Study Ranks States in Terms of DUI


CarInsuranceComparison.com, a site that compares insurance companies, recently released a study that ranked the worst states for driving under the influence incidences.

The study was based on statistics gathered from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Kids Count Data Center and DrivingLaws.org.  The study then compared the statistics of each state based on several factors; the state’s drunk driving related deaths in 2015, the state’s DUI arrests in 2015, the state’s laws and penalties for a DUI, and the cost per fatality.

According to the study, Vermont came in the tenth position as the best of the worst, for a lack of better phrases. Positions nine through two went to the following states in descending order: Rhode Island, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Idaho, and Montana.

The number one position as the worst state in terms of DUI is, drum roll, North Dakota.

According to the study, North Dakota ranked first in fatalities and DUI arrests in 2015.

 “I think that the combination of higher than average alcohol consumption and a higher chance of running into dangerous driving conditions with sleet, snow, and ice during the winter months could be the reason that we’re seeing so many of those norther states rank poorly,” Tyler Spraul, who directed the study, told USA TODAY.

Another study in 2009 ranked the Dakotas, Idaho, and Wisconsin as states with the highest alcohol consumption rate.

Where does California rank you might ask. California came in 35th overall in the study.

The methodology and full results of the study can be found here:

http://www.carinsurancecomparison.com/most-dangerous-states-for-drunk-driving/

Leave a comment read more

Nun Convicted of DUI after Arguing that Ambien Caused her to Sleep Drive


Sister Kimberly Miller was convicted of driving under the influence after her lawyers unsuccessfully argued that she had been sleep driving as the result of taking Ambien.

Miller was arrested for driving under the influence, reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident after she drove her Chevrolet Impala into an auto repair shop in Gloucester County, New Jersey in November of 2015.

Just last week during Miller’s DUI trial, she testified that she had no recollection of the incident. Her attorneys argued that Miller took Ambien, a sleep sedative, which caused her to sleep drive. Miller testified that she had not taken Ambien in eight months, but took it that night because she had not slept in several nights.

 Sister Frances Mary Murray, superior of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary convent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, testified that she had observed Miller sleepwalk in the past.

"She did not have any knowledge that taking Ambien would have this effect," said Jeffrey Lindy, one of Millers lawyers. "She doesn’t remember."

Prosecutors, however, argued that Miller was under the influence of alcohol as well the Ambien. Miller told one officer that she had not consumed any alcohol while she had told another officer that had consumed two glasses of wine. Police said that they found a half-empty bottle of wine in the backseat of Miller’s vehicle.

Evidence of Miller’s blood alcohol content was thrown out by Judge Martin Whitcraft because officers failed to observe Miller for the 20 minutes immediately prior to the breathalyzer test. There was, however, evidence that Miller failed field sobriety tests.

After a six-hour trial, Judge Whitcraft agreed with prosecutors and found Miller under the influence of alcohol dismissing Miller’s sleep driving defense. Miller’s license will be suspended for 90 days, she’ll be fined $257 plus fees, and ordered to complete a 12-hour DUI course.

Leave a comment read more

Using Social Media to Expose Lenient DUI Cases


In this day and age, everything is on social media; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The amount of reach a post can receive is endless. This could benefit and also affect an individual’s reputation.

New Mexico state officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have teamed up together for a two-year program where they will use the power of social media to expose lenient DUI sentences. The state will be using this program in the five counties that have the highest rate of DUI related accidents and deaths. The goal of the program is to bring awareness of the failures in the court system when dealing with repeated DUI offenders.

The state of New Mexico will pay staffers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to attend court hearing by judges who are known for being lenient in drunk driving cases. The staffers attending the meetings will then report to state officials so they can identify repeat offenders and lenient judges. The officials will then post their findings on social media sites, such as Facebook, to inform the public know of court cases in which the DUI offenders were given a light sentence.

There have been programs similar to the one being implemented in New Mexico in the past but they have never exposed judges. The program has drawn scrutiny from several advocate groups as it not only compromises privacy, but also jeopardizes the reputation of the judges. Other counties across the nation post mug shots of the DUI offenders on their Facebook pages. These counties do it to discourage drunk driving. There are no reports of these programs proving to be successful.

There are plenty of other effective ways to call attention to injustices in the court system, but this is not one of them. It seems unethical to post someone’s identity online without their consent, especially when it is going to negatively affect their career. Judges are seen as authoritative figures and spend all day listening to facts. They have a lot of responsibility. They must use their better judgement to deliver justice and to keep criminals off the streets. DUI offenders are not always criminals and these judges should not have their reputations jeopardized for giving someone who made the mistake of drinking and driving a light sentence. 

If New Mexico is aiming to discourage drunk driving, they are targeting the wrong people. Blaming the judges for the repeated DUI offences is not logical. If you want to reduce the number of DUI cases, they should invest in more DUI checkpoints. Shaming someone on social media for doing their job is unethical and will not make the problem go away.

Leave a comment read more

$3 Million Bail Set in Fatal Marijuana DUI Collision


Hyun Choi, a San Diego State undergraduate appeared in court last week accused of crashing her car into a Porsche, killing the passenger. Choi is being held on $3 million bail.

According to prosecutors, Choi is accused of smoking medical marijuana on Easter Sunday immediately before veering over the median and crashing her Toyota Corolla head-on into a 1956 Porsche, killing the passenger, 43-year-old Amanda Walzer. The driver of the Porsche was Walzer’s fiancée, 49-year-old Jon Warshawsky who was admitted to the intensive care unit.

According to Deputy District Attorney, Steven Schott, responding officers recovered a pipe that was still warm to the touch from Choi’s vehicle.

At the time of the collision, Choi was on probation for a 2012 California DUI of alcohol where her blood alcohol content was 0.21 percent.

Choi is facing second degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of drugs causing injury, and gross bodily injury allegations for multiple victims. If convicted, Choi faces 22 years in prison.

Choi’s prior DUI allowed prosecutors to charge her with murder under the Watson Murder Rule.

Also, it should be noted that it does not matter whether Choi was smoking medical marijuana, which she had a license for. Just like other prescription drugs, a person can be arrested, charged and convicted of a California DUI whether the drug is illegal, over-the-counter, or prescription.

Choi is due back in court later this month.

Leave a comment read more

Deputy lies about more than 100 DUI cases


 

Whether you are driving while intoxicated or not, if you are stopped by a cop under for suspicion of driving under the influence, you expect a fair chance at either taking the breath test, calling a witness to watch you take a breath test, or calling an attorney. You get approximately a 30-minute window since you can refuse to take the test and get your license revoked for a year, or have a witness watch as you take your breath test.

While most cops are fair in giving you these options, there are a handful who lie and result in getting your license revoked. Such was the case for more 100 DUI cases at Wake County Police Department in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sheriff’s deputy Robert Davis lied on the stand multiple times and ultimately the Wake County District Attorney, Lorrin Freeman, dismissed the cases for those accused of driving under the influence. Freeman said that Davis had been untruthful in three different incidents in which he made false statements on court documents and on the witness stand.

One of the incidents took place in August 2014, in which a woman was stopped for suspected driving under the influence when Davis took her to the Wake Forest Police Department for a breath test. According to DUI laws, you may refuse to take the test but it will result in getting your license revoked for a period of time. You may have the options of calling an attorney for advice or a witness to monitor the test, but the testing cannot be delayed for more than 30 minutes.

According to the court’s order, “Davis did not give the driver the full time to contact a witness before recording her as not requesting one.” He noted her as refusing to take the breath test and filed paperwork with the Department of Motor Vehicles stating that she refused to take the test even though she still had questions about taking the test. The Department of Motor Vehicles then sent the woman a notice that her license was going to be revoked for a year. As a result, the woman asked for a hearing. At the hearing, it was revealed that Davis pushed her to take the test even though she still had the 30 minutes to call a witness or a lawyer. This happened again with two other arrests made by Davis.

In wake of these false accusations done by Davis, he was fired by the Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.

Cases like this happen more frequently than not, but very few of them get the justice they deserve. Police officers should be held accountable for their actions just as the community they serve. They are here ultimately to provide justice and safety to our community. Are they supposed to be trusted when they are making false accusations and negatively affecting someone’s life?

 

Leave a comment read more