Three Common Ways Drunk Drivers Are Arrested

drunk drivers common When you hear about drunk driving arrests on the news, no matter what state that driver is from or who it is, there are usually a few common themes. That’s because alcohol has a predictable effect on a person’s driving skills, and the result of drinking too much before you get behind the wheel is that you end up in the same situations that other drunk drivers do. Here are 3 very common ways drunk drivers become arrested.

They drive the wrong way down a road

It happens all the time: a drunk driver decides to get behind the wheel of a car and heads out, only to find themselves driving on the wrong side of the road. Sometimes the driver is stopped before any serious crash can occur, but other wrong-way drivers end up killing someone.

Take a Hawthorne, California man for example. He was just found guilty of murder because he drove drunk over a bridge in Long Beach and crashed into another vehicle. He’ll be spending at least fifteen years in jail for the crash, and the tragic thing is that he’d already been arrested for a wrong way crash that injured another driver just two months before.

They hit a tree

It’s incredibly common to hit a tree or a building when you’re driving drunk. When you drink alcohol it affects both your vision and your hand-eye coordination, so the driver might not realize that a tree or building is closer than it appears until they’ve smashed right into it.

One driver in Racine, Wisconsin just had a drunk driving crash that connected with a tree, mailbox, and patio before he drove away and struck a minivan, and he’s going to serve fifteen months in jail because of it.

They come across a drunk driving checkpoint

A checkpoint is legal in most states, and although police are often required by law to publicize where they’re going to set up the checkpoint, they often catch surprised drunk drivers.

In a recent case a woman in Coeburn, Virigina was taken by surprise by a checkpoint set up by police, and instead of stopping she made an abrupt U-turn and crashed right into the vehicle of a mother of two. The mother died, and charges are currently pending against the driver.

These are just three ways that drunk drivers are caught and arrested. It just goes to show, drunk drivers from anywhere can end up in the exact same situations, all because of how alcohol affects their driving.

Tough Drunk Driving Laws In Wisconsin, But There’s Still A Problem

drunk driving WisconsinThe state of Wisconsin kicked off their New Year with tougher drunk driving laws. That’s a good thing, so why is there still a problem? While they’ve toughed up on some repeat drunk drivers, they’ve fallen short in penalizing first offenders, and that lack of punishment might be one of the reasons behind spiking drunk driving rates in the state.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true: Wisconsin is the only state in the entire country that doesn’t treat an operating while impaired (OWI) first offense as a criminal offense. While you’ll find other states with harsh penalties for first offenders including jail time, high fines, driver’s license suspensions, and ignition interlock programs, Wisconsin treats a first OWI as a civil crime.

If you had to compare apples to apples, a first time drunk driving arrest in Wisconsin compares quite closely to a really expensive speeding ticket.

That means that first offenders in Wisconsin might suffer through a few speed bumps, but they won’t be prevented from driving by an ignition interlock unless they blow over .15 on a breathalyzer at the time of arrest.

These type of drunk driving laws for first offenders might have worked for Wisconsin in the past, but that’s only because drunk driving rates were declining. It all turned around in 2015 when there were seven percent more alcohol-related crashes than in 2014, and that was the largest increase in Wisconsin in fifty years.

When you put that spike in drunk driving rates together with the fact that WalletHub recently designated Wisconsin as the state with seven of the ten drunkest cities in the USA, you’ve got a real problem.

Yes, Wisconsin has just passed a felony drunk driving law that requires any four time offender to be punished by up to six years in prison, and yes, there are also new maximum sentences for fifth, sixth, and even ten time offenders. But when it comes down to it, Wisconsin needs to get on board with stopping first time offenders before they become repeat offenders, and that starts with changing first time offender laws in the state.

Bigger Push For Ignition Interlock Compliance In Wisconsin

ignition interlock compliance wisconsinIt’s a new year, and that means there are new OWI (operating while impaired) laws in Wisconsin. As of January 1st, 2017, if you receive a fourth drunk driving conviction it’s now an automatic felony. If you’re a repeat offender that means you’ll get increased jail time for that fourth offense, and there’s also increased jail time for a fifth and sixth OWI offense too.

It was a legal battle to pass those new laws, and now a Wisconsin state representative wants to propose further legislation designed to ensure that the current penalties are enforced. There are a few things that the Wisconsin lawmaker feels the need to change, but his main focus is ignition interlock compliance.

Wisconsin requires an ignition interlock installation for any first time OWI offender with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over  0.15. Repeat offenders must install an ignition interlock too, and so do any offenders who refuse to submit to a blood or breath test if a police officer asks them to.

Although they are required by law, offenders in Wisconsin aren’t installing the devices. Not only that, there’s no harsh punishment for not installing your ignition interlock. You could receive fine up to $600 and you may receive six months of jail time if the court makes that decision, but other than that your ignition interlock program time will simply be extended. That doesn’t provide a lot of incentive for people to install the device and compete their required time with an ignition interlock.

Wisconsin is finally catching on to what other states have realized: it’s one thing to pass an all offender ignition interlock law, it’s quite another to enforce it. But enforcing ignition interlock compliance is part of the bigger picture in the fight against drunk driving, and if every state would get on board with harsh penalties for not complying, there would be a drastic reduction in drunk driving arrests.

Drinking And Driving Firefighter Kills Uber Driver In Wisconsin

drinking and driving firefighter kills Uber driverUber has gained quite a reputation as transportation for anyone looking for a safe ride or as a way to prevent drinking and driving, and although it does provide a great service, it’s had a bumpy start over the past few years.

From Uber scams where hackers take control of people’s accounts and they’re charged for rides they didn’t take to assaults in Uber-driven vehicles, the ride sharing service has seen its share of downs. Now they face more bad news as they deal with the tragic death of one of their drivers and his passenger after a drunk driving crash.

It happened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 4th, 2016. Just after 5:00 pm a pickup truck struck a minivan while making a left hand turn. Both vehicles were sent into oncoming traffic and were hit by another car. The driver of the minivan was an Uber driver, and both he and his passenger died because of the crash.

This wasn’t a crash that happened due to a random driver error. The driver of the vehicle that hit the Uber driver was an off-duty fireman from Milwaukee, and although he hasn’t been officially charged, he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and has a pending homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle charge pending against him. Officers who attended the scene say speed was also a cause of the crash.

It’s not surprising that a crash like this happened in Wisconsin, because it’s a state that’s long been known to have a serious drinking and driving problem. The problem is so serious that Governor Scott Walker just signed a bill making it a felony for anyone who receives a fourth operating while intoxicated (OWI), and he’s hoping it sends anyone considering drinking and driving in the state.

It’s tragic that the crash happened to an Uber driver; someone who probably made numerous trips shuttling potential drunk drivers home. But that’s the truly sad thing about drunk driving: if someone makes the choice to drink then drive, these crashes can happen to anyone on the road with them.

 

Ignition Interlocks Are The Only Choice That Makes Sense, Wisconsin

iowa ignition interlock law Ignition interlocks work because they have one simple function: they stop someone drunk from driving. They work so well that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has hard data to show that ignition interlocks have stopped 1.77 million drunk driving attempts across the United States. That’s 1.77 million people who tried to turn the key on a car and drive away while drunk, and they couldn’t because the state required them to have an ignition interlock.

If you lived in a state where drunk driving was a huge problem, wouldn’t you want a law that requires ignition interlocks for anyone who drinks and drives? Apparently not if you’re living in Wisconsin. The state where a first time drunk driving offender gets nothing more than a traffic ticket is exploring the idea of allowing offenders to skip the required ignition interlock program in favor of 24/7 Sobriety: a sobriety monitoring program that gets the offender to take a breath or urine test twice a day at home or at a specific location.

Forgoing ignition interlocks, a proven method of stopping drunk drivers, for 24/7 Sobriety is not like exchanging apples for apples. The average American drives at least 37 miles per day, and the ignition interlock will stop someone who is drunk from getting behind the wheel of a 4,000 pound machine and potentially crashing it into someone else.

24/7 Sobriety can’t do that. The program might stop someone from drinking alcohol, but if that person has alcohol dependence like so many repeat drunk drivers do, the possibility of that person drinking between tests is strong. If they relapse, there’s absolutely nothing stopping that person from driving.

Trading ignition interlocks, a method that has reduced drunk driving deaths by 67% over driver’s license suspensions alone, for 24/7 Sobriety, a method with only a 12% success rate in reducing repeat drunk drivers, is a bad idea. They’d work together to stop drunk drivers in Wisconsin, but 24/7 Sobriety alone can’t do the job ignition interlocks can.

If Wisconsin lawmakers wanted to see a real reduction in their drunk driving deaths, they’d spend their time enforcing ignition interlock compliance. As it stands right now, just over half of the ignition interlocks required in Wisconsin were installed, and that means the state already has a proven program that stops drunk drivers: they’re just forcing people to use it.

If you’re from Wisconsin or you’re concerned about the state of drunk driving in Wisconsin, you have the chance to have your voice heard. Sign MADD’s petition to oppose replacing ignition interlocks with 24/7 Sobriety. It’s one step you can take to send a strong message to lawmakers: ignition interlocks work, and Wisconsin really needs them.

Father And Son Cause Drunk Driving Crashes 33 Years Apart

mug shot

Have you ever wondered whether alcoholism is hereditary? If you have a parent, grandparent, or other family member who has struggled with alcohol addiction, the genetic link is definitely something to consider. While there are a lot of scientific studies to back up the fact that genetics influence alcoholism, is there a genetic link to drinking and driving too?

Not all alcoholics will drink and drive, and not all people who drink and drive are alcoholics, but because there are a few cases out there where both a parent and child have been arrested for drinking and driving. Take the recent crash of Daniel Boucher: the 27 year old has been charged with the drunk driving deaths of Hobart, Wisconsin couple Jim and Wendy Rush.

After the news was publicized the Local TV station discovered that there was a connection between Boucher’s recent drunk driving crash and one that happened 33 years ago. It turns out that Daniel Boucher’s father, Ross Boucher, was also convicted of drunk driving causing death due to a crash and death he caused.

Although they were both charged with similar offenses, Ross Boucher’s punishment would have been drastically different from what his son now faces. The father had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.331 at the time of the crash, and he only served 5 years probation and was required to complete an in-patient rehab program at a hospital.

On the other hand, Daniel Boucher has been charged with felonies including homicide for his drunk driving crash, and although he hasn’t been convicted, if he is he’ll be serving jail time, will be required to pay stiff fines, will lose his driver’s license for a long period of time, and if he drives again, will be required to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle he drives.

Two people from the same family causing two separate fatal crashes: it’s enough to make you wonder if the choice to drink and drive is carved into your genetics in the same way the choice to drink is. There’s no way to tell, but if you have a parent, grandparent, or other relative who caused a drunk driving crash and killed someone, would you make the choice to drink and drive too?

 

 

Drunk Drivers In Wisconsin Not Installing Ignition Interlocks

drunk drivers in wisconsin not intalling ignition interlocksThere are a lot of drunk drivers in Wisconsin, and a lot of first time offenders are becoming repeat drunk drivers thanks to the state’s easy going first offender penalties. That might be why some of the craziest drinking and driving arrests have come out of Wisconsin over the past few weeks, including one repeat offender who used beer battered fish as the reason he had registered on a breathalyzer and two parents who let their 9 year old drive them home because they were too drunk to drive.

It’s not like the state isn’t trying to crack down on their offenders. They do require ignition interlocks for anyone charged with a repeat operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) offense, but it doesn’t seem like the offenders are listening. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WDOT) has shared data that shows only half of the people required to install ignition interlocks have actually installed them. Over 54,000 interlocks were ordered to be installed, but only 30,750 were.

Why are these drunk drivers in Wisconsin skipping a penalty they are required to fulfill? The problem seems to be with Wisconsin’s non-compliance laws. In short, there are none. If someone is convicted of drinking and driving and they don’t install their interlock, they’ll receive nothing more than a traffic ticket. It’s not a crime under state law, so there are no real consequences.

There’s no denying that ignition interlocks save lives, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has come out with a study showing that the technology has stopped over 1.77 million attempts to drive drunk. In a state like Wisconsin with a serious drunk driving problem and thousands of repeat offenders on the roads, ignition interlocks and compliance with interlock sentences is needed more and more each day.

Maybe it’s time for Wisconsin to step up their non-compliance laws and stop letting repeat offenders drive away when they’re supposed to blow first.

Fish And Chips Won’t Excuse Wisconsin Drunk Driving Charge

drunk-driver-mug-shot-Wisconsin

Image from Adams County Sheriffs Department

Imagine you’re at your local fish and chip spot and you’ve eaten your fair share of the beer battered cod. Besides feeling extremely bloated, would you feel a little tipsy too? That’s what one man wanted the police to believe after he was stopped for a 10th drunk driving charge in Wisconsin.

John Przybyla, a 76 year old man from Dell Prairie, Wisconsin, was driving his truck in October of 2014 when a police officer noticed he was crossing the center line of the highway. When the officer pulled him over he said that his breath smelt like alcohol and when asked him to perform a field sobriety test, Przybyla failed.

Although he smelt like alcohol, Przybyla said he hadn’t had anything to drink, and the only reason he could have smelt like alcohol was because he had eaten beer-battered fish earlier that evening. He registered a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .062 on a breathalyzer, and that number came in well over the .02 limit he was bound to as a repeat offender in Wisconsin.

Przybyla is one of thousands of repeat offenders in Wisconsin, and the state’s OWI problem is well known across the United States. One of the reasons why first offenders become repeat offenders in the state may be because first offenders receive minimal penalties, and only when you get to your 5th or 6th offense do you receive stiff fines, up to 6 years in jail, and are required to install an ignition interlock.

Other repeat offenders in Wisconsin may want to take note: Przybyla’s beer-battered fish explanation didn’t fly with the police office, and it didn’t work when it came to court either. Przybyla was found guilty of his 10th OWI offense by a jury, and he was also charged with operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration and operating while revoked.

He hasn’t been sentenced yet, but he may face over 12 years in jail for this drunk driving charge in Wisconsin. That’s a long time to wonder just how much alcohol was in that beer battered fish.

Parents Avoid Wisconsin OWI By Letting Their 9 Year Old Drive

Wisconsin OWI 9 year old drunk driverThere isn’t a lot of incentive to stay sober behind the wheel in Wisconsin. Because Wisconsin OWI laws (operating while impaired) only require a first time offender to pay a fine up to $300 and lose their drivers license for 6 months, there are a lot of drunk drivers on the roads. But even police in Wisconsin, who have probably seen it all, must have been shocked when they stopped a vehicle and found a 9 year old driving her drunk parents home.

After receiving a call about an erratic driver, a sheriff’s deputy came upon a vehicle parked in Polk County, Wisconsin. Inside the vehicle were Jason Roth, Amanda Eggert, and their two children: a 9 year old girl and an 11 month old baby. Once he talked to the people inside he discovered a 9 year old was in the drivers seat, a baby strapped into a car seat, and two parents who were so intoxicated the officer had a hard time understanding them.

According to the report, Jason Roth had begun to drive the vehicle home but handed the wheel over to the little girl once he was outside of the city. The officer came upon them while they were stopped at a boat drop where they had parked.

The couple were charged with recklessly endangering the safety and neglecting a child, and Eggert was also charged with disorderly conduct and battery because she had fought with paramedics who helped her after she received a hand injury that same day.

Having a 9 year old behind the wheel is shocking, but when it comes to drunk driving, it’s not unheard of. Back in July, drunk parents in Texas decided their 13 year old would be an OK designated driver. She was stopped by police after driving erratically and the parents were charged with child endangerment.

The key message to take away here: if you drink, don’t drive, and if you’re drunk, you can’t avoid a Wisconsin OWI by handing the keys over to your kids either.

Wisconsin Drunk Drivers Could Soon Be Ignition Interlock Users

Wisconsin Ignition InterlockIt’s no surprise that traffic fatalities have increased in Wisconsin. According to the Department of Transportation they’ve jumped by 13% over the past year, and you can blame 1/3 of those fatal crashes on Wisconsin drunk drivers.

The state where a first time drunk driving offense will net a drive nothing more than a ticket lost 556 people to alcohol-related rashes in 2015, and AAA Wisconsin thinks that’s far too many. They’d like people to support a few operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) bills that are designed to stop Wisconsin drunk drivers in their tracks, especially one designed to strengthen the state’s ignition interlock laws.

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 266 and Senate Bill 222 would require any first time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .15, repeat drunk driving offenders, and anyone who refuses to take a sobriety test when asked to comply with the state’s ignition interlock law.

AAA feels as though strengthening the laws would stop offenders from driving on a suspended license and close a loophole where offenders can drive other vehicles that don’t have ignition interlocks. If an offender does drive another vehicle without an ignition interlock, they’d receive a stiffer penalty for doing so than the fine would be if they just weren’t complying with the ignition interlock program.

Ignition interlocks don’t just benefit the public by keeping drunk drivers off the roads, they benefit the drunk driving offender too. Instead of losing their driver’s license and not being able to drive for months at a time, an ignition interlock will let a Wisconsin drunk driver get back behind the wheel after a OWI conviction.

Stronger ignition interlock laws might be exactly what Wisconsin needs to stop people in the state from making the choice to drive drunk. That’s why AAA Wisconsin is asking everyone to back these bills. If they pass, Wisconsin roads will be safer for everyone.

 

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