Articles Tagged with DUI in los angeles

school-bus-DUI-deadliest-crash-300x158Great journalism has the ability not just to report the facts, but also to raise important questions and provoke discussion. The issues surrounding DUI enforcement and prevention are indeed complex, and many news stories over the past ten years have helped to propel these much-needed conversations forward. Let’s continue our exploration.

1. Reflecting on the Deadliest DUI Accident in History

On May 14, 1988, a DUI driver in a pickup truck slammed head-on into a school bus in Carrollton, KY, killing 27 people and injuring 34 others. Today, that collision still holds the record as the deadliest DUI accident in history. It was a triggering event that resulted in sweeping changes to the laws, including stricter safety measures for buses and a lowering of the legal BAC limit nationwide. But as ABC News reports, thirty years later, some are still questioning whether enough has been done to turn the tide of DUI.

DUI-myths-vs-realityAs much as we are bombarded with media messages and warnings to avoid drinking and driving—and the consequences if we ignore those warnings—it’s remarkable how much the public doesn’t understand about DUI, especially here in Los Angeles. In particular, people who get pulled over on suspicion of DUI frequently have inaccurate preconceived ideas about what officers can and cannot do, what might cause an arrest, whether or not the charges will stick, and so on.

To be clear, you should never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking, and nothing we’re about to say should be construed as suggesting otherwise. However, people frequently misjudge their own thresholds, and even people who haven’t been drinking sometimes find themselves under roadside investigation for DUI. Let’s dispel a few commonly held myths about DUI in Los Angeles (and the rest of California, for that matter) and replace them with the facts.

MYTH: Only people who have been drinking are arrested for DUI.

If statistics alone could get people to change their behavior, drivers might pause before getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But as you know empirically—perhaps because you’ve been arrested recently for DUI, or perhaps because a loved one just called you from jail in emotional distress because of an arrest—it’s not so simple. Why do drivers make poor/reckless decisions? And what can be done about the problem of DUI—on a community-wide or city-wide level—to make things safer for everyone?fix-society-dui-problem-258x300

In this post and a subsequent one, we’ll take an unbiased (well, as unbiased as possible) look at the science and possible solutions.

You probably are already all too familiar with facts like these from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention:

Dealing with the aftereffects of a DUI is never easy. It’s especially difficult, however, when you’re living on the economic edge: if you’re a single mom who’s working two jobs and struggling to make ends meet, a student working your way through school or a veteran or retiree living on a fixed and very limited income. no-car-los-angeles-DUI

You’ll have to find a way to pay the cost of fines and court-mandated DUI classes. If you’re depended on your car to get to your job or to your school, you’ll have to search for an alternate mode of transportation. But one good thing about living in the Los Angeles area is that you may have more options for coping with the crisis than someone who lives in more rural areas.

Getting around

When California residents voted to permit the use of recreational marijuana last November, the state became one of eight U.S. jurisdictions (along with Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia) to permit the practice. An additional 20 states have laws allowing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.marijuana-DUI-science-los-angeles

While the new marijuana laws may offer some relief to people suffering from painful illnesses—and provide a popular alternative to alcohol for those who want to party or simply relax— they are posing a real dilemma for law enforcement officials charged with keeping DUI drivers off the road. The problem? At present there is no widely accepted test or measurement that defines whether a person is too intoxicated by marijuana to drive safely.

Major differences between marijuana and alcohol

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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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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The arrest of one person for DUI in Los Angeles usually affects several people: the driver, his/her family and his/her coworkers (if the driver ends up spending time in jail).  If the driver causes injury or death, the victim’s family also feels the pain. But a single DUI arrest generally does not impact the entire city or state.okinawa-DUI-losangeles

On the island of Okinawa, Japan, however, an American sailor’s arrest is having a very large effect on the 19,000 U.S. military personnel stationed there. According to the New York Times, Japanese police are holding Petty Officer Aimee Mejia, age 21, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Mejia allegedly crossed the center line of a highway on the island and struck two other vehicles, hurting a 35-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man.

As a result of the DUI incident, which occurred on June 4th, the U.S. military brass have banned all drinking for its service members in Japan and have confined those on Okinawa to base.

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Under California law, drivers charged with DUI in Los Angeles have the right to demand a jury trial. That’s not the case in every state. In a May 12th ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court said that defendants facing trial for repeat DUI driving charges should not be entitled to jury trials.NJ-supreme-court-los-angeles-DUI

According to an article in the New Jersey Law Journal, the New Jersey Supreme Court justices decided 5-1 in State v. Denelsbeck that the penalties faced by drivers charged with third and subsequent DUIs face penalties are not serious enough to warrant jury trials. Those penalties include up to six months in jail as well as fines. The court stated that “the need for a jury trial is outweighed by the state’s interest in promoting efficiency through non-jury trials.”

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Drivers who appeal their conviction for DUI in Los Angeles always hope that an appeals court will rule in their favor. A Nebraska driver had that wish come true—only to have the state’s Supreme Court overrule the appeals court, so his conviction still stands.Nebraska Supreme Court DUI case

The Lincoln Journal Star reported on the case of 27-year old Adam Woldt, arrested for DUI in September 2013. A police officer had pulled over a truck that was traveling in front of Woldt’s vehicle, because the officer thought that truck had knocked over some traffic cones. Woldt said that the truck and the police vehicle, with its door open, were blocking the road, so he started backing up in order to drive around the two stopped vehicles.

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