In an editorial printed in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 11, the paper argues for increased use of intelligent pre-trial realease programs. In these programs, much more effort is made to determine an accused's threat level to determine if they are a threat to others or a flight risk. If the individual scores low in an objective threat assessment he will be released without bail pending trial.
Often these programs include strict conditions and supervision. In San Francisco, pretrial release programs match defendants with support services, such as drug, alcohol, or anger management classes. According to Garry Herceg, director of Santa Clara Office of Pretrial Services, 87% of their released defendants attend their court dates, only 3 percent re-offend, and the program saves $32 million a year.
This is probatly the most time I have ever seen a DUI driver sentenced to. David Apraham, a 44 year-old man, was sentenced by Virginia judge to seven years in prison. Mr. Apraham had 12 prior DUI convictions in Mississippi, Alabama, and Virginia. He was also wanted for DUI charges in North Carolina and Washington State. In fact, when he was pulled over for the most recent offense, Mr. Apraham was supposed to be on house arrest. The seven years sentence was the maximum possible punishment available to the judge.
In California, It is unlikely that a judge would be able to sentence a defendant to such a long sentence for DUI with priors.
According to an article in the Marin Independent Journal, the California Office of Traffic Safety has awarded the City of San Rafael a $102,000 grant for traffic safety enforcement. This money will go towards beefing up enforcement of traffic laws, including increased "saturation" patrols for suspected DUI drivers. This will surely mean more officers looking for DUIs on popular drinking weekends.
Watch out in Marin County, and remember to vote today!
According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, Bobby Brown, B-List celebrity and ex-husband of the late Whitney Houston, was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The arrest occurred in the Topanga area of Los Angeles County. Mr. Brown was on probation at the time for a prior DUI conviction in March. One of his probation requirements was to check into a rehab clinic. It seems that this wasn't quite enough. Why can't rich celebrities afford to hail a cab?
According to an article in the Vallejo Times Herald, the Solano County District Attorney's office received a California grant to fund enhanced DUI enforcement. The DA will use the money to fund a new special prosecution team. Prosecutors on this team will be specially trained and experienced in DUI prosecution. I suppose this means that lawyers on this team will be freed from other duties, such as domestic violence, in order to specialize on DUI.
The funding will also be used to pay for "state-of-the-art" breath alcohol testing equipment.
This news should only add strength to the advice that anyone in Solano County being prosecuted for DUI should hire an experienced DUI defense attorney. If the government has a specially trained and experienced DUI attorney coming after you, shouldn't you have a similarly trained and experienced attorney protecting your rights?
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of a lower court's order to suppress the results of a forced blood draw. The case, Missouri v. McNeely, involves a situation in Missouri where a suspected drunk driver refused to voluntarily provide a sample of his breath or blood for testing. A blood technician then involuntarily took Mr. McNeely’s blood. Lawyers for the ACLU argue that such a forced draw without a warrant violates the 4th Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches. The prosecutors argue that requiring a warrant is unreasonable, because the blood alcohol evidence will be diminished in the time needed to get the warrant.
This issue was addressed by the Supreme Court in their 1966 Schmerber v. California decision. In that case, the Court held that a warrantless and non-consented blood draw is constitutional if: (1) It is done in a reasonable, medically approved manner, (2) is incident to a lawful arrest, and (3) is based upon reasonable belief the arrestee is intoxicated. This decision was followed in California in the case of People v. Ford. Ford held that to be reasonable, the privacy right involved must be weighed against the public need for evidence. The first factor to consider is the extent to which the procedure may threaten the safety or health of the individual. The next factor is the extent of the intrusion upon the individual's dignitary interests in personal privacy and bodily integrity. They went on the hold that the public has a substantial interest in seeing their drunken driving laws enforced. Ultimately, the Ford Court held that drawing blood from a non-consenting, but non-resisting individual, by a medical technician, in a police department, is permissible.
It will be interesting to see in the coming months whether the side challenging forced blood draws will attempt to distinguish the present case from Schmerber, or will seek to overturn that decision entirely. Stay tuned...
A strange tail came out of the Modesto Bee yesterday. Alledgedly, a Northern California man crashed into a lightpole early Wednesday morning. When he tried to back away from the pole the man somehow fell out of his truck. When he did, the truck rolled over him, pinning him to the gound. He suffered serious injuries to his arm and shoulder, and was cited for driving under the influence (DUI). It almost seems like he has suffered enough already!
According to an article published on Monday, a San Francisco woman alledgedly crashed into the Golden Gate Bridge toll barriers. Shawnte Alexander was driving at about 1:40 am when she crashed into a toll plaza water buffer. She was suspected of being under the influence at the time. When officers tried to take her to jail Ms. Alexander alledgedly became combative, and even spit on and kicked an officer. If the allegations are true, this case clearly shows how not to handle yourself if you are arrested.
Salina, Kansas law enforcement announced that they will try a new "no refusal" policy regarding DUI investigations. If a DUI suspect refused to provide a sample for alcohol testing after being arrested, the officer can electronically request a search warrant to forcibly take the suspects blood.
The law in California allows for situations where someone refuses to submit to a test. Under the law of Implied Consent, it is implied that we all consent to providing a sample of our breath, blood, or urine for testing if suspected of DUI. If a driver refuses to submit to a test he can be charged with a special enhancement for not doing so. Also, the jury at his trial may be instructed that they may infer from his refusal to submit that he knew that he was over the limit.
A forced blood draw can be very traumatic. If the suspect refuses to comply after being told to choose a test, he is usually restrained by straps or a number of strong officers. Often, the procedure is videotaped. The arresting officer then reads verbatim the implied consent advisement, and the consequences of refusing. She then asks him a final time to choose a test. If he still refuses to comply, a certified phlebotomist inserts a needle in the suspects arm and obtains a sample.
In my experience, police agencies that conduct forced bood draws are those that do so in their stations. Those agencies that do not conduct forced blood draws are typically those that transport suspects to hospitals for blood draws. I'm told that this is because many hospitals have strict policies against taking anyone's blood without their consent. Many police agencies also may not do forced draws because they are concerned with excessive force lawsuites.
The problem with refusing the test is thus: Not only do you have to suffer the indignity of being poked with needles while strapped to a chair. You also have to face additional charges for refusing, and the prosecution gets your blood regardless. The jury also gets the inference instructions discussed above, and they get to see a video of you spitting a screaming during the blood draw. My advice: After you have been arrested, submit to a test. You can fight the legality of the draw in court.
According to an article published in the September 4th Main Independent Journal, driving under the influence (DUI) arrests were up sharply over last year's Labor Day holiday period. The article reported that there were 97 suspected DUI drivers arrested in Marin County over the 18-day Labor Day DUI crackdown period. At a DUI checkpoint in San Anselmo on Friday night, police arrested four suspected DUI drivers.
Last year, there were 56 suspected DUI drivers arrested in Marin County over the same holiday period.