Homeless Woman Killed in her Sleep by Drunk Driver

Early Monday morning, a black Dodge Challenger crashed into a white Mazda SUV and a black Toyota Prius in Santa Rosa, California. The accident took place around 3 a.m. near the intersection at Hoen Avenue and Cypress Way. Unfortunately, a homeless woman and her dog were killed in the three-car collision.

Police suspect that the driver had been speeding when he hit into a telephone pole and then into the Mazda, pushing it into the front yard of a house nearby. Then, the driver crashed into a Prius parked a bit farther down from the car.

A female passenger, later identified as Kellie Nora Michelle of Santa Rose, and her dog had been in the Mazda at the time of the accident. It is assumed that they were living out of her car for some time and had been sleeping when the Challenger hit into it. They were reported dead at the scene. The Prius was luckily unoccupied.

The driver of the Challenger was Angel Ivan Martinez of Santa Rosa and, according to police reports, he showed signs of intoxication. Investigators determined that Martinez had been under the influence during the incident. After being treated for minor injuries, he was arrested for vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence and for DUI as well.

The vehicles were completely totaled and a power line got hit, causing some areas to lose power. As a result, over 500 people were affected by the outage.

Leave a comment read more

DUI Suspect Steals CHP Car in Attempt to Avoid Arrest

Alcohol can make people do some very odd things. Sometimes it can completely lower your barriers and make you do things that aren’t safe or wise to do – like drinking and driving.

Last week Wednesday, police went on a wild chase down the 14 Freeway after a careless DUI driver took off at high speeds down the road. Things kicked off around 5pm when officers attempted to pull over the suspected DUI driver, but the man in the Kia Optima refused to slow down. After a bit of chase, the pursuit was temporarily canceled for safety reasons.

However, officers re-initiated the pursuit and followed the man through Lancaster into Kern Country. The man eventually abandoned his vehicle and hijacked a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck that he found somewhere along the way. Then, he switched directions and drove off road into the desert. During this stretch of the chase, the intoxicated man repeatedly hit into the cars of the deputies who chased him.

At this point, CHP officers took over the chase.

The fleeing suspect eventually crashed the stolen vehicle and bolted. Before he took off, he was seen hugging a woman who also got out of the truck. Officers later found her hiding in the desert and promptly took her into custody.

The man found an unoccupied CHP vehicle soon after and continued on with his getaway. In his haste, he veered off onto a dirt road and various other paths while the patrol car emergency lights blared.

In the end, officers cornered the driver and forced him to surrender.

The DUI suspect could possibly be facing charges such as theft of a police car and assaulting a deputy.

I can’t imagine how much this guy must have drunk to get this point. No matter the amount, people must be careful of their decisions and try to make reasonable choices. And driving drunk and then commandeering a police vehicle is definitely not the reasonable choice.

Leave a comment read more

San Clemente Woman on Trial for DUI and Second-Degree Murder

A woman from San Clemente was suspected of drunk driving in Huntington Beach on March 30, 2018, resulting in the death of three people. While reportedly under the influence, Bani Marcela Duarte, 29, crashed her car into a stopped vehicle along Pacific Coast Highway. Three of the four young teens inside the other car died from the impact.

Witnesses stated that Duarte first hit a curb and then continued on driving down the road. While there was no major damage to the car, it appeared that she was intoxicated and not properly able to operate her vehicle. Witnesses reported her to the police and proceeded to follow her from a safe distance. Not too long after, Duarte approached a red light and crashed into a stopped Toyota Corolla at close to a speed of 80mph.

Her trial started on September 25th, and she is being charged with three counts of second-degree murder. In addition, the court charged her with a felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol with an enhancement for causing great bodily injury.

In Duarte’s defense, her attorney Justin Glenn started off with conceding that Duarte had been under the influence during the PCH incident. However, he argued that she should not be charged with murder. Prosecutors often use the Watson advisement as reason to charge a defendant with second-degree murder rather than manslaughter. It serves as a formal warning to DUI offenders regarding drinking and driving – telling them that the next time it happens, they might be charged with murder. In Duarte’s case, Glenn claimed that she was never given the Watson advisement at the time of her 2016 DUI arrest.

Glenn hopes to at least take the murder charge off the table with the trial.

Leave a comment read more

Grant Money to Help Combat DUI Driving in America

Back in July, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) released news about a new program aimed at dealing with drug-impaired driving in America.

Starting later this year, the program courses would teach participants on how to observe and identify the signs of impairment related to drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. The $2.3 million grant money would help provide training through the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement and Drug Recognition Expert program to law enforcement officers and other members.

Along with a recently approved $260,000 grant to the Costa Mesa Police Department, this announcement is one of the various efforts that the NHTSA is taking to educate drivers about the dangers of impaired driving. They want to educate law enforcement about how to better recognize and read the signs. Using the grant money, the Costa Mesa police will be able to establish special enforcement operations that target traffic violations and DUI checkpoints, as well as help to pay for advanced DUI enforcement training.

Because of all the new changes in laws regarding drug usage, advanced training for law enforcement have become increasingly important in recent years. This means that both prosecution and defense need to understand the changes in order to anticipate what moves to make.

From a prosecutor’s perspective, the better educated the officers are about the signs to look out for, the more effective our system becomes in minimizing dangers to society. The officers gain a better understanding of important issues like probable cause and how to analyze different situations. From a defendant’s perspective, the better educated the officers are, the less likely are people to be prosecuted in an unfair manner.

Leave a comment read more

“Last Call Bill” Rejected

Senate Bill 58, also known as the “Last Call Bill,” was shut down by the State Assembly late last week. On September 13th, the vote came out to be 35 nays against 29 yeas, with 15 lawmakers abstaining from voting.

Unfortunately for Senator Weiner, the ban on alcohol between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. will stay around for a little while longer. This marks Senator Weiner’s third attempt to pass a last call extension, his first try dating back to 2017.

Weiner and his supporters felt that the economic positives that would come from the extended business hours and lively atmosphere of the cities would outweigh the potential for increased danger. They argued that there are plenty of rideshare services and other transportation methods that would address the worry of increased DUI drivers.

Efforts have been made to modify the original bill and address some of the concerns that the opposition have raised. Despite the adjustments, the bill still could not win over those who felt strongly against increasing the possibility of more alcohol consumption and drunk driving.

The regulations around late night hours has been in effect since around 1913. It’s hard to tell if the law should be left as it is, or if it is indeed time to “revamp” what we have. As the subsequent votes reveal, it doesn’t seem like the Assembly is quite ready to make that change. Since it’s been rejected for the third time in a row, perhaps communities are just not ready for it.

Leave a comment read more