Archive for November, 2007

The War on Drunk Driving Marches On….

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Keeping our streets safe from drunk drivers…


Alabama: Sober Diabetic Man Tasered, Accused of DUI

Man having a diabetic attack faces DUI charges even though he had no alcohol in his system

Ozark, AL. Nov. 9  –  Police in Ozark, Alabama on Tuesday used a taser on a sober man who was having a diabetic seizure. A trio of police cruisers were called to the scene of a black Nissan truck and trailer pulled over on the side of the road near the intersection of Highway 231 and Marley Mill Road at around 4pm. James Bludsworth, 54, a man with no criminal record, was was slumped over behind the wheel. Because of his condition he was not responsive to police commands.

Police then fired tasers at the sick man three times. A police officer now says that he smelled alcohol on Bludsworth, even though later testing showed no trace of alcohol in his system. Ozark Police Chief Myron Williams also claims the sick man was "combative." Instead of taking Bludsworth to medical care he was booked at Dale County Jail and charged with resisting arrest and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Bludsworth has no recollection of the incident and is free on $1000 bond.

Police later dropped a charge against Bludsworth relating to an alleged towing infraction


(Thanks to Andre Campos.)

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Cops Use “Dial-a-Drunk” to Justify Illegal Search

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I’ve commented in the past about the so-called Dial-a-Drunk anonymous hot-lines, often labelled "REDDI" ("Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately") lines, advertised all over our highways.  (See Dial-a-Drunk: DUI Vigilantes Are Watching You and Dial-a-DUI Proving Useless.)   I mentioned that by using this convenient line, you can with complete anonymity report your favorite enemy or ex-spouse for DUI, resulting in a traffic stop, interrogation, field sobriety tests and possible arrest. It didn’t occur to me at the time that it could be a very convenient tool for the police as well…..


Wyoming: Bogus DUI Report Used to Seize $3.3 Million

A Wyoming Highway Patrol officer is fired for calling in a fake DUI report in order to stop and search a pickup truck.

Casper, WY.  Nov. 12  –  A Wyoming State Trooper called in a false tip to an anonymous driving under the influence (DUI) hotline so that he would have an excuse to pull over and search a vehicle known to be carrying a large amount of cash. The April 7 bogus report has sparked controversy and led to the highway patrol firing Trooper Ben Peech, 36, last week. Federal officials told the Casper Star-Tribune newspaper that the fraud will have no impact on their efforts to keep $3.3 million in seized cash during the traffic stop.

The call, and a second fake DUI report from a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent, gave Peech an excuse to be out on Interstate 80 at 3am. He was on the hunt for a silver Dodge pickup truck carrying a driver and a DEA informant who let it be known that the vehicle carried eight suitcases stuffed with cash. Peech found the truck, performed the search and found the suitcases. No charges were filed against the driver or passenger, but the money was taken.


Hmmm….I wonder how common this technique has become among law enforcement around the country?  Or is some cop in Wyoming the only one to have thought of it?


(Thanks to Andre Campos.)

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Supercops…and Supercons

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

I've posted in the past about the increasing phenomenon of the so-called DUI "Supercop".   (See DUI SupercopsHow to be a "Top Cop" and Supercops: The Smoking Gun.)    These are police officers who receive awards and promotions for making massive amounts of drunk driving arrests — and massive amounts of money for the local government (see How to Make a Million in the DUI Business).  For example, this typical news story from a couple of days ago.


Local Deputy Receives DUI Award

Victorville, CA,  Nov 11 –  Deputy Stan Conway made more than 550 arrests for DUI driving in the last 15 months, earning the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Officer of the Year award for the second time…

The more than 550 arrests made by Conway have saved countless Victorville residents from becoming innocent victims, MADD said.
 
 
The problem is that these "supercops" are often reaching their impressive numbers by arresting innocent citizens.  Consider, for example, this story from a few days earlier:
 

Officer Cox Quits the Force

 

State will decide if the decorated officer should face criminal charges


Corvallis, OR.  Nov. 2 — Corvallis Police Officer Dave Cox, who had been on administrative leave since Sept. 14 pending an internal investigation into possible police policy violations, has resigned…

Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson said the police investigation has been turned over to the Oregon Department of Justice to determine if criminal charges would be filed against Cox…

Cox is widely known in Corvallis for the number of DUII arrests he has made. In 2006 he had an average of 20 arrests a month, or one per shift. In May of 2007, Cox arrested 27 people for DUII, while the rest of the Corvallis police force made 8 DUII arrests…

Police have remained mum about other aspects of the investigation into Cox’s official conduct.


(Thanks to Bjorn W.)

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Cops “Xeroxing” Arrest Reports

Friday, November 9th, 2007

I’ve commented in past posts that it is becoming an increasingly common practice for police officers to simply use form or template arrest reports in drunk driving cases — what I have referred to in my books as "xeroxed" reports.  (See Police Using Pre-Written DUI Reports.)  In other words, rather than going to all the "trouble" of writing a report of the actual investigation and arrest, cops are using pre-written reports — and then changing a few details to fit the defendant.

This is bad enough, as the reports are supposedly signed under oath and subject to perjury charges.  But it beecomes particularly serious when you realize that very few officers can remember the details of a given case when testifying months later.  In almost all cases, the officers read their own reports before taking the stand — and then testify essentially to what they read in the report.  And in DUI cases, they are increasingly testifying based upon a fictional "xeroxed" case.

For example, California attorney Jon W. Woolsey recently got a court order requiring the California Highway Patrol to turn over any templates or forms used by the officer who arrested his client for DUI.  The following is the template that was used:


FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS

All FST’s were explained and demonstrated.  I asked Name if he/she understood each test completely and he/she stated that he did.  All tests were performed on a Location dirt/asphalt Parking lot/Shoulder that was free of debris.  The weather was cool, clear/cloudy, and daylight/dark.    

1)Horizontal Gaze Nystagamus:

Name eyes showed lack of smooth pursuit, distinct nystagmus at the extremes and an onset prior to 45 degrees.  Name’s eyes showed vertical gaze nystagmus.        


2)One leg stand:
Name lifted his/her right/left foot and dropped it immediately on the count of 1000. 

3)Romberg:Name estimated 30 seconds in 0000 seconds.  Name body swayed in a circular motion 1 to 2 inches from center of mass. 

4)Finger Count:I explained the test to Name 

5)Preliminary Alcohol Screening Device:

I admonished Name regarding the Preliminary Alcohol Screening Device (PAS) and he/she agreed/refused to take the test.  I administered the PAS to Name at 0000 and 0000 hours with BAC results of .000% and .000%.


Other Factual Information:

All times are approximate and may vary from the times on the Preliminary Alcohol Screening Device, the breath test and times provided to me by dispatch.


First Observations:

On 0-00-07 I was on routine patrol in a fully marked CHP patrol vehicle, with my partner officer nnn.  I was traveling


Observations After Stop:
I contacted the driver and advised him/her the reason for the stop.  As I spoke with the driver I smelled the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his/her breath.  I noticed that the driver had red watery eyes, as well as slow and slurred speech.  I asked the driver for his/her driver’s license, which he/she provided me.  I identified the driver using his/her California Driver’s License as John Doe 00-00-00. I asked the driver if he/she had anything to drink and he stated, “.”  I asked the driver to exit his/her vehicle and meet me at the right front of my patrol vehicle.  I noticed that as the driver walked he had an unsteady gate.  As I spoke with the driver I noticed that he/she had an odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his/her breath and person.  I also noticed that the driver was unsteady on his/her feet swaying in a circular motion 1 to 2 inches from center of mass, he/she had slow slurred speech, and red and watery eyes.  I advised the driver that I smelled a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his/her breath and asked him/her how much he/she had to drink and he/she stated, “—-.”  I explained and demonstrated several FST’s to Name, which he/she could not complete as explained and demonstrated. 

Arrest:
  Based on my observations of Name’s driving, Name’s objective signs of alcohol intoxication, and his/her performance on the FST’s, I formed the opinion that Name was driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.  I placed Name under arrest for 23152 (a) CVC at 0000 hours.  I advised Name of implied consent and he/she chose the blood/breath test.  I booked Name into the Sonoma County Jail.

Recommendations:

I recommend a copy of this report be forwarded to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s for review, and that Name be prosecuted for violation of 23152 (a) CVC driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, and _____



Basically, the report tells the officer what he should have seen — not what he actually saw.   And as any honest cop will tell you, drunk driving cases rarely follow such a neat, pre-described script.  But it is convenient.  And avoids messy complications – like the actual facts.   

One size fits all.

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“A Trial of Generals”

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

On a quick non-DUI note…..As a few of you know, the film rights to my book A Trial of Generals was sold some time ago.  The book is about the heroic efforts of young Army lawyers who defended the Japanese general supposedly responsible for the Bataan Death March in a WWII war crimes trial.  It now appears that pre-production starts this month, with principal shooting to begin in Australia in February (film title: The Beast of Bataan).  See Hollywood Reporter

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