California’s Hot List Targets the
Worst of the Worst: Repeat DUIs

With so many cars and so many drivers, California has to take drunk driving seriously. Recently a new program called Hot List is using information to battle one of the most persistent scourges of the roadways.

The target: repeat DUI offenders.

DUI targeted by California DMV hot list The California DMV runs the program, which provides law enforcement agencies with information on multiple DUI offenders whose licenses have recently suspended or revoked. These are the drivers who, judging from past experience, are most likely to re-offend.

How likely? The startling news is that about 75% of suspended drivers with suspended and revoked licenses continue to drive, so it’s important that both the police and the DMV have updated information.

The DMV provides police with information on repeat offenders who have recently been suspended, and the police, in turn, update the DMV’s information twice a month. Newer data means police are better equipped to find drivers who are driving on suspended licenses, and also recognize drivers who have recently regained driving privileges.

In fighting DUIs, laws are one part of the solution. Enforcement is the other. Too many drunk drivers continue to get behind the wheel despite suspensions, because police can’t be everywhere enforcing every suspension. Ignition Interlocks are one way that states are fighting back. California’s Hot List is another program with great potential for saving lives on the road.

Wait — You’re in Tennessee …
and You Haven’t Bought This Yet?

An important organization is in trouble. Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Tennessee might lose funding if they don’t sell sixty more license plates by the end of June.

The plates cost just $35, of which more than $30 goes right to the organization.

But why sixty plates? And why June 30?

Madd-License-Plate-TennesseeIf a minimum number of plates is not sold, the plates will be retired, cutting off an important source of funding for MADD ‘s victim services. At present MADD is 60 plates short of the 500 plates it needs to sell. The funds go to help those who have been affected by alcohol-related traffic crashes. MADD victim services provides emotional support, as well as assistance in court-related matters — an invaluable aid during a stressful and confusing time.

Apart from the funding, the plates are also “rolling billboards” publicizing the cause. MADD educates drivers about the dangers of DUI, and works for more effective anti-drunk driving laws.

If just one person from each Tennessee county would buy a plate, they’d blow through their goal and MADD’s mission would be safe.

If you’re in Tennessee, now would be a great time to switch to a MADD license plate. Even if your plate isn’t up for renewal, you can still arrange to get a plate. Just pop over (in person) to your local County Clerk office.

A Winning Message on Video:
College Drinking and Driving

We take off our hats to U in the Driver Seat, a peer-to-peer program designed to raise awareness of the problem of impaired driving among college students. As part of the excellent work they do on the collegiate scene, they sponsored Driving the Message, a contest for the best student-created PSA about college drinking and driving.

Congratulations to the contest winners, West Texas A&M students Fredrick Williams, Alex Montoya and Chelsea Chavez. Here’s their winning video:

A Funny News Item … and the
Sad Truth About DUI Enforcement

First, the funny stuff:

Recently in Utah a man pulled into a Wendy’s drive-in window and fell asleep. The next person in line, concluding that the driver had been drinking, did the right thing: he removed the keys from the dashboard and called the police.

wendysWhen awakened the driver, Jeremy Barney, admitted to drinking. In fact, according to the officer’s report he was too drunk even to understand the instructions for the sobriety test that the policeman was unable to give him.

Here’s where it gets less funny:

The news story states that Barney not only had multiple alcohol violations and a revoked license, but he was supposed to have an ignition interlock installed on his car. An interlock prevents a car from starting if a driver fails a breath test due to alcohol.

Barney was a prime candidate for an ignition interlock: judging from his record as described in the Daily Herald, he was someone who needed to be actively prevented from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Because repeat DUI offenders are road accidents waiting to happen.

This arrest (and there was an arrest, and several charges, for the driver) highlights the weak link in the anti-drunk-driving  process: DUI enforcement.
Young driver with bottle in hand sleeps in the car.
It should come as no surprise that the offender was driving with a revoked license. The majority of DUI offenders do just that. And that is the reason ignition interlocks were invented.

Had an interlock been present, Barney would never have been able to drive up to Wendy’s in that condition. An interlock not only tests a driver at the start of a journey, but periodically during the drive, to ensure that the driver doesn’t drink after getting underway.

The question, then, is why did Barney not have an ignition interlock installed? Utah has some tough DUI laws, including fines, jail time, compulsory drug and alcohol assessment, and mandatory interlocks for second DUI offenses. But the sad truth is that too many people ordered to have interlocks don’t get them, and they’re not found out until there’s an arrest — or a death.

Utah needs to close this serious loophole and make sure that people who are ordered to have interlocks installed actually comply with the law.

DUI Checkpoint: Is it OK to Warn Drivers ?

Police in Ohio are required to warn drivers a week in advance that a DUI checkpoint is going to be set up. But last Friday, when Doug Odolecki held up a posterboard saying, “Check point ahead! Turn now!” he was given a ticket.

What’s the issue here? If cops have to warn people of the checkpoint, how can it be an offense if a pedestrian does the same?

Apparently the problem was the phrase, “Turn now” on Odolecki’s sign. One of the ticketing officers, caught on video, said that the sobriety checkpoint was “all about educating the public, and we need for them to come through the public to educate them.”

Had Odolecki removed the “Turn now!” part of the sign he’d have been all right. But he claimed not to be able to, so he was given the ticket.
Drunk Driving
Odolecki characterizes the Parma, Ohio checkpoint as Nazi-esque, an illegal search and seizure. His attorney claims that the sign is protected by the First Amendment.

The illegal search and seizure claim is contested territory – the roads are public, not private, and driving is a privilege, not a right. Some states allow DUI checkpoints, and others do not. The U.S. Supreme court upheld the validity of checkpoints in the case Michigan v. Sitz.

As to where that will leave Doug Odoleki and his crusade to end DUI checkpoints, only time, and the legal system of Ohio, will tell.

Sports and DUI: Add the Golf Cart to the List

It seems that every day another sports figure is slapped with a DUI. The connection between alcohol and major sports has been reported on, if not studied well, for years.

Usually, though, it’s football, baseball, or basketball. High-profile televised ball sports seem to breed players who need to test their mettle by driving drunk, risking lives and careers.

no-golf-cart-drinkingLast Saturday golf got added to that list of infamous sports. And the vehicle was not a Corvette owned by an overpaid player, but a golf cart whose driver had been assigned to ferry golf analyst Roger Maltbie around the green in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Reports state that the driver refused to heed the order of a North Carolina state trooper to stop, and he then proceeded to run over the trooper’s foot.

The policeman leaped onto the cart and arrested the driver, who has been charged with what is probably the largest assortment of crimes ever associated with a golf cart: assault on a law enforcement officer, hit and run, driving while impaired and resisting, obstructing and delaying a law enforcement officer.

Let’s hope this is not a trend. It is depressing enough to read about NFL players who have DUI convictions. What’s next? Bowling?

There are two lessons that the driver of the golf cart can take away from the incident. The first, shouted by the arresting officer, is, “When a state trooper tells you to stop, THAT’S what you’re supposed to do!”

The second is: don’t drink and drive. How many times do we have to say it?

Could one question have
saved two lives in Florida?

Every day 28 people die because of drunk driving. Some are just victims – people in the wrong place in the wrong time. Others are the ones who make the reckless decision – they drink, and then get behind the wheel, heedless of the consequences.

28-people-die-from-drunk-driving-every-dayBut others’ decisions can have an impact, even when a driver clearly decides to drive while drunk. In Coral Springs, Florida, a woman named Kayla Mendoza was involved in a fatal accident last November after downing two margaritas containing a total of six shots of tequila. Reports say she was going well over 80 in the wrong direction on the Sawgrass Expressway when she crashed into another car, killing two young women. Kayla Mendoza has been charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. Her boss, Marcelo Bruzzo, was in the car with her.

Apparently it was Kayla’s decision to drink and drive, and her boss’s decision not to prevent her. But does that mean the crash was inevitable?

One question could have prevented two drunk driving deaths.margarita

Before the crash Mendoza and Bruzzo had been at a restaurant where they downed the drinks that clouded their judgment. Had the waiter asked, “May I see your driver’s license?” then the margaritas would not have been served, and perhaps the two victims would be alive today. Because Kayla Mendoza was 20 years old, below the legal drinking age.

If there’s a moral in this sad story, it’s that all of us have a responsibility to prevent drunk driving: friends, spouses, family, bystanders, hosts, and yes, waiters. When people are too impaired to take responsibility for their lives, we need to take it for them.

To repeat: every day 28 people die because of drunk driving. It’s hard to know how many could have been saved by the quick action of others on that November day, but we do know this:

But for one question, it could have been 26.

Four Ways to Get a DUI – Without A Car

From the blog of Orange County DUI lawyer Virginia Landry, a report of some cases in which Driving Under the Influence did not involve a car. It’s rare, but there are a lot of vehicles you should not be handling when you’ve been drinking. Most of them are not as deadly as a car, but obviously a law enforcement officer thought there was enough cause for arrest here. Don’t let this happen to you.

A Man Gets a DUI on a Tricycle

Go here to read Landry’s report.

Celebrities Should Not Glorify Drunk Driving

A hat tip to Fox News411 and Hollie McKay for a good piece on the damage that celebrities do when they flaunt their privilege and laugh off DUI convictions. “When celebrities joke about their crimes, it conveys that this behavior is normal. This is exactly the wrong message to send about DUIs. Celebrities must remember that they are role models…Pretending to be above the law and becoming a public disgrace have become pathetically normal for Hollywood stars.”

Justin_Bieber_mugshot,_front (1)


A Good Samaritan Takes Car Keys
From Drunk Driver – in Traffic!

Watch this driver rectify a potentially disastrous situation. He spots a drunk driver weaving in front of him, and does the right thing.




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