Police Officers Can And Will Be Charged With DWI

police-officer-dwiIt’s summer, and there are a lot of drunk drivers getting stopped on the roads. Police are busy setting up checkpoints and watching the highways for drunk drivers, and in a lot of areas arrests are at record highs. But sometimes, police officers have to make an arrest that hits a little closer to home than they’d normally like.

Police officers can be charged with driving while impaired (DWI) too, and that’s exactly what happened after a North Carolina officer crashed into a truck just three hours into his shift. The officer in question has been a member of the force since 1988, and while in uniform and driving a marked cruiser, he struck the rear end of a truck. At the scene, he was given a drug and alcohol assessment and his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .09.

The officer has been put on administrative leave without pay, and he may be penalized according to North Carolina DWI laws. If he’s charged for a first offense he’ll receive a minimum jail time of 24 hours, fines up to $200, and a drivers license suspension of 6 months to one year. Although he would not be required to install an ignition interlock device if he is a first time offender, second offenders are required by North Carolina law to install one.

When a regular person is arrested for DWI, it can make the police blotter or, in the event of a crash, could be broadcast in a few spots online or in newspapers. If an officer of the law is arrested for DWI, it makes news and reaches a wider demographic. That’s because he or she has a responsibility to uphold the law.

No one can get away with drinking and driving, not even the police, so if you’ve had a few to drink, hand the keys over to someone else.

The DUI Lowdown On Memorial Day Weekend In California

DUIMemorial Day is often thought of as the official kick off to summer, and if the driving under the influence (DUI) stats that come in from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) are any indication, it’s also the kick off to the drinking and driving season.

To fight back against drunk driving during one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, the CHP launched a counter attack that involved checkpoints to stop drinking and driving as well as ensuring drivers and passengers are staying safe by using seat belts.

Now that the numbers are in, the news is somewhat encouraging for California. Last year in 2014, the state saw 1111 DUI arrests. This year, that number has dropped to 1010. Alcohol-related fatalities have also dropped in certain areas. Take San Diego for example: there were 3 alcohol-related fatalities in 2014 and 0 so far this year.

What’s causing the drop in DUI arrests? It could be due to the step up in law enforcement all across California, and it may be due in part to harsher penalties on the horizon for the state. There has been a pilot ignition interlock program that’s been extended in at least one county, and there’s a bill on the table to expand the use of ignition interlock devices for all offenders in the state.

If ignition interlocks are required for all offenders in California, drinking and driving isn’t going to be even less appealing for anyone considering getting behind the wheel after a few drinks. In California you’ll pay up to $1,000 in fines, can spend up to 48 hours in jail, and will lose your driver’s license for at least 30 days.

Memorial Day is only the beginning of the busy summer season on the highways of California. Whether you’re a tourist coming for vacation or a local heading out for a day of summer fun, you can avoid a DUI by leaving the alcohol at home or asking a sober driver to get you home safely.

Social Media Helps Return A Stolen Car At DUI Checkpoint

checkpointA driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoint is one of the main ways police stop drunk drivers, and no matter where you go in the United States, you could encounter a DUI checkpoint anywhere you drive.

Normally at DUI checkpoints, the police require you to slow down then pull over, and once you do they’ll ask you for your driver’s license and registration and assess whether or not you are impaired. If they suspect you are, they will require you to blow into a breathalyzer to assess your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Although DUI checkpoints have been used to fight against drinking and driving for years, police have recently struggled with how to address people on social media leaking information about where checkpoints are located. By posting an update on Twitter or Facebook, police feel that people are helping potential drunk drivers avoid a checkpoint.

But social media was responsible for a very successful checkpoint in Oklahoma recently, and it put one driver in hot water for more than just driving under the influence. Edward Sofsky, a 23-year old, was driving a red SUV when he was pulled over by police to stop at a checkpoint. He failed to provide his driver’s license and insurance, and when the deputies ran the plate on the vehicle, they discovered it had been reported stolen.

The incredible twist to this story came when a woman saw the photo of Sofsky’s arrest beside the vehicle on Facebook and contacted the police through social media to let them know that the stolen vehicle was hers.

She has since recovered her vehicle, but Sofsky’s facing multiple charges including driving under the influence of drugs, possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, and operating a vehicle with a suspended license. In Oklahoma, that means if he ever drivers again, he’ll be doing so with an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle.

Clearly there’s both good and bad to sharing information about DUI checkpoints on social media, but at least this situation turned out well for the police who apprehended an intoxicated driver and the person who had their vehicle stolen.

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.

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