware about where they had parked or that they were surrounded by several marked police cars.
Cullen was charged with a DUI after admitting that he had been drinking at a Lehigh University function earlier in the evening.
A Pennsylvania woman was charged with a DUI offense after she pulled into the drive-thru lane at a KFC / Taco Bell in Tioga County, Pennsylvania and fell asleep at the window.
The incident occurred shortly before midnight on September 16, after the restaurant had closed for the evening.
A 2004 modification to Pennsylvania DUI laws is under attack. Prior to the 2004 revision, Pennsylvania DUI law provided for a seven-year “look back” period, meaning that a second DUI arrest within seven years was treated more severely.
The new Pennsylvania DUI law extends the “look back” period to ten years. That change, however, has created complications in dealing with DUI offenders who entered into specific agreements in the past.
The case currently before a Pennsylvania court involves a man who was was arrested for drunk driving in 1994 and entered a program in 1996 with the explicit agreement that his acceptance of program terms would be treated as a prior conviction for a period of seven years.
Had the agreement been worded differently, the case might not be before the court today, but apparently many Pennsylvania DUI defendants entered into programs that explicitly accepted the seven-year “look back” period.
Now, the courts must determine whether the new Pennsylvania DUI law that extends the “look back” period can be applied to those defendants who accepted a seven-year period as part of an agreement offered by prosecutors and accepted by the original DUI court.
The legality of DUI checkpoints has long been questioned, though challenges to checkpoints that require minimal delay and inconvenience to motorists have been largely unsuccessful.
But as central Pennsylvania gears up to add more checkpoints in the coming months, experts are pointing to a different problem: it seems that DUI checkpoints are significantly less effective than roving patrols in stopping drunk drivers.
Maybe it’s because motorists are able to avoid the checkpoints if they’ve been drinking or know that they have outstanding warrants or non-functioning equipment on their vehicles. Possibly roving patrols make more targeted stops based on observed behavior. Whatever the reason, Pennsylvania data indicates that patrols lead to about double the number of DUI arrests in about one-third the number of contacts.
That means that an officer at a road block has to see six times the number of drivers as a roving officer before identifying the same number of people operating while intoxicated.