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 From an emotional standpoint, a case where someone is accused driving under the influence and killing another person is one of the toughest.  With the victim, you usually have someone who did not deserve to die.  They are often young, in the prime of their lives.  They are usually also close to the driver.  The victim is often a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or sibling of the accused.  Unfortunately, that person is not available to express forgiveness to the driver.
 
As for the driver, you often have a person who has never been in trouble in his life.  He may be college educated, have a great job, and a loving family.  But for this horrible incident he would have continued to be an upstanding citizen.
 
Recently, a San Jose woman pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter after hitting and killing a 79 year old grandmother.  She is waiting to be sentenced by a Santa Clara County judge.  Her maximum possible sentence is 12 years in the state prison.  In fact, the judge is precluded from granting this woman probation unless he finds “unusual circumstances” where the interests of justice require it.  According to statements, the family of the victim has forgiven the defendant, and believes that the victim would forgive her as well.  Unfortunately, California DUI sentencing law provides somewhat less opportunity for the Court to forgive her. 

As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that, regardless of the outcome, nobody wins in these cases.  Regardless of what side you are on there is nothing but tragedy in these cases.  An innocent victim loses her life, and a contrite survivor is cast into the hell of the California prison system.  

Blog Category:
3/25/2009
Mindy
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During a five-day task force sweep that targeted drunk drivers in Arizona, there were 276 total arrests on suspicion of driving under the influence.  The task force sweep involved 300 officers and deputies from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and at least eight police departments.  Valley police officers made nearly 150 DUI arrest on St. Patrick’s Day, which accounted for close to half of the total arrests during the entire sweep.

The average blood alcohol level for this year’s arrests was .14 percent, which borders on “extreme” DUI of .15.  There were 74 DUI arrests made that fell into this category.

The task force sweep also issued nearly 1,800 traffic citations for speeding, seat-belt violations, and other infractions. There were almost 4,000 initial traffic stops, which is more than twice what it was last year.
 
In Arizona, a DUI conviction can result in jail time, fines and court fees, driver license suspension, vehicle impoundment and a mandatory ignition interlock device.  A DUI conviction is also considered a criminal offense and will go on the driver’s criminal record, which could affect insurance rates, applications for licenses and future employment.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Arizona, you need to contact an experience DUI attorney immediately.  Call 888-DUI-Answer for legal advice today.



Category: General

3/24/2009
Mindy
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At least five arrests were made at three Virginia Beach checkpoints for driving under the influence on St. Patrick’s Day.  Police set up these checkpoints as a way to catch drunk drivers on the roads.

"I view the checkpoints as proactive rather than reactive," Officer J.M. Baker said. "They make people think, maybe there's going to be a checkpoint on the way home, maybe I should drink responsibly."

St. Patrick’s Day, along with July 4th and Labor Day, are some of the biggest days for DUIs, even bigger than New Year’s Eve, according to Sgt. Scott Wichtendahl, who is the head of the Selective Enforcement Team that specializes in DUI and traffic.  The Selective Enforcement Team made eight DUI arrests this St. Patrick’s Day, which was more than New Year’s Eve.

Police officers at the St. Patrick’s Day checkpoints stopped 328 vehicles between 8:00 PM and 1:00 AM.  The DUI checkpoints were set up in the 2400 block of Shore Drive, on General Booth Boulevard and on the I-264 West access ramp on South Independence Boulevard.  Checkpoints are usually set up in areas where there is a high concentration of bars.

During the stop, drivers were asked for their driver’s license and registration and officers were looking for any sign of impairment.  Some drivers were also asked to complete field sobriety tests.  Many of the police officers are experts in identifying drunk drivers based on their behavior.



Category: General

3/23/2009
Mindy
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If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New York, there are some facts you need to know.  In New York, DWI cases can be brought under one of two legal theories – DWI “per se” law, which is solely based on alcohol level, not driving impairment, and common law, where the prosecutor must prove that the defendant was intoxicated.

When it comes to the common law theory, the DWI accusation can be based on the opinion of the arresting officer and does not require a blood alcohol level (BAC) reading.  The arresting officer may conclude that a driver is intoxicated if he or she shows an inability to operate a motor vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver.

A DWI conviction in New York not only may result in a criminal offense, which will go on the driver’s criminal record, it will also cause driving privileges to be suspended.   There are also fines associated with DWI offenses in New York and possible jail time.  The punishment will depend on whether the DWI arrest was for a misdemeanor or felony.  A felony drunk driving conviction can result in time spent in state prison.

If you have been accused of DWI, you should consult with a New York DWI lawyer immediately.  There are drunk driving defenses available and many drivers are wrongfully accused of DWI.  Contact an experienced DWI attorney today at 888-DWI-Answer.com.



Category: General

3/20/2009
Mindy
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George Korpita, a former municipal court judge in Morris County, New Jersey was found guilty March 19, 2009, of his second DWI charge.

Korpita was pulled over last February 15, 2008 for careless driving as his vehicle was swerving in and out of traffic.  He recently admitted to driving drunk and was convicted of his second drunk driving charge, as well as refusing to take a breath test.

Korpita did announce in court that he has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and has been sober for over a year. In light of this information, the judge suspended Korpita’s 45-day jail term ruling and ordered him to go to AA meetings six days a week for two years; however, the former judge will be jailed if he misses any meetings.

The court also suspended Korpita’s driver’s license for two years and fined him $2,000.  In addition, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended Korpita’s license to practice law after he admitted to driving drunk. 

Korpita’s first conviction came after his admittance to driving drunk in Roxbury in 2007 and threatened police who arrested him.  Soon after his arrest, Korpita stepped down from his position in Dover, Rockaway Borough and Victory Gardens.



Category: General

3/19/2009
Mindy
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In light of the recent budget adjustments, Arizona state officials have been forced to cut full time janitor positions and replace them with prisoners in hopes of saving money.  The new plan is controversial, and state officials find themselves on both sides of the idea.

Arizona has experienced a $1.6 billion budget cut this year, and Allen Ecker, spokesman for the Department of Administration stated, “Every other option has been explored, and this is literally the absolute last resort.”

The Department of Administration recently cut 20 full-time custodians and will bring in low-level offenders to clean the bathrooms. The state has already seen a successful program where DUI offenders worked as janitors in the Department of Corrections and Administration building. 

Supporters of this plan confirm that the inmates would be highly supervised, but others argue that it does not make for a safe work environment to have prisoners in the Statehouse.  The proposed plan could also take place at the Senate, House and other buildings at the Capitol.



Category: General

3/18/2009
Mindy
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There are many sobriety field tests (SFTs) that police will use on someone such as repeating the alphabet backwards.  What many people don’t know is that this test among others, are not the standardized tests recommended by NHTSA. 

There are only three scientifically reliable tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (follow the pen with the eyes), the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test. 

Virginia police have been known to make mistakes during a DUI arrest.  For example, in the one-leg stand test an officer should not test people who are 50 pounds overweight or are physically impaired. Also, the SFTs were designed to predict a .10 level or above and the legal BAC limit is currently .08, leaving room for error. Another defense in a DWI case is the reliability of the breath testing machine itself. 

If you have taken one of these field tests, there are many possible defenses available for DUI charges.  An experienced Virginia DUI attorney can help you if you have been wrongfully accused of driving under the influence. 

The article “Is It Possible to Get Out of a DUI or DWI Charge” has more information on this topic.



Category: General

3/17/2009
Mindy
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California police statewide are joining forces this St. Patrick’s Day in the DUI Crackdown Campaign which began Friday, March 13 and will continue through Tuesday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.

Enforcement efforts include DUI patrols, speed belt enforcement, roving DUI patrols and sobriety checkpoints.  The campaign is designed to educate the public about the dangers of driving impaired.  Funding for the campaign was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow has indicated that “safety on the roadways is everyone’s responsibility.  If you are going to be drinking, make sure you have a designated driver.”

On Friday, the Costa Mesa police department conducted a sobriety checkpoint where they stopped 364 vehicles and screened 34 drivers for driving under the influence.  Out of those screened, four were arrested on DUI charges. 

Law enforcement statewide will be staffed and equipped to man sobriety checkpoints with the main hours of operation focused between Tuesday night and into early Wednesday morning.  In the Sacramento area, officers who have been trained in detecting alcohol and drug impaired drivers will be at checkpoints Tuesday night equipped with hand-held breath-testing devices. CHP is cracking down hard, and will be looking to arrest anyone under the influence who is operating a vehicle.

According to CHP, last year on St. Patrick’s Day, 50 people were injured in 110 alcohol involved traffic accidents.  The number of people killed in alcohol involved collisions in California has risen from 1,233 in 2000 to 1,489 in 2007.  Police are hoping that their aggressive campaign and urging the public to call 911 to report a drunk driver will make California roads a safe place this holiday.



Category: General

3/16/2009
Mindy
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Kansas City Chiefs cornerback David Macklin was arrested for drunk driving in Newport News, Virginia on March 13, 2009. 

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller confirmed Macklin was driving a 2005 BMW west on J. Clyde Morris Boulevard and was initially pulled over around 3:30 a.m. Friday morning for illegal window tint. 

Reports indicated that a police officer approached the vehicle and the smell of excessive alcohol was apparent.  The Virginia State trooper proceeded to give Macklin several field sobriety tests, in which he performed poorly.

“Further investigation determined that the driver’s blood alcohol level was in excess of Virginia’s legal limit of .08,” stated trooper JR Street.  Macklin’s blood alcohol test actually showed a level of .11 BAC.

Macklin’s hometown is Newport News, Virginia, where he played basketball and football for Menchville High School.  He went on to play football at Penn State and was drafted into the NFL in 2000.  Last season he played cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs. 

The charges Macklin was arrested for are having illegal window tint and DUI, a first-time misdemeanor offense.  He was held at the Newport News city jail and was released after he posted a $2,500 bond.  His hearing is being held Monday, March 16 at the Newport News General District Court. 

Macklin’s arrest is one of many that has occurred during this St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekend.  Virginia is cracking down on dangerous drivers.  The cities of Richmond, Lynchburg and several surrounding jurisdictions in the state of Virginia have launched campaigns to keep the roads safe this St. Patrick’s Day. Every year, hundreds of people die in alcohol related accidents, and several cities in the sate of Virginia are trying to do their part in decreasing this statistic.



Category: General

3/13/2009
Mindy
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Virginia issues harsh punishments on drivers convicted of DUI.  A first time DUI offense in Virginia could result in a court fine up to $2,500 and a license revocation of one year.  Plus, you will be on probation for one year.  A second DUI offense in Virginia could result in a license suspension for three years and another substantial court fine.  However, the punishment becomes even worse in some circumstances when there is a sentence enhancement.

A sentence enhancement increases the amount of punishment for a DUI conviction.  There are certain factors that lead to sentence enhancements including:

• A child was in the vehicle at the time of suspected DUI
• There was a past offense within 5 to 10 years
• Blood alcohol content (BAC) was higher than .15 percent, almost twice the legal limit
• Property was damaged
• Someone was injured
• The driver was under the age of 21
• A chemical test was refused

Any of these situations could result in a harsher punishment.  Virginia courts hear so many cases each year that the prosecution often puts pressure on the defendants to quickly admit to guilt.  If you have been accused of drunk driving in Virginia, you do not have to promptly admit to being guilty, as there are many DUI defenses available.  You should contact an experienced Virginia DUI attorney immediately following a DUI arrest for expert legal advice.

 



Category: General

3/12/2009
Mindy
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A breath test or blood alcohol test only shows your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the test, which is not necessarily the same as it would have been at the time you were driving.

Breath tests and blood alcohol tests are given at some point after you have been pulled over for suspected drunk driving.  If you have been drinking, your blood alcohol level will rise over time, but that does not mean you were driving drunk.  Your blood alcohol level will reach its highest about one hour after drinking.  When it comes to using the results of a blood alcohol test as evidence of DUI, all it proves is your blood alcohol content at the time the test was taken.  An experienced DUI attorney can show that such a test does not reflect your true BAC when you were driving.  A successful DUI defense can help reduce your charges and get you a lesser punishment.

It is not against the law to have a BAC of 0.08 percent, but it is against the law to drive with that blood alcohol level.  The prosecution will make assumptions and use circumstantial evidence to estimate what your BAC was at the time you were driving.  These assumptions and evidence can and should be challenged.

If you are facing a DUI charge, you need to contact a DUI lawyer to review your case, including the results of your breath test, to build a strong argument on your behalf.  Call 1-888-DUI-ANSWER or 1-888-DWI-ANSWER to speak with an attorney today.



Category: General

3/11/2009
Mindy
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A DUI conviction in Georgia carries severe consequences.  DUI is considered a criminal offense and will therefore go on your criminal record.  That means every time you fill out a job application or apply for some type of license, you will need to disclose that you do in fact have a criminal past. 

The minimum sentences for DUI in Georgia are severe.  Even a first time DUI offense can land in you in jail for 10 days, but your jail sentence could be as long as 12 months.  If you are over the age of 21 and found guilty of drunk driving in Georgia, your first offense will result in a one year license suspension and a fine of up to $1,000.  In some jurisdictions, you will be required to attend a Victim Impact Panel.

If you are found guilty of a second DUI offense within 5 years, you may be given a jail sentence anywhere from 90 days to 1 year.  Your license may be suspended for 3 years and you may have to pay a $1,000 fine.  You will have to complete at least 30 days of community service and the local paper will print your photo with case disposition (and you have to pay $25 for it).

The more DUI convictions you have in Georgia, the worse your penalties become.  A third DUI offense in 5 years will result in a jail sentence of 120 days to 12 months.  Your license may be suspended for 5 years and you could face a fine up to $5,000.

If you are facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you need to contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately.

 



Category: General

3/10/2009
Mindy
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A Hudson County Sheriff’s Officer was charged with a second DWI offense, which caused her suspension.  Sheriff’s Officer Aleisha Cruz was arrested on a drunk driving charge after being involved in a crash.

Cruz has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the police investigation into her arrest early Sunday morning on March 1, 2009.  She was involved in an accident near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel and she was arrested because of her behavior after she refused to take a breathalyzer test, according to officials.

Almost three years ago, Cruz had pleaded guilty to drunk driving and refusing to submit to a breath test in connection to a July 2005 incident in Lyndhurst.  During that incident, Cruz became extremely upset when her date informed her that he wasn’t going to spend the night with her.  She was so angry that she drove her 2005 Ford Explorer into this vehicle, police said.  When her date got out of his car to try to calm her down, she hit him with the SUV, but according to police, he was not seriously injured.

After the July 2005 incident, Cruz entered a pre-trial intervention program and the charges of aggravated assault and assault with an automobile were to be dropped, as long as she stayed out of trouble for 18 months.

Cruz has not been allowed to carry a gun and has been assigned duties that can be completed by an unarmed officer.

 



Category: General

3/9/2009
Mindy
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If you are a diabetic and have been pulled over for suspected DUI in Virginia, there is a good chance that you will be arrested, even if you haven’t been drinking alcohol.  Drivers who have diabetes and suffer from hypoglycemia are often mistakenly accused of being intoxicated.  Some of the symptoms associated with hypoglycemia are similar to those linked to intoxication, including slurred speech, impaired motor skills, poor balance and drowsiness.  A diabetic may also stagger as a result of hypoglycemia.

Drivers who have diabetes and are experiencing hypoglycemia, which refers to low blood sugar levels, frequently fail the standard field sobriety tests in Virginia.  A breath test used to measure blood alcohol content may give a false reading for a diabetic.  When someone who has diabetes has developed hypoglycemia, there can be acetone in their mouth, which can also be smelled on the breath.  A breathalyzer will often mistake the acetone for ethyl alcohol that is found in alcoholic beverages.  As a result, the diabetic’s BAC reading will be high, although they haven’t been consuming alcohol.

An experienced Virginia DUI attorney can help you if you have been wrongfully accused of driving under the influence.  You should not be punished for DUI when a preexisting health condition, such as diabetes, caused you to fail the field sobriety tests and give a false BAC reading.

The article, “Diabetes Can Give an Inaccurate BAC Reading,” has more information on this topic.



Category: General

3/6/2009
Mindy
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You can’t always rely on the results from a breath test to prove DUI.  There are too many factors that affect the readings given from breathalyzers in Virginia.  Prosecutors often use BAC readings as their main argument against a DUI defendant, but an experienced Virginia DUI attorney knows when these tests are inaccurate.

Breath testing equipment is frequently used when a police officer pulls over a suspect for DUI.  These devices are used to measure the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the driver, by utilizing a ratio to convert the alcohol in the breath to alcohol in the blood.  The first potential problem with breathalyzers is that it is automatically assumes that this ratio will be the same from person to person. 

If you have been arrested for DUI in Virginia and your BAC was above the legal limit, you need to have an expert review your case.  The various factors that can skew the results of breath tests are endless.  Radio frequency from a police officer’s radio or a nearby airport can affect your breath test results.  Mouth alcohol can throw off the reading, especially if you wear dentures.  Other chemicals are often mistaken for ethanol, which is found in alcoholic drinks.  Even certain medical conditions, such as diabetes can give false results from breathalyzers.

Don’t let your Virginia DUI conviction be based on the results from a breath test, without first looking into other possible causes that could have altered your BAC reading.  Talk with an experienced DUI attorney today by calling 888-DUI-ANSWER.

 



Category: General

3/5/2009
Mindy
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Dawn D. Barber, a high-ranking Newport News police official admitted that she was driving drunk on Interstate 64 in Hampton last summer, but she is now appealing her conviction.

Barber is a former assistant police chief who was demoted to captain following her DUI conviction in Virginia and is actively trying to appeal her DUI case.

On August 16, 2008, Barber was pulled over at approximately 9:40 PM after a Virginia State Police Trooper said she was weaving in traffic and almost hit another vehicle on I-64 near North King Street.

Barber told the trooper that she drank a “Texas-size” margarita at a restaurant about 30 minutes prior to being pulled over.  According to the state trooper, Barber did not do well on sobriety tests and a breath test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.12 percent.

In an article posted on the Dailypress.com, Barber was quoted as saying, “of course I regret it.  I take full responsibility.”  She made this comment after being found guilty at a hearing in Hampton General District Court in November.

Barber’s appeal is being heard in Hampton Circuit Court.  In her appeal, she contends that her case should have been dismissed because a judge would not accept a legal maneuver that would have given her the opportunity for a lesser conviction of reckless driving instead of DUI.  According to Barber’s attorney, the judge was required under state law to accept the plea.

The Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is requesting a jury trial in Barber’s case and has stated that the judge did nothing wrong.

Barber’s motion for dismissal is scheduled for April 13 and her trial is supposed to start May 26.



Category: General

3/4/2009
Mindy
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If Governor M. Jodi Rell’s proposal passes, Connecticut casinos will be allowed to have a 24-hour bar.  Governor Rell and Republican lawmakers have made this proposal in the hope of stimulating the economy and to bring more money to Connecticut.

Currently, Connecticut has a potential $1.35 billion deficit and this proposal could produce around $5 million every year for the state.

However, democrats are opposed to this plan for many reasons, including the risks to drivers, passengers and pedestrians.  Many believe that Connecticut would have to spend extra money on DUI enforcement and roadblocks, since there could potentially be many more drunk drivers on the roads.  The proposal was not unusual, as Nevada and New Jersey already allow casinos to serve alcohol around the clock.

There is a fear that if this plan passes, there would be more drunk driving accidents in Connecticut.  The body burns off alcohol at approximately .016 BAC per hour, which is usually equivalent to one drink.  People who are consistently drinking are generally not pacing themselves that way.  Drinking and gambling at all hours of the night and morning could cause more people to get behind the wheel drunk in Connecticut.

According to an article posted on Dailycampus.com, a bar that is not open 24 hours, does not necessarily deter people from drinking, as many people have liquor hidden away somewhere.

Those in agreement with Governor Rell’s plan believe that casinos with 24-hour bars can help the economy, but the casino should take measures to prohibit late night drinkers from driving.



Category: General

3/3/2009
Mindy
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Every year, college students are caught drinking and driving and often found guilty of DUI in California.  Just like the rest of the states, California has a set minimum legal drinking age of 21.  If you are under the age of 21 and caught drinking alcohol, it can be considered a crime.

When it comes to California DUI law html, there is very little leniency if you are found drinking and driving and are under the age of 21.  According to California drunk driving law, anyone who is under 21 years of age is not allowed to drive if they have a blood alcohol concentration of .01 or above.  That blood alcohol concentration could be as little as one beer.  So, if you are under 21 and pulled over for DUI in California, even just a small amount of alcohol in your system could get you a DUI conviction.

DUI carries significant penalties in California and since it is generally considered a misdemeanor, it could go on your criminal record.  Penalties for a DUI conviction in California include a license revocation, possible jail time, a significant fine and attendance at DUI school.  A DUI offense could also affect your future employment, as job applications usually ask about criminal records, plus your insurance rates will go up. 

If you are facing a DUI conviction in California, you need to contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately.  Call 888-DUI-ANSWER today.



Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

3/2/2009
Mindy
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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could fool breath testing devices when pulled over for a suspected DUI?  An email has been widely forwarded that basically claims that sucking on a penny or a breath mint will help a suspected drunk driver defeat a breath test.  However, this claim is false.

Many people have made the assertion that various substances or objects placed in the mouth can improve the reading on a breathalyzer test.  Some of these items include pennies, Listerine Breath Strips, Icebreakers gum, Binaca spray, Certs, Tic Tacs and Clorets. 

People have claimed that a mouthful of pennies could negate the test because of the presumed copper content.  Pennies held in the mouth in no way lowers the BAC reading on a breath test.  Mints and gum can help cover the scent of alcohol on the breath, which could help if a police officer has pulled you over, but it will not change your BAC results from a breathalyzer.

According to Snopes.com, a man actually tried the penny trick, but it did not work.  When an East Hampton man was pulled over for drunk driving, the police officer found that he was sucking on a penny.  The driver had a slurred speech and couldn’t stand up straight.  He failed all of the standard sobriety tests.

Breath testing equipment uses a ratio when converting alcohol in the breath to alcohol in the blood.  In most states, if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or above, you will be considered to be driving under the influence (or driving while intoxicated).



Category: General

2/27/2009
Mindy
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A 41-year-old man from Halifax was recently charged with DUI (driving under the influence), after he hit a Halifax County school bus.  He has also been charged with hit-and-run.

Virginia State Trooper K.R. Martin charged Glenn H. Spell of Chatham Road following the accident.  Spell sideswiped a school bus operated by Willie Francis Jr., 43, of South Boston.  The bus only sustained minor damages, including a black streak along the side of the vehicle.  However, Spell did not stop after hitting the school bus, but later returned to the scene of the crash on Thompson Store Road where he had struck the bus at 4:40 AM.

There was no significant damage and no one was hurt in the accident, but school transportation officials still responded to the call from the bus driver.  When the school transportation officials arrived to the accident scene, Spell had already returned, but left again when state police were called.  Spell was later identified as the driver and was charged with DUI and hit-and-run.

In Virginia, the consequences for DUI are severe.  A first time DUI offense can result in a court fine of up to $2,500 and a jail sentence.  A DUI conviction will go on your criminal record and could affect your insurance premium, future employment and your family’s wellbeing.  Virginia courts hear so many DUI cases, that they frequently encourage DUI defendants to quickly admit to guilt.  If you are facing a DUI charge in Virginia, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately.



Category: General

2/26/2009
Mindy
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State troopers from the Georgia State Patrol’s Colquitt post and Sheriff’s deputies set up a DUI checkpoint at the intersection of Georgia 262 North and Georgia 97 North near the Vada community.

According to GSP Cpl. Kyle Duke, two vehicles, a passenger car and a SUV, started to approach officers before turning around.  This action caused suspicion and the two vehicles were stopped.  As a state trooper searched the SUV, he found several small plastic bags filled with suspected marijuana.  The SUV’s driver, Violet Argo, 40, of Douglasville, Georgia, was arrested for possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute and also for driving under the influence of drugs.  Her passenger, Ricky Lee Maxwell, 45, of Atlanta, Georgia, was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Belinda Suzette Stewart, 47, of Brainbridge, was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, driving under the influence of drugs in Georgia and having an expired vehicle tag.

Captain Chip Nix of the Sheriff’s Office went to a house on Swindell Road in connection with the same incident.  Nix conducted a probable-cause search and found additional marijuana, which resulted in another man’s arrest for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

According to Decatur County Jail records and the Georgia State Patrol, there have been a slightly higher than usual number of drug-related arrests made by local law enforcement over the past two weeks.

A conviction for driving under the influence of drugs in Georgia can carry significant consequences, including a loss of license, higher insurance rates, mandatory ignition interlock, travel limitations, and possibly jail time.

 



Category: General

2/25/2009
Mindy
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On a NBA telecast on TNT, Charles Barkley, a former Phoenix Suns star, apologized for his DUI arrest in Arizona.  Barkley said that he will never get behind the wheel when he’s drunk and encouraged other people to do the same.

Barkley went on to say in the on-air apology that he embarrassed everyone in his life and was sorry for doing that.  He said that many people stopped him on the street and told him that even though he messed up, he should keep moving forward with his life.  Barkley also said that he appreciates his bosses at TNT, as they offered support during his situation.  Following the arrest, Barkley had taken a leave of absence as a NBA commentator with TNT Sports.

Barkley was arrested on December 31, 2008 after he was pulled over in Old Town Scottsdale.  At the time of the arrest, he was driving his wife’s SUV and had a blood-alcohol content of .149 percent, which is nearly twice the legal limit of .08 percent under Arizona law.  He was arrested, cited and released on suspicion of two counts of misdemeanor DUI in Arizona.

According to a police report, Barkley informed police that he had driven 30 seconds and was in a hurry to pick up a woman.  He was stopped by an officer after he was spotted rolling through a stop sign at 75th Street and Sixth Avenue.

Barkley admitted to drinking vodka with some friends at the Dirty Pretty bar.  He did not perform well during the field sobriety test and would not take a portable breathalyzer test, but did agree to a blood test.

Barkley was sentenced with 10 days in jail and a fine of $2,000 by a Scottsdale, Arizona judge.  If he completes a court-approved alcohol program, his jail sentence will be reduced to 5 days.



Category: General

2/24/2009
Mindy
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Stephen Goodfriend was appointed as the new coordinator for Madison County’s STOP DWI program.

STOP DWI, which stands for Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated (D.W.I.), was developed by New York State government on July 31, 1981. According to Madison County’s website, “this law became effective on November 28, 1981 and provided for the return of fine monies for drinking and driving violations to the counties in which they occurred, provided that those counties established a ‘STOP-DWI’ program.” The mission of the STOP-DWI program is to "provide a plan for coordination of county, town, city, and village efforts to reduce alcohol-related traffic injuries and fatalities."

As the STOP DWI coordinator for Madison County, Goodfriend is charged with the tasks of analyzing DWI statistics and assisting local law enforcement with DWI-related issues, which may include training sessions or purchasing new breathalyzers.  In addition, he is involved in local education, including Students Against Destructive Decisions programs and the Victims’ Impact Panel.

Madison County’s STOP DWI Program also helps fund a DWI patrol, helps fund an Assistant District Attorney who prosecutes misdemeanor DWI arrests in Madison County, provides funds for community awareness and education presentations and assists with the purchase, repair and caliberation of equipment used in DWI enforcement.

Approximately $145,000 to $170,000 in DWI arrest-related fines collected in Madison County goes back into STOP DWI initiatives, which Goodfriend said is something unique to New York.

Goodfriend said that DWI arrest in Madison County is typically hard for an officer to make.



Category: General

2/23/2009
Mindy
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If you have been arrested for DUI in Virginia, chances are you will be charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony.  Even though both are considered criminal charges, a misdemeanor carries a lesser punishment.

A DUI conviction that is classified as a misdemeanor in Virginia may still carry a short jail sentence and fine, but the punishment is far less severe than a felony offense. If your DUI conviction is tried as a felony, you could be facing a state prison term of more than a year, in addition to a fine, license revocation and other consequences.

Every state is different in regards to how DUI convictions are classified.  In Virginia, a DUI offense is a misdemeanor unless it is the third offense within ten years.  A third DUI offense will be prosecuted as a Class 6 felony.  A fourth DUI offense will require mandatory time in jail of one year.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is particularly tough on convicted drunk drivers.  The section of the Virginia Code that addresses DUI is over 40 pages in length.  Even a first time DUI offense in Virginia can result in jail time, a fine of up to $2,500, a license revocation of one year and mandatory attendance of a DUI educational program provided by the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP).  If you are given a sentence enhancement, you could be facing an even worse punishment.

The article, When is DUI a Felony Offense, has more information regarding when DUI is charged as a felony versus a misdemeanor.



Category: General

2/20/2009
Mindy
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On January 30, 2009, two vehicles were totaled and two men injured following an accident on Rt. 621 in Warsaw.  The crash occurred at approximately 9:00 PM on Chestnut Hill Road when a BMW sedan and pickup truck struck head on.

According to Virginia State Trooper Jene Brooks, who was in charge of the crash scene initially, the two men sustained minor injuries and refused medical treatment.  The men were released.

At the time of the crash, Franklin Taylor of Caret was driving a 1991 BMW 525i and Sherland Balderson of Warsaw was driving a 1988 Ford F-150 pickup truck.  The accident was described as an “angled impact” between the BMW and Ford F-150, according to Brooks.

“It appears that the BMW rode the guard rail and then popped off veering into the other vehicle,” said Brooks.

Following the crash, Taylor was charged with DUI and arrested, according to Virginia State Trooper Joseph Benson.  Benson was the one who finished the accident report for the state police.  There have been no other charges filed in connection with the accident.

Taylor was arraigned on February 6 in Richmond County General District Court.  His hearing is set for May 1, 2009 at 9:00 AM.

Virginia has extremely strict laws when it comes to DUI convictions.  First-time DUI offenders may be fined as much as $2500 in Virginia.  If you are facing a DUI charge in Virginia, you should contact an experienced DUI attorney who can review your case and help you with your defense.



Category: General

2/19/2009
Mindy
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Superior Court Judge E. Curtissa Cofield has been suspended for 240 days from the bench, following her DUI arrest in October. 

Connecticut’s Judicial Review decided to suspend Cofield for 240 days instead of issuing a one-year suspension or recommending that she be removed by the Connecticut Supreme Court.  Before this decision was made, legislators had considered action to remove her from the bench.

Cofield was arrested in Glastonbury for driving drunk.  The night of her arrest, she had sideswiped a state police car, which was occupied by a trooper and parked in a construction zone.

When Cofield was taken to Glastonbury police headquarters, she became uncooperative and started using racist language against police officers.  Cofield especially targeted state police Sgt. Dwight Washington, who is black.  The event was videotaped by police.  Even though her blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit in Connecticut, she lied about drinking. 

Cofield became the first black female judge in Connecticut in 1991.  She is now 60 years-old.  Many of Cofield’s supporters attended the council’s hearing.

Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, said the initial reaction of legislators was that the suspension was sufficiently severe.  However, he did say that he doesn’t think Cofield should be assigned to criminal cases in the future.  “Her ability to appear as impartial in a criminal case has been destroyed,” said Lawlor.

Some people are upset by the 240 day suspension, as they feel that the punishment is not harsh enough.  A staff member with the Connecticut Post wrote, “Her continued presence as a judge will undermine the integrity of the judicial system and invite comparisons of the penalties that face judges who break the law and the penalties that face other defendants.”



Category: General