What Good Is a Designated Driver Who Drinks?

designated-driverThere is only one rule that a designated driver has to follow, but it’s a crucial one: do not drink. You’d think that it would be obvious, but a surprising number of so-called designated drivers end up in handcuffs.

It happened recently in Riverside, California. A police officer saw a Volkswagen doing 57 in a 30 mph zone. As it turned out, the speeder was also a drinker, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .182, more than twice the legal limit. As per the law, his car was impounded.

The driver had been the designated driver for his 3 passengers. Why did he drink?

One possible explanation is that he thought that a designated driver meant someone who drank less than his passengers. This is a common mistake. In fact, to be worthy of the name, a designated driver should stay off the booze entirely.

Perhaps he had “just one drink,” and the diminished judgement from that led to a second drink. That’s the procession that leads to a DUI.

When you agree to be a designated driver and you drink, you’re not just letting down your friends – you’re endangering them. If you’ve agreed to do the job for the evening, take it as a matter of trust. Do the right thing and stick with soft drinks. You’ll wake up the next day still having friends, your freedom – and your vehicle.

Scary: Florida Man Drove Child to School While Drunk

florida-dui-child-endangerment

The man was driving recklessly enough that the 911 line was swamped with calls. They were telling the operators that a man was running off the road, that he almost hit other cars head on.

One caller had an even more chilling report: there was a child in the car, and the boy was afraid.

As it turned out, the driver managed to drop the child off at a Fruitland Park school, and then stopped and fell asleep at the wheel. That might have been the end of the danger, but there was one more scare left in the man. When officers tapped on the window glass, the man woke up, stepped on the gas and drove into a fence.

There’s lots to terrify anyone here. Possible head-on collisions. An unexpected charge into a fence  – what if someone had been in front of the car then? And worst of all, the presence of a child.

The driver, Christopher Beauchemin, was found to have a blood alcohol level of .233, about three times the legal .08 limit. That is a massively debilitating amount of alcohol, rendering a person totally incapable of piloting a car. At that level vision is impaired, and concentration is so poor that a car will continually veer off the road as the driver’s attention waivers.

Is Florida Tough Enough on Child Endangerment?

Driving drunk with a minor is a uniquely cruel and reckless act. Children depend on adults for security and guidance. This kind of child endangerment is a betrayal of trust as well as an overtly criminal act.

At present, Florida does indeed punish DUI offenders who are caught with minors in the vehicle. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which has rated all the states for their anti-drunk-driving measures, would like to see those punishments increase. Endangering a minor while driving impaired should be a felony, the organization says. According to MADD, only 7 states currently treat this crime as a felony. More information about the states’ ratings can be found in the 2018 Report to the Nation.

The Kansas House Passes Some Schizoid Drinking Bills

jekyll-and-hyde-kansas-alcohol-lawsThe Kansas House of Representatives recently passed two bills regarding alcohol. The bills might not be designed to achieve opposite goals, but that’s effectively what they’re doing.

One bill would increase penalties for habitual drunk drivers who are judged guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

The bill was passed in the wake of a tragic crash in which a 24-year-old woman, Caitlin Vogel, was killed by a repeat drunk driver who had several prior offenses. The offender, James McAllister, was sentenced to less than 10 years in prison, a fate which enraged Vogel’s family and friends. The new bill is an attempt to fix what was regarded as too-soft treatment of persistent drunk drivers who harm or kill.

The other law has the no-doubt unintended effect of increasing drunk driving. It allows restaurants to begin serving alcohol at 6 a.m. rather than 9, as is currently allowed. The reasoning is that Kansas is losing breakfast and brunch business to surrounding states.

A Jekyll-and-Hyde View of Drunk Driving

Taken together, the bills reflect a strange split-personality view of drunk driving. On the one hand, the practice of serving alcohol in restaurants at 6 a.m. does not seem to suggest an increase in drunk driving to the Kansas legislators who voted for that bill. Experts would disagree. A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine states unequivocally that “state and local governments should take appropriate steps to limit or reduce alcohol availability, including … the days and hours of alcohol sales.”  This is one of several strategies for reducing drunk driving in the US. Others include more taxes on alcohol, ignition interlocks, and a lower blood alcohol concentration limit.

On the other hand, those who actually drink and drive should be severely punished – but the bill only addresses those who are already repeat offenders and who do serious harm. This is the extreme end of the spectrum. There’s a good case for strong punishments for those who kill while driving drunk, but mainly to take such dangerous offenders off the roads. It’s doubtful that other drivers will learn of the extreme punishment of a DUI killer and decide not to have that extra beer before getting behind the wheel. In other words, the DUI manslaughter bill will probably not reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road by more than one.

Meanwhile, selling alcohol at 6 a.m. might put a few more on the road.

Kansas legislators need to read the reports by the National Academies, MADD, the NTSB, NHTSA, and other safety organizations. All of them recommend a well-administered all-offender ignition interlock program, more restricted alcohol sales, and prevention wherever possible. Boosting liquor sales and then coming down hard on DUI killers isn’t a strategy that works.

How Not to Pass a Sobriety Test: Cartwheels and Chardonnay

It happened in Florida, as many such things do: a man was found passed out at a McDonald’s drive-thru after placing an order. The relationship between drunk driving and fast-food drive-thru windows is a long and sorry one, a phenomenon which has yet to be explored.

When the police arrived, the driver, one Christopher Bidzinski, was eating his food. He stepped out of the car, stumbled, and told the cops that he was unlikely to pass a sobriety test. He was correct.

For some reason, Bidzinski decided to do a cartwheel during the procedure. The result did not help his case, especially since it was recorded on video:

The suspect admitted to drinking Chardonnay (Chardonnay, seriously?) and asked to be taken to jail.

If you’re thinking that this is the first cartwheel during a sobriety test to be captured on video, you should see this clip from Albuquerque, taken last year in a similar situation:

It’s hard to say what makes a DUI suspect want to do a cartwheel during a a sobriety test, but that’s alcohol for you. Its capacity for helping people make poor decisions is almost limitless. But that’s why drinking and driving is illegal: on the road, poor decisions and lack of coordination lead to disaster. At the roadside it’s just another dumb DUI story.

No doubt when you think about this video you’ll think about the pratfall. But had the police not stopped the driver when they did, things might have ended differently. A wrong turn in a car at night can be a serious thing indeed. We have the crash statistics to prove it.

Super Bowl Plans Include Putting The Brakes On Minnesota Drunk Drivers

Minnesota drunk driversSuper Bowl 52 is right around the corner, and while you’re worrying about whether or not your planned feast will be enough food for your sport-hungry friends,  you should also take a few minutes to consider what’s on the horizon for Minnesota drunk drivers.

Super Bowl 52 will be held in Twin Cities, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) is expecting a huge surge of Minnesota drunk drivers to hit the streets. Just like your favourite team will be coming up with a game plan, so is DPS-OTS. They’ve got a good reason to do so.

According to data released from DPS-OTS, police arrested 2.656 Minnesota drunk drivers during the busy holiday season of 2017. That number is up from the 2,407 who were arrested during the same holiday period in 2016. Given that Super Bowl weekend is one of the busiest drunk driving weekends on the year, both police and DPS-OTS are concerned that Minnesota residents may make the wrong choice and get behind the wheel drunk.

Part of the DPS-OTS game plan is to get residents to commit to always seeking a sober ride home. They’re running a commercial in the state that’s spreading awareness of how dangerous it is to drive drunk, and along with that commercial, they’d also like to remind residents to make your plans now for Super Bowl 52.

If you schedule ahead for an Uber ride or ask a friend to remain sober that day, and you’ll never need to worry about what you might decide to do when you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The most stressful part of Super Bowl should be that your nacho dip ran out prematurely. You don’t want to worry that you’ll drive drunk, get arrested, and spend half time in a jail cell, so follow the advice of DPS-OTS and stay safe this Super Bowl.

Will This Florida Drunk Driving Crash Prompt New Interlock Laws?

Florida drunk driving It’s inevitable that police officers will be hurt or killed in the line of duty, and it’s especially sad when they are attempting to rescue an innocent person from crash site. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for police officers to be killed or injured while helping others, and one Florida drunk driving crash has claimed another victim.

It happened in Miami-Dade County in the early hours. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was at the scene of a crash. While he was standing at the scene another car hit one of the crashed cars and the impact sent the other crashed car straight into the officer.

The officer was hit and landed a distance away from the cars. He was left with serious injuries. The driver who caused the second crash was given a breathalyzer test and was found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .201. That’s almost triple the legal limit of .08.  After an investigation of the crash police arrested him on a Florida drunk driving charge and DUI causing damage.

Thankfully the officer will recover from his injuries, but other police officers haven’t been as lucky. Officer Noah Leotta of Maryland was working a DUI check stop when a car crashed into him. The impact ended his life. Leotta’s death was one of the reasons why Maryland was spurred to pass an all offender ignition interlock law.

An ignition interlock device is a device that requires all drunk driving offenders, including first time offenders with a BAC of .08 or higher, to blow an alcohol-free sample before they can start the car. It’s been proven that all offender ignition interlock laws save lives and prevent thousands of people from driving after they attempt to start their cars.

Could this crash mean that Florida will begin a serious effort to pass such a law in the sunshine state? Florida has let an all offender ignition interlock law die before it came to a final vote on more than one occasion, but all it takes is one serious drunk driving case to motivate lawmakers to get behind a new bill. Will this be the case for Florida?

Parenting Fail: Mom Charged With DWI With Child In Back Seat

family in carNo one should ever drink and drive, but if you’re determined to do so, the least you can do is leave your children at home. This is a message that most parents should easily understand, but you’d be amazed at how many decide that getting charged with DWI is not a big deal with or without their kids along. One Santa Fe, New Mexico mother was just charged with DWI for a second time after she crashed her van. That’s bad enough, but she had a young child along with her too.

Police arrived on the scene of a crash after someone reported a driver who drove into a parking lot barrier at a MacDonald’s restaurant. When they arrived they found a woman in her underwear lying across the seats and there was blood splattered everywhere. The van windows were rolled down and it was below freezing, and an open container of alcohol lay on the floor. There was also a child strapped into a car seat in the back.

That paints a pretty grisly image, so it’s hard to understand why this offender wasn’t happy for the help when police showed up. When paramedics cleaned her up she yelled at police officers, and they had to obtain a warrant to do a blood draw. She was arrested, charged with DWI, and also received a third-degree felony count of child abuse. Her child has been placed with relatives, and she’s going to face the consequences of her second DWI arrest.

In New Mexico that means stiff penalties. She could spend up to one year in jail, pay up to $1,000 in fines, and attend an alcohol evaluation. She’ll also lose her driver’s license for two years, and she’ll be required to drive with an ignition interlock for two years.

The penalties for her DWI in New Mexico might be hard for her to deal with, but what’s much harder to process is that she put a child in grave danger. It’s a good lesson for any parent who has wondered whether or not to drink and drive the kids home. Putting your child in the car with you after you’ve been drinking is never a good idea.

Police Officer Saved Her. Then He Arrested Her For Florida Drunk Driving

Florida drunk driving Florida is one of those states where, despite the best efforts, police still struggle with drunk drivers. Florida drunk driving is so bad that police have seen DUI golf cart crashes leading to death, parents getting called in for DUI by their kids, and naked drunk drivers who clearly couldn’t stand the heat and humidity.

But one recent Florida drunk driving arrest may just top them all, and that’s because a police officer had to move quickly between saving a life and arresting that very same person for drunk driving.

Thanks to video capture on a dashcam, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper can be seen approaching a vehicle in Naples, Florida late one night. The car had driven onto the shoulder of a busy interstate, and you can hear him asking the driver to wake up through the glass of the window.

When she wouldn’t wake up the officer broke the window and checked her pulse. Finding her lifeless, he pulled her from the car and began to administer CPR until she was breathing again. She was sent to the hospital via ambulance, and when they took her blood alcohol content (BAC) they found she was at .039.

With a BAC that high, she was at the lethal level for alcohol poisoning. That’s most likely why she was unresponsive and her heart stopped, and she’s extremely fortunate someone found her in that condition and brought her back to life. Once she’d recovered the police officer handed her charges for Florida drunk driving.

It just goes to show that some drunk drivers don’t have a clue how drunk they are before they drive a car. Not everyone in that condition would pull over on the side of the road before they lost consciousness, and although she’ll now face the fines, penalties, and driver’s license suspension associated with a Florida drunk driving charge, it is thanks to that arrest that she’s alive today.

How To Turn A California DUI Into A Murder Charge

california dui What’s the worst that could happen if you’re a drunk driver in California? You might think it’s the personal cost of a California DUI conviction, but that charge is small potatoes compared to what a man in Sacramento is currently facing.

Thanks to his decision to drink and drive, he’s facing four counts of murder. Fred Lowe, a resident of Sacramento, crashed his car into another car while heading down the Interstate. The other car lost control and flipped over into lanes with oncoming traffic.

Inside that vehicle were five family members who were heading home from a baseball tournament. Four of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene, including two teen boys. One lived, and he was treated for serious injuries.

Mr.Lowe, the drunk driver, left the scene before finding out if anyone was injured. Police caught up with him a short time later and arrested him on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter.

Unfortunately for Mr.Lowe, this wasn’t his first time behind the wheel drunk. He had a previous charge of California DUI on his record, and he was also arrested at another time for a robbery. Because of that record, the fact that he fled the scene, and how he had a high blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the crash, the judge decided there was enough to charge this driver with second degree murder.

Now, all because he made the decision to drive drunk, this man is responsible for one of the worst drunk driving crashes the area has ever seen. A family has lost four of its members, and this driver is facing four murder charges in the state of California.

To answer the question, what’s the worst that could happen if you put your keys in the ignition after drinking? You could kill someone, and you might be charged with murder. Just like Mr.Lowe must realize, alcohol and driving don’t mix, so stay safe and don’t drink and drive.

 

California Crash Shows Why License Suspensions Don’t Work

driver's license suspensionThere’s a reason why a driver’s license suspension won’t work for all drunk drivers. When you suspend someone’s license, you are relying on that person to abide by that suspension. The problem with some convicted drunk drivers? They don’t take that suspension seriously, and they just continue to drink and drive despite the restriction on their license.

But there’s a reason why drunk drivers have their driver’s license suspended, and that’s because if they drink and drive once, they’re more likely to drink and drive over and over again. When they do that, the inevitable happens: a drunk driving crash, and that’s when innocent people die.

One recent crash in California is the perfect example of this. A mother was bending over beside her parked car to remove her daughter from the back seat. A drunk driver struck six parked cars nearby and crashed into the mother and daughter, throwing them over 30 feet down the road. The mother was killed instantly, and the daughter is in critical condition in the hospital.

This drunk driver shouldn’t have been driving at all. He had already pleaded no contest to a DUI conviction at the end of August, and his driver’s license was suspended before that because he failed to appear in court.

It’s clear from a crash like this one that a driver’s license suspension doesn’t work, and that’s because there’s nothing preventing that driver from putting the keys in the ignition and starting the car. What will stop these drunk drivers in California? California’s new ignition interlock law, requiring all offenders in all counties to install an interlock device in any vehicle they drive, will be in place in 2019.

The new law can’t turn back the clock and change the outcome of this crash, but it can save the lives of thousands of others who could be killed because a drunk driver makes the choice to ignore a driver’s license suspension. These lifesaving devices are the only way of truly preventing someone who is intoxicated from starting the car, so the new law can’t come soon enough.

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