Arrested For DUI After Police Read Her Facebook Messages

arrested for DUIIt’s a tale as old as time: someone posts something on their Facebook wall and it comes back to bite them. It can happen to anyone, and it did happen to a driver who was arrested for DUI recently. Her case is a good lesson for anyone who’s tempted to drink, drive, and then chat about it online.

She was involved in a crash near Troy, Michigan. She had been driving around one a.m. when she crashed into another vehicle. Instead of sticking around, she decided to abandon her car and walk away.

She checked into a nearby hotel where she told the front desk clerk that she’d been drinking, driving, and had crashed her car. When police arrived and questioned her she admitted to being in the crash but wouldn’t admit to driving the vehicle and wouldn’t say who had been driving.

Police noticed she had been using the hotel computer, and unfortunately for the driver, she had left the page open to her Facebook profile. The page showed she had been sending messages to a friend that detailed the crash and admitted she was drunk.

At that point she submitted to a breathalyzer test and was found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.12. She was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of a crash, and driving on an expired license.

There are a few lessons you can take away from this case. One, don’t drink and drive. If she would have been sober she may not have crashed in the first place. Two, don’t drive on a suspended driver’s license. It’s for this very reason that many states have all offender ignition interlock laws for anyone arrested for DUI, and it’s far better to obtain a restricted license and drive with an interlock than take your chances.

Last, but not least, what you post online stays online, so don’t feel as though it’s safe to talk about you drunk driving on Facebook or anywhere else. It could come back to haunt you.

Will Michigan’s Legal Blood Alcohol Limit Stay At .08?

michigan legal blood alcohol limitIt feels as though the legal blood alcohol limit (BAC) has been .08 forever, but most people don’t realize that it was only established in all states back in 2004. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was instrumental in helping states pass these BAC per se laws (laws in which having a certain alcohol level was illegal per se, rather than relying on proof of actual impairment), and although Delaware was the last state to pass a per se law, Michigan kept their options open by including a 10-year BAC sunset clause.

Michigan is the only state that has a BAC sunset clause, and the clause states that, if it expires before there is legislative action, the BAC will change from .08 to .10. The clause doesn’t come up often, and it’s only in the news right now because it was extended back in 2013 for a new expiry date of October 1st, 2018.

Now that the deadline is looming, Michigan lawmakers have proposed two new bills, House Bill 4547 and House Bill 4548, that would keep Michigan roads safer by eliminating the BAC sunset clause altogether and making the .08 BAC the permanent legal blood alcohol limit.

The thing to keep in mind is that these are just bills: they’re not passed yet, and they have to make their way through the House and the Senate before they are sent to the Governor for signature. There’s no guarantee that will happen.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while Michigan is debating returning to a .10 BAC, other states are dropping their BAC even lower. Utah just passed a law requiring the BAC in the state to be dropped to .05. If Michigan wants to go one step further, they could join in with Utah and other states who are considering following the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) recommendation that all states drop their BAC to .05.

Let’s hope the Michigan bills pass and the BAC sunset clause will be eliminated. After all, it would be hard to justify raising your state legal blood alcohol limit to .10 when it’s clear that some states think .08 is too high.

Pleads Guilty To Drunk Driving, Goes To Jail, Drives Drunk Again

pleads guilty to drunk drivingWhen an offender pleads guilty to drunk driving after causing a crash and killing another person, the victim’s family doesn’t always receive closure from that plea. No matter what, moving on will seem impossible.

That may be because the momentary sense of relief that comes from knowing the person who killed your loved one is going to pay a price for doing so is ever so slowly replaced by a creeping fear that a crash like that could happen again to someone else.

No one who’s lived through losing someone to drunk driving wants another family to live through the same situation, but it happens all too frequently. One case in Adrian, Michigan, is the perfect example of what can happen when someone pleads guilty to drunk driving and doesn’t learn their lesson the first time.

Victor Walworth, a 16-year-old who was riding his bike home, was struck and killed by drunk driver Christopher Villanueva, a 20 year old not even old enough to drink. In exchange for pleading guilty to driving on a suspended license causing death, he was given six to 15 years in prison. He served his entire time thanks to Walworth’s parents opposing an early release.

What did he do when he was released from prison? He drove drunk again and caused another crash, injuring himself and his three passengers. He’ll be charged again for drunk driving, but the Walworth family believe that he re-offended because Michigan’s drunk driving laws are far too easy going on all offenders.

The Walworth’s would like to see a few changes come to Michigan’s laws, and that includes:

  • Ignition interlock for all offenders: unlike a growing majority of states, Michigan doesn’t have an all offender interlock law on record as of yet
  • No bail or early release from prison for drunk drivers: Villanueva may have received early release if the Walworth family did not stand up and oppose it at his hearing

These two changes to Michigan law could lock down repeat offenders like Villanueva; people who think nothing of spending eight years in jail then drinking and driving again. With an interlock on their vehicle after release, that just wouldn’t be possible, so let’s hope Michigan gets on board with interlocks sooner than later.

Friday Fallout: Husband And Wife Both Charged With Drunk Driving

Husband and wife charged drunk drivingGiven how dangerous it is, why does anyone make the choice to drink and drive? It’s a tough question, but it’s an important one, because finding out why people choose to put the key in the ignition after a few drinks can help lawmakers and law enforcement formulate a plan to stop drunk driving before another person is injured or killed.

A case in Hamburg, Michigan not only raises the question why would this person choose to drink and drive, it also makes you wonder why they would do so with their children in the car, and why the person picking up the children thought it was perfectly fine to show up drunk too.

friday-falloutA mother with two children in her vehicle was driving at approximately three pm when she ran off the road near the front yard of a home. When police arrived they suspected her of drunk driving, so they asked her to submit to a field sobriety test. She failed and was charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence with passengers under the age of 16 (OWI).

When her husband arrived to pick up her children, police suspected him of drunk driving too. They gave him a breathalyzer test and he was also arrested at the scene.

If you’re arrested for OWI in Michigan, even if you’re a first offender, you could still spend up to ninety days in jail. You’ll also lose your driver’s license for six months and you may be required to install an ignition interlock in your vehicle. These parents may want to hope they are required to install one in each car, because without an ignition interlock, neither may be driving for a long time.

It’s hard to understand why someone would make the choice to drink and drive with their children in the car, and even harder to comprehend why the other parent thought no one would notice if he was drunk driving too. The good news is that the children were safely handed over to a sober driver, and hopefully these parents learned a valuable lesson: even one drink is too many when you’re getting behind the wheel of a car.

The Friday Fallout: Every Friday Guardian Interlock will bring you a unique drunk driving case that demonstrates the impact, or fallout, of drunk driving.

How Was This Michigan Repeat Offender Still Behind The Wheel?

repeat offender michigan How many times should one person be able to drive drunk before they’re caught, convicted, and sent to jail for a long, long time? There’s no simple answer to that question, and although many states have repeat offender laws that include jail time, driver’s license suspensions, and ignition interlocks, not every state agrees on how best to deal with a repeat offender.

That might be why a Michigan man managed to rack up thirteen repeat offender drunk driving convictions, and he’s just been arrested for drunk driving again. Shockingly enough, it was a routine traffic violation and not a drunk driving crash that managed to net him his fourteenth arrest.

After the officer checked his record he found the thirteen previous convictions, all dating back to 1998. He also had several convictions for driving on a suspended license, and now he can add a felony drunk driving charge to that long list. He’s currently waiting out his date with the judge in the county jail.

How can anyone receive that many drunk driving violations and still be behind the wheel? Statistics that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) cites are true: a large number of repeat offenders will still drive on a suspended driver’s license, despite one or several drunk driving convictions. That’s why MADD advocates for ignition interlocks for first time offenders.

Ignition interlocks stop a first time offender from becoming a repeat offender, and if the device is used in compliance with state laws, it will reduce the likelihood that the drunk driver will drive under the influence again, even when the interlock has been removed.

As of right now, drunk driving laws in Michigan only require ignition interlocks for first time offenders with high blood alcohol concentrations, and habitual offenders like this man are required to have their license revoked, only to be reinstated when they have an ignition interlock installed. That clearly didn’t happen in this case.

An offender with thirteen drunk driving convictions isn’t common in Michigan, but it still shows that the state needs to get on board with an all offender ignition interlock law. An interlock would stop first time offenders from becoming habitual offenders like this man, and if he or anyone like him is prevented from driving drunk again and again, that would keep Michigan roads safer for everyone.

Michigan: The One-Star, No-All-Offender Ignition Interlock State

michigan ignition interlock Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) issued their annual ratings for all states recently, and what was most notable about the report wasn’t the five stars they handed out to the top states; it was the one star they handed out to Michigan.

MADD has a certain criteria that has to be met in order for a state to receive a star, and for some of the criteria they might give out a half star to show improvement. To get five full stars the state must have an all offender ignition interlock law, have felony laws for people who bring their kids along for the ride when they drive drunk, and have regular sobriety checkpoints. There is also criteria that includes whether or not a driver’s license is suspended immediately upon drunk driving arrest or whether there are severe repercussions if a driver refuses a breathalyzer.

The thing with Michigan is that it’s not meeting most of the criteria, and even worse, they’ve taken a step back from where they were a year ago and have gone from a two star MADD state to the only one star on the report.

MADD isn’t happy with Michigan because the state isn’t strict enough about drunk driving penalties and laws, but they’ve said that the reason the state was demoted was because they don’t require a drunk driver to be charged with a felony if that person is caught drunk driving with children in the vehicle. They also aren’t impressed that drivers who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test aren’t required to install an ignition interlock in their vehicle.

Right now Michigan also has other strikes against it. State law enforcement doesn’t run regular sobriety checkpoints, and the state only requires ignition interlocks for people who are considered to be “super drunk” or repeat offenders. When you put it all together it’s easy to see why MADD thinks of Michigan as a state that’s seriously lacking in comparison to other states who are doing all they can to fight drunk driving.

2017’s MADD state by state rating is only a year away. Let’s hope Michigan uses the time in between to strengthen their ignition interlock laws and improve all areas of their drunk driving law.

Ignition Interlocks Help DWI Sobriety Programs Succeed

ignition interlocks michigan A new research report out of Michigan has put the spotlight on the state’s repeat drunk drivers. First the bad news: a number of these offenders are failing out of the state’s DWI/Sobriety Court (driving while intoxicated). The good news? The offenders who install ignition interlocks as part of their program are graduating at a rate three times better than those without the device.

The report was a way for the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals (MATCP) to assess the first five years of Michigan’s DWI/Sobriety Court Ignition Interlock program. The program allows DWI offenders to have a restricted license if they participate in DWI/Sobriety Court and they install an ignition interlock in any vehicle they own or drive. Within the program the participants are tested for alcohol use and provided with treatment plans. They’re able to resume their lives and drive again as long as they breathe into an ignition interlock and pass the test every time they start their vehicle.

The report compared DWI/Sobriety offenders with an ignition interlock to those without, and the findings of the report were strongly in favor of ignition interlocks. 97% of the people required to install one did so, and out of all of those offenders, only 11% failed to graduate from the Sobriety program. The rate of graduates who used an ignition interlock was three times better than offenders who were not using an ignition interlock.

The report also found that alcohol and drug use dropped in ignition interlock users compared to people who were not using them, and the people in the program were more likely to spend less time in jail, have fewer warrants out for their arrest, and were more likely to seek out education than drivers without an ignition interlock.

Ignition interlocks work to stop drunk drivers, and a report like this reinforces that fact. That’s why 26 states support an all offender ignition interlock program, why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believes they are the best defense against drunk driving, and why states like Michigan require them to enforce other methods that stop repeat offenders in their tracks.

Michigan’s program is a good example for other states with Sobriety programs. Ignition interlocks keep repeat offenders on the straight and narrow, and that benefits both the state and the offender.

This Pilot Needed A Reminder Why You Don’t Drink And Fly

american airlines drink and fly Everyone knows how dangerous drunk driving is. If you noticed someone seemed intoxicated and they wanted to get into a car and drive away, you probably wouldn’t get into a car with them. But what if that drunk person was about to drink and fly and they were behind the controls of an airplane while intoxicated? As a passenger who has no interaction with the pilot except a brief pass by at the end of the flight, you’d never know they’d been drinking.

You might have no idea if the pilot of any airplane you’ve been on was drunk, but police and transportation security agents are on the lookout for that type of suspicious behavior. They routinely test pilots and flight attendants with a breathalyzer, and that’s how they found one drunk pilot on an American Airlines flight recently.

It happened on Flight 736, a 7 am flight from Detroit to Philadelphia. Only minutes before a pilot was about to board the plane he was going to fly, a transportation agent noticed him acting intoxicated. The agent brought out the breathalyzer and performed a test. The pilot failed the test and he was handcuffed and arrested right on the tarmac while the passengers of his plane watched. After he was arrested he failed a second BAC test and the flight was cancelled.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), pilots can’t drink in the 8 hours before they fly an aircraft, it’s recommended that they wait 24 hours, and they can’t fly with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04 or greater.

American Airlines hasn’t released the pilot’s BAC or commented on the case other than indicating they were dealing with the issue, but it’s safe to say the transportation agent made the right call by asking him to take a breathalyzer test. Everyone knows how dangerous drunk driving is, but when you drink and fly, you take hundreds of innocent lives in your hands.

 

An Ignition Interlock Success Story

ignition interlockToo many people think of ignition interlock devices as a penalty. Because they’re part of what happens after you receive a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, it might seem as though using one is punishment. But if you really think about it, an ignition interlock is the only part of the DUI process that can give you your life back after you’ve made the choice to drink and drive.

Instead of reading about the negative outcomes of DUI, it was nice to see an article on how a sobriety program and ignition interlocks worked to change one person’s life for the better. DUI offender Damian Micol was arrested for drunk driving in Michigan at age 19, and he was arrested again on a second offense a few years later at age 21. At the time of his second arrest he almost lost his job and his personal life fell apart.

Because it was his second offense the penalties were harsher, and he was required to work his way through Sobriety Court and install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle. Now he’s crediting both with helping him get and stay sober after his second DUI, and he feels fortunate he didn’t kill anyone while driving drunk.

Micol isn’t the only one who’s celebrating ignition interlocks in Michigan these past few weeks. A new study was released that showed 88 percent of people enrolled in the ignition interlock program graduated, and those who used ignition interlocks had the lowest likelihood of driving drunk again.

If you’ve been charged with DUI and you’re not thrilled with the idea of driving with an ignition interlock, it might be time to change your perspective. The ignition interlock forces you to drive sober and lets you drive normally as long as you don’t drink before you get behind the wheel. Instead of losing your job or altering your family life, you can resume your life. When you look at it that way, it doesn’t sound like much of a penalty, does it?

Good Reminder You Get A DUI On Any Motorized Vehicle

dui-on-scooterIt’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can only be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) when you’re driving a car, truck, or van. That might be because the public usually only encounters checkpoints designed to stop a host of drunk drivers at one time, and all of those drivers are in standard motor vehicles.

But there are a lot of different types of motorized vehicles you can be charged for DUI on, and as one man found out, chugging a beer while driving them can get you into a lot of trouble.

William Shaw Lyon was driving down a busy street on a motorized scooter, and he had an open container of alcohol in his hand. While weaving back and forth in and out of the lanes, he managed to cause traffic jam that caught the eye of local police.

When he was pulled over he admitted to being intoxicated, and he promptly failed a field sobriety test. This was his third DUI offense, and he was also charged with having an open container, disorderly conduct, and possession of marijuana.

The case has been in front of a judge several times, and his defense attorney argued that the scooter was not included in motor vehicle laws prohibiting drinking and driving because it has a maximum speed of 4 mph. The judge felt otherwise—because Lyon was on the roadway, he feels he undertook the duties of a vehicle driver.

If he’s convicted for DUI in Michigan, the scooter operator could receive up to 5 years in prison. Other penalties in Michigan include fines up to $1,000, driver’s license suspensions for one year, and an ignition interlock for repeat offenders.

This case is a good reminder that all motorized vehicles, from tractors to scooters and even go-carts, could result in a DUI charge on the books.

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