Drunk Parent

Parents, Not Strangers, Account For Majority of Child DUI Deaths

A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that children are more likely to be involved in a fatal alcohol-related car crash when an adult they know is driving under the influence, not when their sober adult is struck by a random drunk driver.

The study shows that parents and relatives are a greater threat to children than an unknown drunk driver. According to the statistics, of the 2,344 children under 15 who were killed in an auto accident involving a drunk driver, two-thirds of the children were riding in the car with the drunk driver themselves. Researchers also found:

  • Texas and California had the most deaths among kids riding with drunken drivers.
  • Nearly two-thirds of children who died while riding with a drunk driver were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.
  • More of the adult drunk drivers survived the crashes than the children, suggesting that more children could have survived if they had used a seat belt or child seat.
  • The numbers are very similar to a nearly identical study conducted between 1985-1996.

Researchers concluded their study by saying states should consider increasing the penalties for DUI with a child in the vehicle.

Minnesota DUI with Children in the Car

A typical first-time DUI where the individual blows under a .20 is considered a Fourth Degree DUI, which is a misdemeanor offense, but Minnesota casts stronger penalties on those who choose to drive drunk with children in the car. As the law currently stands, driving drunk with a child in the car is considered an aggravating factor under Minnesota law, as is a previous DUI conviction or blowing over a .20 BAC.

If you have one aggravating factor, your charge will automatically be upgraded to a Third Degree DUI, which is considered a gross misdemeanor.  That means you’re automatically facing a gross misdemeanor offense if you are caught driving under the influence with a child under the age of 16 in your car.

If you are found guilty of a Third Degree DUI in Minnesota you will face up to a year in jail and fines up to $3,000. The mandatory minimum fine is $900, and although there is no mandatory jail sentence, prosecutors routinely ask for some form of incarceration to send a message. Additionally, if you drive drunk and cause an accident that results in great bodily harm or death, you will face felony charges.

Make smart decisions, and never drink and drive, especially if you are responsible for the safety of young children.

Kid Arrest

Locking Up Kids Leads to Adult Criminals

A report by Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. suggests that locking up youths for juvenile crimes leads to an increased likelihood that they’ll return to prison as an adult offender.

Instead of pushing for jail time, the advocacy group said prosecutors and judges should focus on making sure the juvenile offenders get the help they need – something they say it unavailable when the youth gets deeper into the juvenile justice system.

“Institutions provide virtually none of the supports the community can,” the YAP said in a statement. “Youth need to learn how to function and make good decisions within the community, and having the support of caring, competent adults and access to safe and positive people, places and activities is what leads to good long-term outcomes. Kids can’t access these supports in isolation.”

The Department of Juvenile Justice said as the number of beds in one state’s juvenile facilities declined, so too did youth arrests, felony juvenile arrests, and transfers to adult courts. The YAP believes more children are being rehabilitated through probationary programs and mental health counseling than by spending their time behind bars.

“Risk factors that make you vulnerable to incarceration cannot be eliminated through incarceration,” the YAP cited in their report. “In fact, many of the environmental and social factors that contribute to youth incarceration get worse, not better, with incarceration.”

In their report, the YAP cites a program at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center to back up their assertions. The Center put 3,523 high-risk youth through an intensive community-based program and found that nearly 90 percent remained arrest-free during their tenure, which is much higher than the average youth recidivism rate.

Related source: The News Service of Florida

Fatal DUI

St. Paul in Top 10 for Fewest Fatal DUIs Per Capita

A new study examining fatal alcohol-related car crashes in large metropolitan areas found that St. Paul, Minnesota, is in the Top 10 for fewest alcohol-related driving deaths per capita. Additionally, no Minnesota cities were named in the Top 25 cities with the most alcohol-related fatal car crashes.

The study published by NerdWallet.com examined car crash data from cities across the US from 2010-2012. To analyze how citizens in one state dealt with a DUI compared to those in another state, researchers also tracked:

  • Average car insurance premium
  • Average car insurance premium after a DUI
  • Total number of fatal alcohol-related car crashes
  • City population
  • Fatal alcohol-related crashes per capita

The Best and the Worst

California led the way in cities with the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths per capita, as two California cities cracked the Top 5 and four made their way into the Top 10. See the chart below for the cities with the highest rate of fatal alcohol-related car accidents per capita.

1. San Bernadino, CA

2. Mobile, AL

3. Riverside, CA

4. Tulsa, OK

5. Lubbock, TX

While California may hold the dubious distinction of having four cities in the Top 10 of the above list, they also claimed the top three spots on the list of cities with the fewest fatal alcohol-related car crashes. The five major cities with the fewest deaths are:

1. Moreno Valley, CA

2. Glendale, CA

3. Santa Rosa, CA

4. Arlington, VA

5. Aurora, IL

Although it didn’t crack the Top 5, St. Paul finished as the ninth best city for fewest fatal alcohol-related crashes.  Only 0.0140 residents per 1,000 perished in such an accident between 2010-2012.

Also, car insurance premiums in St. Paul didn’t spike very much compared to other states. Research shows that the average St. Paulian can expect their insurance to rise about 30 percent after a DUI. Conversely, residents in Durham, North Carolina, can expect their insurance to increase an average of 157 percent after a DUI.

For more information about the study, head on over to NerdWallet.

Minnesota Immunization Laws

New Immunization Laws in Minnesota 

Summer is in full swing, but the next thing you know your kids will be lining up at the bus stop as another school year begins. While books and school supplies may be at the top of your back-to-school shopping list, don’t forget about Minnesota’s new immunization laws that are set to go into effect in September.

If you want to avoid a last minute doctor’s appointment you’ll want to make sure your son or daughter is in compliance with the state’s new guidelines. The changes that go into effect in September include:

  • Requiring Hepatitis A and B vaccinations for all children enrolling in childcare or early-childhood programs in a school setting.
  • Replacing the current 7th grade tetanus-diphtheria vaccine with another that includes the pertussis vaccination.
  • Requiring all students to receive the meningococcal vaccination prior to entering 7th grade.

Health officials say parents can decide not to vaccinate their child, but they must go through the appropriate channels. In order to be eligible for the school year, a child must have their vaccinations or have their guardian apply for a medical or conscientious exemption.

Stay Up To Date

The new law will go into effect beginning September 1, but those aren’t the only vaccinations a child needs to stay in good standing with the school. The Minnesota Department of Health has come out with a handy chart to make it easier for parents to stay in the know when it comes to what shots their children need.

Click here to check out the immunization chart, or visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for more information.

You can also find the updated Student Immunization Form on the MDoH website. This helps you keep track of the dates your child received his or her shots, and it has exemption information if you wish to file an exemption.

Related source: MDoH

Minnesota Speeding Ticket

Speed Demons Beware: Minnesota Amps Up Speeding Patrols

Speeders should lay off the gas pedal for the next 10 days as nearly 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies will be conducting extra speed patrols through July 27 in an effort to reduce the number of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths on Minnesota roads.

Speed is one of the leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. An average of 78 people die and 222 are seriously injured each year in Minnesota as a result of traveling at unsafe speeds. Alcohol and distracted driving are two other factors that contribute to auto accidents, but speeding is by far the biggest issue. That’s exactly why law enforcement agencies around the state are set to amp up patrols for the next 10 days.

“Far too many motorists ignore speed limits and put all of our lives at risk on the road by speeding,” said Donna Berger, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety Director. “There’s greater potential to lose control, you have less time to avoid a crash, and the chances are higher of being killed or seriously injured.”

The Office of Traffic Safety also notes that, in the long run, speeding doesn’t save much time. A 30-minute commute at 65 mph will only save a person about five minutes compared to traveling at the posted speed limit of 55 mph, and that doesn’t factor in how long a traffic stop with a police officer may take.

Speeding Ticket Fines in Minnesota

The average cost of a speeding ticket in Minnesota is $120 for a person traveling 10 mph over the posted speed limit. That number doubles to roughly $250 if the person is driving at least 20 mph over the posted limit, and anyone ticketed at speeds over 100 mph can have their license revoked for six months.

Avery Appelman said he routinely challenges the legality of traffic stops for his clients, but it can become an uphill battle if the driver was excessively speeding.

“There are many ways to fight a traffic ticket,” said Appelman. “But the easiest way is to avoid them all together. I’m not saying you need to be under the posted speed limit at all times, but go with the flow of traffic, and avoid being ‘that guy’ who bobs and weaves through four lanes of traffic just to save himself a few seconds. When you speed you are endangering everyone on the road, your wallet and your driver’s license.”

Related source: MNDOT

Texas Judge

Texas Judge Believes She’s Above DUI Laws

A Texas judge had a little too much fun this past weekend and attempted to use her position of authority to get out of a DUI charge.

According to authorities in McAllen, Texas, Judge Nora Longoria was stopped for an unspecified traffic violation in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Authorities approached the vehicle and asked Longoria to step out of the car and preform some routine field sobriety tests. During the test the responding officer noted the Longoria “had trouble with her balance and swayed from side to side and displayed red, glossy eyes.”

Instead of accepting responsibility for her poor decisions, Longoria attempted to pass the blame and use her position of power to influence the officer. Longoria complained that the officer was “ruining her life and career for what he was doing,” adding that she “worked hard for 25 years to be where I’m at today.”

Still in denial after failing the roadside tests, Longoria became enraged and “refused to be handcuffed,” authorities wrote in their report. She later refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test at the police station, but admitted to police that she drank five beers earlier that night. She eventually posted $2,000 bail and was released form custody.

Accepting Responsibility

This is just another classic example of someone in power attempting to use their position to remain above the law. We’ve blogged about it time and time again.

Ultimately nobody other than you is responsible for your decision to get behind a wheel after drinking excessively. It may sound harsh, especially from a firm that specializes in defending clients who receive a DUI, but it’s important that you accept this line of thought.

In the courtroom, the judge isn’t going to care if you “didn’t realize how much booze was in your drink,” or “you couldn’t leave your car overnight so you had to drive home.” No excuse like that is going to fly in the court of law. Instead, judges are much more likely to impose a lesser sentence if you own up to your actions. Obviously we’ll fight on your behalf if you were unlawfully stopped or the arresting officer violated your rights, but if you blow a .18 and hit a stop sign there’s not a whole lot we can do.

In these instances we often get proactive before trial. We ask our clients to seek treatment BEFORE the judge mandates it. This shows the court that our client is ready and willing to make positive life changes. It also shows that you accept responsibility for your actions. After all, someone who is in denial wouldn’t seek counseling because they don’t believe they are at fault.

In all, it really comes down to making smart decisions. If you make the poor decision to drink and drive, follow it up with a smart decision of accepting responsibility for your actions, and connect with a lawyer to determine the best course of action to beat your case or at least put you in a favorable light with the court.

Related source: CBS News

Cespedes

Violence Mars Home Run Derby 2014

All eyes were on Minneapolis on last night as some of baseball’s biggest stars took center stage at the 2014 Home Run Derby. Fans expected to see a show, but they were instead treated to a crime spree that would make Bonnie and Clyde blush.

After the event unfolded police charged Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes with 30 counts of assault with a deadly weapon after he violently smashed 30 baseballs towards spectators who had unwisely chosen to sit in the left field bleachers. Cespedes could face punishments of up to 20 years in jail and fines up to $20,000 If he is found guilty of Assault in the First Degree.

Cespedes wasn’t the only All-Star who faced charges at the end of the night. Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was booked on a Weapons Charge for carrying his Louisville Slugger bat in a crowded area. Authorities decided to move forward with charges after witnessing Stanton hit a baseball that was projected to travel 511 feet.

And last but not least, Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig was taken into custody on a Breach of Contract violation. Puig entered the Home Run Derby with much fanfare, but he failed to hit a single ball over the fence. Authorities felt that his inability to hit a single home run during a home run exhibition was enough of an injustice to charge the young slugger with Breach of Contract.

Despite their alleged crimes, all three players are expected to participate in the 2014 All-Star game, which gets underway at 7 p.m. tonight.

Dog Drive

Monday Morning Musings: Weird DUI Stories 

It can be tough to get out of bed when Monday morning rolls around, but you can take solace knowing that you’re not one of these people who earned a DUI in some of the weirdest ways possible.

Dog Days DUI – A Florida man was arrested for DUI and animal cruelty after leaving his dog in the car while he ran into a store to do some shopping. Mark Terrell was originally only going to be charged with animal cruelty, but when he returned to his vehicle, officers noticed that he “appeared to be highly intoxicated.” Terrell thought he had a fool proof plan to get out of the DUI charge. He told the officers he was drunk, but he said he received a ride to the store.

From his dog.

That’s right. Terrell told officers that his dog had driven him to the store for groceries. Not surprisingly, the officers weren’t buying his “tail.” Terrell was booked, and animal control took custody of the pup.

Christmas in June – A Michigan man just couldn’t wait for winter late last month when he decided to take his snowmobile for a drive on an 84 degree day. It wasn’t his wisest decision considering he had consumed a few too many alcoholic beverages earlier that day.

The unnamed 43-year old was unable to keep his snowmobile under control, and his ride came to a screeching halt when he drove headfirst into a tree. A concerned citizen called police, and they booked the snowmobiler on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Michigan Madness – Not to be outdone, another Michigan man was cited for a weird DUI after taking his tractor for a joyride down a residential neighborhood. Police responded to a call about a tractor in a residential area only to find Joshua Vieau, 35, riding shirtless on top of his John Deere tractor. Authorities activated their lights and sirens, but when Vieau became aware of their presence, he turned his tractor around and drove directly at the squad cars!

The police were able to get their squad cars out of the way of the slow moving tractor, but Vieau came back for more. He made a U-turn on a side street, but was again unsuccessful at ramming the police vehicles. They say the third time is the charm, and Vieau proved that sentiment correct after again whipping a U-turn and driving headlong at the officers. Vieau hit a squad car on his third pass, but the impact caused his tractor to roll onto its side. After a brief attempt to flee the scene on foot, officers were able to apprehend Vieau with the help of a Taser. He was booked for DUI and two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and fleeing an officer.

Have you heard of a stange DUI? Email it to us at inco@aacriminallaw.com

Duluth body cameras

Duluth Police Begin Wearing Body Cameras 

Just last week we suggested that Minnesota could reduce officer-involved incidents and complaints if they would simply outfit police officers with body cameras. One department has implemented that suggestion, and we believe both the authorities and the public will benefit from the move.

All Duluth police officers have been outfitted with body cameras to record interactions with the public in hopes that the video evidence will cut down on investigation times and provide a third-party account to corroborate incident reports.

The Duluth PD said the video is uploaded at the end of each shift, but the department will not be conducting random viewing of the tapes unless it is necessary for an investigation. They also noted that they have trained their officers to hit record prior to any interaction with a civilian, as the camera does not record 24/7.

All things considered, outfitting the entire force with cameras did not break the bank. The department said the devices cost about $300 a pop, and with 97 uninformed officers on staff, the total bill came in south of $30,000. That’s a small price to pay considering recent evidence suggests that cameras reduce complaints and lawsuits against the department, which can result if 6- and 7-figure payouts.

If the program is successful in Duluth, look for Minneapolis to follow suit. The Minneapolis Police Department has already stated that they have begun buying cameras for their officers, but they plan to roll out the program on a much smaller scale on a trial basis, assuming there are no hiccups.

Avery Appelman Comments

As a purveyor of justice I am glad to hear the Duluth Police Department has outfit all of their officers with body cameras. Far too often in the court of law you run into a case where it’s a client’s word versus the word of the cop. The wrong judge may be predisposed to take the word of the officer over the word of the citizen. If an officer knows he can get away with something because his word will be held in higher esteem, they can bend and break the law as they please.

The cameras will provide an objective, third-party account of any interaction between an officer and a citizen. If there is a question as to who escalated the incident or if the suspect was resisting, all the court will need to do is review the tape.

Lake Minnetonka

Minnesota Man Leads Police on High-Speed Boat Chase

A Minnesota man led police on a high-speed boat chase on a busy lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

Police eventually apprehended Ryan Krueger, 33, after a five-minute long chase on Lake Minnetonka. According to the police report, authorities were tipped off to a possible domestic disturbance around 9 p.m. As a police boat got near the alleged disturbance, Krueger punched the throttle and attempted to outrun authorities.

Doug Ellefson, who lives on Lake Minnetonka, said the boat was traveling between 30-40 miles per hour as it attempted to elude authorities.

“It was exciting. It’s relatively quiet with the no wake zone,” said Ellefson. “He raced by us with two sheriff boats chasing him. It’s certainly something we don’t see every day.”

Cause For Concern

While the elusive escapade may have been entertaining for Ellefson and his family, the high-speed chase put many boaters in danger. Ellefson said the chaotic scene took a scary turn when he spotted a baby on board the boat.

“With that amount of craziness, and a little baby involved, it was frightening,” said Ellefson.

Authorities pursued Krueger into nearby Maxwell Bay where he was cornered by two other police boats that joined the chase. He now faces felony charges for fleeing an officer, and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the domestic matter.

Avery Appelman comments

It’s never a good idea to run from the authorities, be it on foot, in a car or on a boat. You’ll only make it worse.

The best thing you can do is pull over, talk to the cops in a polite tone, and respectfully decline to answer any questions until you can speak to an attorney. Doing this will put you in a good light with the court system, and it will give you the best chance to beat any potential charges.

Related source: KSTP

by Appelman Law Firm