Testing It Up

More Women Being Arrested for DUI in California

Significantly more women are being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in California, according to an analysis of Department of Motor Vehicles data performed by the KPCC public radio station. women alcohol drinker

Women accounted for about 11% of DUI arrests in 1989, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and that number increased to about 24% in 2011, which is the last year for which statistics are available.

“They were somewhat stable in the 1980s and then began to go up and just accelerated, particularly from 1999 to 2011,” said Steven Bloch, senior research associate with the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Young women were largely responsible for the increase in statewide DUI arrests in that time period. In Los Angeles County, DUI arrests of women ages 21 to 30 years old jumped by about 134% from 1999 to 2011.

Another group that stood out during the same period was women over the age of 50:

  • Arrests of women age 51 to 60 years old rose by 81%.
  • Arrests of female drivers age 61 to 70 climbed by 67%.
  • Women older than 70 saw a 76% increase in DUI arrests.

Conversely, overall DUI arrests for male drivers in L.A. County fell from 1999 to 2011, with the only age group seeing an increase being men between the age of 51 to 70 years old.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation found similar results in a survey of women arrested for driving under the influence in California, Michigan, Missouri, and New York.

“We don’t know if more women are drinking and driving,” Erin Holmes, who is with the foundation, said. “All we do know is that more women are being arrested.”

Researchers have yet to come up with a definitive reason to explain the rise. One explanation is that law enforcement has made it a priority to get impaired drivers off the roads.

March 24, 2014 at 6:31 am Comments (0)

Elderly Sober Man Charged with DUI Plans to Sue Arizona Police

A seemingly simple DUI case has turned into a racist issue and a possible lawsuit.

Jessie Thornton, 64, was stopped in Surprise, Arizona by police who claimed that he was drunk driving. According to Thornton, the police officers pulled him over because he ran the white line in the middle of the road. The cops then declared that his eyes were red, as reported in the Daily Mail.

“An officer walked up and he said, ‘I can tell you’re driving DUI by looking in your eyes.’ I take my glasses off and he says, ‘You’ve got bloodshot eyes,’” Thornton said. But the Ohio native said that he just came from swimming at LA Fitness, hence the red eyes.

Apparently the cops weren’t convinced, and proceeded to conduct a sobriety test. True enough, the breathalyzer read a blood alcohol level of “0.00″, which means that there was zero alcohol in his bloodstream. Thornton confirmed this, saying that he did not drink any alcoholic drinks prior to driving.

Despite this, the officers brought him to the station, where he was subjected to drug tests for possible substance abuse. The station’s drug recognition expert declared him completely “free from impairment” caused by drugs.

After being released, Thornton learned that his driver’s license was going to be suspended for the time being, and his vehicle impounded for three days.

Thornton claims that the arrest was fueled not by DUI but by race. He says he was DWB — driving while black. He is now in talks with a lawyer for a possible lawsuit against the Surprise police station, amounting to $500,000 in damages.

June 11, 2013 at 12:30 am Comments (0)

Critics: Reducing Blood Alcohol Content Limit Is Not The Answer To Drunk Driving Fatalities

A recent proposal to decrease the blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold for drivers is getting flak from anti-drunk driving advocates.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a comprehensive report lobbying to reduce the legal limit of a non-commercial driver’s blood alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.05. By logic, this seems common sense, since drivers with lower alcohol content in their blood tend to function better on the road than drunk drivers.

However, critics and advocates are not pleased with this effort, according to a news release. In fact, the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believes that the government’s focus is slightly off-base. MADD President Jan Withers expressed her opposition to the proposal, saying that reducing the BAC limit “will take a lot of effort for a potential result that is many, many years down the line.”

In its report entitled “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving”, the NTSB discusses the relative crash risk of a driver with varying blood alcohol content levels. The study shows that drivers with a BAC of 0.05 have 38 percent likelihood of figuring in a drunk-driving accident, while at 0.08 the driver has more than 150 percent risk.

Despite the clashing sides, the NTSB and its critics agree that drunk drivers should be kept off the road, and that effective policies must be in place to reduce incidents of drunk-driving accidents. Driver education on the effects of drinking must be strengthened, while technologies to prevent drunk people from driving should be further developed.

NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman says that the statistics of road fatalities due to alcohol impairment may have plateaued, but the issue has not been totally solved yet.

May 17, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Survey Shows an Overwhelming Number of Teens Driving Under the Influence

A survey of more than 1,000 teenagers revealed an alarming rate of driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. What’s worse, the teens do not think the use of such substances impair their driving ability.

According to the survey conducted by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Liberty Manual, nearly 40 percent of those who admitted drinking and driving believe it has no impact on their driving and some actually believe it improves their driving. Twenty-five percent of those who have driven under the influence of marijuana and twenty-three percent who reported driving under the influence of prescription drugs claim their substance misuse did not get in the way of their driving ability.

“These new data illustrate that there is clearly a strong need to increase the level of education around safe driving,” Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance, said in a news release. “The fact that an overwhelming number of teens admit to extremely unsafe driving habits and completely dismiss any risk concern yet still consider themselves safe drivers means either teens have a different definition of ‘safe’ or we need to do a better job of educating kids about the dangers of this type of behavior.”

The survey also found that summer is when many teens report driving under the influence, followed by a series of other celebratory events, such as Fourth of July, prom night, and graduation day.

SADD recommends that parents regularly communicate with their kids the importance of safe driving behavior, and it encourages schools to enhance their program or policy geared at preventing substance abuse and deterring risky behavior.

“School programs can only go so far,” Stephen Wallace, senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD, said. “For example, we know that teens are more likely to drink around events such as Fourth of July, which are less supervised than prom or graduation. It is up to parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of driving under the influence.”

April 27, 2013 at 5:53 pm Comment (1)

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over: Keeping Your Holidays Safe

We have heard it time and again: the holidays are a season to be jolly and merry. There is, however, nothing merry about being involved in a traffic accident – or being the cause of a tragedy – because you had a little too much to drink.

The Department of Transportation is spearheading a campaign called “Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over.” The objective of the campaign is to reduce the number of alcohol-related car crashes over the holidays.

Here are a few things to remember before taking that first sip at your next holiday party.

Assign a designated driver. If you are going to the party with a group, then pick a designated driver and ensure that there will be someone sober for the drive home.

When in doubt, call a friend. It can be difficult to admit that one is already too drunk, but it is one of the things that you should be keen about when at a party. When you find yourself doubtful about your sobriety, have no second thoughts about not getting behind the wheel, and call a friend to pick you up, or a taxi service to take you home.

Carry an alcohol level test. Nowadays, there are a number of breath alcohol detector tests that are available in the market. In the interest of your own safety, as well as that of other people you may encounter on the road, testing before hitting the road is definitely a good idea.

December 17, 2011 at 4:20 am Comments (0)

Woman Killed in Crash While Rushing Home to Prep for DUI Class

It is certainly sad and disheartening that a woman due to attend a DUI class met an untimely death on a California freeway – in an alcohol-related accident.

A feature on KTLA.com shared the story of 24-year-old Lidia Kopach, who figured in a fatal car accident last Thursday morning. Her passenger, 24-year-old Daniel Martinez, survived the accident with minor injuries, and shared a few details regarding what they had done before the incident.

drunk drivingMartinez shared with police officers at the scene that he had met up with Kopach at a bar in Monrovia for drinks. The Pasadena Star News reported that they drank two vodka drinks and shared two pitchers of beer. Martinez then said that Kopach had revealed that she needed to get home immediately to rest because she was due to attend a court-mandated DUI class later in the day. It was revealed further that Kopach had been convicted of DUI at West Covina Superior Court on September 30, 2009.

Unfortunately, as Kopach and Martinez were racing home at around 2:00 in the morning, she lost control of her car, and slammed into the center divider on the freeway. The vehicle then rolled over, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Frausto.
Another young life cut so short, no thanks to alcohol.

Incidents such as these ought to serve as a reminder of the very real dangers of drinking and driving; when going out for drinks, it may be a good idea to simply leave the car at home and take a cab. If you decide to bring a vehicle, there should be a designated driver who will stay away from the booze.

September 21, 2010 at 5:20 am Comments (0)

DUI Breath Interlock Devices Prone to Malfunctions

What should have been a way for DUI defendants to drive prior to appearing in court has become the cause of headaches that more than two-thirds of those who are expected to use it choose not to.

drunk drivingThe Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device, or BAIID, is used by DUI defendants to test alcohol level before driving. If the individual happens to blow even a small amount of alcohol into the device, that person will be unable to start the car. Users also need to blow into the device every 10 to 15 minutes while driving. The system will deter anyone from driving drunk.

The thing is, the device is picking up more than just alcohol from tequila shots at a friend’s party, as shared in a report on Fox News Chicago. Even Wonder bread, pizza and hotdog buns can set the device off and prevent users from driving – even if one did not drink at all. Alcohol testing consultant Dr. Ron Henson shares that they have found that pizza crust from certain locations can put a reading on the device more so than others.

Defense attorney Donald Ramsell said: “What was intended to be a boon has become a boondoggle.”

Henson also said that the device is more often triggered by enriched white bread, and pizza from Casey’s General Stores – based on the experiences of users. Experts hypothesize that the amount of yeast in the pizza crust may have something to do with it. The device can also be triggered by cough medicines, oral pain relievers and mouthwash.

May 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm Comments (0)

Man Too Drunk to Attend DUI Hearing!

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.

March 16, 2010 at 5:30 am Comments (0)

Mom to 911: I’m Driving Drunk!

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.

March 14, 2010 at 2:09 pm Comments (0)

Former Owner of Fasion Café Charged with DWI in Manhattan

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.

New York Health Screening

January 17, 2010 at 6:24 am Comments (0)

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