Ohio readers might be interested in the following account of two people who were charged with DUI after attempting to pick up a friend who was also charged with DUI. According to a local news outlet, a woman was taken into custody on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in New Jersey on the night of Dec. 16.
The woman apparently called three friends in succession to pick her up at the police station because the first two were also allegedly under the influence when they arrived. According to police, the woman who was first taken into custody displayed signs of intoxication, failed a field sobriety test and swerved in her car. The first friend whom she called is also said to have shown signs of intoxication, and police allegedly discovered seven Vicodin pills in her possession, for which she had no prescription. The friend was charged with DUI and possession of a controlled substance.
Police officers allege that the second friend to arrive also appeared intoxicated and failed a field sobriety test. He was taken into custody and charged with DUI. Eventually, a fourth friend, who was sober enough to drive, arrived at the police station.
It might come as a surprise that not just one, but two allegedly intoxicated people would take the chance of driving to a police station. However, whether these individuals were pulled over while on the road or drove themselves to the police station, an attorney’s approach for their defense might be the same.
Much of the evidence presented in a DUI case is circumstantial. For example, whether a person passes or fails a roadside sobriety test is dependent on a police officer’s judgment. Other tests, such as blood or breath tests, give only approximate results. Since much of the evidence is circumstantial, it may be possible to challenge it in court.
On the other hand, it is possible for a defendant to avoid a trial by accepting a plea bargain. In most cases, a plea deal is worked out between the defense and the prosecution. A defendant might receive a reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty or no contest plea.
A 24-year-old woman who faced DUI accusations on Dec. 12 for a Florida motorcycle accident that claimed the life of a 58-year-old man had a prior conviction of drinking and driving in 2009. She was also taken into custody in 2012 for failure to appear on a driving with a suspended license charge. The most recent charges are for DUI manslaughter. Authorities claimed that she was intoxicated when she drove a Lexus during the early morning hours of Sept. 7 and hit the motorcycle on Interstate 95.
She admitted she had been drinking with friends at a Palm Beach Bar and was on her way to Palm City when the accident happened. The rider was wearing a helmet but still succumbed to his injuries. The prosecution requested that she be detained until she was connected to the GPS tracking system used by the jail to ensure she doesn’t drink and drive. However, her attorney suggested a different tracking system that also randomly tests any alcohol in her system.
The prosecution further explained that she must be given bail, and the judge concurred. She set the woman’s bail at $50,000 and ordered the GPS system to be enforced. The judge wanted to make sure she did not drive while intoxicated. Her blood-alcohol content level registered .249 percent, or more than triple the maximum limit of .08 percent permitted by state legislation after the accident.
Someone with a history of drinking and driving offenses or traffic citations could face strict sanctions if they are convicted of a subsequent DUI. A criminal defense lawyer might be able to suggest options like a GPS with a breathalyzer so that a client doesn’t have to stay in jail and is still permitted to drive.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 6, a North Carolina county commissioner was taken into police custody on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor DWI and misdemeanor impeding traffic. This is the fourth time the New Hanover County commissioner has been taken into custody since he was first elected in 2010, and it is the second time he has been in police custody on suspicion of DWI this year. In addition to the DWI charges, a report suggests that he has previously been arrested for a traffic violation and assault.
According to a Wilmington Police spokeswoman, at 12:47 a.m., on Dec. 6, a police officer discovered a vehicle stopped near Masonboro Loop near Masonboro Sound Road and Navaho Trail. Inside the vehicle was the New Hanover County Commissioner slumped over the steering wheel and unconscious. The spokeswoman said that the officer also allegedly discovered pills of various types in the commissioner’s possession. New Hampshire state law will require his automatic removal from the board if he is convicted on the felony charge, and a fellow commissioner said that he hopes the commissioner will resign.
In a separate incident, on Dec. 18, 2012, he was stopped by Wilmington police and was charged with DWI. At the time of that incident, his blood-alcohol content was .08 percent, which is over the North Carolina legal limit. He is scheduled to appear in court for that charge on Dec. 10.
Individuals who have a history of DWI charges and convictions may be confronted with increasing penalties with each conviction. A North Carolina criminal defense attorney, who works with individuals who have multiple DWI convictions on record, might be able to reduce penalties stemming from an additional conviction. The attorney may be able to introduce evidence during a trial and suggest leniency based on the facts of the case.
On Dec. 6, Alfonzo Dennard, a New England Patriots cornerback, agreed to a plea deal that dismisses a DUI charge against him and concluded two days of Nebraska court hearings. In exchange for having the DUI case dismissed, Dennard pleaded no contest to the charge of refusing to submit to a chemical test as part of an agreement with the Lincoln city attorney’s office. He was put on probation and fined $500.
If Dennard commits any new DUI offenses, the DUI charge may be reinstated. According to an assistant prosecutor, the charges for the refusal to submit and the DUI have the same penalty. She said that it is not uncommon for individuals to have one or the other of the charges dismissed.
The cornerback was taken into custody in Lincoln in July on suspicion of drunk driving when he allegedly refused a breath test. According to police, a partial reading indicated that he had a blood alcohol level that was above the legal limit. In a September hearing, prosecutors wanted to revoke his probation after Dennard allegedly admitted that he had been drinking and driving.
The cornerback is already serving three years of probation for a separate incident in 2012. Dennard was expected to be a mid-round NFL draft choice that year and played college football at Nebraska. A few days prior to the draft, he was taken into custody for the incident, in which he allegedly struck a police officer near a bar in downtown Lincoln. In that case, he received a sentence of 100 hours of community service, 30 days in jail and two years of probation.
On Dec. 5, his jail sentence was extended to 60 days and his probation to three years by a district judge. In addition, the judge increased his community service to 200 hours. He is slated to begin his jail sentence on March 1.
This story illustrates the potential benefit of a plea agreement. In this case, the defendant was able to have his DUI charge dismissed, which may help him further his professional football career. A DUI conviction can have a negative impact on individuals’ careers and personal lives regardless of whether they are high-profile athletes or working professionals in another industry, but a thorough defense may offset some of the ramifications.
In Florida, a high-profile murder case has unexpectedly brought attention to the hazardous implications of drunk driving. It was recently reported that a man convicted of murder has contested the validity of the Broward Circuit Judge presiding over his trial due to the judge recently being arrested for her second DUI.
While it is yet to be determined whether the judge will or will not recuse herself from the case, the trial underlines the lasting impact of DUI on an individual’s professional life. Florida drunk driving laws are tough on those convicted of impaired driving, and even first-time offenders are subject to harsh penalties.
Jail time, license suspension, fines, community service and probation, are a few of the consequences for drunk driving imposed by the state of Florida and penalties become greater for repeat offenders. Beyond these surface penalties, the impacts of a DUI, as evidenced by the Broward Circuit Judge, can easily overflow into all aspects of your life.
Although the judge has not yet been convicted of a second drunk driving offense, the charges alone may have been enough to damage her professional repute. As stated by the attorney of the man convicted of murder, “The judge is no longer fair and impartial because of her arrest for a second DUI.”
The attorney went on to mention that the Circuit Judge is being prosecuted by the same state which prosecuted the convicted murderer. At this time, the Broward Circuit Judge is expected to decide within 30 days whether or not to preside over the trial.
New Jersey residents who follow celebrity news may have heard that the mother of actress Lindsay Lohan might be on her way to a plea bargain with prosecutors to resolve her DUI charges.
She recently left court with orders from a judge to return in January after performing community service and undergoing an alcohol and substance abuse assessment. Her attorney stated his belief that the evaluation would confirm that his client did not have alcohol or substance issues.
According to court records, Dina Lohan was stopped by the police for speeding Sept. 12 and appeared to the officer to be intoxicated. Subsequent chemical tests confirmed the initial observations of the police officer when her blood alcohol concentration was determined to be .20 percent. The legal limit for driving while intoxicated is .08 percent.
Lohan’s attorney attributed her multiple DUI charges to the attention focused upon her by the media. The attorney read a statement after court claiming that the “daily stresses” of contending with photographers and reporters were a factor leading to the arrest of his client who, he said, does not have any alcohol or substance issues.
Legislation in most states, including New Jersey, requires those charged with DUI or other alcohol-related offenses to undergo an evaluation for alcohol and substance abuse either prior to pleading guilty as part of a bargained plea arrangement or prior to sentencing following a conviction after trial. The purpose of the evaluation is to aid judges in identifying those individuals convicted of DUI charges who might be in need of alcohol or substance abuse treatment.
If an alcohol or substance abuse evaluation reveals that a person has a drug or alcohol dependency or abuse issue, the law allows a judge to make treatment a condition of the sentence. An attorney familiar with DUI penalties is a person’s best resource for answers to questions concerning sentencing options under currently existing laws. The attorney might be able to persuade the judge to exercise leniency in sentencing or to suspend jail time in favor of the client’s enrollment in a substance abuse treatment program.
In Washington state, you can be arrested for a DUI even if you are not driving your car at the time of arrest through the stipulations of what has been called the “physical control” law. This is what happened to a man who upon being asked for his driver’s license, offered a beer to a cop. On June 18, 2013, police approached the 26-year-old man in the parking lot of a Kent, Washington 7-Eleven. Witnesses had summoned police because the young man appeared intoxicated. The young man’s physical demeanor gave police sufficient grounds to arrest him on DUI charges. Subsequently, it was discovered the young man had three previous DUI arrests, and that his driver’s license had been revoked.
Generally speaking, if the prosecutor has sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove that a person has been driving while intoxicated, that person does not have to be apprehended in the act of driving to be charged with a DUI. Washington state also has a physical control DUI law on its books as RCW 46.61.50. This law makes it a crime to use a vehicle in any way when you are intoxicated, even if you have pulled off the road because you have decided it is a bad idea to drive any further. Regardless of whether you are charged with a straight DUI or a physical control DUI, the blood alcohol limits for legal intoxication are .08 percent.
DUI penalties in Washington state can be severe, and may include jail time, probation, fines and ignition interlock requirements. There will be administrative penalties as well, such as loss of your driving privileges. You may be subject to administrative penalties even if the criminal charges against you are dismissed. If you’ve been charged with either a conventional DUI or a physical control DUI in the state of Washington, it might be in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Source: Newser, “DUI Suspect to Cops: Here, Have a Beer,” Matt Cantor, June 18, 2013