Video Blog: Today’s Tip – Decline field sobriety tests when stopped on suspicion of DUI / DWI.

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Video Blog: Decline field sobriety tests when stopped on suspicion of DUI / DWI

Video Blog:

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Supreme Court to hear DUI blood draw case

SF Gate
Washington —

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether police must get a search warrant before forcing a drunken driving suspect to have blood drawn, accepting a case that will shape privacy rights on the road.

The justices said they will hear Missouri’s contention that the Constitution doesn’t require police to take the time to get judicial approval given how quickly alcohol dissipates in the bloodstream. The Missouri Supreme Court disagreed, saying officers typically must seek a warrant.

That decision “actually requires police officers to stand by and allow the best, most probative evidence to be destroyed during a drunk-driving investigation,” Missouri argued in its appeal. Lower courts are divided on the question.

The case may have widespread day-to-day implications. More than 1.4 million people are arrested each year in the United States for driving under the influence, according to FBI statistics. At least 27 states wouldn’t be directly affected because they have laws barring nonconsensual blood draws in the absence of a warrant, according to court papers filed by Tyler G. McNeely, the defendant in the case.

McNeely was pulled over for speeding in 2010 by a state highway patrolman in southeast Missouri and refused to take a breath test after failing field sobriety tests. The officer then took McNeely to a nearby medical laboratory, where a technician drew blood over the suspect’s objection.

McNeely’s lawyers say the Supreme Court shouldn’t categorically exempt drunken driving cases from the normal rule that police must get a warrant for intrusive bodily searches.

“While every drunk-driving investigation will involve the eventual dissipation of a suspect’s blood alcohol content, not every case will involve a risk of losing evidence of intoxication before search,” argued McNeely, who is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Supreme Court last ruled on the issue in 1966. In that decision, the court said the warrant requirement didn’t apply in the case of a man whose blood was drawn in a hospital about two hours after he was involved in an automobile accident. The court said that case involved “special facts.”

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A bit about me

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The Politics of Charging a 10 Year Old with Murder

It’s a tragic story: A 10 year old boy and a 12 year old boy are playing. The 10 year old becomes enraged to the point he stabs the 12 year old in the chest, killing him. Family members and neighbors acknowledge the 10 year old has had anger issues and is medicated. His mother seems to be universally acknowledged as a caring and responsive parent, dedicated to addressing these aberrant qualities in her son. But does any of this matter? The boy has been charged with murder.

Was charging the boy with murder the right call? The deputy DA on the case is Victor Barr. He’s a good guy. Smart attorney. Family man, with kids of his own. As a prosecutor, he knows what he’s doing. But the decision to charge this case was not his. It came from the very top. I wish it wasn’t the case, but it is a virtual certainly politics played the most influential role in this decision.

I come to this conclusion for a number of reasons beyond the fact the DA herself is in a political battle for mayor of San Diego, or her well-earned reputation of her personal advancement being the primary motivator for any substantial decision in her office – particularly where the press in involved. This much is a given. Rather, it is the speed at which the decision to charge the boy with murder.

You see, the unique circumstances of this case did not require such a decision be made so hastily. There are potential actions Child Protective Services could take to remand him to a secure environment where he could not hurt others. A psychological hold pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150 could be used to hold the child in a secure place while getting a more definitive diagnosis of his condition.

In other words, just a little effort could have bought sufficient time to be able to fully investigate this matter to understand whether charging a 10 year old with mental problems with murder is the right call. Murder is a very serious charge with lifelong consequences – even for a juvenile. There is a very particular mental intent required for murder, which is in serious question given the boy’s age and mental history. The boy had to act with malice and aforethought, meaning he acted with the intention to kill the 12 year old and thought about it beforehand. But the boy’s age, mental maturity, and psychological conditions can absolutely affect whether he actually had, or was even capable of having, this requisite mental state. This is complicated stuff, not realistically determined in a few days.

Why not wait and do a thorough inquiry? The San Diego UT ran a story this week regarding the DA’s review of an El Cajon Police Officer shooting . In that case, the DA took 9 months to make the call! And this is not at all unusual. Why take so long? Thorough investigation – unbelievably thorough. (And the thoroughness is largely politically motivated.) In that case, the person who was shot was merely wounded and recovered. In this case, the stakes are higher for all involved. Why the rush, when it is not necessary? Yes, politics.

You see, San Diego has a strong mayor form of government, meaning the mayor actually runs the City. Actually makes operational decisions with potentially profound implications. Having the appearance of being able to be decisive in tough circumstances could play well when jockeying for position as a strong candidate for mayor. Stepping back to run a thorough and complete investigation while social services takes custody of the child, while clearly the more prudent course for all involved, lacks the political impact of striking while this story remains in the spotlight.

It is tragic a 12 year old boy is dead, and that should not be lost in all this. But there is also a 10 year old boy known mental issues whose life hangs in the balance. There has been enough tragedy in this case with the loss of life. Let’s not rush to judgment in perpetuating more tragic losses for the sake of political gain. Slow down and do it right.


Boy pleads not guilty to murder

By Dana Littlefield

Originally published January 19, 2012 at 9:33 a.m., updated January 19, 2012 at 11:19 a.m.

SAN DIEGO — At times looking uncertain as to what was happening around him, a 10-year-old boy accused of stabbing a 12-year-old to death in East County pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to charges of murder and felony assault.

The boy is accused of killing Ryan Carter, a sixth-grader at Foothills Christian Elementary School in Lakeside, with a kitchen knife Monday outside the 10-year-old’s home in the El Cajon area.

The child sat low in his seat during his brief appearance in Juvenile Court, at times looking up at his lawyer for guidance. When Judge Carolyn Caietti greeted him, the boy raised his hand and waved.

Deputy Public Defender Marian Gaston entered the not guilty plea on his behalf.

“I explained his rights as best I could,” Gaston said.

Following the Probation Department’s recommendation, Caietti ordered the boy to remain held in Juvenile Hall, saying that option was best for his safety and the welfare of the community. A representative from probation told the judge the boy had been following the rules and “participating well” while in custody.

Caietti scheduled a court date for Feb. 23, when the lawyers are expected to discuss the boy’s competency, specifically whether he can understand the proceedings and assist in his own defense. He is expected to undergo a psychological evaluation before the hearing.

As required by state law, the judge asked the boy if he would agree to have his hearing on that date, rather than sooner. The boy spoke to his attorney and shrugged his shoulders before answering “yes.”

The judge noted that it might be difficult to explain factors involving a defendant’s legal right to a speedy trial to a 10-year-old but asked the defense lawyer if she was able to make him understand.

“To the extent possible in this situation,” Gaston answered.

The boy’s mother sat nearly motionless in the courtroom Thursday, several feet behind her son. She maintained a serious and mostly unchanging expression on her face until the end of the hearing when she closed her eyes for several seconds.

Jo Pastore, a deputy public defender, said her office would not make a statement about the case Thursday but would likely speak publicly later.

Although Juvenile Court proceedings in California are usually confidential, state law dictates that judges allow public access to juvenile court hearings when they involve certain charges, including murder and manslaughter.

The 10-year-old is too young to be tried in adult court. Because of his age, authorities will not make his name public, and U-T San Diego is not publishing it.

Prosecutors within the District Attorney’s Office filed the charges Wednesday, two days after Sheriff’s Department authorities took the boy into custody in the stabbing of his friend. Ryan died from a chest wound.

“This is a tragic, tragic case for everyone involved,” said Deputy District Attorney Victor Barr, outside the courthouse.

He declined to discuss the specifics of the case but said in general that defendants who are sentenced in Juvenile Court on murder or other serious charges can be held in a youth facility until age 25.

At that point, the defendant would have to be released because the court loses its jurisdiction.

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3 DUI’s in 1 Week – New Record?

I wonder if he really set is mind on achieving 3 DUI’s in less than a week, or if he’s just got a knack for early release from jail and bouncing right back into the bar. Regardless, you gotta admire his persistence. Check it out at:

LA Times:
An San Diego man has been arrested for suspected drunken driving three times in the last five days, deputies said Sunday.
Sheriff’s deputies were called to a report of a drunken driver on Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach about 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
When they arrived they found the driver, David Lakarnafeaux, 44, had walked inside a bar on Palm Avenue and Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach, Sgt. Ted Greenwald said.
When deputies arrested him, they discovered that Lakarnafeaux had already been arrested for the same charge twice last week: on Tuesday by San Diego police and on Thursday by the California Highway Patrol, Greenwald said.
Lakarnafeaux was booked into San Diego Central Jail, where he was held in lieu of $100,000 bail. He was scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m.  Wednesday in the El Cajon courthouse, according to jail records.

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720 Cars Thru DUI Checkpoint Nets… 1 DUI

I suppose these checkpoints are about raising awareness and such, but when 720 cars pass through a DUI checkpoint and it results in just 1 DUI arrest, one must winder if the checkpoint was really planned for maximum effectiveness or if there aren’t as many drunk drivers on the road as perceived. Read more from 10 news beloit:

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego police checkpoint held overnight near San Ysidro netted two suspected drunken driving arrests, officers reported Saturday.
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More than 720 vehicles passed through the checkpoint, which was held from 10:20 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday in the 1800 block of Palm Avenue, near Interstate 5, according to San Diego police Officer Mark McCullough.

Officers arrested one suspected drunken driver at the checkpoint and another nearby, McCullough said.
“Drinking alcohol and driving do not mix,” McCullough said. “If you plan to consume alcohol, you should also plan not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle or ride a motorcycle.”
The checkpoint was part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign that combines high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through publicity, McCullough said. The campaign is led by the California Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, along with the California Avoid DUI Taskforce.
The checkpoint was funded by a grant from UC Berkeley, McCullough said.

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2010 Miss America Charged with DUI

2010 Miss America charged with DUI.  Shows anyone can be subject to criminal prosecution – not just then”other guy”.  This beauty queen allegedly tested at a .19% blood alcohol level and had a half full (or empty per your disposition) bottle if champagne there in her Jag when stopped.

Hard to say what will happen, and she can likely bounce back
without too great an impact on her life – that is, if she has the right lawyer.

For more, check out

Ex-Miss USA appears in court for drink-driving charges
Arrested in December with 0.19 BAC – twice the legal limit
Police found half-drunk bottle of champagne in back of her Jaguar
Will go to trial March 13
Last updated at 3:56 PM on 19th January 2012
Comments (13)

Former Miss USA Rima Fakih made an initial appearance in court today for a drink-driving charge.
The former beauty queen was accused of speeding and swerving in her car on December 3 of last year in her hometown of Highland Park, Michigan, and police found an open bottle of champagne in the back of her 2011 Jaguar. 
She was arrested when police saw her weaving in and out of traffic without using her signal.

Looking serious: Former Miss USA Rima Fakih appears in court today after she was arrested for drink-driving last December

Polished: Rima Fakih was on her best behaviour while appearing in court today, and looked relaxed and assured as she left
Her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, according to police reports. 
The 26 year old initially blew a 0.19. The legal limit is 0.08.
Fakih appeared in court wearing her hair in a high ponytail, looking mild-mannered in a white pinstripe suit.

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DUI – Blow Before You Drive

California law gives the judge discretion to impose an ignition interlock device in a first time DUI, meaning the driver must blow into a device with no measurable alcohol before the engine will start. Second or more convictions with ten years will find this a mandatory requirement. The powerful lobbying group MADD is pushing for everyone to get this for any conviction. Check out more here:

By’s Jim Gold
Connecticut motorists convicted of drunken driving are the latest to face mandatory use of ignition interlock devices, a step seen by some as steering the nation closer to requiring alcohol detection systems as standard equipment in all vehicles.

Pushed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Connecticut on Jan. 1 joined 14 other states with ignition-interlock mandates for drivers caught with blood-alcohol content above the legal limit, even for first-time offenders. A similar pilot program is under way in four California counties.

At least 24 other states mandate Breathalyzer-like locks for so-called hard-core drunken drivers who include repeat offenders or those caught with alcohol levels of .15 or more.

This chart from Mothers Against Drunk Driving shows the status of ignition interlock laws across the country. Legislation is pending for interlock mandates for even first-time offenders in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Other states leave the penalty of interlock ignitions to the discretion of judges. Some states, such as Nebraska, reduce license revocation periods for convicted motorists who agree to use ignition interlocks.

States in general require convicted motorists to pay for the devices. First-time drunken drivers to get ignition locks

MADD launched its 50-state effort to eliminate drunken driving in 2006, when only one state, New Mexico, mandated ignition interlocks for even first-time drunken drivers, said Frank Harris, MADD’s manager of state legislative affairs.

Previously the focus was on hard-core drunken drivers and suspending their licenses, a punishment ignored by up to 75 percent of convicted motorists, he said.

“It makes me sick to my stomach to see people drive drunk with a BAC of .08 to .14 and not be categorized as hardcore drunk driving offenders,” Harris said.

“DUI or DWI laws are very complicated,” Harris said. “The ignition interlock is just part of the approach to assure the offender must prove sobriety and assure swift punishment,” he said.

The devices are designed to prevent a car from starting if a driver who blows into it has an alcohol level above a certain point. Technological advances – including cameras on the device – make it tougher to get around the systems. People previously thought they could have sober friends blow into the devices to get their cars started.

Legal reforms with ignition-interlock mandates not only reinforce a state’s commitment to halting drunken driving, but also effectively reduce re-arrest rates by 67 percent, said Harris.

The recidivism figure is also cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mandating ignition interlocks is the CDC’s top recommendation for reducing the approximately 11,000 alcohol-related driving deaths yearly, which it says is about a third of all driving deaths.

But the American Beverage Institute fears mandates go too far and it wants judges to stay in the picture, said Sarah Longwell, the restaurant trade group’s managing director.

“There is a distinction between somebody who is one sip over the legal limit and the type of person who has 10 drinks,” Longwell told “The judicial system should be involved in those cases,” she said.

“Restaurants prefer 10 people come in and have one drink each than one person order 10 drinks,” she said.

A 120-pound woman who has two glasses of wine with dinner metabolizes alcohol differently than the 10-drink offender, she said.

A judge, not legal mandates, should decide about ignition interlocks at the lighter levels, she said.

The spread of mandates and discussion of ignition interlocks will “prime the public” for the day when the government requires auto manufacturers to install even more-sophisticated alcohol-detection devices as original equipment, Longwell said.

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, funded in part by automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says it is working on “potential technologies that could detect alcohol from air samples in the vehicle passenger compartment, through the driver’s skin using tissue spectroscopy, from emissions through the skin, from eye movements, and from driving performance.” (Wired takes detailed look at DADSS.)

“Why wouldn’t you want that?” Longwell asked.

The problem is in the details of where maximum alcohol levels are set. They won’t be at .08, she predicted, because if someone drinks five shots and hops behind the steering wheel, the driver’s blood level won’t cross the .08 threshold for a while. No one has the answer yet on how low to set cutoff sensors, she said.

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Video Blog

Enjoy my semi-regular video blogs with tips, observations, and the occasional humorous quip.

This short video blog provides some helpful insight on being investigated for DUI/DWI in California. Beware of your rights and what you are not required to do if you are suspected of driving under the influence.

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