Axe Body Spray DUI Cover Up

We’ve all probably heard stories about people coming up with creative ways to get high or to get drunk. There have been rumors about how the alcohol content in mouthwash can interfere with the breathalyzer results. People have also tried frantically chewing on breath mints to mask their breath when police pull them over.

If you’ve been here a while, you’ll remember the story a few months ago about a woman who was suspected of using vanilla extract to get drunk. This time, we have a story about someone trying to be clever in covering up the fact that he was under the influence.

A South Carolinian man, identified as Efren Mencia Ramirez, was pulled over by local deputies on March 23 when they noticed that he was driving erratically. They saw him speeding and swerving carelessly into other lanes. As they approached the vehicle, the officers saw Ramirez spray what looked like Axe body spray straight into his mouth. It seemed Ramirez hoped that doing this would mask the smell of alcohol on his breath. Sadly, this did nothing to hide the fact that there was a 12-pack of beer in his car and about 10 of them were nearly empty.

Reports say that Ramirez was also found with an open bottle between his legs. The quickest thing Ramirez thought to do was spray deodorant into his mouth, so I am not surprised that he failed his sobriety tests. He showed signs of intoxication and was not able to properly conduct himself. Ramirez’s blood alcohol content came out to be 0.15, and the passenger in his vehicle was also charged with an open container violation. It’s dangerous to drive drunk and it’s dangerous to use chemicals in a way that was unintended. Things would be a lot easier if you drive responsibly.

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Maine Supreme Court Dismisses Auto-Brewery Syndrome Testimony

You may have heard stories and advice about how you should always try to go for a blood test rather than a breathalyzer when being tested for a DUI. These stories have some truth to them. The yeast from alcohol breaks down sugars in our body, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol. This process occurs in the digestive system and then continues in the blood. Therefore, your DUI lawyer has a higher possibility of  convincing the judge that the BAC from your blood test is higher than what was in your bloodstream at the time of the arrest.

Now, what if your body did this without you actually drinking beer or any other alcohol? It sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, but such a condition does exist; it is called auto-brewery syndrome. This condition causes a person to create very high levels of yeast within his or her digestive tract. When any sugar is ingested, an intoxicating amount of alcohol can be created as a by-product of the fermentation process.

This condition was brought to the attention of the Maine Supreme Court in an appeal for a DUI case. The appeal was made to include expert testimonies that would help prove that said condition is a legitimate one (State v. Burbank, 2019 ME 37). The trial court dismissed the testimonies, stating that the first testimony was given by a witness who wasn’t qualified. In addition, the studies that were brought up in the testimony were not a direct study of the appellant himself. The second expert testimony was dismissed on the grounds that the appellant produced the witness too late in the trial.

The Maine Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s decision to dismiss the witnesses, stating that there were no abuses of discretion. The issue was not about the existence or legitimacy of auto brewery syndrome itself. It was about the relevance of the expert opinions and the timing of the DUI case.

What is more important to note is the concurring opinion of Justice Alexander. He states that although he agrees with the affirmed decision, he does not believe that the  defense of auto brewery syndrome should be left unaddressed. He believes that it would illicit “I didn’t know there was vodka in my orange juice” defenses.

True, there may be those who try to twist the law into their favor. And true, we do not have enough information to determine if the appellant actually had this condition. However, it cannot be denied that the condition is a real one. How do we get justice for those who have this physical condition and get pinned with a DUI?

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Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Intoxicated

30-year-old David Strowhouer may become the first man to be convicted of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

Homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence is a relatively new offense that has appeared in the books. It carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years for repeat offenders.

Since 2010, Strowhouer has been convicted of DUI on five separate occasions. It seems he learned little from his previous offenses. Last month, he allegedly crashed his pickup truck into a Subaru on the other side of the road and fled. He was then arrested on February 17, the day after the crash occurred.

Witnesses said that Strowhouer crossed the double-yellow line on Route 452 and crashed head-on into the Eckmans’ car. By the time the authorities arrived, Deana Eckman was found unresponsive. Her husband, the driver, was treated for a broken pelvis, but Mrs. Eckman was eventually pronounced dead at the scene.

According to reports, the driver of the truck was not immediately found. Instead, the police were approached by a man – Strowhouer – who claimed to be a passenger of said vehicle. He appeared drunk and smelled of alcohol. Authorities discovered that Strowhouer was the driver of the crashed truck and that the vehicle belonged to someone else. Police found his driver’s license in the truck and noted that it was an expired Florida license. Further investigation found that his Pennsylvania license was suspended due to his prior DUI convictions in the state.

Records show that Strowhouer has repeated offenses from 2010 up until 2017. Four of his convictions had been in Chester County alone. In his 2017 case, the court sentenced him to one to five years in prison. However, Strowhouer was granted parole after about a year, due to good behavior.

If found guilty, he will be the first person in Delaware County to be convicted of this offense. In addition, he faces the charge of aggravated assault by vehicle, causing an accident involving death, among others.

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Does Implied Consent have No Boundaries?

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…”

In simple terms, the amendment protects the rights of U.S. citizens from being violated by the government. The government needs to have a good reason to barge into our private lives.

Even though the rules are written in the Constitution for all to refer to, some law enforcement members decide to overstep boundaries. They keep testing the legal limits, thinking they are entitled to do so in order to “protect the public”.

For example, in the case of Mitchell vs. Wisconsin, Gerald P. Mitchell had his blood drawn while he was unconscious. Police officers had read him his rights, but the man had been too incapacitated for the whole arresting procedure. However, the police had his blood analyzed, revealing his BAC to be .222. They then used this information to charge Mitchell with a DUI.

We also continue to hear news about individuals being forced to comply to breathalyzers and even cavity searches. And when we try to protect those rights that the law says we have, we are charged with resisting arrest.

Over half of the U.S. states accept the implied consent law. These 29 states allow law enforcement to conduct warrantless blood draws on unconscious individuals, if they are suspected of DUI.

I understand people wanting the police to be proactive in order to prevent bad outcomes; it can help save lives. But, there unfortunately is a fine line between that and supporting the rights of individuals to make their own decisions. If these decisions cause injury and result in a criminal act, that is something for which to look out. Still, does it have to come with such a violation of individual rights? “Innocent until proven guilty” seems to be fast becoming a utopian phrase.

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Californian Lawmakers to Lower the Blood Alcohol Limit to .05?

“Our fight is not with the alcohol industry; it is just about not getting behind the wheel when you’ve been drinking.”

Back in 1990, the legal blood alcohol limit in California was lowered from .10 to .08. It was lowered in the hopes of reducing the number of alcohol-related traffic incidents within the state. While these efforts have produced positive results, there is still much that needs to be improved. In 2016, California had 3,995 traffic fatalities with around thirty percent of them involving BAC levels of .08 or more.

And now, there comes another push to lower the BAC level even more. On February 22, Assemblywoman Autumn Burke introduced a new bill – AB 1713, also known as Liam’s Law. The bill would change the BAC limit to .05, along with corresponding adjustments. Burke and Assemblyman Heath Flora authored the bill, with the help of state Senator Jerry Hill who co-authored it.

This proposal comes after various pushes for change in DUI laws, one of the most prominent coming from Marcus Kowal and his wife Mishel Eder. Their 15-month old son, Liam, was killed by a drunk driver in 2016 as his aunt was pushing him in a stroller across a street.

But as they have stated before, they aren’t trying to combat the alcohol industry; their goal is to save lives. They believe that the U.S. drinking culture needs to view drunken driving more severely and respond accordingly. Thousands of people are killed around the country in incidents that could’ve been avoided, if people refrained from drunk driving.

According to Flora, dropping the BAC level to .05 acts as a warning to people to reconsider driving drunk. This has been shown to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths.  The National Transportation Safety Board predicts that a .05 DUI level across the U.S. would save 1,500 lives a year. Starting this year, Utah started implementing the lower limit, so it will be important to observe how the revision works. Other states have been considering similar proposals as well.

The first official discussion for AB 1713 will take place some time in late March.

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