Category Archives: DWI

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.

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.

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

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

Josh Gordon

Browns Wide Receiver Gordon Arrested For DUI

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was arrested for driving under the influence over the Fourth of July weekend after he was pulled over at 3 a.m. for driving 50 mph in a 35 mph zone.

The drunk driving arrest is just the latest incident in what has been a tumultuous offseason for the troubled wide receiver. Earlier this summer Gordon’s league-administered drug test turned up positive for a substance banned under the NFL’s drug policy. First time offenders face a four game suspension for violating the policy, but this wasn’t the first time Gordon failed a test. He tested positive last season, and although he had his suspension reduced from four games to two, the league likely isn’t going to take a second violation lightly.

A second positive test means that a player is subject to a one-year suspension, so Gordon was already facing the possibility of missing an entire season prior to his latest arrest. It’s a sad fall for a player who appeared to be on a meteoric rise, as he led the league in receiving yards in 2013 despite missing the first two games due to his suspension.

Drunk Driving Arrest

According to the police report, Gordon was driving PJ Hairston’s car when police stopped him. Hairston, the 26th overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, is no stranger to controversy. Authorities asked Gordon to take a breathalyzer test that revealed he was operating the vehicle with a 0.09 blood alcohol content, just barely over the 0.08 legal limit.

Adding to his troubles, the DUI arrest wasn’t the first time he’s ran into problems this offseason while driving a car. Back in May, Gordon was issued a speeding ticket in Ohio. Not that big of a deal, until you consider that one of Gordon’s co-pilots was found to be in possession of marijuana.

So between Gordon’s troubles at Baylor, his two failed drug tests, his DUI and his known association with drug users, it’s safe to say the receiver isn’t going to get much leniency from the league or a judge. Geoff Saltzstein, criminal defense attorney and avid Cleveland Browns fan, had this to say about Gordon’s arrest.

“Between Gordon driving drunk and Johnny Manziel rolling $20’s in the bathroom it’s safe to say that it hasn’t been the ideal offseason for my beloved Browns. Johnny Football aside, Gordon needs to get his act together. The one thing he has going for him is that all these incidents occurred in a rather short time period.

What’s most likely going to happen is that Gordon will, at the recommendation of his family, friends and attorney, voluntarily check himself into rehab. Self-admittance to a rehabilitation center shows the league and the court that he wants to get help. He already faced a 16-game suspension from the NFL, so the DUI bust will probably only strengthen the NFL’s case, but it’s possible he could have missed the entire season even without the latest incident. As for the DUI, he was barley over the legal limit, and if he does indeed check himself into rehab I doubt the judge will lay down the hammer. I’m guessing a fine and some community service.

So while I don’t think we’ll see Gordon in the league this season because of his second failed drug test, I don’t believe he’ll go to jail over the DUI arrest.”

Related source: USA Today

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

4th of July DUI

Minnesota Adds DUI Patrols During Deadly Holiday Weekend 

Fourth of July was the deadliest holiday weekend on Minnesota roads in 2013, and authorities are keen to make sure it doesn’t happen again by adding extra DUI patrols all across the state.

Statistics released by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety found that the Fourth of July holiday weekend resulted in seven traffic fatalities in 2013, more than Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve combined. It also ranked ahead of Memorial Day (5) and Labor Day (4), making it the deadliest holiday on Minnesota roads last year.

“In the summer, we experience fewer crashes than in the winter, but along with the warmer temperatures, people tend to drive at higher speeds and crashes are more severe, which results in more fatalities and serious injuries,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “In addition to always buckling up, driving at safe speeds and paying attention to the road, the high number of DWI arrests is a call to action for all Minnesotans to plan a sober ride home before going out to celebrate.”

The holiday driving statistics may be a little misleading, as the data compared the Fourth of July weekend to single day holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s worth noting that the Fourth was deadlier than other three-day holiday weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day.

DUI Attorney Avery Appelman said the Fourth of July is unique in that it tends to feature more evening activates compared to other three-day holiday weekends, meaning more people often make the poor choice to drink and drive.

“Personally I know a lot of people who use these three day weekends to get up to a cabin or cottage, but unlike Memorial Day or Labor Day, the Fourth is often peppered with fireworks shows, community barbeques and perfect boating weather,” said Appelman. “These activities can lead to people imbibing in a few too many cocktails before being tasked to get back home. If they don’t plan appropriately or if they think they’re ‘too far north’ to run in to the law, they may be in for a rude awakening.”

An average of six people have died on Minnesota roads on the Fourth of July weekend each of the last 10 years, and 58 percent of those fatalities have involved alcohol. Appelman said he’s surprised the fatality numbers aren’t higher considered the state has handed out over 5,300 DUI citations during the holiday over the past 10 years.

“Make good decisions this weekend, for yourself and for others on the road,” said Appelman. “We’re here in case you screw up, but a perfect weekend would be one where our phone didn’t ring once.”

In the event you need an attorney, be it for DUI, traffic ticket or any other offense, Avery and Geoff can be reached toll free at 888-988-5521.

Related source: MN DoT

Scholarship Entry 1

ALF Scholarship Essay #1 – Joseph Crawford

We’re currently in the process of narrowing down finalists for the $1,000 Appelman Law Firm Scholarship, and we thought it would be a great idea to share some of the best essay submissions we’ve received on our blog. As part of the application process, entrants were asked if they would allow their story to be shared on our blog, and if so, how they would like to be attributed. Today’s essay comes from Joseph Crawford.

————————————————————————————

During high school my ability to overcome adversity would be tested. Conflict at home was normal and manifested itself in my high school performance and attitude. My father was a corporate man who tried to remove his unhappiness in life with a bottle. My mother tried to be there but was just as sick as my father. Baseball was my out, and my freshman year I made the varsity squad. My sophomore year, I allowed the drama to catch up with me and was sidelined from baseball for eligibility issues. The high school team went on to win the state championship; I would have been the starting short-stop. After reflecting upon the disappointment of my sophomore year, I renewed my focus and had a breakout season. Colleges started to show interest in my abilities. However, my dream of playing college baseball would never be realized, because during my junior and senior year I made decisions that cost me the ability to achieve this dream.

In 2002 while in the midst of having a breakout baseball season I was stopped by an officer in Derby, KS and questioned about an event that happened earlier that day. Hours prior, while exiting the high school parking lot I was involved in an altercation that ended when I head-butted another student. I could have avoided this confrontation all together but I chose otherwise.

I told the officer that I had nothing to talk about and he immediately requested I exit the vehicle and arrested me for assault and battery. This was only the beginning, because in my possession was a small amount of marijuana that was found when I was searched at the juvenile detention center. The assault and battery charges were later dropped, but the possession charge was enough to land me on diversion for one year.

While on diversion I continued making poor decisions. Later that year, I was pulled over and booked for DUI while driving in Derby, KS. My diversion was revoked and I was placed on probation for one year. My life was beginning to really spiral out of control and I failed to take action and change things.

My poor choices continued to catch up with me and in 2003 while attending a high school formal I was approached by a school administrator. You see, a few months prior to the dance I fought some kid from another school and beat him up pretty bad. He got his revenge that night by informing the school administrator, which had previously approached me, that I was under the influence and causing trouble. I was under the influence, and as soon as the administrator was sure of this she carted me off the dance floor.

The result was a one year expulsion from school. Instead of graduating from high school and moving on to play collegiate baseball, I was taking the GED. Taking the equivalency exam thrust me directly into a cohort of which less than one percent will finish a four year degree. Having completed my undergraduate degree, with honors, and in the process of completing my Juris Doctor, I have triumphed over difficulties and grown from them. The humility learned, in suffering as the result of my own behavior, turned out to be extremely beneficial to my development.

I have always felt that my background gives me a unique perspective on what it means to be a criminal or a person accused of a crime. I mean not to state that I was undeserving of any punishment I received, or that I was slighted and therefore can understand those that also feel slighted. However, I do believe that my experience gives me empathy towards those who are currently constrained by criminal charges.

I feel that I am especially equipped to become a unique defense attorney in the field of juvenile criminal justice. After all, the bulk of all the legal trouble resulted from a few years of misbehavior as a juvenile. The cases I caught as a juvenile have stayed with me to this day. I understand the repercussion of adolescent actions and how these actions effect employment, applying to schools and organizations like the Bar, and generally how these actions can stick around like shackles on your feet. Ultimately though, I am proof, and can provide inspiration to others, that although these shackles will never be removed, they can be overcome.

I hope to be a zealous advocate for my clients. I am passionate about defense law because of my life experiences. My hope is that I can combine my legal knowledge, desire to represent the accused, and inspirational story into a successful and fulfilling legal career. Any support from the Appelman Law Firm would be greatly appreciated in this endeavor.

Jello Shot DUI

Minnesota Woman Arrested For Jello Shot DUI

There’s always room for Jello…….shots?

A Minnesota woman arrested for driving under the influence over the weekend had several alcohol infused Jello shots in her pockets when she was search by authorities, according to the incident report.

Cathy Sanchez, 28, was driving along Highway 10 around bar time early Saturday morning when authorities noticed she was speeding and swerving. Authorities pulled Sanchez over and quickly noticed signs of impairment, including:

  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot and watery eyes
  • The smell of alcohol

Officers asked Sanchez to step out of the vehicle to conduct a field sobriety test. Sanchez failed the field sobriety tests and later blew a .136 BAC on a Breathalyzer test. A subsequent search of her pockets prior to her arrest uncovered three unopened Jello shot containers.

“In a search incident to her arrest, Officer Lien located three alcohol Jello shots in the female’s pockets,” the arresting officer wrote in his report.

Big Trouble

Sanchez likely won’t get much leniency from the court. During the traffic stop she told officers her name was Cathy Reyes, and she provided a false birth date. She later admitted that was the name of her cousin and her real name was Cathy Sanchez. She also told authorities she had already been arrested for DWI on five different occasions.

A subsequent search revealed that Sanchez actually has three prior DWI convictions, as well as a weapons violation. Her license has been cancelled as she has been deemed a threat to public safety.

Assuming she is charged with first-degree DWI, which occurs after a person gets three DWIs within 10 years, she will face a mandatory minimum of 180 days in jail and a fine of at least $4,200. Although the charges haven’t specifically been mentioned, the report states that Sanchez has been charged with four violations, including a pair of felonies that each carry a maximum of seven years in prison. She is currently being held at Clay County jail on $20,000 bond.

Related source: The Smoking Gun

Bike DUI

Drunken Bicyclist Leads Police On 10-Minute Chase

Perhaps hoping  to reenact the plot of Premium Rush, a bicyclist led police on an elaborate chase through downtown Sioux Falls late Tuesday evening. Unlike Joseph Gordon Levitt, 41-year-old Justin Northcutt was intoxicated when he took his joyride through the heart of the city.

According to the police report, the pursuit began when an officer saw Northcutt blow through a stop sign at the corner of 11th Street and Summit Avenue a little after 9 p.m. The officer attempted to stop the cyclist, but Northcutt ignored his orders.

“(The officer) got out of his car to try and get the guy to stop, but the guy continued on his way,” said Police Spokesman Sam Clemens.

The officer got back in his car and pursued Northcutt towards Minnesota Avenue. Northcutt eventually fell off his bicycle while attempting to navigate a turn near the corner of Ninth Street and Minnesota Avenue.

The officer caught up to Northcutt and placed him under arrest shortly thereafter. He was charged with:

  • Eluding
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Obstruction

No DUI

Luckily for Northcutt, he won’t face charges for driving under the influence. Even though he was intoxicated, a bicycle is not considered a vehicle that is subjected to DUI laws in Minnesota.

This is similar to a post we shared last year after a jury ruled that drunken Segway riders cannot be charged with DUI. The issue was hotly contested, and the dissenting judge argued that any motorized vehicle should be subjected to DUI violations. The other two judges disagreed, citing the Segway’s top speed (12 mph) and its primary area of use (sidewalks and pedestrian paths) to come to the conclusion that Segways should not be held in the same classification as a car or boat.

Bicyclists fall under a similar standard in Minnesota. Although a bicyclist is more likely to ride in the street than a Segway rider, since a bicycle is powered by the rider, not a motor, it isn’t classified as a vehicle under state law. That said, bicyclists still need to follow the rules of the road, which includes going to correct direction on one-way streets and stopping at all red lights and stop signs.

It’s uncertain if Northcutt plans to fight the charges in a court of law.

Related source: Argus Leader