Category Archives: Traffic Offenses

New Minnesota Laws

New Minnesota Laws Go Into Effect August 1

Laws passed during the 2014 legislative session set to go into effect tomorrow include a ban on weapons for individuals convicted of domestic assault and increased fines for speeding in construction zones, among others.

Quick Overview

Below is a quick run through of some of the bigger changes that affect criminal law that will go into effect on August 1.

Ban on Guns for Violent Offenders – Starting tomorrow, any person convicted of domestic violence or stalking will be unable to legally obtain a firearm in Minnesota. The law prohibits any person subject to an order for protection in a child or domestic abuse case from possessing a weapon for the length of the order. Offenders would also have to submit any firearms they previously possessed if the court decides it is necessary.

Additionally, Minnesota added three crimes to the state’s crime of violence statute. Any person convicted of one of the following crimes will be unable to legally possess a firearm in Minnesota for life:

  • Fifth Degree Assault
  • Felony Domestic Assault
  • Felony Domestic Assault by Strangulation

Work Zone Speeding Fine Increase – This cut and dry law is aimed at keeping construction workers safe. Beginning August 1, motorists caught speeding through a work zone will be fined $300. “The law is important because it provides added protection in areas that can be vulnerable to careless drivers,” said Charlie Zelle, Minnesota DoT commissioner. The law would also include drivers who fail to obey directions from work zone flaggers.

Expanded Drug Law – Legislators expanded the statutory definition of a drug in an effort to remove synthetic drugs from Minnesota communities. The new law states that an illegal drug is, “any compound, substance, or derivative that is not approved for human consumption under Minnesota law [when introduced to the body induces an effect similar to that of scheduled drugs.]”

Related source: Wahpeton Daily News

Super Extreme DUI

NBA Player Tucker Arrested for Super Extreme DUI

Phoenix Suns small forward P.J. Tucker was so drunk when he got behind the wheel of his Mercedes-Benz on May 10 that he earned a dubious distinction after getting pulled over by one of Arizona’s finest.

Tucker was arrested for a “super extreme DUI.”

Under Arizona law, super extreme DUI charges are brought against any person found operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.20. The legal limit is 0.08, so a super extreme DUI occurs when a person is driving with a BAC of at least 2.5x the legal limit.

That’s exactly what happened to Tucker back in May. According to the police report, an officer spotted Tucker rolling through stop signs near a popular nightlife destination in Scottsdale.

The arresting officer pulled Tucker over and noted that he exhibited “thick and slurred speech” and had “watery and bloodshot” eyes. He also wrote in his report that there was a “powerful” smell of alcohol emanating from the vehicle.

Tucker allegedly told the officer he only had one beer, but that appears to be a lie, unless his glass could hold 150 ounces of liquid. A preliminary breath test showed that Tucker was driving with a BAC of .201, and a subsequent breath test taken at the station registered a .222.

DUI, Extreme DUI, and Super Extreme DUI

Although Minnesota hasn’t adopted the moniker super extreme DUI, they hold 0.20 BAC as a threshold for increased punishment. Driving with a BAC greater than 0.20 is considered an aggravating factor, meaning your Fourth Degree DUI will become, at minimum, a Third Degree DUI, and if convicted, you’ll have to outfit your car with a Whiskey Plate.

As for Arizona, they have three levels of DUI. They are:

  • DUI (0.08 BAC or greater)
  • Extreme DUI (0.15 BAC or greater)
  • Super Extreme DUI (0.20 or greater)

A super extreme DUI carries a minimum 45-day jail sentence, unless the defendant installs an ignition interlock device or agrees to a form of house arrest.

Tucker was charged with a stop sign violation, and four degrees of DUI, including at least one charge of a DUI, extreme DUI, and super extreme DUI. Aside from criminal penalties, Tucker should expect a suspension from the NBA. Based on other player DUIs, Tucker is likely looking at a two-game suspension.

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 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

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

Police Crosswalk

Police Use Shady Tactics To Write $40,000 Worth of Tickets

The slippery slope of police entrapment got a lot more slippery this past week when authorities gave out nearly $40,000 worth of tickets by using shady tactics that begs the question, “Don’t the police have anything better to do?”

Authorities in Somerville, MA, recently conducted a crosswalk sting to ticket motorists who failed to completely stop for a pedestrian in a walkway. Seems innocent enough, especially when you consider that a 90-year-old woman recently lost her life at the same intersection when a driver failed to yield and struck her.

What’s shady about the setup is that authorities weren’t a third-party observer to the enforcement. Instead, they dressed an officer in plain clothes and had him walk back and forth across the street. The officer would cross the street, and 15 seconds later he’d be walking back across the street in the opposite direction. A fed up resident observed what the officer was doing and took video of the incident. See the video below.

 

 

Do you think the actions of the Somerville police are “all in a day’s work,” or are they simply baiting people into $200 tickets for minor violations?

Minnesota Crosswalk Laws

Minnesota has a similar law to Massachusetts in that a driver needs to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk until the person has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped. As Minnesota Statute 169.21 states:

Where traffic-control signals are not in place or in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk. The driver must remain stopped until the pedestrian has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped. 

Avery Appelman said he’s seen this type of behavior by cops before.

“I handled a case very similar to this in Robbinsdale. The cops set up surveillance on both sides of the intersection with video cameras rolling. The pedestrian walks back and forth across the street. The cops are looking for the cars that do not yield to the pedestrian even if the pedestrian is in the cross walk on the opposite side of the street.

It is a ridiculous waste of law enforcement resources. But then again this is the government, the need to overcome budgetary woes can easily be fixed with well placed sting operations designed to catch otherwise law abiding drivers.  Once would think that the police have any number of more important functions than setting up these stings. Unfortunately, this type of procedure is no different than concealing themselves behind obstacles or under overpasses, in the shadows and using radar to entrap drivers.”

Related source: CBS Boston

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

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