Monthly Archives: April 2006

Physician Heal Thyself – Oregon Liquor Control Chief

Oregon Liquor Control Chief 

Charged with DUI

PORTLAND, OR.  Chicago Tribune, April 28 — The executive director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission abruptly resigned Thursday after she was charged with drunken driving.

Teresa Kaiser was stopped Saturday night in Portland and was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit for driving in Oregon, said police detective Paul Dolbey….

More Blood Sample Mix-Ups

I commented a few days ago about how an attorney in my firm proved with DNA testing that the blood sample tested by the Los Angeles Police Department crime lab was not the same as the sample taken from our client. As I said then, this was not a fluke: crime labs mix up samples a lot more often than is realized — as indicated by the following recent news story:

Clark County Prosecutor to
Test Blood

Sample in DUI Case

Las Vegas, NV. KRNV-TV News. Clark County prosecutor Bruce Nelson says he will seek a DNA test on samples of blood in a drugged driving case after questions about whether the samples actually belong to the driver.

19-year-old Chris Robinson faces charges of driving while under the influence, reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter for an accident last May. Authorities say Robinson had Xanax and cocaine in his system when his vehicle crossed over the highway median when returning from Lake Mead and smashed into another vehicle.

Court records show the police officer who took the blood says it came from a black male. But Robinson is white….

So how do you know if the blood they tested was yours? You don’t.

New MADD Goal: All Cars Equipped with Breathalyzers

The latest weapon in the War on Drunk Driving has been unveiled:

 Will All Autos Some Day Have Breathalyzers?

USA Today, April 25.  Could the day be coming when every driver is checked for drinking before starting a car?

Widespread use of ignition interlock devices that won’t allow a car to be started if a driver has had too much alcohol, once considered radical, no longer seems out of the question. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) gives a qualified endorsement to the idea. New York state legislators are considering requiring the devices on all cars and trucks by 2009. And automakers, already close to offering the devices as optional equipment on all Volvo and Saab models in Sweden, are considering whether to bring the technology here.

The New York bill was introduced by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who also sponsored the bill that became the first law banning the use of handheld cellphones while driving. To those who say neither the public nor the technology is ready for such a universal application, Ortiz says he heard similar complaints about the cellphone ban and hands-free technology. He compares the criticism to early complaints about mandatory safety belts.

But Ortiz’s bill faces a tough fight. The idea of forcing every driver to pass a blood alcohol test to start a car raises privacy concerns, irritates non-drinkers and has some restaurant industry officials worrying about a march back to Prohibition, or at least the demonizing of social drinking.

MADD and others trying to reduce the 17,000 alcohol-related fatalities a year say ignition interlocks are the only sure way to separate potential drunken drivers from their “weapons”…

(Thanks to David Teddy.) 

Cop Makes $172,000/year on DUI Arrests

Continuing with the theme of my previous post concerning the increasing nature of drunk driving as a money-making proposition, local governments aren’t the only ones on the gravy train: Police officers are doing pretty well, too. Bottom line: The more DUI arrests — valid or not — the more money everyone makes.

Officer’s Pay Tops $172,000

Overtime on DWI cases inflates some salaries

Houston, April 22. As a senior officer in the Houston Police Department, William Lindsey Jr. received a salary of about $72,000 last year. Because he is on the department’s DWI Task Force, however, Lindsey’s overtime pay put him at an income level rivaling Mayor Bill White and Police Chief Harold Hurtt…

Lindsey’s total income of more than $172,576 from HPD last year put his pay above White’s $165,000 but below Hurtt’s $184,000. The mayor and police chief are not eligible for overtime pay…

Defense attorneys who specialize in DWI cases contend some task force members manipulate arrests to accumulate overtime…

Last week, at least two DWI cases in which task force members testified ended in acquittal. Defense lawyer Sam Adamo, who represented one defendant, said he and other DWI specialists have been attempting to inform jurors about the task force and the overtime pay, but they often are blocked by judges and prosecutors.

“These guys are like small-town speed traps,” Adamo said. “Regular officers have to work extra jobs. But these (task force) guys don’t have to, because they’re making so much money coming down to the courthouse.”

As any DUI attorney knows, an officer generally earns more money when he makes a bad arrest than a good one. The good arrest usually ends up in a plea, and the officer’s presence in court is not required. It is only when the case goes to trial — usually because the defendant believes he is innocent or because there is insufficient evidence to justify the arrest — that the officer starts making the overtime.

(Thanks to Troy McKinney.)

DUI Dismissals for Sale

I've commented in the past on how the so-called "war of drunk driving" is evolving into a revenue-raising ploy by local governments ("How to Make a Million in the DUI Business" and "DUI Roadblocks for Fun and Profit").

Just so we're clear on where the "War on Drunk Driving" is headed, take a look at what's been happening in Washington State. The courts in the Tri-Cities area (Kennewick, Pasco and Richland) have a "cash-for-deals" approach to those arrested for drunk driving: contribute some money to the police department or a designated charity and your DUI charges will be dismissed or reduced. If you don't have the money, apparently, you get convicted.

Unfortunately, the local gold mine caught the FBI's interest — but only because the cash started going into the wrong pockets:

Deals for Dollars Gain Statewide Notoriety

Tri-City Herald, April 17. News about Tri-City jurisdictions reducing or dropping criminal charges in exchange for cash donations just keeps on coming. Now, our local programs have drawn statewide attention — and criticism…

Public opinion of the cash-for-deals programs varies, with some citizens outraged while others wish they had known such options were available. Some attorneys and noted ethics experts see big red flags when the justice system is circumvented for any reason. Attorneys in larger municipalities than ours seem less likely to engage in the practice.

In Richland, however, the cash-for-deals program is a source of pride. So much so that the city's chief prosecutor can't imagine why other cities aren't jumping on the money train.

Richland's program has a nearly solitary focus: Qualifying offenders charged with DUI end up with a lesser conviction for first-degree negligent driving in exchange for a donation to the city's police restitution fund. Since the fund was created in 2001 by Raymond Hui, the city's chief prosecutor, nearly $250,000 has been received…

The most simple resolution to this controversial practice would be to end it altogether. But some jurisdictions — especially those benefiting greatly and not being investigated by the FBI — may balk at losing a lucrative source of funding.

(Thanks to Gary Paulson.)