Drivers in Arizona who are convicted with driving under the influence (DUI) charges for the first time will receive a “slightly gentler” sentence, starting January 1st next year.
A new state law set to take effect when the New Year comes in will reduce the amount of time that first-time offenders are required to have an ignition-interlock device on their vehicles, from one year to six months.
Interlock devices prevent vehicles from turning on if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath. Arizona is known as among the toughest states when it comes to DUI laws, as it is one of only 15 that require first-time offenders to have interlock devices.
The length of time that an interlock device is used varies by state, and with the reduction, Arizona joins the ranks of Oregon, New Jersey, and Missouri, which require interlock devices for a period of six months.
The change was proposed early this year by Sen. Linda Gray of Glendale, who said that while she still believes in requiring interlock devices, she thinks that six months is long enough to teach a lesson.
The Arizona Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), however, opposed the change to the law. Since Arizona required first-time offenders to have interlock devices, the number of DUI fatalities has decreased, and MADD Arizona program specialist Kelley Dupps said that they will be monitoring whether the new law will cause an increase in the number of DUI fatalities.
Dupps said: “We definitely feel the interlock law has made a huge difference in the DUI fatalities in Arizona… Interlocks allow offenders to get back on the road and drive safely while the community can rest assured that they are driving safely.”
If you’ve been charged with DUI in Arizona, it’s very important that you contact an Arizona DUI lawyer to discuss your legal situation.
After a bit of a rocky start, law enforcement officials and prosecutors around the state say they’re now running into few problems with Wyoming’s new mandatory DUI (driving under the influence) testing law.
Since July 1, police officers have been able to get a judicial warrant requiring motorists pulled over for suspected alcohol or drug use to take a breath, blood or urine test. Prosecutors say the change has helped them win cases against drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders who know how to beat the system.
Civil liberties advocates have worried about officers restraining uncooperative suspects by force to take a blood-alcohol test, and some judges question the constitutionality of requesting a warrant by phone.
Police and prosecutors say it’s still too early to pass final judgment on the new law.
But in the past few months, police officials in many counties say that as more people learn about the law, most suspects now yield to testing without force. Judges, too, say they’re becoming more comfortable with the legality of the law, even if they may still be annoyed by late-night phone calls from an officer seeking a warrant.
“The general consensus is that it’s going well,” said Eric Phillips, Wyoming’s traffic safety resource prosecutor. “A lot of the anticipated worries haven’t come to fruition.”
Within the first two months of the new law being enforced, police in at least 16 Wyoming counties received warrants for DUI testing, a Casper Star-Tribune survey found.
In four counties, at least one suspect continued to refuse, leading officers to conduct blood tests by force.
On July 31. Cheyenne police received a warrant to test a 24-year-old man who was pulled over after reportedly driving erratically. When he still resisted, he was taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, where five Cheyenne police officers held him down while a blood draw was conducted.
But in the past four months, no such incidents have taken place in Laramie County, said Laramie County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Gerry Luce.
“What we’ve seen here in the last three months is the trend has been extremely downward, if you will,” Luce said. “From our perspective, people understand that they’re required to comply with the law.”
Law enforcement agencies in other counties have also overcome initial difficulties.
For years, the Converse County Sheriff’s Office has taken DUI suspects to Memorial Hospital in Douglas for blood tests.
But when the new mandatory DUI law first took effect, the hospital refused to test people against their will, out of concern that unruly suspects would disrupt hospital operations.
For the past couple of months, though, the hospital has reached an arrangement with the sheriff’s department to send a nurse to the department’s detention facility to draw blood whenever a suspect is unwilling.
“It’s working very well,” Memorial Hospital Chief Nursing Officer George Rudloff said.
Before the law took effect, Natrona County Circuit Judge Michael Huber voiced concerns about whether the Wyoming Constitution allows police to obtain a warrant over the phone. But Huber said in a late August interview that he now believes such actions are constitutional.
The main drawback, Huber said, is the annoyance of judges getting warrant requests in the middle of the night. That, he said, could both overwork some judges and deter attorneys from applying to become judges in the future.
“Anybody that says it’s not an issue, just frankly, between you and me, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said.
While incidents like the Cheyenne arrest get headlines, law enforcement officials around the state emphasized that in the vast majority of cases, DUI suspects consent peacefully to a test — especially after they’re told that it’s mandatory.
The DUI test requirement was passed by state legislators earlier this year with the argument that repeat offenders with high blood-alcohol levels refused to be tested, knowing that refusal would make it harder to convict them at trial.
While there are no statistics showing if DUI conviction rates have increased, Phillips said a number of prosecutors around the state have said anecdotally that it’s made their job easier to win DUI cases.
Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen said that’s been true in his case.
“I think it’s helped across the board, but particularly with repeat offenders who try to game the system and play games with field sobriety maneuvers,” he said.
Blonigen said requiring tests also will help police identify people driving after using drugs.
“I think we’re going to find a lot more involvement with controlled substances and stuff than perhaps we previously recognized,” he said.
Both Phillips and Blonigen said they had expected a legal challenge to mandatory DUI testing, but neither has heard of any such lawsuit being filed so far.
Some counties are still working out the details of how to enforce the new law. Converse County Sheriff Clint Becker said his department is debating whether to purchase a strap-down table to restrain physically resistant suspects for blood tests.
Some counties, including Natrona, don’t bother to administer a DUI test by force. Instead, they charge the suspect with interference.
Debbie Taylor of Wyoming MADD said she would like to see the Legislature establish a uniform statewide policy for how police should administer DUI tests to unwilling suspects and enact harsher penalties for those who don’t consent to a test.
But Taylor said there are no immediate plans to push for such measures, especially as it can be tough to get state lawmakers to pass stricter impaired-driving laws.
“A lot of legislators feel that it is taking away from the general public’s rights, and so they don’t like to add more laws to the books,” she said.
California’s DUI deaths last year reached their lowest level since 1952, and they went through the largest annual decrease in 14 years, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A total of 791 people were killed in DUI crashes on California roadways last year, compared with 950 in 2009. There were 792 deaths in 1952, but data was recorded differently then.
Safety officials credit a record number of DUI checkpoints conducted in 2010 as partly responsible for the sharp reduction in DUI deaths. The Office of Traffic Safety allocated $16.8 million in federal funds to law enforcement agencies to conduct 2,553 DUI checkpoints in 2010, up from the $11.7 million allocated to 1,740 checkpoints in 2009.
According to federal officials, checkpoints have provided the most effective results of any of the DUI enforcement strategies, and 88 percent of Californians surveyed report they support the use of checkpoints.
Other factors at work: Mothers Against Drunk Driving has campaigned for harsher laws since its inception in 1980; Caltrans runs messages on electronic freeway signs urging motorists to call 911; and Alameda County is one of four counties in the state with a pilot program requiring DUI offenders to fit their cars with interlock ignitions so they can’t drink and drive.
Transit agencies across the state also offer free rides to passengers on New Year’s Eve, and AAA offers free rides home for those who have had too much to drink. TV and radio commercials promoting designated drivers are common this time of year.
DUI deaths in California increased yearly from 1998 to 2005, but have decreased every year since 2005.
On Friday, California will start its annual holiday DUI crackdown, coinciding with the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
Nationwide deaths in crashes involving drunken drivers dropped 4.9 percent in 2010, taking 10,228 lives compared with 10,759 in 2009. But they dropped 14 percent in California.
“This marks a huge milestone in the fight against drunk driving,” said California Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher Murphy. “While we are elated by these figures, there were still 791 lives, futures and dreams that will never be fully realized. We cannot back off from our ultimate goal — toward zero deaths.”
While drinking and driving should never be condoned, not every arrest is actually legal. For this fact alone, you should immediately contact a California DUI attorney if you have been charged with drunk driving or a related crime.
A tougher DUI law goes into effect Monday. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol launched a public service campaign to tell people about it.
Anyone with a onetime DUI, who blows a .15, must have an interlock device in their car for 18 months. For a second offense, if they just blow the legal limit of .08, they’ll have to have the device for four years.
Legislators hope it’s a costly and inconvenient deterrent.
“You have to blow into it to start the car and periodically while you’re driving, you still have to blow in it to prove you’re not drinking while driving,” said Officer Craig Murray, Tulsa Police Department.
Offenders must pay for the device, not taxpayers. The CDC says interlocks have decreased repeat drunk driving offenses by nearly 70 percent.
Actor Ryan Merriman — known for his roles on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and Disney Channel’s Smart House — was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence on Sunday, E! News reports.
The 28-year-old was pulled over for a routine traffic violation when “officers observed symptoms that he had been drinking and driving,” according to Kathy Lowe, spokeswoman for the Newport Beach Police Department.
“They performed a field sobriety test which he then failed,” Lowe said.
Merriman was booked at a nearby police station on DUI charges. His bail was set at $2,500, though it’s unclear if it has been posted.
Merriman’s other film credits include Final Destination 3, The Ring Two, Halloween: Resurrection and The Luck of the Irish.
Issaquah police officers plan to join a regional push to pull drunken drivers from local roads as summer comes to a close.
The agency is joining other police departments in King County — and more than 10,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide — from Aug. 19 to Sept. 5 in the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed campaign.
Beneath the clever title is a serious message about the impacts of drunken driving and driving under the influence. DUI crashes claimed 38 people on King County roads last year.
During the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed campaign last year, officers on routine and extra patrols arrested 438 people for DUI. Overall, prosecutors charged 9,521 people countywide for DUI last year.
Besides the Issaquah Police Department, the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed campaign includes the nearby Bellevue, Newcastle, North Bend, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and Renton police departments, in addition to the Washington State Patrol.
The effort is organized and supported under the aegis of the King County Target Zero Task Force, a regional effort to crack down on unsafe driving practices.
“This summer, we have unfortunately seen the tragic consequences of DUI crashes in our communities,” Kirkland Police Sgt. Lisa Brouelette said in a statement. “We are here to get unsafe drivers off the road and encourage you to plan for a sober ride home before going out.”
In addition, a state law — nicknamed Hailey’s Law — to require the towing of vehicles driven by drivers arrested for DUI went into effect last month.
The law, a state patrol priority during the 2011 legislative session, sets a 12-hour mandatory hold on such vehicles. The measure is intended to prevent impaired drivers from returning to vehicles and driving again.
Only a registered or legal owner not in the car at the time of arrest is allowed to pick up the car out of impound before the 12-hour hold expires.
The measure is nicknamed for Hailey French, a woman severely injured after a drunken driver hit her in a head-on crash along the Mount Baker Highway in January 2007.
Police had arrested the drunken driver, Janine Parker, hours earlier, but did not book her into jail or impound her vehicle.
“This new law helps eliminate the danger of drunk drivers getting back into their cars and putting everyone at risk,” Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director Lowell Porter said in a statement. “Now, all drunk drivers face the costs of towing and impound in addition to jail time, losing their driver’s license and the high cost of a DUI.”
From Thursday through Labor Day, law officers on both sides of the Kansas state line will target DUI offenders in an operation that authorities announced today.
Police from several agencies delivered the message today at a Kansas City, Kan., parking lot. They stood in front of a 26-foot trailer used to quickly set up checkpoints, which they promised would get plenty of use.
Federal grants pay states for police overtime for the enforcement efforts and the states distribute money to police. Police said that will let them go out in record numbers nationwide.
The Kansas Department of Transportation provided the trailer that police agencies can use, and Mission police have it now.
Mission Police Chief John Simmons said area police will use both DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols looking for drunken drivers and other offenders.
That van has lights to illuminate the surrounding area and holds cones and other equipment to quickly set up a checkpoint. DUI suspects will be breath tested at an adjacent trailer, police said.
Enforcement efforts are likely to be most intense from Wednesday through Saturday, they said.
Police also will stress personal responsibility, Simmons said.
“We want to ask people to think before they drive,” he said. “If they’re hosting a party, how are they going to get their guests home safely?”
The law’s constant battle against DUI is special, police say, because impaired driving kills almost 12,000 people a year.
Jill Kenney, an assistant Johnson County prosecutor and chief of the traffic unit there, said the state passed new laws this year that increase the penalty for DUI convictions.
Minimum fines for first-time DUIs increased from $500 to $750, she said, and police now have three hours instead of two to get blood, urine or breath tests.
Offenders face two days in jail and must have licenses suspended for a minimum of 30 days and then pay to get ignition interlocks, she said.
An off duty Secret Service agent was arrested for drunk driving early Saturday morning in Decorah, IA two days prior to President Barack Obama’s visit there.
Decorah Police Chief Bill Nixon says Secret Service agent Daniel V., 40, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. A copy of the criminal complaint with more details about Daniel’s arrest was not available because a local attorney in Decorah, Karl Knudson, currently has possession of it. Knudson was not available for comment at his law office this afternoon.
Secret Service spokesman, George Ogilvee confirms Daniel is a special agent with the Secret Service and says the matter has been turned over to the agency’s Office of Professional Responisiblity for an internal investigation. Ogilvee would not say if Daniel V. continued to work with the president’s security team in Iowa after his arrest on Saturday, August 13. “We’re not going to talk about where he is,” Ogilvee said.
President Obama held a town hall meeting in Decorah, Iowa on Monday afternoon as part of his three day Midwestern bus tour.
Utah’s impaired-driving law is pretty straightforward.
• It’s against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol.
• You are considered legally drunk when you are in physical control of a vehicle and have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.
• You can’t drink any alcoholic beverage while driving or as a passenger in a motor vehicle at any time. And you can’t carry an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.
But many drivers might ask how many drinks it takes to be impaired. This, of course, varies by the individual and can be affected by age, gender, physical condition, food consumed and medication. Also, different mixed drinks contain different amounts of alcohol.
But, for the average person, there is some impairment after one-half to two drinks. As few as three of the right kinds of drinks can raise the blood alcohol level to 0.08 percent. In that case, the average risk of a crash is 10 times more than normal for adult and 70 to 80 times normal for someone under 21.
Costs of getting a DUI can be severe.
According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, fine and court fees can cost as much as $1,200. A towing-impound-and-registration fee can cost $350. Lawyers typically charge $1,200. There is a $350 fine for an education and treatment fund, $200 cost for driver license and $2,500 for an ignition interlock system for three years. Insurance costs can skyrocket to as much as $4,000 a year. Thus, a DUI could cost as much as $10,100.
If you get a DUI in Utah, you will go to jail where you will be booked, fingerprinted and stay until you see a judge or make bail. Your car will be impounded. A first-time offender will have his or her driver license suspended for 120 days. If you refuse a breath test, you will lose your driver license for 18 months and officers can obtain a warrant to forcibly draw your blood. If you are drinking and under 21, you will lose your license for one year or until you turn 21, whichever is longer.
Such arrests are fairly common. In 2009, for example, more than 15,000 people were arrested for DUI in Utah.
The Connecticut State Police and East Haddam Police will be out looking for speeders and intoxicated drivers.
Sobriety checkpoints, DUI road-blocks, and roving patrols are conducted by law enforcement, in an effort to keep our roadways safer.
License. registration, and insurance inspections, as well as ‘field sobriety tests’ will be taking place this evening, Saturday, August 13th.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving at high rates of speed, distracted driving, and lack of seat-belt use are all issues that can potentially lead to tragic and often deadly consequences.
The Connecticut State Police, in conjunction with the East Haddam Resident Troopers’ Office and East Haddam Police will be out on location and in the area tonight, looking for speeders and intoxicated drivers.
For more information, you may contact TFC Jeff Rhoades or TFC Steven Bellandese at the East Haddam Resident Troopers’ Office at 860-873-1226, or the Connecticut State Police, Troop K at 860-537-7500.