First Scooter DUI case for Tempe, Arizona

Arizona is typically recognized as having strict DUI laws and, like California and other states, its law goes beyond driving a car intoxicated. Driving while under the influence is unlawful. Arizona’s statutes are quite detailed about this topic. Title 28 §28-1381 starts out with, “It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state under any of the following circumstances: 1. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree. 2. If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle and the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumed either before or while driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle.”

Under this statute, Tempe Police arrested their first scooter DUI.

Formal charges were filed by the Tempe City Prosecutor’s Office on January 2, against 28-year-old Shelton Begay for an October 2018 incident. Begay was riding a Bird scooter when he suddenly crashed into the back of a woman’s car. Begay fled the scene, but the woman promptly pulled over and called 911. Officers found Begay not too far from the crash. After conducting field sobriety tests, they determined that he was intoxicated. Several items of alcohol were also found in his possession. A blood test was then conducted at a nearby hospital while they treated him for minor injuries. According to police reports, the test determined that Begay had a BAC of 0.285, more than 3 times the limit.

While DUIs are well-known occurrences, people may not realize that you can get a DUI while driving motorized scooters. If you have drunk alcohol and don’t have your faculties under control, hopping on a Bird wouldn’t be a good idea. And, you could likely get hit with a DUI.

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3 Killed, 3 Injured in Oceanside Car Crash

No matter how many accidents you hear about in the news, the shock and sadness register all the same. You can’t help thinking about what ifs or about how it was the wrong place at the wrong time. And you can’t imagine the pain that the victims and the people around them feel.

Last week Tuesday, a car crash occurred around 1 p.m. near Buccaneer Beach in San Diego County.

19-year-old Mason Fish allegedly ran a red light at the intersection between South Coast Highway and Oceanside Boulevard, slamming his pickup truck into the side of a Mazda sedan. Inside the Mazda, there were six people, a family crowded into the vehicle.

The Tacoma pickup truck sent the sedan into a wild spin across the street. Unfortunately, none of the family members were wearing seatbelts, and two of them were thrown from the vehicle.

The two ejected passengers were 40-year-old Petra Arango and her 13-year-old daughter. Despite restorative efforts, Petra died about an hour later at the hospital.

Rufina Arango Rodriguez and Eloina Arango, Arango’s mother and aunt respectively, also died in the crash. The three survivors were taken to a hospital for checkup and treatment. So far, the extent of their injuries is not known but they are expected to make a recovery.

Oceanside police arrested Fish at the scene, and he was eventually charged with seven felonies: three charges of gross vehicular manslaughter, three charges of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, and the possession of a controlled narcotic substance.

Unlike the people he unfortunately crashed into, Fish sustained no serious injuries from the accident.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the crash and their family. It’s difficult to lose a family member, and even worse to have them taken from you by an unsafe driver.

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Cycling Under the Influence, a Crime in Colorado

Most of us are aware that driving a vehicle under the influence is illegal. The law is present in one form or another across the United States. But what about riding a bicycle while intoxicated? In California, Vehicle Code 212005.5 states that it is illegal to cycle or bike under the influence. Depending on the state, there may be certain rules and restrictions placed on operating a bicycle or other forms of cycling after having a few alcoholic beverages. Colorado is one state, like California, where the act of riding a bike while intoxicated is considered illegal.

One woman in Longmont, Colorado, was promptly reminded of this law when she was cited on January 26, for drunk biking. Under Colorado law, bicycles are considered vehicles, so bikers have to be careful; the law can be enforced.

Unless there are clear indications that an individual is impaired or endangering themselves or others, law enforcement is unlikely in most cases to make random stops on a cyclist. Suffice to say, drawing unnecessary attention to oneself should be on the list of actions to avoid if you have consumed one too many alcoholic beverages.

While it is less likely that you are going to be causing harm to others while on a bike compared to a car, it would do you good to exercise caution when deciding how to get home. It is illegal to grab a few drinks with your friends and hop on your bike for the ride home.

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Drunk on Vanilla Extract

This past Christmas, my DIY gift for some girlfriends was a bottle of homemade vanilla extract, which I learned was simply vanilla beans and your choice of an alcohol. Turns out that the alcohol can be vodka, bourbon, or whatever you like as long as it is 70 proof or higher. The concoction is then steeped in an airtight container for a minimum of one month.

I would guess that many of us have heard stories of addicts searching for abstract ways to get their hands on a fix, in whatever form it may take. Apparently, I was not the only one to figure out that vanilla extract – this seemingly innocuous baking staple – has a fairly high alcohol content. Although alleged, a woman over in Connecticut was booked for driving under the influence of vanilla extract.

New Canaan police were called to a scene regarding a stopped car in an intersection. Stefanie Warner-Grise from Connecticut was found sitting in her car with her eyes closed at the intersection around 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, January 23.  She was found with several bottles of pure vanilla extract in the vehicle, and New Canaan police said they could detect the scent of vanilla. They found that the 50-year-old woman’s speech was slurred, and she was unable to answer some basic questions. They then administered field sobriety tests, which she subsequently failed. The police officers promptly arrested her with suspicion of driving under the influence.

She has since been released on a promise to appear in court.

Who knew that taking shots of vanilla extract was an option for getting buzzed. An expensive option for sure, and apparently one with potential consequences.

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Probation Sentence Sparks Outrage with MADD

The Idaho branch of the non-profit organization MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, were outraged by the sentence given to Adam Paulsen on January 14.

On Monday, the Fourth District Judge Deborah Bail granted Paulsen probation with a suspended 15-year prison sentence. The sentence includes 500 hours of community service; necessitates that he wears an alcohol monitor; and requires that he refrain from drinking alcohol.

To give some background, Paulsen had been driving while under the influence and hit into the car of 24-year-old Madeline Duskey. The woman was killed in the accident, leaving two young children without a mother.

Part of what makes this probation contentious for the MADD members is the fact that Paulsen was already on probation when he caused the crash back in 2017. He should not have been drinking leading up to the time of the accident. His poor decision unfortunately led to the death of another person, affecting not only the victim but all those who cared and thought about her. To give Paulsen probation on such a case is like a slap on the wrist, but one that the group says they see time and time again.

The group plans to look into options that would make the presiding judge rethink giving probation in this case. Paulsen’s actions had been reckless and should not have be given such leniency. They believe that the state legislation should consider imposing mandatory minimum sentencing in drunk driving cases to prevent judges from making similar decisions in the future.

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