Articles Posted in Driving Under the Influence

One of the most discouraging aspects of being a police officer on the lookout for cases of DUI in Los Angeles must be the number of repeat offenders that they find on the road. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not limited to LA or to the State of California, as this case from Tulsa, Oklahoma, clearly illustrates.multiple-DUI-arrests

The website Tulsa World reports an officer with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrested Ivan Ramirez on Thursday, October 20th, for DUI and transporting an open container (among other offenses). The same trooper had just stopped Ramirez three days earlier and arrested him for DUI at that time, too.

Getting picked up twice in one week for DUI is bad enough, but Ramirez made matters worse on that Thursday night. The trooper pulled over Ramirez’s Honda, which had been moving erratically. The trooper recognized Ramirez and smelled alcohol on his breath. He also knew that Ramirez didn’t have a license, because the officer had confiscated it on the night of the first arrest.

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June requiring warrants for blood tests for drivers suspected of DUI has continued to have repercussions throughout the United States. Now the Minnesota Supreme Court has decided that police cannot compel a driver to provide a urine sample for a DUI test unless they have a warrant. This ruling could set a precedent that dramatically changes the way that police in California handle cases of DUI in Los Angeles and other jurisdictions.MN-supreme-court

The Minnesota Supreme Court handed down a unanimous ruling in two cases: State v. Thompson and State V. Trahan. (Two justices did abstain, however.) In the Thompson case, the judges rejected arguments that a urine test is just part of a Constitutionally-valid search that police can conduct when they arrest someone.

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Police officers are all too familiar with injuries and deaths caused by a driver who is both speeding and DUI in Los Angeles. A few hours south of LA, a race between two young and allegedly intoxicated drivers in the San Diego area has left a passenger in one car dead.Los-Angeles-DUI-and speeding

Residents along East H Street in Chula Vista have often complained to authorities about the vehicles that race along that road. In the early morning hours of Saturday, October 8th, Jose Molina Ramirez, 22, and Nicholas Nesbitt, 22, pitted their vehicles against each other with fatal consequences. While traveling at 100 mph, Ramirez lost control of his car, went careening across the median (cutting two magnolia trees in half) and then moving across the traffic lanes opposite from the ones he had been traveling on. (Fortunately he did not hit any vehicles traveling in this direction.)

While Ramirez and his front seat passenger managed to escape unharmed, the back seat passenger, 22-year-old Sergio Isai Ramirez, was not wearing a seatbelt. He was killed on impact.

Neighbors reported hearing screeching tires and a loud crash at the time of the accident.

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Drivers convicted of DUI in Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento and Tulare Counties are no longer the only Californians required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for a first-time DUI. On Wednesday, September 28th, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1046, which extends the four-county pilot programs to the entire state. Motorists do have some breathing room, however; the law won’t go into effect until January 1, 2019.Senate Bill 1046

Senator Jerry Hill, who sponsored the legislation, said that the new law will save lives. “We’ve already seen this to be true in the four counties conducting the pilot program: Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) have saved lives by preventing more than 1 million attempts to drink and drive since 2010,” he noted.

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Would the number of DUIs in Los Angeles decrease if drivers and/or police officers had an easier, more reliable way to measure blood alcohol content? los-angeles-DUI-sweat-test

Researchers at the University of San Diego have developed a wearable, flexible sensor that can accurately measure a person’s BAC from sweat. The device, a temporary tattoo, actually induces sweat and then detects the alcohol levels electrochemically. The device communicates the information to a mobile device—laptop, tablet or phone—via Bluetooth.

Nano engineering professor Joseph Wang and electrical engineering professor Patrick Mercier led the team that developed the sensor. “This technology provides an accurate, convenient and quick way to monitor alcohol consumption to help prevent people from driving while intoxicated,” said Wang. He envisions interfacing the device with an ignition interlock device, or people using it to monitor their own alcohol levels so they could refrain from driving if they were legally under the influence.

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The State of California law recognizes that children involved in incidents of DUI in Los Angeles are at special risk; in fact, California Vehicle Code 23572 mandates enhancements in penalties for anyone driving DUI with kids in the car. For a first offense, convicted DUI drivers have to serve a mandatory 48 hours in jail. A second offense results in a 10-day jail stay and a third offense in a 30-day jail sentence. Drivers caught DUI for a fourth time with children in their vehicles could spend three months in jail.children-at-risk-DUI-los-angeles

A September 5th crash in Cuyama, California, illustrates just why authorities are so concerned. Jerald Holman was traveling westbound on Highway 166 when his Toyota Camry drifted into the eastbound lane. When Holman hit a Chevrolet in that lane, the impact ejected two young passengers—a 7-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl—from the car. Emergency responders pronounced both children dead at the scene. The children’s mother, Todeshia Lewis, was also a passenger in the car. She and Holman suffered minor injuries.
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California could soon be among the 25 states that require drivers with a first DUI conviction to install ignition interlock devices in any vehicles that they drive. The new law would not affect the penalties for anyone convicted of DUI in Los Angeles, since Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento and Tulare Counties have been operating under a pilot program that requires an IID for first-time offenders since 2011.Senate-Bill-1046-los-angeles-DUI

Senate Bill 1046, championed by Senator Jerry Hill, passed the Senate in late August; the California State Assembly approved a similar bill earlier in the year. The legislation now sits on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk; he must decide by September 30th whether or not to approve the bill or veto it.

If the bill becomes law, a first DUI offense would require installation of an IID for six months, with lengthier periods for increasing offenses. (Second DUI – one year; third DUI – two years; fourth and any subsequent DUIs – three years.)
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Court rulings and new laws in other states don’t have an immediate impact on California DUI laws and the outcome of arrests for DUI in Los Angeles.  But it’s always interesting to take a look and see how other states are dealing with challenges and updates to DUI law.TennLegislature-DUI-law-debate

•    The Tennessee State Legislature has taken the extraordinary step of going into special session to amend a law that they passed that raised the BAC limit for 18 to 20-year olds to 0.08 percent.  The legislature had reasoned that since the new penalties for drivers in that age group were the same as for drivers over 21, the BAC limits should be the same. But that put them in conflict with federal law, which mandates a 0.02 limit for those under 21. Since the federal government threatened to withhold federal highway construction funds from the state, the state legislature had to hold a special session (at a cost of at least $75,000) to amend its law and bring it into conformity with federal law. (The federal government refused to waive an October 1st deadline to allow the state to amend the law at its next scheduled legislative session in January 2017.)

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Drivers arrested for DUI in Los Angeles often leave a very visible trail of damage in their wake: wrecked vehicles (theirs and/or others’), downed utility poles or traffic signals, broken windows in storefronts. But sometimes the damage spreads a lot further.DUI-fire

According to a story in the August 29th Los Angeles Times, 44-year-old Rene Ilene Hogan was driving under the influence when she started a fire that set ablaze 450-plus acres of grass and forest in Calaveras County.

Hogan was driving a 2002 Kia Rio but didn’t realize that her rear tire was flat. She continued traveling until the tire wore down to the wheel rim, causing sparks to fly. Some of the sparks hit the very dry grass along the highway, setting off several fires. Her Kia eventually caught fire as well, but Hogan kept driving, apparently oblivious to the damage she had caused and her own peril.

Motorists who saw her car on fire tried to alert her, but Hogan didn’t notice them. Finally, one car pulled in front of her, forcing her to stop. The driver and nearby residents managed to pull Hogan from the car before she suffered any burns. Police later charged her with driving under the influence of a narcotic analgesic and cannabis, as well as driving on a suspended license.

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Intoxicated drivers often make bad decisions that draw police officers’ attention and leave the drivers vulnerable to arrest on a charge of DUI in Los Angeles. But California drivers aren’t the only ones making mistakes, as these arrest stories from around the country clearly demonstrate.shocking-los-angeles-DUI-stories

In Madison, Wisconsin, a 42-year-old woman decided that she was in the mood for a beer. Only problem was she opened the can while sitting in a car and right in front of the officer who had pulled her over on suspicion of DUI. When the woman refused to get out of the car and continued drinking, the officer had to call reinforcements to pry the unidentified driver out of her car. She faces charges of reckless driving and driving while intoxicated.

In Connecticut, two people were driving their vehicles with flat tires and probably hoping that police didn’t notice. Police in South Windsor arrested 33-year-old Eric Schneider after they received reports that a vehicle in the area was riding on a bare rim. Schneider had apparently been traveling with a flat for so long that he wore the tire away. He’s facing DUI charges.

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