March 23, 2011

U.S. Senators all in a tizzy over DUI Apps on Apple and Google

Apparently four Democratic senators wrote a letter to Apple, RIM (Blackberry) and Google requesting that they discontinue distributing the app(s) which let drivers share information in real time concerning the location of DUI checkpoints roadblocks. It seems the Senators are upset because they do not want this information shared among the public because they want as many drivers as possible to be snared in these dubious road blacks. The interesting thing is there is significant case law concerning DUI roadblocks in Maryland and throughout the country. In Maryland it appears that the good Senators may not be up to speed on the current state of the law.
At the outset, drivers have a 4th Amendment Constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures by the Government unless there exists reasonable articulable suspicion to believe that a driver is engaged in some form of criminal behavior. This is a very important right because it protects you as an American citizen against the overzealous Government. It is the difference between living in America versus living in Lybia. This is what deters the cops from kicking your door in at 3:00 a.m. simply because the doughnut shop is closed and they have nothing else to do. Unfortunately for the people, the Courts have been successful in eroding and restricting this very important legal right in the name of DUI prosecution.
Years back, the Michigan Supreme Court recognized a citizen’s Constitutional right and held that DUI roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints were in fact illegal in that it was an invasion of personal privacy to stop an automobile without reasonable articulable suspicion. However, the Government not being satisfied with the Court’s holding appealed the case to the Supreme Court of the United States and in Michigan v. Sitz, the Supremes recognized that while this behavior was in fact a violation of the Constitution, we are going to look the other way and allow this illegal behavior in the name of DUI prosecution. There are people that may hail this decision as a success, but any ruling that erodes the rights and protections of the people vis-à-vis the United States Constitution, is definitely not a success. The Court (Chief Justice Rehnquist) held that despite the violation to the person, there is a greater good which must be protected and that is the safety of the people against drunk drivers. The Supremes left the details about how to utilize this new found public intrusion up to the individual states. The great State of California was the first to interpret these new “rights” in Ingersoll v. Palmer. In that case, the Court identified the fact that public notice to the people was important to lower the emotional trauma of such “police state” action on citizens.
Maryland soon interpreted these new DUI checkpoint rights in Little v. State (300 Md.485) 1984. In Little, Maryland’s high court held no Fourth Amendment violation occurred when automobile occupants were stopped at sobriety checkpoints in view of the State’s compelling interest in controlling drunk driving. Thus, the Court is now finding that the Constitution does render rights to the people, but if there are compelling interests that outweigh those rights, then the Constitution is out the window. Just what the esteemed framers had in mind I’m sure, a flexible document of rights, but only when they are convenient to follow.

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March 15, 2011

Maryland increases DUI/DWI Patrols for St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day falls this week and many people will be celebrating this auspicious occasion all week long. It’s a fun time for drinking and sharing good times with friends; but be warned the police are watching very closely so be careful. In fact, in Maryland, local and State Police are upping the anti by increasing DUI patrols the entire week for the sole purpose of nabbing intoxicated DUI/DWI Maryland drivers.

The police are armed with their statistics which reveal that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations increase the number of intoxicated drivers someplace in the area of four times what they see normally. The police indicate that nationwide there were 103 traffic fatalities on this holiday in 2009 with more than a third involving a driver with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.

The Maryland State Police continued that they made twice as many DUI arrests on St. Patrick’s day 2010 and the four days following the Holiday then they did the entire week before. Remember that a Maryland driver charged with DUI or DWI faces a fine up to $1,000.00, up to one year in jail for a first offense and 12 points on their driver’s license as well as a period of suspension from the MVA for driving with over .08 in the blood (BAC-blood alcohol content). If this eventuality happens, you must retain qualified DUI counsel ASAP to help deal with these potentially costly long term ramifications.

Things you might consider to help are taxi cabs (take extra money and do not spend it on beer) and Soberride is offering free rides home this Thursday and Friday. A designated driver who does not drink (yes this person actually must not drink anything) is always a good idea.

March 15, 2011

Funny DUI Thought for the day

A man and his wife were awakened at 3:00 am by a loud pounding on
the door. The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push.

Not a chance,' says the husband, "'it is 3:00 in
the morning!' He slams the door and returns to bed.

Who was that?' asked his wife.
Just some drunk guy asking for a push, he answers.

'Did you help him?' she asks.
'No, I did not, it is 3:00 in the morning and it is pouring rain
out there!'

'Well, you have a short memory,' says his wife.
Can't you remember about three months ago when we broke down, and those two
guys helped us? I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of
yourself!'

The man does as he is told, gets dressed, and goes out into the
pounding rain.He calls out into the dark, 'Hello, are you still there?'

'Yes,' comes back the answer.
'Do you still need a push?' calls out the husband.

'Yes, please!' comes the reply from the dark.
'Where are you?' asks the husband..

'Over here on the swing,' replied the drunk.

March 10, 2011

Lack of Probable Cause

I recently read an article in The Aspen Times about a woman in Colorado that blew a .23 at following a DUI arrest but her case was thrown out at trial. Apparently this is news worthy in Aspen but in reality, it is not, it is just the law working the way it is supposed to. You see, in order to lawfully stop a citizen’s car, a police officer needs R.A.S. Reasonable Articulable Suspicion that a criminal or traffic offense is being committed. While this level of suspicion is low, (ie., it is not the normal criminal standard “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is a high standard) it still requires some “objective” proof on the part of the law enforcement officer “Leo”. That is to say, that LEO cannot just subjectively say, I don’t like this person’s looks so I’m going to pull them over, or he just crossed the white shoulder line for 3/10s of one second so I’m going to pull this person over for DUI. Those types of stops are not legal and a judge should suppress any evidence flowing from such an illegal stop. This is what the Judge determined in Aspen when he threw out all evidence flowing from the stop, but since the defendant blew a .23 this attracted people’s attention.
The truth is, the police can be overzealous in their attempt to bolster their DUI arrest numbers, echem, I mean, in their attempt to remove drunk drivers from the streets of Maryland and other states.

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March 3, 2011

If nothing else, here is a deterrent for you

It seems in Reno there was a police sergeant that had a knack for not following the rules and for continually violating department policy without discipline from the department. Consequently it is alleged that this sergeant, in an DUI alcohol stop apparently sexually violated a 17 year old girl in the back of his cruiser during a 2006 traffic stop. Naturally, the police department is claiming no foul on their part and there guy did nothing wrong, but whoops, they fired their guy after an investigation. Boy, talk about your slippery slopes “well, our guy did nothing wrong but we thought we would fire him anyway”. The civil suit is in Federal District Court right now. According to the Court documents the cop placed the young girl in the back of his cruiser and pressured her to undress for his sexual gratification in order to avoid a drunk driving arrest. No word on whether she “beat” the charges or not.
Dubious cop behavior is not limited to the western United States, although admittedly the western part of the country seems to have more than its fair share of sexual debacles. Be that as it may, here in sunny Baltimore City, Maryland we recently relieved over 30 police officers of their official duties as they were engaging in a scheme to utilize tow trucks to tow cars involved in traffic matters, like DUIs or accidents, and then the cop would receive a kickback from the tow company of roughly $300. The tow truck company being used was not authorized by Baltimore City or Maryland to provide towing service. Apparently, some officers were making a tidy little some at this prank until the brass caught wind of it and now they are all fired or soon to be fired. Allegedly one officer made over $14,000 over two years. Now they are all without jobs-interesting carrier move there. More information on the situation is here.
Anyway, the point is we have the corrupt (some-not all) watching over the drunk or impaired. Generally speaking, not the best situation to be in. You see, the police will say they do not have quotas or numbers of DUI arrests to effectuate each month but, let’s just say, they do. Now, since it is the officer that has to make a very subjective decision about whether to arrest, and since his work product is partially evaluated on the number of arrests he makes, it is not the best position for Mr. nervous Joe Public to be in. Here is an example:

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March 1, 2011

And the hits keep on coming...

So yesterday it was reported that some former MADD pain in the ass, chapter president out of the sunshine state (Florida) over indulged her (apparently strong) hidden desire for alcohol and was arrested prior to killing someone since it was alledged she was driving her car at a .23. Lets hope she is still in jail right now! Perhaps her brothers and sisters of the MADD organization could be arrested as well for being pompous and unfeeling to those that are affected by this insidious condition and put up a good fight every day.

Anyway, todays news is that the starlight Christina Aguilera was "detained" for being too drunk to care for herself. She apparently was a passenger in a car operated by her boyfriend, Matt Rutler when he was popped for swerving and driving erratically. The funny thing is, Christina was soooo drunk that the police could not even release her following the arrest of her boyfriend (which would be normal procedure) because she was allegedly too drunk to care for herself. Apparently, they set a $250 bail on her, not entirely sure why that was; but I can guess it was because they had to put up with her crap in a jail cell until she slept it off or until somebody came to claim her. I think it would be a perfect opportunity for her to practice the National Anthem.

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