Archive for March, 2007

New DUI Defense Unveiled

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

Actually, a variation on the old "some other dude" defense:

'The Unicorn Was Driving'

Billings, Mont.  May 14 – A man accused of drunken driving and crashing his truck into a lamp-post told police a unicorn had been at the wheel when it careered off the road, reported local media on Wednesday…  

Phillip Holliday, 42, pleaded not guilty to felony charges of criminal endangerment and drunken driving when he appeared before a court in the western state of Montana on Tuesday, reported the Billings Gazette.

Holliday insisted a unicorn was driving when he slammed into the street lighting, shortly after jumping a red light.

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Another DUI SuperCop

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Here we go again:

Cop Keeps Breaking Record for DUI Arrests

Lynwood, WA.  March 15 – As the work week winds down on a Friday night in Lynnwood, Mark Brinkman’s shift is just starting.  He’s been an officer of the law for 19 years and he never knows what the night will bring. But he can almost guarantee one thing:

“I don’t think a Friday night’s gone by where I haven’t got at least two DUI arrests,” he said.

He’s got numbers to back him up. The average police officer makes about 20 DUI arrests each year. Last year, Officer Brinkman made 243 – more than 10 times the average…


Reminds me of a CHP cop here in Southern California.  Makes twice as many DUI arrests as anyone else on night patrol.  Makes twice as much money, too: nice home, nice car, kids go to private schools.  How?   Overtime: he spends days in courthouses.  Why?  Well, if it’s a good arrest, you’re probably going to plead guilty or plea bargain — and no need for the officer’s testimony.  But if it’s a bad arrest….

Concidence?  Paranoid?  Check out these past posts:

DUI SuperCops
SuperCops: the Smoking Gun
SuperCops Revisited
How to Be a Top Cop


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Saturday, March 10th, 2007

 The latest thinking from the DUI bureaucracy…

New Jersey Star-Ledger
, March 10
– In a quick about-face, the Attorney General’s Office issued revised procedures yesterday for police administering the Alcotest 7110 to suspected drunken drivers after 2 a.m. tomorrow, when daylight-saving time arrives three weeks earlier than in the past.

The procedures are designed to compensate for the Alcotest’s software, which is programmed to automatically convert to daylight-saving time on April 1. Until then, it will record test times that appear to be an hour earlier than actually given…

To cope with that situation, the new directive instructs police to convert the time of arrest to Eastern Standard Time — an hour earlier than Eastern Daylight Time — until April 1, when the machines will be back in sync with clocks.

The new policy was announced after The Star-Ledger reported on an earlier plan to deal with the time change problem and the objections it had drawn.

That plan required police to wait an additional hour before administering the test…



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OK, Sobriety Checkpoints Are Ineffective, but…

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Another news story about another ineffective DUI roadblock…

DUI Checkpoint Comes Up Empty

Oxford, Ohio. March 8 – Officers stopped 225 vehicles from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. along High Street in the Miami University area looking for drunk or drug-impaired drivers — and found none.

Lt. Wayne Price of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Hamilton Post says that’s great.

“The goal of the checkpoint is to act as a deterrent,” he said.

Funny, I thought the purpose of DUI roadblocks was to identify and apprehend drunk drivers.

Officers wrote 25 citations for offenses such as failure to wear seat belts or driving without a valid driver’s license.

To try to catch those who drink and drive but avoid the checkpoint area, officers conducted a “saturation patrol,” Price said.Those patrols stopped 60 vehicles during the three-hour span for minor traffic infractions and issued citations or warnings for infractions such as failing to use turn signals.

In permitting this unconstitutional practice, the U.S. Supreme Court in Michigan v. Sitz accepted the argument that the effectiveness of roadblocks in detecting and apprehending drunk drivers outweighed the admitted violation of the Fifth Amendment (see my earlier post “DUI Sobriety Checkpoints: Unconstitutional?”). Now that it has become apparent that they are ineffective for anything but raising revenue for local municipalities, police have changed the justification: “deterrence” (a safe claim since it can never be disproven).

If the police can set up unconstitutional roadblocks because they deter DUIs, why can’t they conduct random searches of citizens on the streets or in their homes to deter, say, possession of drugs?



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DUI + Fatality = Murder?

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

In the previous post ("From Manslaughter to Murder in 5 Easy Steps"), I discussed the legal fiction of charging murder rather than manslaughter for a DUI-caused fatality — the result largely of political pandering and abuse of prosecutorial discretion.

In today's news (New York Post):

Killer Gets 'Easy' 18 Years

Long Island. New York Post, March 1 – A Long Island man who murdered a wedding limousine driver and a 7-year-old flower girl in a head-on DWI crash was sentenced to 18 years to life yesterday…

Defense attorney Stephen LaMagna never denied that his client should be held responsible, just not for murder…

After the verdict, he complained that jurors discussed the case with relatives and conferred secretly outside the jury room. He argued that they weighed facts they should not have considered, including an erroneous report that Heidgen had a previous conviction for driving while intoxicated…

Jury forewoman Loy Malcolm later said she regretted voting for a murder conviction and said she did so only after tiring of the tense bickering inside the jury room.


To be clear: I have no problem with the legislature increasing penalties for vehicular manslaughter if they see fit. However, I do have a problem with prosecutors twisting murder statutes to get longer jail terms in manslaughter cases.

At least the prosecutor didn't try for the death penalty, as was done in a North Carolina case.

(Thanks to Susan Sullivan.)


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