A Millionaire’s Blood Feud with Florida Court Ends in Defeat

blood-test-for-alcoholA millionaire who is now in prison for DUI manslaughter recently tried to challenge Florida’s methods of collecting and testing blood for alcohol levels. It did not go well for him.

John Goodman, who was convicted in 2014 for DUI manslaughter, is serving a 16-year prison sentence. His lawyers recently challenged the rule that forced him to give a blood sample after the crash.

The defendant’s attorneys argued that people who were tested had no opportunity to ensure that the blood samples were collected in a reliable way. There are no guidelines for the type of needle that is used, for example.

The argument didn’t wash. The Florida Supreme court found that only medical experts collect blood, and standard laboratory practices are already in place to ensure that testing is accurate.

Blood Test for Alcohol Levels – Reliable Evidence

Breath tests give a good indication of a suspect’s intoxication, but a blood test for alcohol gives a 100 percent accurate and therefore uncontestable result. That is why blood tests are sought after by the prosecution (and the defense, when they are confident that a suspect was not impaired).

Calling the accuracy of blood tests into question might have endangered many cases that rely on them for evidence. But that is not going to happen anytime soon. Blood tests for alcohol levels remain a vital element of DUI prosecutions in Florida and elsewhere.

He Ordered The Hashbrowns, Got Charged With Drunk Driving Instead

charged with drunk driving If you’ve heard about the angry hashbrown guy who was charged with drunk driving, you’re not alone. The man from Sydney, Australia with a strong desire for McDonald’s hashbrowns made headlines around the world. But what he might not have realized is that getting arrested for drunk driving at McDonalds is pretty common.

It happened early one Saturday morning, long before most people get up for the day. He was in the McDonalds drive-through trying to order chicken nuggets, but nuggets aren’t on the breakfast menu at five am. He was so mad he did laps in the parking lot for a few minutes, and when he finally attempted the drive-through again, he ordered 200 hundred hashbrowns.

They probably didn’t ask him if he wanted fries with that, becuase that’s not really a common order. Instead of getting to work in the kitchen, the staff decided to skip his request and call the police instead. When they arrived the found him in the parking lot he was without hashbrowns, but he did have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.175. That’s double the legal limit in the United States, and it’s considered a high BAC in Australia too.

Although he might be the first person charged with drunk driving who also charged up over $200 worth of hashbrowns, he’s not the first person caught driving drunk thanks to the drive-through staff. Fast food restaurants like McDonalds always see more than fair share of drunk drivers.

One woman in Indianapolis crashed into a pole in the McDonald’s drive-through, then decided to kick one of the police officers who arrived to arrest her. Another man was recently charged for drunk driving at a McDonald’s in New Zealand. Just like the other two McDonald’s offenders, he was drunk and had a high BAC. He also hit a sign as he attempted to work his way through the drive-through.

It may be the burgers and hashbrowns that attract people to McDonald’s in the early morning hours, but if you’re drunk in the drive-through, you’re going to have to forgo you fast food binge and head straight to jail.  

Before You Get Arrested For DUI, Try An Interactive DUI Experience

Before you get arrested for DUIIf you’ve never made the decision to drink and drive, you might not comprehend how dangerous it is. Even if you’ve seen the PSAs, heard about a friend getting injured in a drunk driving crash, or know someone who’s been arrested for DUI, you may not understand how alcohol will impair your driving skills unless you find a way to try it yourself.

Thankfully you don’t have to take lives into your own hands by actually drinking and driving yourself; you can experience what it’s like to drive impaired virtually using a few online apps. Designed to stop people from driving drunk and subsequently getting arrested for DUI, these apps walk you through the feelings, situations, and outcomes of drinking and driving.

Responsibility.org Virtual Bar

The Virtual Bar helps you understand blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It will show you how your body reacts to and feels after drinking alcohol, and it takes into account what can happen to your BAC after eating, drinking water, and how long it takes to become completely sober again.

 NHTSA Last Call

Last call takes you on a virtual experience where you choose a cocktail lounge or sports bar. You’ll make other decisions too, including how many drinks to have and whether or not you’re going to get behind the wheel of your car and potentially be arrested for DUI.

These are just two impaired driving simulators you can try online to really understand how alcohol affects your driving skills. It’s far safer to do a quick run-through using one of these virtual experiences than it is to actually get behind the wheel of a car, so if you want someone you love to understand the impact of drunk driving, get them to pull out their smartphone or tablet instead of their car keys. You may be able to stop a tragedy before it happens.

Women Drunk Drivers Are On The Rise In The USA

women drunk driversWhen it comes to drinking and driving, not everyone is getting the message. Although there are public service ads and campaigns running all the time in every state in the USA, women drunk drivers are being arrested in record numbers.

According to Driving.ca, the FBI found that the number of men who were charged with drunk driving offenses has gone down somewhat. During the period of 1998 and 2007 the number of men who were arrested for drunk driving dropped by seven and a half per cent. They also found that twenty three percent fewer male drunk drivers under the age of eighteen were arrested for drinking and driving.

Considering that, if there was a stereotypical or average drunk driver it would be a male in his early 20’s, it’s hard to believe that women drunk drivers are seeing an increase when males are seeing a decrease. Yes, young men are still netting about eighty percent of all arrests in North America, but women drunk drivers have increased by around twenty eight percent during the same period reported on by the FBI. Women under the age of eighteen saw an increase too, and there were almost fourteen percent more young drunk drivers arrested during that time.

There’s only one question that can be raised from data like this, and it’s why are women drunk drivers making such a dangerous choice ? There are a few reasons why drunk driving researchers believe this is happening:

Women drunk drivers choose any way home over public transportation

Because of the very real worry of sexual assault in a taxi or getting attacked on a bus late at night, women would rather drive home alone. That leads to women drunk drivers making a choice to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking, even if they know they shouldn’t.

More men than women are stopped by police

According to Ottawa, Canada’s  Traffic Injury Research Foundation’s research on the topic, women are generally only charged with drunk driving if they are involved in a crash or a physical or verbal altercation with a police officer. That means that many drunk driving offenses could have gone unreported.

Women are ignoring anti-drunk driving campaigns

It’s the ultimate in ‘It can’t happen to me’ thinking, but according to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, the usual type of scary messages and images don’t seem to reach out as effectively to females as they do to males.

At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter why women drunk drivers are making this choice; the only thing that matters is that they are, and that choice could end in injury or death for anyone on the road with them.

Utah’s Lower Blood Alcohol Concentration Could Be Just The Beginning

lower blood alcohol concentrationIt’s hard to believe but it’s true: driving with .05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is no longer an option in Utah. The state has finally taken the recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggesting all states adopt a lower blood alcohol concentration, and they have officially dropped its BAC from the US legal limit of .08 to the now legal limit of .05.

Although the bill looked to be touch and go for a while, Utah Governor Gary Herbert went ahead and signed it into law. Utah now has the distinction of being the one state in the entire nation with the strictest drunk driving laws, and the new law goes into effect on December 30th, 2018.

What does having a BAC that low mean for Utah drivers? To start, it means that having one or two drinks with dinner should give any driver reason to consider getting a cab or calling in a sober driver. According to one website, a man who weighs 150 pounds would only need two glasses of beer to hit .05, while a woman who weighs 120 pounds would only need one drink.

Alcohol affects everyone differently so those numbers may not add up exactly for every driver, but it’s safe to say that the new lower blood alcohol concentration will result in police casting a wider net and those who drink casually could get caught up in it.

Those who support the law feel as though any amount of alcohol is unsafe if you’re getting behind the wheel of a car, while the law’s biggest opponents, those in the restaurant, pub, and tourist industry, feel as though the law punishes those who aren’t really impaired and won’t discourage drunk driving.

No one knows what it will be like to have the new lower blood alcohol concentration in place, but it’s safe to say that all eyes will be on Utah after January 1st, 2019.

Another Court Says No To Blood Draws From Drunk Drivers

blood draws from drunk driversThere’s been a lot of debate in recent months over whether or not requiring blood draws from drunk drivers is unconstitutional. Take Minnesota for example: a recent case that went all the way to the Supreme Court ended with a ruling that requires authorities, if they want to test suspected drunk drivers, to get a warrant before they obtain urine or blood samples.

Now the Arizona Supreme Court has also made a ruling on blood draws for drunk drivers, and this time it focuses on driving under the influence (DUI) suspects who are unconscious. The ruling was a decision made because of one case where a man was found unconscious on the pavement behind his vehicle. He did regain consciousness long enough to say that the SUV belonged to him, and when he passed out again he was transported to the hospital where the police asked to have his blood drawn. Hospital employees complied with their request.

The case went all the way through the court system before landing in the Arizona Supreme Court, and it brought up the issue over whether or not it was constitutional to allow a blood draw without a warrant if the suspect was dead, unconscious, or otherwise able to give the officer permission to take it.

In a vote of three to two they decided that police can’t take blood samples from an unconscious DUI suspect without a search warrant or unless they are facing an urgent circumstance beyond the fact that time is of the essence when it comes to taking a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading. That’s because alcohol leaves the system within two hours, so to get an accurate reading of what the BAC was at the time of the incident, police need to obtain their blood, urine, or breath evidence without delay.

Although it may seem that rulings like this one, defining the limits on taking blood draws from drunk drivers, would potentially stop police from doing their job, it actually has the opposite effect. In the long run, bringing these issues to light, setting parameters, and following the letter of the law can only help police by eliminating loopholes that these offenders can jump through to avoid prosecution, and that will take more drunk drivers off the roads.

Washington May Drop BAC to 0.05 To Stop Drunk Drivers

Washington state lower BAC drunk driversA few years back the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made a recommendation that all states drop the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels from 0.08 to 0.05. They did so because having a lower BAC would be another deterrent to drunk drivers. Although the recommendation has been largely ignored over the years, there are signs that states could be getting on board with a lower BAC.

Washington state lawmakers are discussing Bill 1874; a possible new law that would require Washington state to drop the legal BAC from 0.08 to 0.05. That means that every drunk driver stopped with a 0.05 BAC would be charged for drunk driving in exact the same way that they would be charged if they were stopped with a 0.08 right now.

In Washington state that means possible jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension, and an ignition interlock installation in any vehicle you drive.

Washington isn’t the only state considering switching to a lower BAC to keep drunk drivers on the curb. The House of Representatives in Utah have also been considering lowering the limit to catch more drunk drivers. Critics of the proposed law have argued that changing the BAC would result in a lot of people arrested for drunk driving when they might not be that drunk at all, and that might be a valid concern except for one fact: research has shown that any amount of alcohol has the power to affect your driving skills.

Another reason why lawmakers are starting to look at lower BAC levels to charge drunk drivers? They are starting to see a real surge in drugged drivers and drivers who mix both drugs and alcohol. Although that drivers’ BAC might register below the legal limit, the combination of the two could result in that person being too impaired to drive.

What Utah and Washington state are trying to do is get a point across, and that point is that you shouldn’t drink and drive at all. Just because you’re stopped for suspected drunk driving and you only blow 0.06 on the breathalyzer doesn’t mean you’re sober enough to drive, and that 0.08 level shouldn’t be a magic number where you can drive away free and clear either.

Both bills are currently in debate, so we will soon see if 2017 will be the beginning of a trend to lower the BAC.

Hawaii Considering Dropping Legal Drunk Driving Limit To 0.05

legal drunk driving limit hawaiiIt’s hard to believe, but it really hasn’t been that long since all states adopted a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It’s now the legal drunk driving limit after which you can be arrested for drunk driving in all states, but it’s only been that way since 1998. Before the overall adoption of 0.08, each state varied in what their legal BAC level was.

Fast forward to present day and there’s another battle over BAC that’s building momentum: the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been pushing all states to adopt a 0.05 legal drunk driving limit, and it looks like Hawaii might be getting on board.

Hawaii would like to toughen up their drunk driving laws by putting forward Senate Bill 18, requiring Hawaii to drop their legal limit from 0.08 to 0.05. The bill has been put forward by Senator Josh Green, a Senator who’s also a doctor who believes that lowering the BAC will make a huge difference when it comes to drunk driving.

Quoted on Khon2 News as saying, “At 0.05, you’re 50 percent less likely to cause an accident, less likely to hurt yourself, to kill an innocent person on the road,” Green believes Hawaii should take the NTSB’s recommendation seriously. If they did, they would follow the lead of countries like Europe who already have 0.05 as their legal drunk driving limit.

Not everyone in Hawaii is on board with the proposed bill. A defense attorney quoted by the same news source thought that lowering the BAC would cause a backlog in the court system, and that police should focus on those that are seriously intoxicated instead of apprehending those with a low BAC.

Will Hawaii be the first to jump on board and lower the legal drunk driving limit in the state? If countries like Europe are any indication, it’s an idea that could drop the amount of drunk drivers on the roads in Hawaii in a significant way.

The Ultimate Irony: Drunk Driving Video Crashed By Drunk Driver

drunk driving OklahomaPublic service announcements (PSAs) are one of the ways that anti-drunk driving groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and local law enforcement raise public awareness on the dangers of drunk driving. These PSAs take on all shapes and forms, from shocking to tragic to attempts at dark humor, and all are designed to get people to think twice about drunk driving.

But these PSAs haven’t stopped drunk drivers so far, and it’s sort of ironic of that a man suspected of drunk driving drove straight onto the set of a drunk driving awareness video that was being filmed by a few film students for the Oklahoma Valley Brook Police Department.

It turns out that the man, Ricky Reese, swerved toward the set when he was driving early one morning. He didn’t seem to want to stop when he saw people either, and bystanders saw him hit the gas and accelerate before they jumped out of the way. The driver kept going but was stopped by police shortly after, and when he submitted to a breathalyzer test his blood alcohol content (BAC) was double the legal limit at 0.17.

Thankfully no one was hurt during this bizarre incident, and because he’s a four time repeat offender in Oklahoma, he’s in a lot of trouble for his drunk drive. According to Oklahoma drunk driving law he could spend up to ten years in jail, pay fines up to $5,000, and lose his driver’s license for up to three years. He’ll also have to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle he drives for three years after his driver’s license suspension.

It must have been pretty bizarre for the filmmakers to be actively filming their drunk driving PSA and have a drunk driver try to run them down. Thankfully no one was hurt, but on the positive side they probably felt reaffirmed in their mission to finish the PSA and stop drunk drivers like Reese. Even if it stops just one person from making the same mistake, it’s worth it.

Some Of The Best Crazy Drunk Driving Stories From 2016

crazy drunk driving storiesNo one wants to be the star of a crazy drunk driving story, yet people make the decision to drink and drive every single day. Drunk drivers come in all shapes and sizes too, and they will get behind the wheel in cases where they’ve only had a few to drink and they think they’re sober or even when they’re completely unable to focus or walk.

When you’re in that state, anything goes. Here are just a few stories from this past year involving people who were stopped, caught, and became the star of their own crazy drunk driving story.

Amish Buggy Full Of Underage Drinkers

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about drunk driving is that they can’t be stopped in anything but a car. As a few Amish teens found out this past year, you can even be stopped for drunk driving in a buggy.

It must have been quite the sight for passerby when five young men were arrested in Pennsylvania after police spotted a few riding of them riding on the roof the buggy. The driver was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, the others cited for underage alcohol consumption.

Election night = drunk driving night

There’s no question that the results of the 2016 Presidential election hit the country hard, but when one drunk driver in Minnesota was stopped she made headlines because she blamed her drunk driving arrest on Donald Trump’s victory. Yes, she was so drunk she failed all field sobriety tests and couldn’t even spell her own name, but she was pretty clear that it was Trump’s fault she was in that condition.

When a Snapchat selfie goes wrong

There are a lot of people who get drunk and share inappropriate pictures on Snapchat, but not everyone does it behind the wheel of a car while parked at a stop light. When Texas police approached the woman’s car she had wine in her cup holder, a half undone top, and incriminating evidence of a drunk, distracted Snapchat on her phone.

Here’s a great resolution for everyone in 2017: make it a point in the new year to not be the star of your own crazy drunk driving story.

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