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Substance Abuse

Majority of U.S. Fatal Car Crashes Caused By Marijuana Or Alcohol

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If the flood of news items about deaths due to driving under the influence does not make an impact, perhaps this new study will.

car crash driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuanaData obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the duration 1999-2011 revealed that 50.3 percent of car crashes that result in death of young adults and teenagers were caused by driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol. Dr. Katherine Keyes led the investigative study to use the information as a springboard for drafting policies to combat substance abuse.

The study amassed data involving drivers 16-25 years old who figured in fatal car crashes across nine states: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington State and West Virginia. The study revealed that 36.8 percent of the cases found the victims under the influence of alcohol, 5.9 percent under marijuana, and 7.6 percent under both substances, as published in a news article.

Keyes, who works at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, said that the information on deadly vehicular accidents should be able to prompt improved implementing rules to curb substance abuse. “Given the rapid changes currently underway in marijuana availability and permissibility in the US, understanding the effects of drug control policies on substance use behaviour and adverse health outcomes, such as fatal motor vehicle crashes, has never been more important,” Keyes said.

Alcohol Testing Drug Testing

Two Off-Duty Cops Killed in Car Crash!

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Two police officers were killed while their four female companions were injured after their vehicle figured in an accident on the Bronx River Parkway.

Police identified the officers as 25-year-old Edwin Paulino and 32-year-old Kim Hoyoung. They were pinned inside the wreckage the 2009 Nissan Altima that they were riding in and were pronounced dead at the scene. Their female passengers were reportedly thrown from the vehicle.

car crashThe accident happened at 6:30 in the morning on Sunday. An article on the New York Post indicated that the cops were driving home from a birthday party for another police officer. Their vehicle hit a guardrail near the 233rd Street exit and flipped over.

Police investigators have, at this time, attributed the accident to “driver inattentiveness”; no other vehicles were involved in the accident, and speed was ruled out as a contributory factor to the accident. Blood tests are reportedly being conducted on the two officers to verify whether drugs or alcohol may have anything to do with the accident.

It was indicated in the New York Post article that the cops may have been intoxicated while driving. The sister of one of the injured women, Melina Ramirez, revealed that her sister shared with her that the cops had indicated that they were “a little tipsy” but were able to drive.

The women passengers had only met Paulino and Hoyoung at the party and were getting a ride home from them.

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Substance Abuse

Man Too Drunk to Attend DUI Hearing!

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It certainly looks like a DUI charge is not enough to wean a Nebraska man from drinking. Oh well, DUIs are practically a dime a dozen these days and no longer seems like a deterrent. When you have celebrities posing for mug shots on DUI charges one too many times, some may actually think it’s kinda chic.

alcoholic drinksA feature on MyWay.com tells how Jason Botos was too hammered on sentencing day that another warrant of arrest was issued against him. Botos pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge after figuring in a collision with five other vehicles in September, 2009.

Botos had a hearing scheduled for Thursday last week, and his father drove him to the Papillion courthouse. He was so drunk, though, that dad needed help from deputies to get him out of the car. Even if he got out of the vehicle, he was still too drunk to attend his own hearing, according to prosecutor Ben Perlman. Eventually, the judge issued a warrant and Botos was arrested by deputies in the parking lot.

Another hearing is set for Tuesday.

Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse

Mom to 911: I’m Driving Drunk!

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A mom in Albuquerque, New Mexico, did a good deed and called 911 to report a drunk driver cruising down a road with kids. Oh, and the driver was herself.

Maxine Sedillo called 911 with the following message, according to an article on KOAT News (ABC): “I’m calling the cops on myself, because I can’t drive drunk and went down the street driving with my kids.” The call was made Sunday night.

drunk drivingDeputies were sent over to where Sedillo was located, and the dispatcher said: “I’m just going to stay on the line with you until deputies get there, just to make sure everything stays OK.” Sedillo then responded: “Oh no, but I want to drive drunk.”

She is drunk, alright, no question about it! Police officers found Sedillo parked in front of her mother’s home. Her blood alcohol level was 0.16, and she admitted that she had consumed at least six alcoholic drinks.

Deputy Lawrence Koren of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office reports that Sedillo was found by the deputy “in possession in control of the vehicle with the keys in the ignition and behind the wheel and the kids still in the vehicle.” This invalidated her good deed of making officers aware of her condition and led to an aggravated DWI and child abuse charge, both felonies. If convicted, she faces up to a year in prison for each count.

Koren said, though: “By calling the dispatcher to let us know that she was driving while intoxicated with her kids in the vehicle, that’s an apparent cry for help.”

Sedillo’s children are now with their grandmother.

Alcohol Testing Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Former Owner of Fasion Café Charged with DWI in Manhattan

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Stefano Chitis, who used to own Fashion Café, was reportedly busted for driving drunk in Manhattan on Friday night, according to a report on the New York Daily News. The jet-setter was stopped by police after trying to back up his vehicle on the wrong way of a one-way street.

Chitis took – and failed – a breathalyzer test. He was charged with DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) as well as driving without a seatbelt. He was released after arraignment and is expected to go back to court the week after to face charges. He is represented by the firm Salvatore Strazullo.

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Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse

iPhone App as Blood Alcohol Test

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The New Year’s Eve party will undoubtedly be only the first party of several that will make 2010 colorful for you. For those of us who are over 21, a party may involve a cocktail or alcoholic beverage or two; sometimes even more, depending on how much fun one is having.

martinisThe thing about having fun, though, is that one cannot forget about what happens after. Unfortunately, there have been quite a number of unfortunate accidents in the past that started out with a night of ideally harmless fun. The Colorado Department of Transportation has prepared for such occurrences by helping people find out whether they are sober enough to get behind the wheel or not using one of the more popular gadgets around – the iPhone.

Called ‘R U Buzzed’, this free iPhone app was launched by the Colorado Department of Transportation in early December. Since its launch, the Wall Street Journal reports that the app has been downloaded more than 40,000 times. It works be helping users calculate their blood alcohol levels and then prompting users with a message that says that they should not drive.

Users are asked to enter their weight, gender, the number of hours they have been drinking and the amount of alcoholic beverage – whether that may be wine, beer or vodka – that has been consumed. The app calculates one drink as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

Once the app has calculated based on the values given, it will display a blood alcohol content value. The app will then say, “You’re buzzed!” and tell you that “you could be arrested for impaired driving” and that you should “designate a sober driver”. It is also equipped with a GPS feature that helps a user find a cab if there is no one sober enough to drive.

Since this app is from the Colorado Department of Transportation, all estimates are based on Colorado laws and the GPS feature may not work outside of Colorado.

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Julie Ann Kroll’s Battle with Alcoholism

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The body of a woman from Woodbridge, Virginia who has been missing since December 16 has been found. Police and firefighters recovered the remains of 39-year-old Julie Ann Kroll from a 100-ft ravine behind a row of townhouses near the intersection of Forestdale and Beaumont roads in Dale City, according to a report.

KrollThe circumstances surrounding her disappearance were sad and disheartening, to say the least. Apparently, Kroll was intoxicated on the afternoon of December 16 and drove her SUV with her 8-year-old daughter. Investigators believe that she received a call on a mobile phone to stop her SUV and let the child out of the vehicle.

Kroll eventually did stop the SUV as a neighbor shared how he witnessed a little girl get out of the vehicle and go to a neighbor’s house for help; this was around 5:45 pm on December 16. Kroll herself reportedly got out of the SUV, but even as she did so she left the vehicle in drive. The car then drove off by itself and came to rest in a bush. Kroll was then seen walking down the street and did not return to take her daughter. It was the little girl’s father who picked her up in the evening.

Warrants of arrest for Kroll on charges of felony child neglect, driving on a revoked operator’s license and driving with an open alcoholic container were issued by the police.

Neighbors pitched in and organized search parties to find Kroll since her disappearance, to no avail.

According to Jim Patricio, Kroll’s father, Julie Ann had been struggling with alcoholism for many years. Court records show that she had had a few alcohol-related incidents, ranging from charges of drunken driving, refusal to undergo breath analyzer testing from a police officer and driving with a revoked license.

Substance Abuse

Minnesota Court Ruling on Breath Analyzers Affects DWIs

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Thousands of DWI (Driving with Impairment) cases in the state of Minnesota may end up being dropped, while prosecutors and law enforcers may need to change the way DWI cases are handled after a court ruling from last week, according to an article by David Hanners at twincities.com. This may be good news for the defendants – but a setback in the fight against drunk driving and law enforcement in general.

beerThe state Supreme Court ruled that defendants in DWI cases have the right to ask prosecutors to turn over the source code that runs the breath analyzer device. This computer source code determines the reading given by the breath analyzer based on the input; an examination of the code by an expert will show how reliable the device is.

The problem of prosecutors is that they cannot turn over something that they do not have to begin with.

The police force of the state of Minnesota uses the Intoxilyzer 5000EN as the standard device to measure a driver’s impairment. There are 260 of these devices being used by the state, all purchased from its manufacturer, CMI of Kentucky. CMI has refused to release the source code, claiming that this is a trade secret. From a software business perspective, this statement is indeed true; the problem now is that the entire situation leaves DWI cases deadlocked.

Prosecutors have another option, which is to use blood tests and/or urinalysis instead of breath analyzers. But even that is an issue. All tests such as these are performed at the lab run by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension – and they are already way over their heads in work as it is.

Reading all this, it is frustrating that a simple technicality such as a source code can render an otherwise practical device useless. The root cause of all this is simple — why drink and drive to begin with? Is not the number of fatal consequences, such as the death of a young and promising baseball player, due to impaired judgment caused by alcohol consumption not enough for people to learn their lesson?

Thousands of DWI cases at a standstill – what a shame. For as long as there is a way out, people will never learn.

Substance Abuse

City Manager Mike Martin Arrested on Suspicion of Drunk Driving

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The city manager of Burien City in King County, Washington, was arrested due to a suspected DUI offense after the car he was driving went off the road and hit a ceramic pot on someone’s yard last Sunday.

According to the online report of a Seattle newspaper, 55-year-old Mike Martin was found by the Sheriff’s deputies who responded to the call outside his car just before 11 pm Sunday on 14th Avenue South. He was reportedly “leaning forward and swaying from side to side”.

Mike Martin reportedly said he had a couple of beers. In the incident report, a deputy noted that Martin’s breath smelled strongly of alcohol and that his speech was slurred. Martin reportedly said that he had “a couple of glasses of wine and two beers”. He also reportedly said that he had been turning around on the street as he was driving home. He allegedly refused to submit to field sobriety tests or a preliminary breath test.

The refusal to take a breath test may cost Martin his driver’s license for a period of at least a year, as stipulated in the state law. The Sheriff’s Office has reportedly recommended that Martin be charged with a DUI.

Apparently, this is not the first time that Martin has had to deal with the consequences of drinking and driving. He gave up his post as chief administrative officer for Kent City, Washington in October 2005 after he was involved in a hit-and-run car accident that left a woman injured.

In that case, Martin reportedly rear-ended a vehicle that was being pushed by three people. The woman steering the car was injured; Martin drove away before the police arrived. As a result of that accident, Martin was asked to undergo alcohol-abuse assessment and alcohol and drug information school. He also attended a victim-impact alcohol and drug panel and paid a fine of $1,025.

Seattle Drug Screening

Substance Abuse Workplace Testing

Driving Instructor Slapped with DUI While Someone Else Is Driving!

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This is one for the books. A driving instructor from Salem was charged with a DUI after it was determined that he was drunk while giving driving lessons to two teenagers in Ipswich in 2007.

Daniel Winsky, 53, is probably the first person who is convicted for drunk driving while seated in the passenger seat. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation and will lose his driver’s license for a period of one year. Winsky was also asked by Newburyport District Court Judge Peter Doyle to attend a driver-safety class entitled “State Courts against Road Rage”, a brain injury awareness program. He will also need to submit himself to random drug and alcohol testing to be administered by a probation officer and he faces $2,000 in fines and fees.

He has a steering wheel, so he is technically driving, too.A concerned convenience store customer called the attention of police after noticing that Winsky, who reeked of alcohol and was slurring his words while speaking inside the convenience store, got into a driving school vehicle. The police pulled the driving school car over, which was being driven by one of the teenagers. When police subjected Winsky to a sobriety test, it was determined that his judgment was impaired; a portable Breathanalyzer test showed his blood alcohol level to be at .23, although this result was not presented as evidence to the jurors since their use is not deemed permissible in Massachusetts courts.

The police did not arrest him outright, though, due to the unique situation that he was in. He was technically seated at the passenger side of the vehicle. However, after further study, it was concluded that the fact that he had a brake and a steering wheel on his side of the car – ideally to correct any misjudgment by the student – made him the person who was in control of the car. In my opinion, simply being the only person in the vehicle who is legally permitted to drive makes you the person in control. This fact was then used as the reason for bringing charges against Winsky.