Cops: When Truck Hits House, “The House is Rarely At Fault”

Some collisions are hard to figure out. Others seem to scream out the cause. That’s the case with a truck that was recently found inserted into the side of a house in Moses Lake, Washington. Anyone looking at the scene would immediately conclude: drunk driver.

And that’s the correct conclusion. The driver was arrested for DUI last week. Fortunately, no one was injured, though the house and the truck will need a lot of repair.

truck-hits-house

Image: Moses Lake Police Dept. Facebook Page

The Moses Lake Police Department documented the incident with a bit of dry humor on their Facebook page, noting, “In our experience with these situations, the house is rarely at fault.”

So the driver, and not the house, will have to face the consequences of a Washington DUI, which includes an ignition interlock requirement, even for a first offense.  There is a minimum fine of $940, which could go as high as $5,000, as well as probation. If this is not the driver’s first offense, the penalties go much higher.

Amusing as the Facebook comment is, let’s remember that if the house is rarely at fault, neither are the people inside the house. They might have been severely injured or killed if the pickup had been going faster. It’s sad to note, but you might not even be safe from drunk drivers inside your own home.

No Mystery When It Comes To Drunk Driving In Washington State

drunk driving in Washington stateIt was a dark and stormy night. Police in Tacoma, Washington were on duty when they were called out to a disturbance in a quiet subdivision. What they found was a mystery: an ignition interlock device was torn apart and lay in pieces. Ripped from the dash of a vehicle owned by a man convicted of drunk driving in Washington, the driver was mystified as to what happened.

It sounds like the beginning of an ominous tale with no clear explanation, but police in Washington state know what may seem like a mystery isn’t usually a mystery at all. The jeep with the dismantled ignition interlock was sitting in a driveway, and the driver was causing a disturbance by yelling as he walked around his car.

It turns out that the man had just been to a party and he wanted to drive home. He admitted to the police officers that he had been drinking, listing a Jagerbomb as one of his beverages of choice, and he’d used marijuana. Although his memory wasn’t clear after that, he believed he’d arrived at his vehicle to find his ignition interlock ripped off the dash and in pieces.

Police didn’t buy his explanation. They asked if he realized it was a crime to tamper with his ignition interlock after he was already convicted of drunk driving in Washington state, and he acknowledged that yes, it was. That’s when they arrested him on that charge, and his dismantled jeep was towed away.

If you are convicted of tampering with an ignition interlock in Washington state, you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor. That’s separate from your original charge of drunk driving.

There’s no real mystery to drunk driving and anything that happens because of it. Alcohol impairs your ability to think, react, and yes, even after one drink, drive a car. Under the influence, you could decide to make crazy choices like tearing your ignition interlock out of the dash. As this man has shown, that’s only going to lead to more trouble for you.

Washington DUI Law Changes To Add DUI-E

Washington DUIThere’s something new in the world of Washington DUI law, and the new addition will mean people who drive with a cellphone in their hand could receive harsh new penalties.

It’s common knowledge that a Washington DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but Washington State Patrol have now started to enforce a new type of DUI designation: DUI-E, also known as driving under the influence of electronics.

It’s an interesting name for a common problem; how best to stop drivers from driving while distracted by their cell phones when they’re behind wheel. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee thinks the DUI-E name is catchy enough to get attention and it suits the crime. He’s vowed to reduce “drunk electronic driving” by cracking down on anyone police catch in the act.

When the DUI-E bill was proposed the Governor had to veto a provision that would have delayed the law from taking effect for one full year. He wanted it in place asap, and because of that there’s a limited warning period for drivers that will only last until the end of January. Once that warning has passed, increased fines will kick in for anyone caught with a cellphone in hand.

Those fines include a $136 charge for anyone stopped for a first DUI-E and $234 for anyone stopped for a second DUI-E within five years. That might not seem like that stiff of a fine, but keep in mind these violations will also be reported to your insurance company too. That could mean an increase in insurance rates.

There’s also a designation for “Dangerously Distracted,” and that’s defined as any person who commits a traffic offense while engaged in any activity that interferes with the safe operation of their motor vehicle. If someone from Washington state drives while dangerously distracted, they will receive an another $99 fine.

In Washington State the death rate from distracted driving rose by 32 percent from 2014 to 2015, so lawmakers felt this was the solution. Will other states fight back against distracted driving by getting on board with the same type of law?

Seattle Man Arrested For Drunk Driving After Crashing Into Macklemore

arrested-for-drunk-driving-hitting-macklemore.It’s become so common to hear of celebrities arrested for drunk driving that people don’t even bat an eye anymore when the mugshots appear in the news, but it is unusual to hear about a celebrity hit head-on by a drunk driver. However, that’s what happened to Seattle rapper Mackelmore recently.

He was driving in his home state of Washington on Whidbey Island, a popular tourist destination that’s extremely busy in the summer. He was coming around a curve in the road when a truck crossed the centerline and crashed into him head-on.

State troopers were on the scene quickly, and thankfully Mackelmore and his two passengers were able to walk away from the crash almost uninjured. The driver of the pickup didn’t fare as well because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. He was taken to the hospital before he was sent to jail, arrested for drunk driving.

Mackelmore is fortunate he was able to get out of his car and walk away after a head on drunk driving crash, because other people in the same situation have died due to the injuries they’ve sustained. Crashes like these and the lives they claim are just one of the many reasons why Washington State requires ignition interlocks for all offenders.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), someone who drives drunk will get behind the wheel after drinking an average of 80 times before they are stopped by police and arrested for drunk driving.  With an ignition interlock on an offender’s vehicle, he or she won’t be able to start the car if they have alcohol in their system; without an interlock, that person could cause a crash just like the one Mackelmore was in.

This won’t be the last time there’s a celebrity mentioned along with drunk driving, but thankfully Mackelmore has lived to rap another day and the driver is in jail.

Friday Fallout: Popped Five Viagra Only Got A DUI

arrest for DUI SeattleEveryone knows alcohol will affect your driving skills, and most people also know drugs like marijuana, and prescription drugs like opiates will affect your ability to drive too, but did you ever think that something like Viagra could cause you to be the focus of an arrest for DUI?

If you live in Washington State, the answer is yes, you definitely can be on the receiving end of an arrest for DUI if you’re driving under the influence of Viagra. That’s what happened to one man who told officers he had taken five times the recommended dosage of the medication when the bottle told him to only take one pill.

The man crashed his vehicle into the side of a parking garage downtown Seattle, and when police approached the car he told them he had taken some prescription medications but they weren’t labeled as dangerous for driving. Witnesses said he was acting “off” and he had struck the garage wall three or four times before he tried to stumble his way out of the garage.

friday-falloutAt this point neither the police or witnesses knew what type of medication he’d taken, so they took him to the hospital for evaluation. That’s where he told doctors that he’d taken five times the recommended dosage of generic Viagra.

Viagra is a drug commonly used only for only for erectile dysfunction and it’s normally only taken right before you’d “need” it, so there’s no real explanation for why this man was in a parking garage crashing into walls when he should have, most likely, been engaged elsewhere.

He’s pleaded not guilty to his DUI charge, and he’s ordered to be on home monitoring where he can only leave for work or school. If he’s convicted of DUI in Washington for driving under the influence of Viagra, he’ll be monitored in a different way: with an ignition interlock on his car.

It’s hard to believe that someone could take too much Viagra and receive an arrest for DUI, but it’s just one more crazy DUI story to add to the long list of crazy situations people get themselves into thanks to alcohol and driving.

 

 

Seattle Man Skips Ignition Interlock After Killing Two Teens

ignition interlock deviceIgnition interlock devices have one main purpose: to stop a drunk driver from driving his or her vehicle after they’ve been drinking. Some states have a threshold of as low as .01 blood alcohol content (BAC) to stop a convicted offender from drinking and driving with an interlock, and if they blow anything beyond that amount, the car simply won’t start.

But an ignition interlock won’t stop a drunk driver who’s required to use one but doesn’t, and although Washington State advocates for interlocks for all offenders, they’ve seen their fair share of non-compliance where this penalty is concerned.

Alexander Peder was required to use an ignition interlock because he was a repeat drunk driving offender in Washington State. He already had two previous drunk driving convictions on his record because he had crashed into and killed two teens while drunk, and he managed to plead down to lesser charges but was still required to drive with an ignition interlock after he was released from prison.

The problem? He didn’t bother using that mandatory ignition interlock. Thanks to a report from his ignition interlock provider police knew he was rarely driving the car it was installed in, and when the Washington State Patrol stopped him they discovered he wasn’t driving with one. They also found he was drinking alcohol, and that violated another condition of his release from prison. As for any violation of state law, there are penalties to pay for noncompliance: he’s now been charged with driving a vehicle without his interlock.

Ignition interlock compliance is a huge issue for states with all offender ignition interlock laws, and it’s good for offenders in any state to keep in mind that you can’t just skip the penalty and pass by unnoticed. Eventually it will catch up to you, and if you’re lucky enough to not injure or kill someone because you drove drunk again, that violation will come with its own set of penalties.

Washington May Drop BAC to 0.05 To Stop Drunk Drivers

Washington state lower BAC drunk driversA few years back the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made a recommendation that all states drop the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels from 0.08 to 0.05. They did so because having a lower BAC would be another deterrent to drunk drivers. Although the recommendation has been largely ignored over the years, there are signs that states could be getting on board with a lower BAC.

Washington state lawmakers are discussing Bill 1874; a possible new law that would require Washington state to drop the legal BAC from 0.08 to 0.05. That means that every drunk driver stopped with a 0.05 BAC would be charged for drunk driving in exact the same way that they would be charged if they were stopped with a 0.08 right now.

In Washington state that means possible jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension, and an ignition interlock installation in any vehicle you drive.

Washington isn’t the only state considering switching to a lower BAC to keep drunk drivers on the curb. The House of Representatives in Utah have also been considering lowering the limit to catch more drunk drivers. Critics of the proposed law have argued that changing the BAC would result in a lot of people arrested for drunk driving when they might not be that drunk at all, and that might be a valid concern except for one fact: research has shown that any amount of alcohol has the power to affect your driving skills.

Another reason why lawmakers are starting to look at lower BAC levels to charge drunk drivers? They are starting to see a real surge in drugged drivers and drivers who mix both drugs and alcohol. Although that drivers’ BAC might register below the legal limit, the combination of the two could result in that person being too impaired to drive.

What Utah and Washington state are trying to do is get a point across, and that point is that you shouldn’t drink and drive at all. Just because you’re stopped for suspected drunk driving and you only blow 0.06 on the breathalyzer doesn’t mean you’re sober enough to drive, and that 0.08 level shouldn’t be a magic number where you can drive away free and clear either.

Both bills are currently in debate, so we will soon see if 2017 will be the beginning of a trend to lower the BAC.

Washington State Closes Ignition Interlock Loopholes

ignition-interlock-breath-testsAny state with an all offender ignition interlock law will reap the benefits of having that law on the books. Whether that means it prevents a first time offender from becoming a repeat offender or it stops a repeat offender from getting behind the wheel over and over again, when you require ignition interlocks as a penalty, you know that you’re going to have safer roads.

But occasionally the laws that are supposed to stop drunk drivers use language that can actually give drunk drivers a way out of that penalty. Case in point? The ignition interlock law in Washington state was worded in a way that let drivers avoid installing the device until the last four months of their one year driver’s license suspension. That loophole has now been closed, and drivers who are required to install an ignition interlock will have to install one for the full 365 days.

Other ignition interlock improvements in Washington state include the requirement of GPS and on-board cameras for all interlocks. Many states require on-board cameras to prove that the person blowing into the ignition interlock is actually the person driving, and now convicted offenders who want to drive their cars without blowing into the interlock themselves will be caught red handed.

Lawmakers who closed these loopholes are also working on closing down a few more in Washington. They’d like to stop convicted drunk drivers from driving company cars without an ignition interlock, and they’re debating on how to deal with people from out of state who are arrested for drunk driving in Washington.

It’s a good thing they’re closing these loopholes, because according to Washington State Patrol there are 20,000 convicted drunk drivers using ignition interlocks right now and there are at least 10,000 who are supposed to be using one and aren’t. That lack of compliance isn’t just from loopholes; for some drivers it’s because they choose to ignore their drunk driving penalty completely.

Washington state is on the right track in putting the focus on laws that let people skirt their ignition interlocks. There’s no question that the devices save lives, but they have to be installed to do so.

Friday Fallout: Drink And Drive With Kid In Car? This Father Is Going To Jail

man shocked by drunk drivingIf there’s one thing in common with every drunk driver in every state, it’s that the stakes are extremely high no matter where you make the decision to drink and drive. It’s not just that you could get caught by police, though you can. And it’s not just if you do get caught you will end up losing your driver’s license, possibly going to jail, and have to install an ignition interlock in your car. All of those things aren’t just possible when you drink and drive; they’re extremely likely.

But the biggest reason the stakes are so high when you drink and drive is because each and every time you do so you run the risk of seriously injuring or killing yourself or someone else. That’s what a Washington state man found out when he decided to drink and drive and ended up in a crash that injured his own daughter.

Julio Castaneda Antonio is no stranger to drunk driving. He’s had more than four drunk driving convictions on his record in the past ten years, but his last drunk driving crash will be the one he won’t forget. With his wife and daughter in the car, he drove off the road and rolled his vehicle. That roll over injured his daughter’s arm, and although she was injured he asked her to tell the police someone else was driving during the crash.

Thankfully it was only a minor injury, and although she lied to police to save her father from another drunk driving conviction, he was still arrested and charged for vehicular assault, drunk driving, and tampering with a witness because of his request that his daughter not tell the truth.

Now he’ll be spending four years in jail thinking about the fact that he could have easily killed his own child, all thanks to his decision to drink and drive. This is the type of drunk driving fallout that sticks with you for the rest of your life.

The Friday Fallout: Every Friday Guardian Interlock brings you a unique drunk driving case that demonstrates the impact of – or fallout from – drunk driving.

Ignition Interlock Does Double Duty By Unveiling Car Thief

ignition interlock washingtonAn ignition interlock is the best way to stop a drunk driver from driving when they’re under the influence of alcohol, but the benefits of having an interlock installed in your car don’t stop there. As a man in Washington state recently found out, an ignition interlock can help you identify the thief who stole your car too.

It’s a familiar story: a man reports his car stolen and police are able to recover it shortly after. What’s different about this case was that when they found the car in Renton, they also discovered that the owner had an ignition interlock installed due to a drunk driving conviction. Most ignition interlocks are equipped with a camera that takes a photo each and every time someone blows to start. That’s why, when the thief tried to start the car by blowing into the ignition interlock, it snapped a few photos of him.

Once the car was recovered the police saw the photos taken by the ignition interlock and immediately knew who they were dealing with. Turns out the suspect has stolen quite a few cars, and now there’s two warrants out for him: one for the Renton auto theft and one for the theft of another vehicle.

This Renton car owner isn’t the only person who has avoided car theft thanks to an ignition interlock. Last year a Wisconsin man was getting into his car when two men approached him with a gun and told him to get out. They tried to start the car multiple times, but because the man had an ignition interlock in his vehicle they couldn’t manage to start it. Instead of getting away with his car, they made a run for it.

There aren’t many ignition interlock owners who are happy to have the device in their car, but you can’t deny that they keep roads safer by stopping drunk drivers and, in this case, also have the added bonus of catching a thief.

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