Archive for December, 2012

DUI Suspect Resisting Forced Blood Draw is Tasered, Dies

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Maybe MADD's "War on Drunk Driving" has gone a bit too far….

D.A. Reviewing Death of West Allis Man After Taser Incident

Milwaukee, WI.  Dec. 6 — Prosecutors are investigating how West Allis police officers handled a drunken-driving suspect found dead the day after they used force and a Taser on him to obtain a blood draw…

The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office is awaiting autopsy results before determining a cause of death.  According to court and medical examiner's records:

Robert Wayne Maurina, 46, had come to the West Allis Police Department early on Nov. 28 to pick up his girlfriend after she was arrested on a drunken driving charge. Police suspected Maurina also was intoxicated and arrested him about 4 a.m. He was later charged with fifth-offense drunken driving.

At Aurora West Allis Medical Center, Maurina resisted attempts to take a blood sample, according to court records, and had to be restrained and stunned with a Taser.

Shortly before noon the same day, Maurina was released to his brother, in whose basement Maurina lived. The brother told a medical examiner's office investigator that Maurina had complained about pain to his ribs and kidney on his left side, and that he heard Maurina coughing about 7 p.m. that day.

The next morning, the brother said, he found Maurina dead in his basement room. The medical examiner's report indicated that Maurina was on several medications.

The funeral for Maurina, an Air Force veteran, was Tuesday…

No comment necessary.

(Thanks to John Kruzelock.)


Involuntary Intoxication

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

What if an individual drinks from a punch bowl at a party — not knowing that the punch has been secretly “spiked” by a prankster — and is later pulled over for DUI?  What if another person takes a medication prescribed by his doctor — without being told that it will cause impairment — and is subsequently arrested for driving under the influence of drugs?

Are these people guilty of DUI — or can they assert the legal defense of involuntary intoxication?

A no-brainer, right?  After all, a person should not be punished for something that was not their fault — that they weren’t even aware of. 

Not surprisingly, however, the courts in their infinite wisdom have taken contradictory approaches to these situations.  Some take the position that DUI is a “strict liability” offense, and so any mental element such as intent or even knowledge is irrelevant.  See, for example, State v. Pistole, 476 N.E.2d 366.  Others permit the involuntary intoxication defense only where the intoxication was caused by use of force or threat of force from a third party.  A few recognize the defense on the grounds that some mens rea (mental culpability) must exist in any crime.  See, for example, State v. Wallace, 439 N.E.2d 851.  And at least one likens a claim of involuntary intoxication to an insanity defense:  Did the defendant know the difference between right and wrong?  See Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Smith, 831 A. 2d 636. 

In those states which permit the defense, however, the prosecution need not prove that the intoxication was voluntary:  The defendant has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it was involuntary — that is, he must prove his own innocence or stand convicted.