Four Out of Five DUI Arrests, Woman Had Children in Car


A Kansas woman was recently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence for the fifth time. Unfortunately, fifth- time DUIs are not uncommon. However, what makes this arrest unusual is that, for 31-year-old Mary Elizabeth Womack, it was the fourth time that she was arrested for driving under the influence with children in her car. 
 
 
The most recent arrest occurred on Saturday, February 21st. When Womack was stopped, she had two children in the car with her. What’s more, she also had an ignition interlock device installed in her vehicle. 
 
Womack’s previous DUI convictions in which children were found in her car occurred in February 5th, 2003, July 20th, 2009, and February 15th, 2010. However, the child endangerment charges were dismissed in these cases as part of her plea deals. Womack’s only DUI conviction in which she didn’t have a child in the car occurred on October 17th, 2004. 
 
In the current case Womack has been charged with DUI, obstruction of the legal process, two counts of endangering a child, driving without an interlock device, and battery. 
 
Had Womack’s arrest been here in California, she’d be looking at an additional 90 days in jail under California’s DUI child endangerment enhancements. 
 
 In California, if you have children under the age of 14 in the car at the time you are caught driving under the influence, the prosecution can also charge you with a violation of California Vehicle Code section 23572; California DUI child endangerment. The penalties under this section are in addition to any penalties associated with the California DUI. 
 
A first time DUI conviction where a minor under the age of 14 is in the car will bring an additional 48 hours in a county jail. A second time DUI conviction will bring an additional 10 days in jail. A third time will bring an additional 30 days in jail. A fourth will bring an additional 90 days. Furthermore, these penalties are to be served consecutively, not concurrently with the underlying DUI penalties.
 
Leave a comment read more

Bars Using Wall-Mounted Breathalyzer to Curb Drunk Driving


Some people get cabs, Uber, or Lyft. Others rely on designated driver. Unfortunately, however, many people who drink when they go out plan on driving home. While some of those drivers try and keeps the alcohol intake to a minimum, others do not. Either way, unless a person has a personal breathalyzer, people don’t know what their blood alcohol content is when they walk out the door. 
 
 
Some bars on the East Coast are trying to stop that by installing wall-mounted breathalyzers.
 
Two bars in New Castle County, Delaware, have installed the Boozelator 5000 to help their patrons avoid driving drunk before getting behind the wheel. For one dollar, the wall-mounted breathalyzer will dispense a straw that is inserted in the machine. The patron then provides a breath sample which will be analyzed and displayed on the machine’s screen. 
 
"I agree that if you’ve been drinking, you shouldn’t drive," Stephanie Westcott, general manager of Tailgates Sports Bar and Grill off Ogletown-Stanton Road, told Delawareonline. "But realistically, that’s not what happens. So anything we can do to make people aware of their blood alcohol content before they get into a car, I think that’s great."
 
Critics of the breathalyzers like law enforcement and Mothers Against Drunk Driving claim that the machine is more of a gimmick than a deterrent to drunk driving. They claim that because the machines do not meet the same standards used by breathalyzers used by law enforcement, they could provide incorrect reading which could lead to a false sense of sobriety. 
 
According to Gabe Jacobs, spokesman for Blo Dad & Sons, which manufactures the Boozelator 5000, the Boozelator 5000 is different than other novelty breathalyzers because it uses a platinum fuel-cell conductor. This is what is used in the breathalyzers used by law enforcement making its accuracy comparable. 
 
"That means it gives a much more accurate result and isn’t affected by things like alcohol fumes in the air, perfume, hair spray and other things you typically find in the air space at a bar," he said, adding that the machines are accurate to within .005 percent.
 
MADD and law enforcement shouldn’t be criticizing. Isn’t it their objective to get drunk drivers off the road? Even if the Boozelator is not as accurate as breathalyzers used by law enforcement, some indication is better than no indication. And if it can keep some people from driving drunk, then it’s done its job.
 
Jacobs said that, since 2010, 3,500 Boozelators have been installed in bars throughout the United States.
 
Remember that, even if a wall-mounted breathalyzer tells you you’re under the legal limit, you can still be charged and convicted of a California DUI if you are “under the influence” regardless of your blood alcohol content. 
 
Leave a comment read more

Can I Get Home Confinement for a DUI?


Many of my clients are surprise to learn that they are looking at jail time for a California DUI. And although it is possible to get jail time for a first-time DUI, jail is more common for second and subsequent DUI offenses. Regardless of whether it’s a first-time or subsequent DUI offense, many clients want to know if there are any alternatives to actually serving the jail time. 
 
 
Home confinement may be one such alternative. 
 
California Penal Code section 1203.016(a) states, 
 
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the board of supervisors of any county may authorize the correctional administrator…to offer a program under which inmates committed to a county jail or other county correctional facility…may voluntarily participate or involuntarily be placed in a home detention program during their sentence in lieu of confinement in the county jail or other county correctional facility or program under the auspices of the probation officer.”
 
Home confinement is a form of “alternative sentencing,” which provides an alternative to jail for low-risk and non-violent defendants. This usually includes DUI defendants with relatively short jail sentences. 
 
Home confinement is sometimes referred to as house arrest, home detention, or electronic monitoring. Like the name implies, it requires a defendant to serve his or her jail sentence at home while being monitored with an electronic monitoring anklet. If the defendant travels beyond the confines of their home, probation is notified and the defendant could be facing a probation violation.
 
Like many of my clients ask, what about work, school, doctor’s appointment, and other places that a defendant might need to attend?
 
When the anklet is fitted on the person, the addresses of these places are given to the company which monitors the defendant. The defendant is then allowed to go to and from those places. 
 
Home confinement is a good alternative to jail for those who have medical issues or who run the risk of losing a job if they have to miss work. However, the cost of these programs is rather expensive. But if you can afford it and jail just isn’t an option, ask your California DUI attorney about the possibility of serving your jail time through home confinement. 
 
1 Comment read more

Life Sentence for 10th DUI


The United States Supreme Court has said that the “precept of justice that punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned to the offense” in explaining when a criminal sentence may be cruel and unusual, thus violating the 8th Amendment. Weems v. United States, where the Court made this statement, was the first time the notion of proportionality was used by the Court to invalidate a criminal sentence. Since, the phrase “the punishment must fit the crime” has been a staple in criminal sentencing. This notion, however, is lost on Texas.

A Texas jury recently convicted Bobby Gene Martin of his 10th drunk driving conviction. His punishment? Two life sentences.

You heard that correctly. Martin will be spending the rest of his life behind bars for a crime in which Martin had no intent to harm anyone and, in fact, no one was injured.

Not to say that facts of Martin’s case were particularly good. Martin had crashed his truck in Montgomery County, Texas. Martin attempted to persuade the tow truck driver to tow the truck and drive him home without calling the police. When law enforcement arrived, Martin was found hiding in a ditch. Martin threatened the arresting officer and it was later determined that his blood alcohol content was 0.217.

But what really caused this and Martin’s previous DUI convictions?

You may not agree with me when I say that alcoholism is a disease. And without going into too much detail about the merits of this claim, I can say that I’m in the majority. Along with me are the World Health Organization, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Hospital Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American College of Physicians…to name a few.

Once, twice, or even a few times and it’s probably not the result of a disease. But ten times? It would be difficult to argue that it wasn’t a compulsion.

So what are we really punishing? The product of a disease? Or a violent, heinous criminal?

Yet we’re putting Martin in the same class as some of the worst of the worst. For example, in California, life sentences are only reserved for murder, torture, certain types of aggravated kidnapping, a third violent felony under Three Strikes, and other violent crimes with priors.

Oh and in Texas you can include driving under the influence.

Leave a comment read more

Federal Study Says Stoned Drivers Safer than Drunk Drivers


According to a new federal study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers that are under the influence of marijuana are significantly less likely to be in a collision than drivers who are under the influence of alcohol.

Continue reading

Leave a comment read more