This Wisconsin Drunk Driving Offender Was Turned In By His Wife

Wisconsin drunk driving There’s been far too many drunk driving crash stories in which the driver hits something but doesn’t realize he or she struck another person. Many cyclists and pedestrians have died this way. Usually the driver is the one who realizes after the fact what they have done. But in one Wisconsin drunk driving case, it was the driver’s wife who figured out her husband had killed someone.

Ryan Peterson from Salem, Wisconsin was driving home after watching a football game at a relative’s house. He’d had a few to drink, but didn’t think he was too drunk to drive. As he drove home down a dark road he took a minute to plug his phone into the charger when he struck something. Because he said he believed it was a deer, he kept driving until he got home.

He told his wife he struck a deer. She had heard, however, that a person had been being struck and killed on his route home. She chose to turn him into the police, and that’s when he admitted he had been drinking.

The person killed was Jackie Hutcheson. He was cycling on the dark road when Peterson crashed into him. After the collision Peterson said he looked in his rear-view mirror but didn’t see anything, so he kept driving. Police said that there was no evidence of his slowing down or stopping after the impact, and Hutcheson was only found after his mother came looking for him.

Because he was turned in after the fact, a Wisconsin drunk driving charge won’t apply. Instead, he’ll receive a charge of hit-and-run resulting in death as well as homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.

It just goes to show: anything can happen when you drink and drive, so stay sober behind the wheel.

 

Friday Fallout: California Drunk Driving Crash Caused By LAPD Officer

California drunk driving It’s a police officer’s face you’ll see at your window if you’re suspected of drunk driving, and it’s also a police officer who will arrest you if you’ve caused a drunk driving crash. But sometimes it’s the very same person who arrests you for breaking the law that’s on the wrong end of a DUI arrest, and one fatal California drunk driving crash was actually caused by a Los Angeles police officer.

The LAPD officer was off duty at the time of the crash, and it happened after he was speeding in his car around 10 pm at night. He crashed into two cars from behind, and the impact caused one of the cars to burst into flames and trap all of the people inside. All three died at the scene. The officer was arrested at the scene of the crash after suffering serious injuries himself, and he was charged with suspected DUI causing bodily injury.

The LAPD police department is holding its own investigation into the tragic crash, and if he’s found guilty he’ll pay the same price anyone who’s caused a California drunk driving crash would. The major difference is that, as a police officer, it would be extremely difficult to perform his duties if he was a convicted drunk driver.

It’s unlikely that the LAPD would hold a job for someone in jail serving time for killing innocent drivers, and even if he didn’t go to jail, he can’t wait out his driver’s license suspension in a job that requires him to drive to capture criminals. Installing an ignition interlock in a police cruiser isn’t an option, and as someone convicted of a crime that he would normally charge others for, he’s also lost the confidence of his colleagues.

This is why most police officers charged with DUI, and there have been many, are routinely dismissed from their positions. There’s no telling how this case will work out, but at the end of the day the most tragic fact is that three innocent people are dead. Police officer or not, he was a driver who killed people because of his own choices, and that’s not something that can be repaired.

Are Loopholes To Blame For This Drunk Driving Crash?

dui loopholes cause crashThe most important thing to know about drunk driving is that it’s a choice.  Anyone who drinks alcohol and gets behind the wheel of a vehicle is making a choice to do so, and any drunk driving crash that happens because of that choice is completely the fault of the offender.

But what happens if someone has made the decision to drink and drive, they get arrested and subsequently penalized, and they find a way around those penalties due to a loophole? Who is at fault in those cases?

One lawsuit filed in Memphis, Tennessee says it’s the fault of the county, in this case Shelby County. The suit was filed by Thaddeus Matthew, a father who lost his son Kenya after he was killed in a drunk driving crash. The crash was caused by Melvin Willies, a convicted repeat drunk driver who was on probation.

According to the lawsuit, three months after Matthew’s son was killed a judge issued an order to Willies to install an ignition interlock in his vehicle. When he crashed into and killed Kenya, he did not have an interlock installed. The lawsuit claims that the city and the probation office were required to ensure the interlock was installed and they did not follow through.

But according to Country representatives, the probation department and the city can’t require someone to install that interlock, and you have to have a driver’s license to install an interlock anyway. Willies didn’t have a driver’s license at the time because it was suspended, and this obvious loophole in Tennessee DUI law may be why Kenya died.

No one knows what the outcome of the lawsuit will be, but this case may prompt local lawmakers to take a good look at the loopholes that may exist in Tennessee DUI laws. Lives are saved whenever a state cracks down and tightens up these laws, and although it’s too late to save Kenya Matthew’s life, it’s not too late to close loopholes and prevent other deaths.

Friday fallout: How Much Damage Can A Suspected Drunk Driver Do?

suspected drunk driverIf you’ve ever spotted what you suspect is a drunk driver and you are wondering whether or not to call that person in, you’ve probably also speculated as to what could happen if you don’t. When people are weighing the pros and cons of “bothering” law enforcement over someone who might not even be drunk, they often wonder just how much damage that suspected drunk driver could do if they don’t call.

If a few recent DUI cases are any indicator, the short answer is quite a bit. In what seems like minutes a suspected drunk driver can crash several times, and you can take the case of a woman in Greenville, North Carolina as an example: she caused two crashes within hours, and the damage adds up to thousands of dollars.

Her first crash happened when she rear ended the vehicle in front of her. Instead of stopping to see if the person she hit was injured, she kept driving. The damage to that vehicle was approximately $500.

friday-falloutWhat does a drunk driver do when they aren’t stopped for one crash and can keep on driving? Crash again, of course.  This time she crashed head on into a car, and she managed to leave the scene there too. Thankfully no one was injured, but the damage to the truck she hit is approximately $20,000 and the damage to her own vehicle is approximately $5,000.

When she was finally arrested police found she was three times the legal limit of .08, and she received multiple charges for her the crashes and for driving under the influence in North Carolina.

That’s $25,000 in damages, all in the space of a few hours, and that’s why every state should have an all offender ignition interlock law. With an interlock on her vehicle she wouldn’t have been able to start the car if she was under the influence, and keeping that car in the driveway would have saved a few drivers a lot of stress, and money, that day.

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

You Just Don’t Want A Drunk Driving Charge When Your Kids Are Along

drunk driving chargeWhen you’re under the influence of alcohol, there’s no telling what you’ll do. That might be why so many parents make the wrong decision and drive under the influence with their kids in the car.

People watch for erratic drivers on the roads, and they pay even more attention if you’re driving erratically and someone spots a child in the back seat of your car. One woman in West Palm Beach, Florida discovered that for herself when a tow truck driver noticed her driving on the road beside him.

Right before she pulled out of traffic she decided to flip the tow truck driver off. He thought she might be driving under the influence and he spotted a set of toddler feet crawling around the back seat of the car, so he gave chase.

As he drove behind her he saw she almost hit a pedestrian and other vehicles. When police arrived and pulled her over, they found she was so drunk she could barely stand up. They also found a small child, unrestrained, in the back of the vehicle.

She was arrested on a drunk driving charge, and she’ll also be charged with child abuse. What would have been good for her to know before she did this was that Florida will enhance DUI penalties for any parent who drinks and drives with a child under the age of 18 in their vehicle. You can receive up to nine months in jail for a first drunk driving arrest, and if you ignore the law and keep driving drunk with your kids, you could spend a year or more in jail.

Anyone who puts the keys in the car after drinking is making the wrong choice, and just like this parent discovered,  there are sober drivers on the roads that are watching.

Her Bag Full Of Tequila, Bus Driver Arrested For Drunk Driving

arrested for driving under the influenceBack to school can be stressful for any student and any parent, but when you’ve managed to pack their lunch and get the off to the bus stop, you can breathe a sigh of relief, right?  That wasn’t the case in Walton County, Georgia recently, and it’s all because the school bus driver was arrested for drunk driving.

It might have started like any regular school day, but when Carole Ann Etheridge boarded the school bus she drove for the Walton County School District, she was carrying a purse full of tequila, a few smaller bottles of vodka, and prescription pills.

It’s not known how much of the alcohol she drank or how many pills she took, but someone spotted the school bus weaving erratically on the roads and called the police. When she was stopped at the middle school where she was dropping off, she had 31 students on the bus with her. 16 of those children were under the age of 14.

Because of those younger children she was arrested for drunk driving and charged with 16 counts of child endangerment. That’s a common charge for anyone who drinks and drives with a child in the vehicle.

She was immediately fired, so Walton County parents can relax knowing she isn’t on the job anymore. As an added layer of protection from ever having to deal with a situation like this, Walton County should consider adding ignition interlocks to their school buses.

With an interlock installed on a school bus, that driver couldn’t start the engine if he or she had any alcohol in their system. If you’re sober your bus and your day will progress normally, students will get safely to school, and parents will feel much safer sending their kids off to school on a bus.

At the end of the day everyone, parents and children included, need to feel safe when kids are heading off to school. An ignition interlock on a school bus can prevent an issue like this from happening again.

Friday Fallout: Mom Shouldn’t Have Driven Drunk With Kids

driving with kidsWhen you’re a parent you know you have eyes watching you all the time, and the choices you make as your kids grow up may be the choices they make when they’re older. Thankfully it appears as though some kids are already equipped to make smarter choices than their parents, because they know that drunk driving with kids in the car is not an option.

Given the PSAs, videos, and in-class education kids receive these days, it’s not surprising that an Oregon 11-year-old called 911 to report that his mom was drunk when she picked him up from his baseball game.

friday-falloutThe family lives in Hillsboro, and the boy called 911 from the back of the car just before nine p.m. after he thought his mother might be drunk. She was driving erratically and he was scared, and he talked to the 911 operator and gave him landmarks so police could find them. Several other concerned drivers spotted her driving all over the road too.

When the mother was pulled over in front of her home shortly after, police asked her to submit to a breathalyzer. That’s when she blew almost twice the legal limit of .08, and she was taken into custody after she was arrested for driving under the influence in Oregon.

Drunk driving with kids in the car is a really bad idea in any state, and some states have felony drunk driving charges designed to penalize people who decide to take any minor under the age of 16 with them when they drive drunk. In this case the mother is facing child endangerment charges, and that could be extra penalties or jail time if she’s convicted.

Although it can seem as there’s no end to the drunk drivers on the roads these days, there is hope that a new generation of drivers will take the danger of mixing alcohol and a car seriously. It’s only when the mindset of people changes that the USA will finally see an end to drunk driving.

 

This Impaired Driving Crash Destroyed The Driver’s Family

impaired driving crashEvery impaired driving crash is tragic, but crashes that involve children are even more so. Children have no understanding that a car can turn into a deadly weapon when put in the hands of a drunk driver, and all too often when a parent makes the choice to drink and drive their children end up paying the price.

That’s the horrible lesson an Omaha family must now pay after a father drove drunk with his kids in the car. He crashed with his three daughters in the back of the vehicle, but he didn’t stop to find out if they were OK. Instead, he kept on driving while dumping alcohol containers out of the car.

His three children were seriously injured, but he didn’t stop to get them help. Aged eight, six, and one, they would have had no idea what hit them. When he was finally pulled over by police a short time later they discovered that he had injured passengers on board, and they also discovered he had four previous DUI convictions on his record.

He was charged with drunk driving, three counts of child abuse, and one count of failing to render aid. For his impaired driving crash he was sentenced to 22 to 25 years in prison, but he’s lost a lot more than just the time he’ll spend in jail.

Thanks to the crash, his eight-year-old daughter is in a persistent vegetative state and doctors believe she’ll never recover. That’s not something any amount of time in jail or any type of Nebraska drunk driving penalty can fix.

Because her father drove drunk, a child’s life is essentially over. It happens all too often when people make the choice to have a few drinks and put the keys in the ignition, and no one wants to be the parent responsible for a situation like this.

If you want to protect your children, the best thing any parent can do is to pledge to always drive sober.

Florida Ranks 17 In WalletHub’s Top 20 Strictest States For DUI

strictest states for duiEvery year Wallethub releases its list of states that are harshest and most lenient on DUI, and this year’s list includes a list of states that are fairly consistently ranked in the top 20 strictest states for drunk driving.

What’s surprising is that Florida, a state that has more than its fair share of crazy drunk driving stories, has earned the 17th spot this year.

If Florida would like to move up on the list, here’s how Florida penalties contrast with Arizona, the state that ranks number one in the strictest states for DUI.

No minimum jail time for a first offender in Florida

Florida doesn’t require minimum jail time for a first DUI offense. Arizona, on the other hand, requires any first offender to spend 10 days in jail.

Repeat offenders in Florida receive 10 days in jail

Jail time is required for a second offense in Florida, while Arizona requires up to 90 days of jail time for a second DUI offense.

A third DUI offense is a felony

Just like in Arizona, Florida has required that a third DUI offense is an automatic felony.

The lookback period in Florida is 10 years

How long should the lookback period, when a previous DUI is still relevant to a new conviction, be for all states? Like most states, Florida sticks to the 10 year rule, and Arizona lags behind by requiring only seven years for the DUI to wash out.

Driver’s license suspensions

Florida actually has a longer administrative driver’s license suspension than Arizona does: 180 days for a first offense compared to Arizona’s 90 days for a first offense.

Ignition interlocks for all offenders

Florida could make a huge leap on the list if they required ignition interlocks for first offenders. Unfortunately, a bill that could have done this in Florida died before it managed to work its way through the proper channels. Arizona does require interlocks for all offenders, and has been watching their DUI stats fall for many years because of it.

Florida, with its vacation vibe and golf cart transportation system, has always had a serious problem with DUI. It’s struggled within its penalty system to deal with its drunk driving offenders, and if the ranking for the strictest states for DUI shows lawmakers and law enforcement anything, it’s that there’s a lot of room to improve.

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.

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