Articles Posted in DUI

Every 51 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident. Everyone—DUI defendants included!—agrees that we need to “do something” to dramatically reduce this number, but there’s no agreement on what that solution should be. Traditionally, our system has been heavy on the sticks, light on the carrots. We punish DUI drivers tremendously—by stripping them of driving privileges, fining them, sending them to jail, hiking their insurance rates, and beyond. How well is this “heavy on the punitive” system working? Well, take a look at the first sentence in this paragraph—one death every 51 minutes. If we want to do better—and we can—we need to look beyond the punitive and consider other ways to shore up our system, deter unwanted behavior, reward compliant behavior and solve the (challenging and often deeply psychologically rooted) issues that encourage unfortunate behavior behind the wheel.DUI-51-minutes-300x94

In a previous post, we looked at the current and future technologies that could address DUI deterrence. Now we’ll consider some of the other proposed solutions.

Lowering the BAC limit?

A Los Angeles DUI arrest and/or conviction can be a wakeup call for many people. It forces them to confront the fact that they may have a problem with addiction to alcohol or drugs and need to seek treatment.2-10-17-dui-los-angeles-addiction-300x169

The problem is finding a treatment program that will be effective in helping them fight and overcome their addiction.

Is AA really effective?

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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When someone arrested for DUI in Los Angeles is under the influence of alcohol, law enforcement officials have a fairly easy way to measure the degree of intoxication with a breathalyzer test and/or a blood alcohol concentration test. But it’s not that easy when it comes to measuring how marijuana affects a person’s ability to drive. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, remains in the bloodstream for a long time and there are no good ways for police officers in the field to measure its presence in the bloodstream.THC-test-DUI-los-angeles

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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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Suppose a police officer asks someone suspected of a DUI in Los Angeles to consent to a test to measure the blood alcohol content in their body. If the blood test turns up evidence of drug usage—which the officer did not mention in his request for that blood test—can the state use those results to win a DUI conviction?xanax-Alprazolam-DUI-los-angeles

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently addressed a similar question in a ruling in a 2014 DWI case. According to a report by Minnesota Public Radio, police requested a warrant to draw Debra Fawcett’s blood after she ran a red light and caused a two-vehicle crash. Fawcett admitted to drinking a few beers earlier in the day.

The test results showed that Fawcett’s blood was alcohol free. However, they also revealed that she had THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) and Alprazolam in her bloodstream. (Physicians often prescribe Alprazolam, better known by its trade name Xanax, for anxiety disorders.) Fawcett did have a valid prescription for the drug.

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For some people, one charge of DUI in Los Angeles is enough to make them resolve they will never again drive under the influence. They never want to go through the humiliating experience of arrest, a bond hearing and a court trial again. There are others, however, who never seem to get the message no matter how many times they go to court, pay fines or spend time in jail. los-angeles-dui-repeat-offenses

KDVR in Denver reports on one Colorado man who has somehow escaped jail time despite the fact that he’s had seven DUI arrests and five convictions. Albert Torres’ most recent DUI arrest came last November, when he ran a red light and nearly hit a police car. In July, a judge accepted the 45-year-old’s plea deal, which will require him to serve a year on work release and three years’ probation.

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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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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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Road construction workers have fairly terrifying jobs. They not only operate and move around heavy equipment weighing 10 tons or more (often much more); they also must work while vehicles just a few feet away hurtle past them at 50 and 60 miles per hour. Add to that mix a driver who’s operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol—enough to qualify him/her for a DUI in Los Angeles—and you’ve made a difficult situation even more dangerous.  freeway-dui-los-angeles-construction

According to New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, Earl William Maugham, Jr., caused serious injuries to four people at a construction site on US 61 in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. He first sideswiped an unoccupied Ford Truck, which he should have noticed, since it was flashing white and amber strobe lights marking the work zone. Then he slammed into a John Deere backhoe. The backhoe driver wasn’t injured, but Maugham continued on, jumping two raised center median curbs and eventually hitting four workers. Emergency workers took them to the hospital with moderate to severe injuries.
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