January 16, 2013

DUI Suspect shot and killed


This blog involves two issues in current events, the first is the omnipresent drinking and driving and the second is gun control. The gun control issue is heating up to a boil today as a result of the recent shooting at an elementary school up north where countless kids were taken at the hands of a crazy man. Today President Obama is slated to make his recommendations for assault weapon gun control and probably push them through by executive order thereby side stepping the idiots in Congress who are unable and unwilling to accomplish anything other then 4pm drinks and lavish dinners at the Capital Grille paid for by the NRA while Congress stands around wondering what in the world they ought to do about these ongoing terrible tragedies, in fear of course that if they speak out the NRA will have them voted out of office next election.

This naturally poses a vexing situation for any good politician who desires to keep his seat and continue to ride the gravy train for another few years. After all, the NRA has a perfectly good solution to the military style firearm issue, hey "lets just put armed guards in all schools across the country" that should solve the problem because these guards can be all over the school at one time and protect all the students and that way we don't have to ban these weapons. After all, the weapons are so important in our industrial society, everybody should have right to buy and own one of these; how could we possibly live without them? Thankfully, as a result of the tragic continued carnage which is spread throughout this county, even intellectually honest right wing gun folks realize the need for modification of assault weapon gun laws. Whether you like Obama or not, at least he has the fortitude to move on tough issues; he is not afraid of the fight, of Congress's inept bullshit or the NRA. Gotta give him credit for that, right?

Anyway getting back to the matter at hand, according to above news clip it seems some brilliant decided to go out and get drunk and get into an accident. Following the accident he decided he had not had enough frolicking for one night so when the police arrived on scene he actually pulled out a gun and pointed it at the officer. Well, the story did not end well for that poor sole. Apparently, the office was none to happy about having a gun pointed in his general direction in the hands of an impaired individual so the officer unloaded a few rounds at the drunk driver and the driver was killed.

It is unfortunate that the officer was put in that life threatening situation where he had to use his service revolver to end a situation which should never have occurred. It's hard to imagine what was going through this poor guy's head directly prior to some lead going through his body. One thought may be he was attempting cop assisted suicide. This is where people intentionally place cops in life threatening situations solely for the purpose of having the cops shoot them. I suppose it's a faster and more full proof way to achieve the desired result and you get some news publicity at the same time. It's not great for the officer however who may otherwise be able to go his entire career without shooting somebody in the line of duty. There are emotional ramifications for taking a life despite Hollywood's glamorous characterization.

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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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November 8, 2008

It's getting weird out there....

A DUI defendant came to see me yesterday from across the bay bridge; she blew a .12 in the breathalizer and a .15 on the PBT (preliminary breath test offered on the street to determine if a DUI arrest is warranted). She was wondering how her BAC (breath alcohol content) could drop in the matter of minutes that it took to get from the street to the barracks. She was also concerned about the results of her field sobriety tests. I told her not to worry because it was very unlikely the case would ever get that far; you see, she was the victim of a particularly nefarious type of transaction- the DUI/DWI pretextual stop. A Queen Anne's county police officer stopped this citizen because her license plate had that black plastic border around it that you get from the dealer when you buy a new car. That black plastic border was the entire basis for the stop!

A pretextual DUI arrest is one that is made, not necessarily for the purpose of a DUI investigation or arrest but rather in order to stop the car to see what the police may be able to come up with. Some times pretextual stops are executed with a "legal basis" but many times, they are not even legal stops and therefore are in complete violation of the people's 4th amendment right to be free of illegal searches and seizures. The strange thing is that the police do not seem to understand that if they stop a car with no cognizable legal basis, such as in this case, all evidence that is subsequently acquired is considered "fruit of the poisonous tree" and subsequently suppressed at trial. Once that happens the entire case goes away.

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