Monthly Archives: March 2013

Big Brother Is Watching You…Drink

Remember when you could go to a pub or bar and have a drink with a friend in privacy?

San Francisco Club:  Police Tried to Force Us to Install Surveillance Cameras to Spy on Our Customers

San Francisco, CA.  Mar. 21 — According to a San Francisco nightclub, the city’s police department has been manipulating and coercing bar and club owners into installing surveillance cameras and then granting the police open access to the footage. 

After the city government’s failure to pass legislation that would have required bars to install surveillance cameras and metal detectors, the police appear to have taken to making veiled threats to the few bar owners who won’t comply with their spy-on-your-customers-for-us directives.

The website for the DNA Lounge, a club owned by former Netscape programmer and open source hacker Jamie Zawinksi, describes how the police tried to intimidate the establishment into going along with its surveillance plans:

We got a funny phone call today, and by "funny" I mean "not actually even a little funny."

Officer Chan, the permitting officer for SFPD, called to remind us that we're required to have video surveillance that records everything our customers do, and to give that footage to SFPD any time they ask, without a warrant or explanation. "Actually, that's not the case, I'm not required to do that," says Barry. "It's a part of the Good Neighbor Policy," says the cop. "No, actually, it's not. And it's also not a condition of our permits."

"Well! I guess I'll have to speak to the Entertainment Commission about that, then!"

Thirty minutes later, Barry got a call from this guy's boss, admitting that while we're not technically required to, we really, really should "consider" it. After some back and forth, he says, "Should I take from this conversation that you're not willing to consider this?" "We have considered it, which is why we fought to have that condition not put on our permits."

Someone from the Entertainment Commission said, "Yeah, it's really weird that you don't have that condition, because they're putting that on everybody's permits now. Nobody else has fought it."

Which isn't surprising, since apparently everyone who works for SFPD is going around telling everyone that it's required by law when that's not even remotely true. It's just another sneaky, backdoor regulation that ABC and SFPD have been foisting on everyone without any kind of judicial oversight, in flagrant violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The San Francisco police department is, like a lot of other major urban departments, somewhat obsessed with surveillance. In January 2013, the local media reported that the SFPD was interested in turning city streetlights into monitoring devices…

Are "drunk driving drones" next?

(Thanks to Joe.)

Cost of a DUI?

I’ve often been asked, “If I get arrested for drunk driving, what will it end up costing me?”  The question assumes a conviction, of course, and an acquittal or plea to a lesser offense are common.  But assuming a conviction….

The costs will depend upon many variables:  the facts of the case, the jurisdiction in which the offense is being prosecuted, costs of bail, local court policies, the policies of the prosecuting agency — and even what the sentencing judge had for breakfast.  And it depends upon what costs you are talking about:  your lawyer, fines, costs of DUI schools, possible ignition interlock devices, loss of work due to incarceration and/or driver’s license suspension, increased car insurance premiums, professional licensing consequences or other damage to your career, possible child custody issues, secrecy clearance problems, etc.

The following recent article in The Los Angeles Times, however, gives a fairly good if simplistic assessment of the immediate costs:

First Drunk-Driving Conviction Can Cost Nearly $16,000 in California

March 14.  Los Angeles, CA — Beware of the $16,000 cocktail.  

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day partying, the Automobile Club of Southern California has calculated that a first-offense misdemeanor DUI conviction can now cost up to $15,649 in California.

That’s up 29% from 2011.

The penalties are even higher for teenagers. The expense of an under-age-21 first-offense misdemeanor DUI is up to $22,492…

The Auto Club developed its cost estimate by totaling up mandated state and local fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs. The calculations do not include thousands of dollars of other potential expenses drivers might face if they lose work time for a criminal trial or to go to jail, need to pay bail or incur injury or vehicle damage from a crash they caused.

It also doesn’t include other potential drunk-driving-conviction consequences such as the risk of a civil trial or the requirement to install an ignition interlock in a vehicle.

Cheaper to take a cab.  Failing that, get a reputable attorney who specializes in DUI defense: his higher fees will save you a lot in the long run.

DUI…on a Skateboard?

It just keeps getting more ridiculous….

Salem Man Cited for DUI Skateboarding After Crash

Salem, OR.  Mar. 12 – A skateboarder was struck by a van in Salem Monday night, police said.

The 20-year-old suffered serious injuries, but was expected to survive, according to Lt. Keith A. Blair with the Salem Police Department.  He was taken to the hospital where he was cited for DUII and minor in possession of alcohol, Blair said.

The 5 p.m. collision was near South Liberty and Davis roads. Blair said the skateboarder rolled onto the street into the path of the van…

For other examples of the "War on Drunk Driving", see  Drunk BikingDUI in a Wheelchair?DUI – While Walking a Bicycle and DUI on a Horse?

(Thanks to Ari Weiner.)

Driver Arrested for Having Green Tongue

So how ridiculous is this entire "War on Drunk Driving" getting?  Well…..

Man Arrested for Suspected Pot DUI Over Color of His Tongue?

Puyallup, WA.  Feb 26  – Pot may be legal in Washington state, but Kent police recently arrested a Puyallup man for driving under the influence because, he said, he had a green film on his tongue.

Mike Simmons, 31, said Tuesday he was put in jail for 13 hours. Now with towing and lawyer fees, he said he’s out $5,000 and he’s not allowed to drive while he’s out on bail.

All for something he said he didn’t do.

“As soon as the officer came to the vehicle, he asked me to stick out my tongue,” said Simmons.

Simmons thought it was an unusual request but he soon found out he was pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence.

Simmons said the officer told him there was a green film on his tongue. The unidentified police officer apparently felt that is a telltale sign that someone has been smoking marijuana.

Simmons admitted he had smoked pot three days earlier, but says when he was pulled over he was on a lunch break from work and was stone-cold sober.

“There was nothing in the car, so I don’t know what kind of evidence he had based on just a green film on my tongue,” Simmons said.

According to the law that made pot legal in the state, a driver can have no more than 5 nanograms of THC in their blood.

Simmons refused to take give a blood sample without a lawyer present. He said he was then arrested and taken to jail.

Kent police spokesman Pat Lowery couldn’t talk about the case “because it’s an ongoing investigation,” but said a blood sample isn’t required if an officer believes the person is driving under the influence.

“Driving while impaired is still driving while impaired,” Lowery said.

Simmons swears he wasn’t impaired because he didn’t smoke pot that day, and he’s ready to fight the charges.

“I just feel like the system they have is unfair,” said Simmons.

Better not drive if you're going to use Scope!  And by the way, the following are excerpts from an article entitled "What Causes Green Tongue?"….

What causes green tongue most commonly is hairy tongue syndrome. Unlike its name, this doesn't actually refer to hair on a tongue, but a discoloration of it. Healthy tongues are velvety because of the small papillae on the tongue's dorsal surface that shed on a regular basis. However, these papillae sometimes grow without shedding and because of this, they end up looking longer on the tongue and get stained because of bacterial activity or contamination. This then leads to a different color – usually green or black. Nobody really knows why this condition appears, but too much smoking, bad dental health and excessive mouthwash use have been pinpointed…

Another common condition that could bring about green tongue would be oral thrush, a fungal infection that usually hits people with weak immune systems and also seniors. Usually, oral thrush leads to a white tongue, but after using antibiotics or eating, the tongue could turn green… 

A lot of other causes might exist out there for a green tongue, too. For one, it can be related to sore throat and to using antibiotics for a long time. Other things that could bring about a green tongue are smoking, mouthwash overuse and tongue infections. Also, certain toothpastes and mouthwashes might have ingredients or dyes in them that could bring about a green tongue…

Note: no mention of marijuana causing green tongue.