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Accidents involving drivers DUI in Los Angeles can snarl highways and city streets, resulting in backups that prevent motorists from reaching their destinations for hours. Involve a mass transit system like BART in a DUI crash, and the potential for transportation headaches gets even larger.BART-DUI

Opara Maurice Green crashed through a crossing gate and ended up running his 2006 Toyota truck onto BART’s tracks in West Oakland around 7:40 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20th. Green was lucky; the operator of a San Francisco-bound BART train was able to stop before hitting the truck. (Fortunately, no passengers suffered injuries in the unscheduled rapid stop.)

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When the media reports on a death involving a Los Angeles DUI, the victim is usually a pedestrian or the driver or passenger in one of the vehicles that crashed. But deadly DUIs can also result from incidents involving much smaller, off-the-road vehicles. DUI-Doyle-Lori

Police in Gallatin, Tennessee, charged Lori Doyle, 55, with vehicular assault and DUI first offense after her husband fell off a golf cart and hit his head at the Foxland Harbor golf course. Although emergency responders took Doyle to the hospital, he died two days later.

The officers reported that they saw three open beer cans in the golf cart and one on the roof. Investigations are continuing, and Doyle could face additional charges.

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When police officers are out on patrol looking for drivers who might be DUI in Los Angeles, they watch for vehicles weaving in and out of traffic, veering over the center line and blowing through stop signs and other traffic signals.
In Sommers, Connecticut, however, it was a poor parking job that gave an intoxicated driver away. A passing motorist noticed that the car driven by 56-year-old Brian Benoit of Hampden, Massachusetts, was parked perpendicular to the side of the road. Fearing there had been a crash, the motorist called police. Police found Benoit unhurt but in no condition to pass the field sobriety test that they administered. They charged him with DUI. bad-parking-los-angeles=DUI

Law enforcement officials in South Burlington, Vermont, would probably have preferred finding an oddly parked car to what they did discover when they answered a report of suspicious activity on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-July. They found 58-year-old William Harman sitting nude inside his parked car. Harman may not have even been aware that his clothing had somehow disappeared; his blood alcohol content measured .235, almost triple the legal limit. Police charged him with DUI as well.

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Courts don’t hold a city responsible when an off-duty employee drinks too much and faces charges of DUI. But if that city employee is DUI in Los Angeles when on the job, the result could be costly for his/her employer.

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One recent example comes from San Francisco. The City is about to approve a $5 million settlement in the case of firefighter Michael Quinn. In June 2013, Quinn was driving a fire truck in the city’s South of Market district when he collided with motorcyclist Jack Frazier. The crash, which left Frazier with serious injuries, took place around 11:30 p.m.

TV station KRON 4 reports that police arrested Quinn on suspicion of DUI and on  leaving the scene of the crash. The grand jury indicted him almost nine months later on three felony counts of driving under the influence causing injury, driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher causing injury and driving a commercial motor vehicle with a BAC of .04 percent or higher causing injury.

In March 2015, a judge ruled that the BAC evidence against Quinn was inadmissible because the fire department’s breathalyzer used by to measure Quinn’s BAC was not calibrated to police standards. Prosecutors are still pursuing the case against him, however.

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In 2014, 9,967 people in the U.S. lost their lives in DUI-related crashes. Of that number, 882 deaths occurred in California, with some of those due to Los Angeles DUIs. But these figures don’t reflect the number of people whose lives are affected by DUI drivers, the victims’ families and friends as well as those injured in crashes involving alcohol or drugs.Larry-Haskell-Spokane-DUI-prosecutor

Larry Haskell, the prosecutor in Spokane, Washington, has had enough. He recently  announced changes to the DUI guidelines in his county that will make it tougher for drivers accused of driving under the influence to escape punishment. The changes are an attempt to reverse the rising number of DUIs, vehicular homicides and vehicular assaults in the county; to date, there have been 729 DUI arrests in the county this year, 323 more than at the same time in 2015.

Haskell also noted that over the Fourth of July holiday, police arrested 30 people for DUIs, and almost half (13) had previous DUI convictions.

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It’s rare for drivers to file suit when prosecutors or a judge dismiss a charge of DUI in Los Angeles. In Bozeman, Montana, however, a man once charged with felony vehicular homicide in his wife’s death is seeking his day in court. DUI-manslaughter-los-angeles

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, prosecutors had accused Michael Soule of killing his wife, Jennifer Soule, in a January 2012 crash. They alleged that he had been driving his truck up to 103 miles per hour on I-90 and that his blood alcohol content was 0.231. The charges also stated that Soule had marijuana and cocaine in his system.

In 2013, before the case came to trial, Soule took a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid jail time. But Gallatin County District Court Judge Mike Salvagni refused to accept the plea, and Soule withdrew his agreement. When the case came before Judge Salvagni, he dismissed the charges, saying that Montana Highway Patrol troopers had failed to preserve evidence; they had performed a warrantless search of Michael Soule’s hospital room; and they had taken photos of his injuries without permission from his family or the hospital. He also noted that the Montana state crime lab’s official BAC test showed that Soule’s BAC measured 0.07, which is under the legal limit. While a urine screening at the hospital turned up positive for marijuana and cocaine, the state police never did a blood alcohol test to confirm those findings.

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A horrific DUI incident in San Diego may serve as a warning to drivers at risk of DUI in Los Angeles.DUI-felony-homicide-losangeles

Esteysi Sanchez Izazaga, who goes by Stacy Sanchez, had apparently been drinking in two establishments before she headed for home on the morning of June 29th. Sanchez was allegedly speeding when her car left the road and hit a 69-year-old homeless man, Jack Ray Tenhulzen, who was walking on the sidewalk.

The impact was so great that it forced Tenhulzen through the windshield and severed his leg, which flew through the back window and landed on the trunk of Sanchez’s car. Tenhulzen’s body ended up in the passenger seat beside Sanchez.

But Sanchez continued to drive for another mile or so before parking the car and walking two blocks to her home. Witnesses called police to report the incident, and the officers went to Sanchez’s home and arrested her after her live-in boyfriend also called them to report she was there.

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Most people charged with DUI in Los Angeles never intended to break the laws against driving while intoxicated. But one drink too many can cloud their judgment, and they get behind the wheel not understanding that they really shouldn’t be driving.kevins-law-dui

Dr. Stephen Miller of Plymouth Township, Pennsylvania, may not have realized his condition when he got behind the wheel of the family vehicle one evening in June. But he should have been more attuned to the dangers of DUI than most people. Miller lost his five-year-old son Kevin in 2012 when a DUI driver stuck the child as the family was crossing a road. Instead of stopping to assist, the driver fled the scene.

After Miller learned that the driver could spend only a year in jail for his crime, he and his wife spent the next two years advocating for stronger penalties for those who flee the scene of fatal accidents. In 2014, the state legislature passed “Kevin’s Law,” raising the minimum penalty for that crime to three years. The Millers and their extended family were present to witness Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signing the bill in June 2014.

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All too often drivers arrested for DUI in Los Angeles may come away from a crash unscathed while some innocent bystander suffers life-threatening or life-changing injuries. The latest out-of-state example comes from Denver, where a 19-year old under the influence of drugs crushed the legs of a man in a DUI-related crash.dylan-gottschling-DUI

Denver Channel 7 reported that 19-year old Dylan Gottschling was driving under the influence of two drugs—heroin and Xanax—when he slammed into the back of a parked SUV on July 4th. The SUV, pushed forward, struck another vehicle; unfortunately, Craig Towler had been standing between them.

The crash pinned Towler and crushed his two legs. To save his life, physicians had to amputate both legs below the knee.

Gottschling, arrested for DUI, reckless driving and vehicular assault, admitted he had been trying to change music on his phone when he hit the SUV. But police think there was more involved; they also charged the teen with texting while driving.

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Drivers who lose their licenses after a conviction for DUI in Los Angeles have several alternative forms of transportation they can use to get around. But if they’ve been drinking to the point of intoxication, one choice they don’t want to make is getting on a bicycle. Under California Vehicle Code 21200.5, riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a misdemeanor; while the maximum fine ($250) is a lot lower than it is for driving a motor vehicle under the influence, anyone arrested for this offense may still lose their driver’s license.DUI-bicycling-in-los-angeles

But the State of Kansas doesn’t take the same dim view of riding a bicycle while intoxicated. A recent story in the Wichita Eagle noted that under state law, devices moved by human power aren’t considered vehicles, so the laws on DUI don’t apply. In the City of Wichita, however, ordinances do define bicycles as vehicles, so the city’s DUI laws do apply. Operating a bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Wichita can get you two days in jail or 100 hours of community service plus fines ranging from $750 to $1,000 for a first offense.

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