Monthly Archives: March 2008

90 Teenagers Breathalyzed for Root Beer

I think they’ve finally lost it…

Cops Bust High School Root Beer Kegger

Wausau, WI. Mar 28 (AP) – Cars lining the street. A house full of young people. A keg and drinking games inside. Police thought they had an underage boozing party on their hands.

But though they made dozens of teens take breath tests, none tested positive for alcohol. That’s because the keg contained root beer.

The party was held by a high school student who wanted to show that teens don’t always drink alcohol at their parties.  Dustin Zebro, 18, said he staged the party after friends at D.C. Everest High School got suspended from sports because of pictures showing them drinking from red cups.

Zebro purchased a quarter-barrel of 1919 Classic American Draft Root Beer, and by 10 p.m. Saturday, the scene outside his rural Wausau home had all the makings of a teen drinking party – cars, noise and kids…

Nearly 90 breath tests were done, and officers even searched locked rooms for hiding teens.

I guess the cops taught those kids respect for the law…or something.

(Thanks to Andre Campos.)

One Drink = Felony DUI

It Took Less Than One Drink to Get Shannon Wilcutt

Busted for Felony DUI

Phoenix, AZ.  Mar. 20 – The businessman was meeting with clients for lunch at Mimi’s Café when he noticed the woman. Sitting a few tables over with her 4-year-old boy, she seemed groggy — yet she was drinking a mimosa.

It got worse. The woman ordered a glass of white wine, then another. She was so out of it, the businessman would later write in a statement to police, that she looked ready to fall asleep at the table.

When the woman paid her bill and left the restaurant, the businessman was right behind her, cell phone in hand. When she ran a stop sign in the parking lot, he called the police.

By the time the cops showed up a few minutes later, the woman already had parked at the Chandler Mall, less than a mile from Mimi’s. She was buying bath salts when the businessman pointed her out to the cops.

Thanks to the businessman’s intervention, Shannon Wilcutt was eventually charged with three felony counts: a DUI above 0.08, a DUI with a child under 15 in the car, and drug possession.

Justice served, right?


Turns out, those glasses of white wine were actually water. Wilcutt was groggy because she’d just had dental surgery. She’d thought a mimosa might be soothing, but when it stung her sutures, she pushed it away half-finished.

The proof is in the police report: Wilcutt’s blood alcohol content was only 0.02, the equivalent of one drink. She wasn’t even close to the legal limit.

No matter. Shannon Wilcutt was busted anyway. Her little boy was taken from her as she was handcuffed, arrested, and entered into the justice system. That meant weekly random alcohol tests, weekly phone calls to a court-appointed “counselor,” and the looming possibility of heavy fines and a three-year license revocation, not to mention jail time.

It would take two years and thousands of dollars for Wilcutt to be vindicated…

The rest of the article, linked above, makes for interesting reading. 

N.J. Supreme Court Rules on Breathalyzer Challenges

I’ve posted repeatedly in the past concerning the inaccuracy and unreliability of the various brands of breath testing machines.  (See, e.g., How Breathalyzers Work – and Why They Don’t.)  The Supreme Court of New Jersey has just turned back a challenge from defense attorneys in that state.  In New Jersey v. Chun, the Court reluctantly admitted that there were numerous sources for error in the Draeger Alcotest 7110, and directed that these be corrected by the manufacturer — but ruled that past convictions based upon the machine’s readings would nevertheless stand.

New Jersey Supreme Court Reinstates DUI Breath Test

New Jersey Supreme Court ruling brushes aside concern over the accuracy of DUI breath test machines.

New Jersey, March 19 – The Supreme Court of New Jersey on Monday reinstated the use of breath tests in convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The court faced a challenge to the reliability of the Draeger Alcotest 7110 breathalyzer machine from twenty defendants who combined efforts to create a sophisticated attack on the device. A total of 10,470 DUI cases had been put on hold over the course of the three-year trial — putting millions in fine revenue at risk. The court acted to uphold the convictions.

"We conclude that the Alcotest… is generally scientifically reliable, but that certain modifications are required in order to permit its results to be admissible or to allow it to be utilized to prove a per se violation of the statute," the unanimous court wrote in brushing aside the accuracy concerns.

At issue is the fact that the Alcotest machine does not directly measure the blood alcohol content (BAC) of its subject. Instead, the device estimates BAC by performing mathematical calculations on breath readings. If the calculation is not made properly, an innocent motorist can be found automatically guilty of a serious crime.

A retired judge serving as a special master spent four months pouring over arguments for and against the device’s accuracy on the high court’s behalf. The Alcotest’s maker reluctantly handed over the source code to a pair of independent software firms for analysis. The defense analysis criticized the shoddy programing and cited a buffer overflow error as evidence that the machine is not trustworthy. The court maintained that the error could be fixed with a revised firmware and that "stylistic" concerns about the software code were not relevant. The court also brushed aside concern that a "fuel cell drift" algorithm boosted the measurements by up to twenty-five percent to account for aging equipment.

"The algorithm alters the EC result in an amount that, we are confident, cannot fairly be seen as convicting the innocent," the court declared.

The court ordered a few minor changes to the firmware and error tolerance standards, clearing the way for pending cases to be resolved.

"Close enough for government work"…

(Thanks to Jonathan.)

Another of MADD’s “DUI SuperCops”

Another one of those news stories that needs little comment…

Officer Who Shot Chargers Player Honored for DUI Arrest Record

Del Mar, CA.  Mar 17  — A police officer who shot Chargers linebacker Steve Foley after following the player on suspicion of drunk driving has been named Coronado’s Outstanding DUI Officer of the Year.

Coronado’s city manager says Officer Aaron Mansker was honored at the recent Mothers Against Drunk Driving annual luncheon.

Mansker was on his way home from work in September 2006 when he tailed Foley home after spotting the player’s car swerving on a San Diego freeway.

Then a rookie officer, Mansker has said he thought Foley was armed when he fired shots into the player’s leg, hip and hand. The injuries ended Foley’s football career.

Let’s Hope MADD Doesn’t See This….

Traffic police in Minsk in the Republic of Belarus have apparently adopted a new tactic in the War on Drunk Driving. 

According to a news release yesterday from Russia Today, police were ordered by superiors to stop a reported drunk driver on a highway.  Their solution:  they randomly stopped four cars and forced the drivers to line up in a row across the highway, forming a human wall.  The occupants of the vehicles — including a 3-year-old child and its mother – were not told the reason. The drunk driver’s car smashed into the human fence, bursting into flames.

For a film clip of the TV news story and video of the crash, see the YouTube segment “Police Use Human Shield to Stop Car”.

Thanks to Andre.