In Palmdale, California this past weekend, a 24-year-old Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The deputy hit his pickup truck into five parked cars at approximately 2:45 am on Sunday.
According to CHP, Nicholas Smith of Palmdale drove his 2014 Chevrolet Colorado northbound on 30th Street East, north of Avenue Q-6, when his truck drifted to the right, crashing into several cars. This collision set off a chain reaction that damaged a total of five parked vehicles. Three of those vehicles were owned by the same family. At least one of the vehicles was totaled and air bags went off. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
Smith remained at the scene after the crash. He submitted to field sobriety tests and was arrested on suspicion of DUI. He is being held on a $30,000 bail and is due for a court appearance today.
The sheriff’s department verified that Smith is a deputy who had only been employed by the department for six months. Following the incident, he was relieved of his duties.
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Last week, on June 7, the president of PGA (Professional Golf Association) of America, Paul Levy, was arrested and charged for DUI in California.
The arrest report revealed that police in Palm Desert responded to a call of a single-vehicle accident around 11:22 pm. 57-year-old Paul Levy was going eastbound on Highway 111 when he went off the road and hit a sign.
Law enforcement suspected drunken driving played a role in the accident and arrested Levy. Levy remained unharmed from the crash but was still brought to the hospital, where he was released and then booked into Riverside County Jail in Indio.
A spokesperson from PGA of America released a statement saying, “Paul Levy has accepted responsibility for his terrible lapse in judgement. He has expressed deep regret and fully understands how irresponsible his actions were. The PGA of America will support Paul as he seeks counseling, faces the consequences of his actions and works through the legal process in the months ahead.”
Levy began his term as PGA president back in November of 2016.
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How have some DUI defendants not gotten a chance to prove their innocence, even three years after their initial arrest?
One Atlanta, Georgia woman knows this situation too well. Lauren Thomas was arrested in May 2015 for DUI, even though she claims she was not intoxicated. She was arrested because of her refusal to take a chemical test. She did submit to a field sobriety test at the time of the arrest. Her license was suspended for a year based solely on the results of the field sobriety test (many kinds of which are known to be unreliable) and her refusal to take the chemical test. Three years later, her case is still open.
In December of this year, a judge dismissed Thomas’s case and 26 others in Georgia, claiming the Fulton County Solicitors Office was unprepared in court and unable to call any of its witnesses. Seeing how long the cases had been stagnant, the judge made the decision not to give the prosecutors any more time. The judge dismissed the cases for “want of prosecution.”
The court’s prosecutors are short-staffed, causing major delays. Thomas ended up going to court with her attorney without ever seeing her own field sobriety test results or the full witness list for her case, documents that every defendant and their counsel should have before going to court.
In response to the judge’s dismissal of the DUI cases, the Solicitor’s Office has filed an appeal in all but one of the 27 cases, in which lawyers had already decided to dismiss.
Thomas and the other drivers must now hire a lawyer to file an appeal, and could very well end up back in court if the decision of the judge is overturned.
Thomas believes, as do many, that justice delayed is justice denied.
Memorial Day is always a busy weekend for DUI arrests and accidents. This year was no different: reports from Burlingame, CA and San Diego, CA show high arrest numbers at DUI checkpoints and increased enforcement. DUI-related arrests across the state have also risen since last year.
On May 25th, Friday night, almost 30 vehicles were stopped during a DUI Saturation Patrol in the Peninsula region in California. The Burlingame Police Department had increased enforcement between 6pm and 2am to lower DUI incidents. Police conducted 29 enforcement stops and 2 field sobriety tests. One driver was charged for driving without a license.
In San Diego, the California Highway Patrol reported 57 arrests for drunken driving violations in San Diego County between 6pm Friday to 6 am on Sunday. In comparison, officers arrested 36 people in the county during the same time last year.
Across the state of California, the CHP arrested 674 people for suspected DUI violations over the weekend, beginning on May 25, Friday night. This shows a significant increase up from last year, when the number of drunken-driving related CHP arrests was 599.
14 traffic fatalities were reported across California by law enforcement during the weekend, which matches the figure from last year.
Studies show that a whopping 30% of California drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their system at the time of the accident. A higher number of active drivers tested positive for drugs that can impair driving (14%) than did for alcohol (7.3%). Of the drugs that can impair driving, marijuana was the leading drug at 7.4%, slightly more prevalent than alcohol.
Remember: drive safe and sober to avoid accidents!