David Baker, the Alexandria Virginia Police Chief was arrested on July 25, 2009 for DWI with a reported blood alcohol level of .19. Chief Baker was involved in an automobile accident that sent at least one person to the hospital. Chief Baker was placed on paid leave. This accident and arrest occurred in Arlington. Chief Baker was in an Alexandria police department vehicle.
A ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court means that you don’t have to actually be driving to be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Connecticut. The Supreme Court’s ruling, which was 5-0 in the case of Michael Cyr, showed that drunk drivers do not have to be driving their cars to be charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Michael Cyr had been arrested in Manchester in February 2005 after he was found in a parking lot near a bar. Cyr had started his vehicle remotely and then sat in the driver’s seat intoxicated. However, he never put the key in the ignition and did not drive anywhere.
The Appellate Court had thrown out Cyr’s conviction, but Supreme Court Justices have ordered to court to reinstate it and send the case back to Manchester Superior Court for sentencing.
Cyr, a 50-year-old Andover resident, faces a jail sentence of up to one year followed by a three year probation period. This DUI offense would make it Cyr’s third DUI conviction, as he had prior convictions in 1997 and 1998.
According to Chief Justice Chase Rogers, “In starting the engine of his vehicle remotely then getting behind the steering wheel, the defendant clearly undertook the first act in a sequence of steps necessary to set in motion the motive power of a vehicle.”
The phrase, “motive power,” comes from a 1939 Connecticut court decision, which defined what constitutes “operating” a motor vehicle.
Cyr’s case is one in many that have raised questions concerning the definition of operating a motor vehicle under Connecticut’s drunk driving laws.
Earlier in March, Richmond, Virginia DUI defense attorney Bob Battle cast doubt regarding the accuracy of Fairfax County’s breath testing machines. According to Mr. Battle, one of the machines used by the county, the 10-year-old Intoxilyzer 5000, has significant weaknesses. Police officers and courts often use the results of this machine to convict a driver of driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia.
Bob Battle was representing a driver accused of DUI, when he discovered the weakness in the Intoxilyzer 5000. According to Mr. Battle, when he received the records of the machine, he found out that one of the motors had been replaced. After further investigation, he discovered that Virginia had purchased a number of replacement motors from various companies and that they couldn’t even tell you what motor was in the machine. Without knowing the details of the replaced motors, the entire Intoxilyzer 5000 can be inaccurate.
The Fairfax County, Virginia General District Court judge presiding over the case agreed to allow experts to test the accuracy of the breath machine. However, the prosecution wanted to avoid the testing and offered to reduce the DUI charge to reckless driving, which allowed the motorist to keep his license. The deal offered by the prosecution was too good to turn down, but Mr. Battle believes that the breath machine will be tested one day.
"I sincerely believe it's going to be like that scene from the Wizard of Oz. Once they roll back that curtain, they're going to find that this machine is not the perfect machine they try make it out to be -- that this is an outdated contraption. That's why Virginia, when they contracted for the new replacement machines, one of the conditions was that it couldn't have this type of motor in it," said Mr. Battle.
You do not have to be driving drunk to be arrested for DWI or DUI. Drivers are frequently accused of driving under the influence, when in fact, they were never drunk. Even if you have only had a couple of drinks, you can be arrested for drunk driving if you are pulled over by a police officer.
A police officer has to have a justifiable reason to pull you over for suspected drunk driving. However, it is not difficult for them to find an excuse, but they usually only focus on the vehicles with obvious violations. For example, if you are speeding, run a red light or roll through a stop sign, chances are that you will be pulled over by a police officer. You should also be aware that if you have had a prior DUI or DWI conviction and are driving around late at night, police officers will be looking for a reason to pull you over. Police officers are known to spend a lot of time reading license plate numbers by inputting them into a central database. A prior DWI or DUI conviction will show up for the registered driver of the vehicle.
The time of day that you are on the road can also make the difference as to whether or not you will be stopped for DUI or DWI. Police officers will be looking for drunk drivers during regular bar hours and during special events, such as festivals and sporting events. Try to avoid areas that are highly concentrated with bars and nightclubs, which will reduce your odds of being pulled over for drunk driving.
The article, What to Expect During a DUI or DWI Stop, has more information about this topic.
Mildred “Millie” Jenkins, a local Mothers Against Drunk Driving volunteer, continues to be at odds with the way Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian M. Madden’s office prosecutes DUI (driving under the influence) cases.
Jenkins cited four recent DUI cases in the county, voicing concern that a blood-alcohol certificate was not entered for the defendants, during a March 5th story in the Northern Virginia Daily. The certificate would have triggered mandatory jail time and a mandatory ignition interlock device on their vehicles. An ignition interlock device will not allow the engine to start if a driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.02 percent or above.
Madden responded to Jenkins’ comments in a March 6th e-mail and press release. He stated that Jenkins had a dual standard when it comes to the prosecution of DUI cases. Madden cited a case involving Lauren Peterson Cummings who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 percent, more than double the legal limit in Virginia, in his response to Jenkins. He said that Jenkins had asked for clemency for Cummings because she wanted to volunteer with MADD. However, the prosecution did not agree to Jenkins’ request.
According to court documents, Cummings pleaded guilty to DUI and was given a 60-day jail sentence, with all but four days suspended. Her blood-alcohol certificate was not entered. Madden commented that, “no one recalls Ms. Jenkins objecting to this result.”
Jenkins has adamantly denied that she asked anyone to give Cummings a break.
Madden stated in his press release that Jenkins should have come to him or a General District judge before taking her concerns to the newspaper.