Saturday, March 5, 2011

If You're Going to Drink Beer in Front of the Cops During a DUI Stop, Get Out of the Car First!

Stephen Supers: Times are Tough
Stephen Supers, a 25 year old Ohio man, did not have a great start to his Monday morning to say the least. Elyria officers pulled Supers over after they allegedly noticed him speeding and driving erratically.

But what Supers does next may leave you scratching your head. After being asked if he had been drinking, the allegedly intoxicated driver answers truthfully, “Yes”, and decides to toast the traffic stop with a drink from his Milwaukee’s Best Ice Beer that is in the car.

After supposedly failing several field sobriety tests, Supers is arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Cops searched the vehicle and said they found a pipe with white residue and a bag of what appeared to be marijuana. Although Supers’ test results are not known, it appears the driver could be facing some pretty significant evidence against him.

Whether a driver dares to admit they are under the influence and driving their vehicle, is one thing.  If all Supers said was that he had been drinking, then that is not necessarily an admission of guilt - it's not illegal to drink and drive, it's illegal to drive over the BAC limit of .08 (or less, depending on your state laws).  Also if he was not operating the vehicle at the time he consumed the beer, it could actually save him from a DUI unless the police can show that has BAC wasn't affected by the beer.  Where Super could have made his biggest mistake was in drinking Milwakee's Best Ice.  Everybody knows that Beast Ice could lead to a bad hangover.  Hopefully Stephen's luck will change and he will catch a break when his case goes to trial.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Once Again, Breathalyzer Costume in Halloween DUI Arrest Mugshot

Arrested for DUI in
a Breathalyzer Costume
(Taken from The Smoking Gun)
 In a most unfortunate twist of irony, Mathew Nieveen, 19, was arrested in the early hours of November 1st, when cops in Lincoln, Nebraska pulled the young gentleman over for driving erratically.

Upon searching the vehicle, cops allegedly discovered beer and vodka. Further tests estimated that the suspect was twice the state's .08% legal Blood Alcohol Content limit.

The irony in the story is Mr. Nieveen was still wearing his Halloween Breathalyzer costume from the night before when cops made the arrest.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Senior Federal Judge Busted Behind the Wheel after Using Coke (Not Charged with DUI)

Screenshot from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
Retired federal judge Jack T. Camp is facing some torrid allegations involving the classic combo of "hookers and blow".  Judge Camp was recently arrested by FBI agents after allegedly purchasing sex and drugs including cannabis, cocaine, and other illegal substances. According to blog posts, Judge Camp was harsh on those accused of drug crimes, stating in open court that he was a big believer in the prison system

If the allegations are true, Judge Camp may soon be finding out just what a raw deal the taxpayers are getting from modern America's penal industry.

One has to wonder whether Hon. Judge Camp really started using coke and weed at 67 or whether he has been using whatever substances he liked while sentencing people for buying or selling the same drugs he was using. 

It remains to be seen what will become of this allegedly criminal jurist.  His arrest has provoked a number of fascinating questions, such as why we are not drug testing judges, how many other federal judges are using substances, and why we prohibit drugs if you can use them and still be mentally competent to be a judge?

Actual Excerpt from the FBI Report
One issue of interest to those who follow impaired driving cases is the facts involving a vehicle.  According to the feds' report in this case, Camp and a stripper that was a confidential informant snorted some coke at a "titty bar".  Afterwards the informant was in Camp's passenger seat while he was in the driver seat (with a gun!).

While the report does not describe any driving behavior on the part of the judge, it seems perfectly safe to assume that Camp drove away after snorting coke.  For some reason, there has apparently been no outcry from MADD or any state prosecutors resulting in charges for what could have been an instance of driving under the influence of an illegal substance.

This turn of events challenges my normal adminition that we could do away with DUI by using breath activated ignition interlocks.  But we have to remember that for every alcohol impaired driver out there, we may be missing someone in charge of punishing folks in the war on drugs that is too high on coke to get behind the wheel.  We wish the best for Judge Camp, as he may simply be the victim of a rogue informant who has fabricated evidence against him.  If so, and he is exonerated, we hope he will joing us in speaking out against the war on people who are impaired and other punitive measures that are too harsh and designed to fail.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ohio Judge Arrested for DUI

Montgomery County Miamisburg Municipal Court Judge Robert E. Messham Jr. was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol on January 26th. According to reports, he side swiped another vehicle, causing the police to be called to the scene. There was minor vehicle damage, but no injuries were reported. Messham was arrested at the scene, but released the same night on his promise to appear in court when ordered.

Reports say that Messham Jr. has served in Miamisburg for more than 21 years. He is a proud sponsor of the D.A.R.E. program, and is remembered speaking out against drunk driving in 2002. He also was a regular supporter and participant in the town’s National Night Out to fight crime in neighborhoods.

Messham was due in court tomorrow, but will not be appearing because his lawyer has already entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. I for one hope his lawyer proves him innocent. What a shame it would be for a judge who decides what punishment is suitable for other’s crimes to be guilty of breaking the law himself. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this judge who was appointed to office by the governor and re-elected by the citizens of the town three times.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New York Police Officer Facing Termination After DWI

John Lewis of the Schenectady Police Force is facing termination after a DWI arrest on Saturday night. According to reports, police were called to the scene of an accident in a hospital parking lot. They were told of an intoxicated man who had left the hospital parking lot after crashing into another vehicle. Lewis was found and taken into custody for Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, Driving While Intoxicated, and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. He was held in jail without bond.

Reports say this is not the first time Mr. Lewis has been in trouble with the law. In fact, he was fired from the police force in 1998 for using a racial slur. It was ruled that he was fired without sufficient cause, and he was re-instated. From there, it seems Lewis’s problems only grew. He was arrested five times for a variety of crimes including but not limited to fourth degree criminal mischief, third degree stalking, second degree aggravated harassment, eavesdropping, and computer trespassing. He also received a DWI charge in December 2008 after a crash. Through all of this, Lewis has been suspended without pay and is now facing termination…..again.

We teach our kids to respect police officers. And we ourselves are supposed to respect them. How is it that someone like this could even be a part of a Police Department? How is someone who has been charged with crimes repeatedly supposed to go to work and protect our cities from the very crimes he’s being charged with? This current DWI arrest could have been prevented if an ignition interlock would have been mandatory for Lewis’s vehicle after his first DWI arrest. Or better yet, if they were mandatory on ALL vehicles, then even the chance of him getting behind the wheel of someone else’s car after drinking wouldn’t exist.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Another Elected Official Arrested for DUI

What is more embarrassing?  Getting busted for DUI as a city council member, or getting busted for DUI in a minivan? Well look no further than seventy-two year old city councilman William J. Craig of LaFayette. Georgia.

He should be able to answer that question after his arrest on Wednesday night. According to reports, Trooper Jason Geddie stopped Craig’s minivan around 11:00 Wednesday night after noticing the vehicle driving erratically.

Upon speaking with Craig, the trooper noticed the smell of alcohol, and administered field sobriety tests. He was then taken to the Walker County Jail for a breath test. He blew .12. He was charged with DUI after all testing was complete. He was reportedly cooperative with police through the entire process.

Craig joined the city council in January of 2008, and has served in several administrative roles throughout his career. DUI’s everywhere are frowned upon. The defendants are looked at as “bad people”. This case proves once again that anyone who drinks can find themselves defending their innocence in court. Several states have begun using ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders in DUI cases. Why not put them on ALL vehicles registered in EVERY state to prevent one’s first offense from ever happening? Why can’t all legislators starting at the city council level push for such laws?

This is just one more example of the truth that MADD and the justice system don't want you to know.  The very people who rant and rave about drunk driving and try to demonize those who get caught are just as guilty as the rest.  Nobody who gets behind the wheel above the legal limit knows whether they are above or below the limit, but they feel like they are perfectly fine to drive.  That's because the government's narcotics distribution conspiracy is pushing ethyl alcohol, an insidious drug that makes people lose their judgment.  It's a guaranteed recipe for disaster.  Drunk driving disaster.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tennessee Cop Faces DUI Charge

According to reports, Richard Allen Leese, a Clarksville Police Department Officer was arrested early yesterday morning for driving under the influence of alcohol. Two Henry County police officers responded to a complaint that someone had wrecked a truck into someone’s yard. The complainant stated that the driver of the truck was possibly drunk.

Reports say that the officers were greeted when they arrived at the scene by Leese holding out his police badge, saying he was a member of the Clarksville Department. Leese admitted to the arresting officers that he drank three beers between 6:00 and 7:30. He guessed that it was probably about 9:00 then. It was after 2:00a.m.. I think it takes a little more than three beers for five hours of events to get lost in your head!

Leese was given a field sobriety test, which he allegedly failed. He refused to take a breathalyzer test according to police reports. He was charged with violation of implied consent and driving under the influence. When put in jail, he was held in a “safe area” because of his police officer status. While it’s probably not fair that he was given special treatment, at least he wasn’t sent to the comfort of his own home like the guy in my last story was. Leese is scheduled to appear Feb. 23 in Henry County General Sessions Court.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another Legislator Cited for DWI - Louisiana's Bobby Badon Joins the Hall of Shame

Louisiana State Police cited State Representative Bobby Badon with a DWI Monday night after he was pulled over for a traffic violation. According to reports, Badon was stopped just after 11:30 p.m.. When the arresting officer noticed signs that he may be impaired by alcohol, he was taken to the police station where he submitted a breath sample. The test showed a blood alcohol level of .125. The limit is .08, so he was charged with DWI.

Reports say that following the arrest, Badon was driven home because the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center was at maximum capacity with one person already waiting. I wonder why the one person who was waiting for a spot in the jail wasn’t sent home to the comfort of his home. Or is it common in Louisiana for people who are arrested and awaiting jail for certain crimes to just be sent home because there isn’t room for them?

Badon is reportedly a life-long resident of Carencro. He was elected to represent the Lafayette, St. Landry and St. Martin parishes in 2007 in the House of Representatives for the state of Louisiana. Reports say he underwent double bypass surgery in October. His office is expected to address the media later today. Hopefully he’s learned from his mistakes and can turn this arrest into a positive thing by setting an example for everyone. Anyone who drinks can get a DUI without something in place to help their impaired judgment, not just the common alcoholic.

Minnesota Cop Arrested for Suspicion of DWI

A police officer out of Coon Rapids, Minnesota was arrested on Friday night after allegedly driving while under the influence of alcohol while off duty. According to reports, Officer Bryan Platz rear-ended another vehicle carrying two women. The women had slowed to turn into a gas station. No one was seriously hurt in the crash.

Platz provided a blood sample on the night of the arrest. No charges will be filed until the blood test comes back, which could take a few weeks. He has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation. Deputy Chief Tim Snell said that Platz has worked for the police department for about seven years. He wasn’t sure if any disciplinary action would come as a result of the arrest. And he wasn’t sure if speed was a factor in the crash.

This is just another example of a cop getting busted for driving after drinking. It happens every day. If convicted, he’ll probably pay his fines, and essentially get them back in his paycheck. DUI along with all traffic infractions are a huge source of revenue for our governments. Makes you wonder if since alcohol is a government issued drug and ignition interlock devices aren’t mandatory on all vehicles by law, the government is too dependent on the revenues they get from such arrests to try to stop them before they happen.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Utah Senator Arrested for DUI - NOW UPDATED

UPDATE - Sheldon Killpack resigned today after making a public statement in which he told the people of Utah that he did not want to be distracted or to be a distraction as he recovers from his DUI charge.  Unfortunately it seems that he drank the kool-aid and feels that he is no longer worthy to serve as a state senator.  This is a terrible shame - everybody makes mistakes, and Killpack could have made a real difference with a universal ignition interlock bill - a measure that would actually have some effect on the tragic consequences of DUI.

Utah Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack was arrested Friday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. He was stopped after his vehicle was seen being driven erratically. The trooper noticed "a strong odor of alcohol" and asked Killpack to perform field sobriety tests, according to reports. He performed the tests but refused a breath test. A blood test was later obtained.

According to news reports, Killpack’s own father was killed by a drunk driver, and he has always stood against drunk driving.   Killpack is also a member of the Mormon Church, which is well known for the official church policy of abstaining from alcohol.  He was even the Senate sponsor for a bill that would allow habitual drunk drivers to have their vehicles seized by the state. Reports say that he also sponsored legislation last year that allows drunken drivers to plead to a reduced charge of impaired driving and go to a DUI court. It was thought that this would speed up cases and send the drivers to treatment.  If someone who is completely morally opposed to DUI winds up in this situation, is it any wonder that drunk driving continues to kill people?

I do give Killpack credit because he apparently didn’t tell the arresting officer who he was during the arrest. At least he wasn’t trying to get himself out with his “powers” like so many seem to think they can do. But again, this is a story about the very person who should be working to keep our streets safer being the one making them dangerous. Hopefully Killpack will learn from his mistake and realize how strong of a drug alcohol really is.  Nobody can make a good decision about whether or not to get behind the wheel after consuming enough alcohol to impair his ability to drive.  Killpack needs to use his law-making abilities to put laws in place to prevent this problem *before* it starts, not after it is too late! If this case doesn't wake people up to the need for an ignition interlock in every car sold in America, nothing will.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Texas Cop on Desk Duty After DWI Arrest

Austin Police Officer Leonardo Quintana was arrested Tuesday after allegedly consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel. The Leander Police Department found Quintana at about five o’clock a.m. in his vehicle.

The car was damaged, and the tires were deflated. According to reports, Quintana failed several field sobriety tests at the scene, and admitted to having drinks at a friend’s house.

Reports say that Quintana is the same officer who was investigated after a controversial shooting a few months ago that killed a man. He was suspended for fifteen days after investigations were complete for failing to turn on his dashboard camera before approaching the vehicle where the shooting occurred.

Quintana is currently on restricted duty pending the investigation of his DWI. He can perform such duties as desk work. Sergeant Vincent of the department said that the police department plans to morally support Quintana as if they would family. What? This sounds more like an organized crime family than a law enforcement agency.  I wonder if the police department will support me or you if we get arrested for driving while intoxicated while cruising through Austin. I won't be testing that theory any time soon.

Virginia Cop Arrested for DUI

Sgt. David Conley Cullop, an off-duty Chilhowie police sergeant, was charged with driving under the influence on Friday night. He allegedly crashed head-on into a truck after crossing into oncoming traffic on a bridge.

Luckily, no one was injured in the crash. According to a spokesman for the Virginia State Police, Cullop refused to take a breath test, so he was charged with refusal as well.

The twist to this story is that reports say that Cullop is the same officer who two years ago was honored for saving the life of a police officer who had been hit by a drunk driver. He was presented with a letter of commendation from the chief and the Police Department’s Life Saving Medal a few months later.

Why is it that cops who are hailed as heroes for DUI enforcement are so frequently arrested for drunk driving? I call it the MADD curse. I think a police officer who sees the results of drunk driving every day should know better than anyone not to get behind the wheel after drinking. Especially an officer who watched one of his own almost die due to drunken driving.  Of course, Officer Cullop is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.  I hope he gets a fair shake in court, and I hope he uses that experience to give defendants a fair shake in the future.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another Ohio Judge Faces (Very Little) Punishment Following his DUI Arrest

Does this guy look like a judge or a guy who got charged with drinking and driving? Trick question! Actually both answers appear to be correct according to this article detailing His Honor's guilty plea. Once again, we find that the very people who look down in judgment on those accused of driving drunk seem to do no better at upholding the law than the defendants they lecture every day.

Judge David N. Abruzzo, of Ohio was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to yield to a public safety vehicle in September. According to the Ohio State Patrol, he refused to take a breath test on the night of his arrest. Abruzzo pled guilty in court on Wednesday to a misdemeanor, physical control of a vehicle while under the influence. That was a reduced charge. He was originally charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence. The failure to yield was dismissed!

Abruzzo has been practicing law for over thirty years! Must feel weird for him to be facing a judge, wondering what will become of his mistakes, although the "deal" was reportedly made during pre-trial negotiations. Abruzzo is still working as a judge, and has apologized to his community, according to reports. DUI judges are nothing new to Ohio.  Disgraced Ohio Supreme Court judge Alice Robie Resnick pled guilty to a DUI in 2006 after ignoring the cop trying to pull her over and then blowing a 0.22.  According to Wikipedia, she got out of charges of "failure to comply with a police officer, resisting arrest, [and] fleeing from police." 

Hopefully Abruzzo will figure out from his experience why DUI laws are designed to fail, and how DUI defendants should be treated.  But Blackrobitis can be a terrible disease, causing some judges to lose their common sense while drowning in a sea of privilege.  Because the rules so rarely apply to judges, they can lose sight of the true impact of their actions.  Thank goodness for the good judges who retain their mental acuity and objectivity.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pennsylvania DUI Enforcement State Trooper Charged With... DUI

Cpl. John Quigg, of Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania is on administrative leave after being charged with DUI last month, according to reports. What makes this story so interesting is that Quigg was a 24 year veteran of the police force and he was a qualified crash reconstructionist. His job apparently involved supervising DUI checkpoints in the Philadelphia area.

Reports say that Quigg was driving his Honda Accord west on Route 422 on the night of Dec. 17. He lost control of his vehicle and hit a guard rail. A trooper reportedly found him slumped over and unresponsive inside of the car, and he was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation. He was charged with driving under the influence along with other traffic violations including having an open container of alcohol in the car.

It sounds to me like Pennsylvania is facing the same problem that every other state in America is facing today. When the very people we pay with our tax dollars to keep our streets safe are endangering them, it’s time for change. I wonder how this cop who was paid to arrest drunk drivers feels seeing life from the accused side? He probably just figured out that DUI laws are a complete and total scam that are designed to fail.  Maybe if the government is going to sell us alcohol, then the government should pass laws to help their customers make the right decisions after drinking when their good judgment is altered.

Would mandating ignition control locks be seen as saving lives or would it be seen as losing revenue for the government when the DUI rate goes down?  Of course MADD would be out of business too, so you can imagine how they feel about it.  And of course the liquor industry isn't interested in people having one drink and driving home, they want people to consume three drinks and drive home.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rhode Island Prosecutor Charged with DUI

Rhode Island Federal Prosecutor, Gerard B. Sullivan, has found himself on the other side of the courtroom after allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol Thanksgiving morning. According to reports, Sullivan admitted in court Monday that he had refused a breath test on the night of his arrest. But Tuesday, he and his lawyer spent over two and half hours at the bench trying to get a separate DUI dismissed, without success. The judge continued the case until Monday.

Sullivan was one of eight drivers who refused a breath test over the long Thanksgiving weekend. According to reports, he was the only one who was not also charged with DUI at the time of his arrest. Reports say that during his encounter with police, he told the arresting officer that he was a prosecutor and that he knew the chief of police. He argued that his job was in jeopardy. He was charged with refusal, but not DUI.

After Police Chief Stephen M. McCartney reviewed all eight refusal charges from Thanksgiving weekend, Sullivan was also charged with DUI. I guess Mr. Sullivan is seeing life from the defendant’s side of the courtroom now! It will be interesting to see what happens in court on Monday.  Funny how a guy who is always arguing that others should be made to accept the consequences of their actions now appears to have been scrambling as hard as possible to get favorable treatment.

Judge Sends Massachusetts Senator to Jail After his Toothpaste Defense Didn't Hold up in Court

Massachusetts Senator Anthony Galluccio will be spending a year in jail for violating his probation after being convicted of DUI. According to reports, Gallucio was involved in a hit and run accident in October where a father and son were injured.

Gallucio was given two years probation, and also ordered to undergo random urine tests, and use a Sobrietor, a portable device for monitoring blood-alcohol content to make sure that he was not drinking. Galluccio has to breathe into the device at random times during the day. Galluccio also lost his driver's license for five years and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. He got a jail sentence that was suspended.

It was less than a week after sentencing, on December 21st, when probation office worker, Michael Jacobs, showed up at Galluccio’s home to perform the alcohol test. According to reports, not only one, but two breath tests were failed during the visit. Galluccio denied drinking any alcohol that day, and argued that it must have been his toothpaste that caused the positive result.

Cambridge District Court Judge Matthew Nestor did not buy the “toothpaste defense” in court Monday. Galluccio even flew in an expert to testify that by hair sample, he had tested Galluccio, and it was proven that he had not consumed alcohol. But the test was not approved by the court, and the Judge sent Galluccio away in handcuffs. Reports have referenced the fact that the October crash was not Galluccio’s first encounter with the law over alcohol. Maybe a year in the slammer will teach him that being a senator doesn’t give him special treatment!

Maybe his senator friends will fight for laws helping to prevent DUI's while he's behind bars, like mandating ignition interlock devices on ALL vehicles.  Of course, we should always remember that alcohol testing in the criminal context is pathetically inaccurate.  It is definitely possible for a person who hasn't had a drink to provide a breath sample that a machine will report as positive for alcohol.  Maybe the Senator's cronies will pass a law banning the horrific guilt machines that lie silent outside of our courthouses, pointing the finger of blame at people.

Yet Another Montana Judge Charged With DUI...

What are they serving at the judicial conferences in Montana? Just kidding, everybody knows what they serve at judicial conferences in every state: alcohol. That’s right, you can be sure that every judicial conference in America includes alcohol (ok, maybe not Utah). The participants enjoy beer, wine, and liquor as they serve the people by sharpening their guilt-finding skills. But for some reason Montana seems to have a distinct trend towards judges who drink and get behind the wheel.

This time it is Judge Linda Hartsock being charged with DUI. According to reports, she was cited in the courthouse parking lot after the Glasgow City police department received a complaint. She was not pulled over, but rather found in her car in the parking lot. Hartsock pled not guilty in court yesterday, however reports quote her saying, “I made the biggest mistake in the world. I'm not proud of it." She was apparently back at work Monday afternoon.

Reports say that Judge Dave Riggin presided over the initial appearance, but will remove himself from the case and another judge from out of the district will be brought in. No trial date has been scheduled. Further information about the alleged incident was not released by Glasgow Police or Glasgow City Court.  In other Montana DUI judge news, Ralph Dukart Jr., previously profiled here, has reportedly resigned following his DUI and subsequent driving suspended busts.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Idaho Sheriff's Officer Faces Second DUI Charge

This story comes from Payette County, Idaho. A county Sheriff’s officer who resigned in October after a DUI arrest has been accused of once again driving under the influence of alcohol. According to reports, Troy Sallee pled guilty in court on December 21st to his DUI charge. One day later he was arrested again for suspicion of driving under the influence after crashing into another vehicle.

News reports say that Sallee is being charged with a felony in the newest case because there was great bodily injury to the driver of the other car. Crystal Yokom suffered broken ribs, a shattered ankle, and lacerations in the crash. He is also facing a hit and run charge due to the wreck. I wonder if Sallee didn’t learn his lesson the first time or if he did, but his judgment was once again impaired by the alcohol and therefore all good judgment flew out of the window.

How many of these cases do we need to see before something is done about this huge problem that faces our society? There are ways that the government could practically stop DUI in our country, like ignition interlock devices being mandated on every vehicle sold. Why is it taking so long if this could save lives and make our streets safer?

Police Officer Accused of DUI in Fatal Wreck

Lockport, Illinois Police Officer, Edward Stapinski is being charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence after a crash that killed a man on the night of December 20th. Stapinski was allegedly driving his Mitsubishi Gallant at speeds of about eighty miles per hour on Highway 55 when he lost control, flipping his vehicle and hitting a Toyota Camry head-on. Mike Wong, the driver of the Camry, was killed in the crash.

Stapinski was taken to a nearby hospital according to reports, where his blood sample showed that his blood alcohol level was .223, which is about three times the legal limit. According to reports, Associate Judge Maureen Feerick said that Stapinski held the public trust as a police officer and that his job should had “given him insight” into the consequences of such actions. Stapinski’s bond was set at $750,000, and he is forbidden from driving, will have to surrender his passport and any firearms in his possession as well as his firearm identification card. If convicted, he is facing three to fourteen years in prison.

The family of 29 year old Mike Wong is devastated, fearing that Stapinski will receive special treatment in court because he’s a police officer. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case that may have been prevented with a law mandating ignition control devices on all vehicles. It’s becoming a common thing to hear about the police officers who are paid to keep us safe endangering our streets. It’s time for Congress and all of our states to do something about this growing problem.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Three Officers Charged With DWI in Westchester, NY Last Month

Two police officers and one corrections officer employed by Westchester County in New York were charged with DWI last month. Police Officer Joseph Kraus (left) was suspended with pay after allegedly running a red light and crashing into a police cruiser. Officer Jessica Knatz had to be cut out of her demolished patrol car where she suffered facial and back injuries due to the impact of the crash, according to reports. Apparently, Kraus refused a breath test, but admitted to drinking before the crash.

According to reports, police officer Michael Huffman was charged with DWI and two other traffic violations after a rollover crash on December 11th. He was placed on leave by the county until the investigation is complete.  He was allegedly driving his 2010 Volkswagen Jetta, when he crashed into a guardrail and a fence. In addition to DWI, he was charged with speeding and crossing the double yellow line. Huffman sustained minor scrapes, but was awake and conscious when authorities arrived at the scene.

Patricia Yancy-Johnson, a county corrections officer, was accused of drunk driving after hitting an ambulance from behind. It sounds like Westchester has a very big problem on their hands. It's bad when the people who are paid to keep our streets safe are the very ones who are making them unsafe. The truth is that everyone's judgment is impaired after consuming alcohol. It is a drug that alters the minds of police officers, judges, and senators just as it does you or I.  DUI continues to plague society because the government (which sells liquor) doesn't require ignition interlocks on every new car.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Virginia Beach Police Officer Charged With DUI

Virginia Beach Police Officer Stephane Prevot was charged with both DUI and hit and run after striking a mailbox on Saturday morning. According to news reports, a pedestrian was walking her dog when she came upon Prevot stuck in a ditch. He was flinging mud around, trying to free his vehicle. When he finally got free, he hit a mailbox before leaving the scene.

This is the second Virginia Beach police officer to be arrested for DUI recently. Officer Bryan Womble has left the force since being convicted after an incident in June of this year. He was charged with DUI and hit and run. He received a mandatory five days in jail, a twelve month license suspension, a five hundred dollar fine, and he had to enroll in alcohol awareness classes. He was also ordered to use an ignition interlock device for six months.

Womble was a celebrated member of the police department’s Traffic Safety Unit, which is responsible for stopping impaired driving. Womble was the officer who arrested NFL star Bruce Smith for DUI in May, just one month before he, himself was caught. Shouldn’t our government see that we have a serious problem on our hands when the very people who are paid to keep drunk drivers off of our streets are being charged and convicted with DUI? Maybe with our judgment impaired by alcohol, it isn't as easy as it should be to make a driving decision.  Shouldn't ignition interlocks be required to help us make that choice?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fort Worth Police Officer Charged With Intoxication Manslaughter

Jesus Cisneros, a Fort Worth, Texas police officer, is being investigated after a collision in his patrol vehicle that killed a young mother on December 11th. According to reports, Cisneros’ blood alcohol level was .17 at the time of the wreck. That is over two times the legal limit (in Virginia it would be an "aggravated" DUI with a mandatory minimum jail sentence). He was also allegedly traveling at speeds doubling the posted speed limit of 35 mph.  This would constitute a separate Class 1 Misdemeanor in Virginia, reckless driving by speed.

Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead seemed embarrassed at the entire situation. He told the family of the victim that he would do everything in his power to ensure that justice prevails. Cisneros has turned in his resignation, and is no longer working for the police force. He turned himself in on December 21st . He is being charged with intoxication manslaughter. He was released from jail after posting a $25,000 bond. He is not allowed to drink alcohol, leave Tarrant County, or operate any vehicle that doesn’t have an ignition interlock device installed. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

There are two little boys in Forth Worth without a mom now. The ignition interlock device should have been installed in the police vehicle before the crash, and maybe their mom would have made it home safely on that night. The interlock device should be installed on every vehicle sold! It’s an easy way to save lives and keep our streets safer.  We have the technology to stop drunk driving, we simply lack the will and the integrity to do it.

Alcohol is a mind altering drug.  If our government wants to sell us this drug freely, and we can consume it in public so easily, then there should be something to stop us from getting behind the wheel when our judgment is impaired. If even the police officers whose jobs are to keep drunk drivers off of our streets aren't able to control their own drinking and driving, then that shows that we have a huge problem that isn't being solved with the current system that relies primarily on punishing people who have already been caught driving drunk.

Chief Halstead says that he is investigating several other police officers on the force as well. Apparently, Cisneros and several other officers were celebrating a birthday party at a bar the night of the wreck. The chief wants to know why no other officer stepped up and prevented Cisneros from driving. He says that as police officers, they are always held to a certain standard of conduct, even when not on duty. My thinking says that the other officers were probably consuming alcohol as well. Judgment is impaired while drinking, and it shouldn’t be their responsibility to stop a fellow officer from driving after drinking when the government can solve the problem permanently with an ignition interlock.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Allegedly Drunk Mom Leaves Daughter on the Side of the Road

Thirty year old Tara Biller of Fredricksburg is facing DUI charges after allegedly leaving her ten year old daughter in a ditch on the side of the road. According to news reports, a pizza delivery driver alerted officials when she saw a Chevy Taho swerve over to the side of the road. She could see a child beating on the passenger window before exiting the vehicle. Then the car drove away, leaving the little girl out in the cold!

The police tracked down Biller who they said was visibly intoxicated. She was charged with DUI, driving on a suspended license, child endangerment, and refusing a breath test. The police department found the daughter safely sitting in the pizza delivery driver’s car. She was later released to family members, which is where she remains. The child said that her mom’s driving was scaring her.

Kudos to the little girl in this story. She felt as if she was in danger, and she did the right thing by demanding to get out of the car. The delivery driver was in the right place at the right time, and the outcome of this story is a good one… No one was hurt! The Commonwealth of Virginia has been selling liquor to people like Tara Biller and getting millions in their ABC stores. Shouldn’t the state require ignition interlocks on every vehicle before they issue tags for it?

Richmond City Councilman Marty Jewell Pleads No Contest to DUI

Fifth District Councilman Marty Jewell appeared in court yesterday for a DUI charge that occurred early on the morning of October 24th. He pled no contest to the charge. The “no contest” plea in a DUI case means that you are not stating or admitting guilt, but merely admitting that the government has enough evidence to convict you. He received a sentence of ninety days in jail, all of which was suspended. He was also ordered to pay the mandatory minimum $250 fine, and he is to enroll in a state run alcohol education program known as VASAP. His license has been suspended, but he is permitted to drive to and from work, including city council meetings and functions.

The charge came when Jewell was pulled over after attending a party with his son on the night of October 23rd. He was followed by a police officer across the Nickel Bridge, and then pulled over in the Byrd Park area of the city. His blood alcohol level was .11, which is over the .08 limit. He spent what was left of the night in jail.

Councilman Jewell has served the fifth district since 2004. He is also well known in Richmond for owning a popular cleaning service. He apologized to his fifth district constituents as well as the community, saying that he knows he made a mistake, and he will not make the same mistake again in the future.

He urged everyone to take a lesson from his situation. He deserves credit for taking responsibility; let’s hope he uses his experience to let police, judges and probation/VASAP supervisors know what parts of the process work and which parts don’t! Hopefully Councilman Jewell and his family will have a happy holiday season and better luck in the coming year.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Montona Judge Doesn't Learn Lesson: Busted for DUI, then Driving Suspended

Meet Judge Ralph Dukart, who sits on the bench in Miles City, Montana. Notice in his picture that the DUI laws and fines are posted neatly on his bench. This judge was arrested on charges of drunk driving on September 14th. Police records state that the judge was pulled over for driving on the wrong side of the road. He received charges for both DUI and failure to drive in the appropriate lane.

After being released from jail on his own recognizance, Judge Dukart was sentenced on November 13th, after pleading guilty to driving under the influence. He received a ten day jail sentence that was suspended. He was ordered to pay a $585 fine, and his driver’s license was suspended for six months. He was also ordered to enroll in an alcohol assessment and treatment program. It was recommended that after doing so, he receive an occupational driver's license.

Lo and behold, On Friday, November 27th, Judge Dukart was cited once again. This time, the ticket was for driving on a suspended license. He was ordered to appear in court to enter a plea by December 1st. It will be interesting to see how this affects his six month license suspension and the occupational license seemed to be waiting for him after enrolling in treatment.

I also want to know if Judge Dukart will be permitted to hear DUI cases in the future. I'm very curiously waiting to see what the future holds for this judge. He's now seeing life from the other side of the bench...he's seeing life through the eyes of those whose fate was placed in his hands in days past. Hopefully he will treat others as he would want to be treated.