Utah: Implied Consent Doesn’t Apply When You’re Unconscious.

Utah drunk driving What happens if you crash your vehicle, are taken to the hospital unconscious, and police suspect you of drunk driving? You know hospital personnel will take care of you when you’re awake and able to talk, and they’re also responsible for your care when you’re unconscious.

But a lot can happen when you’re not able to answer for yourself after a crash, and one Utah drunk driving case has cast a spotlight on the specific drunk driving laws that may come into play in situations like these.

By now everyone has seen the video of nurse Alex Wubbels refusing to allow blood to be drawn from her unconscious patient after a car crash. The police officer requesting the blood draw arrested her for refusing, and the video was uploaded online and went viral shortly after.

The dust has since settled on the case and the police officer responsible has been fired, but if you’re wondering why Wubbels refused to allow the police officer to draw blood and what responsibilities did the patient have to submit to testing, even if he was unconscious, the answer is fairly simple.

Supreme Court ruling on blood samples

This isn’t the first time the subject of blood draws without consent have come up in the United States. A case that went all the way to the Supreme Court ended with a ruling that a blood sample cannot be taken from a patient without consent or a warrant.

In this case the officer had neither a warrant or the patient’s consent, but what was on his side – he believed – was the patient’s implied consent.

Utah implied consent

What is implied consent? In Utah, just like in many other states, the very act of accepting a driver’s license means that you agree to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test should a police officer suspect you of drunk driving. That implied consent will apply if you’re pulled over by police, but experts weighing in on this Utah drunk driving case have said it doesn’t apply for a blood draw in the Alex Wubbels situation.

Only lawyers know how to interpret the specifics of Utah drunk driving laws, but it’s a good case for anyone to look at because it demonstrates the different ways implied consent can be interpreted in any state.

Missouri May Lose Federal Funding For DWI Checkpoints

DWI checkpointsThere’s no question that groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are fighting every day to stop drunk driving, and over the years they’ve settled on a few solid ways they know will stop a drunk driver from getting behind the wheel. One of those ways are ignition interlock devices, and others include harsher drunk driving laws and DUI or DWI checkpoints.

Many states use DWI checkpoints to pull over as many drunk drivers as possible. Due to how these checkpoints run and the amount of police officers required to make one happen properly, it can take up a large part of the police force yearly budget. For some states that money can come in from the federal government, but as of July 1st, 2017, Missouri will no longer be able to access federal funds to pay for their DWI checkpoints.

Money coming in from the National Highway Safety Act is usually budgeted out for DWI checkpoints, but in a budget proposed by the Republicans in Missouri it was decided that they would only allow $1.00 to be used for that purpose.

The budget hasn’t been signed off by the Governor yet, but if it is passed as is police are going to have to dip into different wells to fund any DWI checkpoints they might run. The alternate to that? Police in Missouri stop having DWI checkpoints altogether.

What could happen if there are no DWI checkpoints in Missouri? Because they’re one of the main ways that drunk drivers are stopped in all states, police officers could be missing out on important opportunities to stop drunk drivers. Without checkpoints more manpower and an increased budget may have to be allocated just to keep enough patrol cars on the roads to spot drunk drivers, and if arrest rates go down, Missouri could see their drunk driving fatalities go up.

No one knows what will happen if Missouri loses funding for or ceases DWI checkpoints completely, but it doesn’t sound like an experiment any state would want to try out.

The Difference Between Wet reckless And DUI

wet reckless vs duiIf you drink, drive, get stopped, and are found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you’re going to be charged with a crime. What that specific charge may be is decided by law enforcement, the local prosecutor, and which state you live in.

Unless you’re in the know when it comes to drunk driving law and terminology, the term Wet Reckless might not automatically make you think of a drunk driving charge. In very basic terms, it’s defined as reckless driving involving alcohol.

It’s a term that’s often used when its time to charge someone with driving under the influence (DUI), and generally only comes into play when a prosecutor sees the potential for some weaknesses in the case at court time. Maybe you only failed one field sobriety test or your blood alcohol concentration was 0.799; in these cases a Wet Reckless charge could apply and the prosecuting attorney may offer you a plea bargain.

While a first DUI may appear on your driving record in the form of a misdemeanor, a Wet Reckless appears as a “prior”. That means if you’re stopped for another DUI within a ten-year period you could be charged as a repeat offender because the Wet Reckless would be your first DUI.

Depending on where you receive your charge you could pay fines, receive probation, and in some states, you may lose your driver’s license. You may also have to pay higher insurance rates because insurance companies might also view a Wet Reckless in the same way they do a DUI.

If you’re being charged with Wet Reckless and you’re not sure how to proceed, contact a lawyer. They’ll know the ins and outs of the charge and how the penalties vary in your state. If you want to avoid any kind of DUI charge altogether, it’s even more simple: don’t drink and drive.

What’s It Like To Drive Behind Someone Who Is Driving Drunk?

spot-someone-driving-drunkHow do you know if someone is driving drunk? Whether you suspect them of driving drunk because they’re speeding up and slowing down, swerving in their lane, or blowing through stop signs, actually picking up the phone is judgment call people have to make every single day. More often than not, people don’t make the phone call to the police to report a drunk driver because they’re not 100% sure.

If you want to know exactly what someone looks like when they are driving drunk, look no further than YouTube. There are numerous videos video taping drunk drivers, some that are too disturbing to even watch, but few fall into the same category as one video called, “Crazy Drunk Driver Crashes.”

The video, featured on CBS in 2011, involves two people driving down the highway behind a suspected drunk driver. They’ve already called the police when they began shooting the video, and they detail what they see up until the point the driver crashes. Just a warning: the passenger and driver use foul language occasionally.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKiBjR_w4tI]

Thankfully the driver didn’t crash into anything other than a tree. As you can see in the video, there are near misses with people who probably didn’t realize they were seconds away from being involved in a drunk driving crash.

If you’re in a similar situation, how can you really tell if that person in front of you is driving drunk? Unfortunately you can’t be 100% sure unless you’re in the vehicle with them and asking them to submit to a breathalyzer test. What you can do is contact the police and say you suspect the person beside you or in front of you on the road is driving drunk, and law enforcement can take it from there.

You might not be right about someone driving drunk 100% of the time, but if you are correct, you could save a life. Isn’t the thought of that alone worth a phone call to 911?

This Officer Got A Thank You For DUI Arrest

woman-says-thank-you-for-duiWith so many stories published every day about tragic alcohol-related crashes and driving under the influence (DUI) arrests, it’s nice to see something published about something good that can come out of a DUI arrest.

When Mariya Fair was arrested for DUI, she felt like her life was over. After suffering from severe depression and drug addiction, she made the decision to drink and drive on New Year’s Eve last year. She was fortunate no one was injured when she crashed into two cars, but she was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.

What changed her life wasn’t just being stopped for DUI—it was what the officer said to her after he had arrested her. When he saw she had needle marks up and down her arms, he commented that she was too young to be so messed up, and maybe this might be a good time to get her life in order.

They were simple words, but for Fair they stuck. She used her DUI arrest as motivation to accept her penalties and get her life back on the straight and narrow. Although her specific penalties aren’t known, most California first time DUI offenders are found guilty of a misdemeanor and serve a minimum of 4 days in prison, pay fines up to $2,600, lose their driver’s license for at least 30 days, and may be required to install an ignition interlock device at the direction of the judge.

Some offenders spend the time after arrest cursing the officer who arrested them, while others work through their penalties and promptly get behind the wheel and drive drunk again. In the case of Mariya Fair, she choose to say thank you instead, and when she met her arresting officer again, she gave him a big hug.

Most DUI stories definitely don’t end like this one, but wouldn’t it be nice if they did?

When Military Personnel Drink And Drive

military-DUIIt’s a sad twist of fate when a member of the military, someone who has pledged their life to protecting the public, is the person who chooses to drink and drive. But this type of crash happens more often than you think, and with the recent alcohol-related crashes involving military members, it puts the focus on how the military deals with drunk driving.

In California, Jason King was a member of the United States Marines. He was driving drunk down the wrong way of Route 163 near San Diego when he crashed into a car full of medical students and killed two of them. King was severely injured himself, and is expected to be arraigned at the UCSD Medical Center soon.

In another case from over a year ago, Navy petty officer Peter Tenecyk was arrested for involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence (DUI). He was responsible for a crash that killed a 50-year-old man, and only recently was he sentenced to 2 years plus 90 days in prison.

Not all military DUI cases end in prison, and how the penalties play out depends on whether or not the person was arrested for DUI by civilian police or DUI on base. If they were arrested by civilian police and they are military, they will be charged with a DUI off a military installation. As such, they won’t be subject to facing a military court martial for the same crime, and the state they live in will govern the DUI penalties like fines, jail time, and ignition interlock programs.

If the military personnel is charged with DUI on a military base, they will be charged under military code. Military court has the discretion to follow state standards for DUI as well as enforce punitive actions including dishonorable discharge, imprisonment, loss of pension, monetary fines, and forfeiture of pay. That person could also receive administrative actions including revocation of pass privileges, treatment for substance abuse, and reduction in grade.

It’s shocking when you read about military personnel drinking and driving because they are looked upon as protectors, but even the country’s protectors sometimes make the mistake of drinking and driving.

‘Tis The Season To Recognize The Good Deeds Done By Police

breathalyzerIt’s a sad fact that in today’s society, people only see the police when they’re in the middle of a crisis or when they themselves are pulled over for a traffic infraction or drinking and driving. It can create a negative view of law enforcement in general, and the media doesn’t always help with the perception of police either.

News reports on TV, radio, and in newspapers will often cover bad news before they cover good news, and police are part of this coverage because they’re required to be present when these negative situations unfold. Part of their daily job is to put their lives on the line at standoffs, ask people to submit to breathalyzer tests, and contacting families after drunk driving crashes.

But if you do a little digging and look beyond the media coverage, you’ll see that the police also enjoy doing a lot of heartwarming things as often as they can. Simple random acts of kindness that don’t get media coverage are part of a normal day for a police officer – from picking up teddy bears on the highway and finding the owner, taking care of injured animals, and buying food or providing clothing for cold and hungry people.

One of the best stories about police taking time out of their day to give to others comes from the Lowell Police Department in Michigan. A few police officers got together and began stopping drivers for minor traffic infractions. They pulled over 50 people total, and instead of issuing tickets or performing breathalyzer tests, they asked them what they wanted for Christmas. This is what happened next.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlnxajQrL8w]

Yes, a police officer’s job is to arrest people who are breaking the law, and that takes up most of their time, but it’s always nice to see the other positive side of law enforcement, especially during the holidays.

Give Thanks And Drive Sober This Holiday Weekend

ignition interlockCan’t wait for the holidays? It’s getting colder outside, the stores are decked out with holiday decorations, and there’s a festive feeling in the air. But don’t let that festive feeling take hold of you when it comes to drinking and driving, because starting right now there will be roadblocks and police out in full force checking for drunk drivers.

Although at different times for different locations, police have started their annual crackdowns in anticipation of the busy holiday season. For example, Livingston County in New York will begin their crackdown on November 26th, and in parts of Maryland, the DUI crackdown begins now and runs until January 10th. You can check with your local police station for DUI crackdown details.

These precautionary measures are warranted. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released statistics showing that in 2012, 416 people died in crashes during the Thanksgiving weekend, and 42% of those crashes were alcohol-related.

If you manage to avoid a crash and are pulled over on suspicion for DUI, you’re in for quite a few roadblocks of your own. Depending on your state, you’ll lose your license, could have your vehicle impounded, may spend time in jail, be required to pay fines, and even if you’re a first time offender, may be required to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you drive.

This is just the start of the holiday season crack down for many areas across the United States. The police will be out in full force checking for seat belts and ensuring that drivers are sober. If you’re heading out this holiday season to visit with friends and family, do yourself and everyone on the road a favor – don’t drink and drive.

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