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Court Upholds DWI Conviction for Woman Fleeing Abusive Husband

Wednesday, 21. August 2013

CC image Wikipedia.orgAn appellate court in Minnesota has upheld a DWI conviction for a woman who was charged with the crime after she drove away from a domestic abuse incident involving her husband.

Jennifer Marie Axelberg, 39, appealed her DWI conviction on the grounds that she feared for her life and needed to get as far away from her husband as possible after an argument turned physical. Jennifer asked the jury to overturn the previous ruling on the grounds of affirmative defense of necessity, which states that a defendant concedes they committed the act, but only because they had a justifiable reason to break the law. Unfortunately for Jennifer, the judges did not rule in her favor.

The Night in Question

The whole ordeal began on May 30, 2011, when Jennifer and her husband, Jason, decided to take a trip to their family cabin in Mora, Minnesota. The couple went for drinks at Fish Lake Resort, which is located less than a mile away from their cabin. Near the end of their time at the resort, the couple got into an argument.

The feuding couple returned to their cabin around 1:30 a.m., but the arguing didn’t stop there. After a short while the argument escalated, and court documents allege Jason:

  • Pushed his wife;
  • Struck her in the head twice; and
  • Confiscated her cell phone.

Fearing for her safety, Jennifer retreated to the couple’s car and locked the doors. An enraged Jason punched the car’s windshield, causing it to crack. Not knowing what would happen if her husband got inside, Jennifer started the car and drove back to the resort as her husband chased after her. A witness called police, and they arrived on scene shortly thereafter.

The responding officer said that Jennifer did not appear to have any physical injuries, and he noted her calm demeanor while her husband was being booked on charges of domestic assault and disorderly conduct. Jennifer was later arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired.

Jennifer’s Appeal

Jennifer’s appeal centered on the necessity defense, which allows for a criminal act to be committed in a situation where there are no other options. In order to be successful when claiming the necessity defense, the defendant must prove three things:

  • The defendant acted in such a manner to avoid a significant risk of harm; and
  • No reasonable lawful means could have been used to escape the harm; and
  • The harm avoided was greater than that caused by breaking the law.

The appeals court couldn’t draw from any similar cases during their deliberation, as the case was very unique. Judge Randolph Peterson issued the majority opinion, penning that although Jennifer was threatened with physical injury, she created an additional risk of injury to the general public by driving while impaired. Judge Peterson also stated that even if the court found the necessity defense did apply, the law limits what issues can be argued under its current state, and this case did not fall within that scope.

In addition, although it was not explicitly referenced by the majority opinion, the necessity defense is not applicable if the reason for citing the defense arose from the defendant’s own negligence or recklessness. It’s possible that the court viewed Jennifer’s decision to consume a good amount of alcohol – enough to be over the legal driving limit – as at least partially responsible for the escalating ordeal.

Others Disagree

Even though the majority opinion shot down Jennifer’s appeal, it was not a unanimous decision. Judge Margaret H. Chutich wrote the dissenting opinion, which stated that although there was not a precedent for overturning such a case, she does not believe that should “foreclose[d] its availability.” She added that the Minnesota Supreme Court had previously granted the necessity defense when a specific statute did not exist for its application.

“I believe that the defense is available in cases where extraordinary circumstances exist,” penned Chutich.

Chutich also noted that Jason Axelberg later pleaded guilty to both the domestic assault and disorderly conduct charges, so there was little doubt that a physical altercation had taken place. She said she would have reversed the lower court’s decision.

Even though Jennifer’s appeal failed, there is still some ambiguity to the application of the necessity clause. It seems likely that legislation will be put forth in hopes of expanding the areas to which the clause can be applied.

Related sources: MyFoxTwinCities, Legal-Dictionary

NFL to Increase DUI Penalties

Wednesday, 7. August 2013

CC image Wikipedia.orgNFL players who commit an alcohol-related driving offense may soon face a suspension from the league, said a source at Fox Sports.

The league office wants to increase penalties in hopes that it will deter players from getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking. The National Football League Players Association already offers transportation services to any player that needs a ride after a night of drinking, and many teams offer their own type of safe-ride program, but drinking and driving is still a significant problem throughout the league. 10 players have already been booked on alcohol-related driving offenses this year, while 17 players were booked on similar charges in 2012. The most notable arrest was that of Josh Brent, who now faces intoxicated manslaughter charges after he crashed his car while drunk, killing teammate Jerry Brown.

Adolpho Birch, head of the NFL’s drug testing policy, said the league would welcome a new program with the Players Association.

“We would entertain any program collaboration, initiative or partnership that looks like it was feasibly calculated to reduce the number of incidents involving players, club employees and league employee who drive while impaired,” said Birch. “That’s a given.”

The league wants to implement a mandatory suspension for anyone who commits an alcohol-related driving offense, and many players are in favor of tougher penalties. A source for the Players Association said “players have been open to discussion and already discussed increasing discipline on DUIs.”

Although players might face more discipline in the wake of an alcohol-related driving incident, both the league and the Players Association want to develop a better program to educate players so they decide not to drink and drive for reasons other than a possible suspension.

“From our end, we look at three or four different areas where we provide education, awareness and resources. We also look at deterrents,” Birch said. “We need all to be as effective as they can to reduce the incidents as much as possible.

First Things First

Before the league and the NFLPA sit down to hammer out a new clause in the personal conduct policy, they first want to address another issue that has made major noise across other sports – the use of performance enhancing drugs, specifically Human Growth Hormone.

The league currently tests for some PEDs, and there have been over 50 suspensions related to PED use since 2010, but the league currently does not test for HGH. Many athletes and league officials believe HGH use is rampant in the NFL, but nobody has an exact number since players aren’t tested for its presence.

The league and the NFLPA are currently working towards a testing program for HGH, and the sides are expected to reach an agreement in the near future. Once the dust settles, both groups will undertake the task of curbing drunken driving related incidents.

Related sources: Fox Sports, CBS Sports

Jason Kidd Pleads Guilty to DUI

Wednesday, 17. July 2013

CC image Wikipedia.orgFormer player and current NBA head coach Jason Kidd pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a charge of misdemeanor drunken driving for his role in a traffic accident that occurred after a night of drinking.

Kidd was placed on interim probation for the violation, and he’ll be required to speak to area high school students about the dangers of drinking and driving. If he successfully completes his community service, the charge will be reduced to a driving while ability impaired violation.

For his actions, Kidd could have received three years of probation, but both sides opted to use the mistake as a chance to educate local teens on the dangers of drinking and driving.

“He’s a role model to kids and other people. And he’s going to have the opportunity to talk to them about the foolish mistake that he made and the fact he took responsibility for his actions,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. “That is, for me, more important than three years’ probation.”

The Night in Question

On July 15, 2012, Kidd attended a charity event in East Hampton, NY. Kidd was reportedly visibly intoxicated when he got into his Cadillac SUV at the end of the night. He drove 10 miles before crashing his SUV into a telephone pole in the community of Water Mill.

When officers arrived on the scene, they noticed that Kidd was unsteady on his feet, smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes. When asked how many drinks he had that night, Kidd said, “a couple, of drinks, three or four.” He was taken to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries.

Town Court Judge Andrea Schiavoni said the crash could have been much more devastating.

“You could have killed yourself. You could have killed someone else,” said Schiavoni. “I hope you wake up every day happy to be here.”

Others, like the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving, felt that Kidd’s sentence was too lenient. MADD wanted Kidd to be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device on his vehicle, and they asked for all states to consider stricter IID laws.

“MADD urges every state to demonstrate that they take drunk driving seriously by passing all-offender ignition interlock laws and prosecuting drunk driving to the full extent of the law.”

Related source: ESPN, TMZ

Two Sisters, One Car, Two DUI Charges?

Friday, 5. July 2013

CC imageTwo sisters in Miami attempted to fool police officers by switching seats after a police officer tried to stop their car for suspicion of driving under the influence. Instead of fooling the officer, both sisters ended up being charged with DUI.

The incident unfolded last month when Steffany Miranda, 18, and her sister Vanessa Miranda, 24, were riding along U.S. Highway 1 late one Saturday night.

According to the police report, officers noticed the girls’ Volkswagen was swerving, rapidly changing speeds and braking erratically over a seven-mile stretch of highway. Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes, who was following the car, turned on his lights and attempted to get the occupants to pull to the side of the road.

Instead of pulling over, Steffany, who was driving the car at time, stopped the car in the middle of the road. Then, in clear view of officer Martin-Reyes, and his handy dandy dashboard camera, Steffany and Vanessa switched seats. Vanessa then pulled the car over to the side of the road.

Double Trouble

After officers approached the vehicle, they noticed both Vanessa and Steffany reeked of booze. They asked each sister to step out of the vehicle to preform field sobriety tests. Both Vanessa and Steffany had trouble completing the test, and officers later asked them to submit to a breathalyzer. Steffany refused, but Vanessa took two tests, registering a .127 and .129, both well over the .08 legal limit.

Steffany may have thought she had successfully avoided a DUI charge, but officers informed her they had video evidence of the switcheroo. Both sisters were eventually charged with driving under the influence because they were both behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition at one point.

Related sources: NBC News, NY Daily News

Former NBA Player Blaylock Charged With Vehicular Homicide

Friday, 14. June 2013

CC image Wikipedia.orgFormer NBA All-Star and Atlanta Hawk Mookie Blaylock has been charged with vehicular homicide after the SUV he was driving crossed the center line and killed a woman in a head-on crash.

According to the police report, Blaylock was driving his Cadillac Escalade on May 31 when he lost control of the vehicle. His SUV crossed the center line and collided head-on with a minivan carrying 43-year old Monica Murphy. Murphy later passed away at the hospital.

Blaylock’s driving record is littered with violations, which eventually led to the suspension of his license. In addition to the vehicular homicide charge, Blaylock has been charged with driving with a suspended license and failure to maintain his lane.

Determining the Cause

Officials are still trying to determine what caused Blaylock to lose control of the vehicle. Blaylock said he suffered a blackout while behind the wheel, but authorities wanted to conduct a blood test to see Blaylock had anything illegal in his system.

Although no alcohol or drugs were found in his system, authorities had good reason to suspect Blaylock may have been driving under the influence. A quick search of his driving record reveals that he has been cited for DUI on seven different occasions.

Blaylock was admitted to the hospital in critical condition following the crash, but he has since made a recovery. Medical personnel are assisting authorities in determining if Blaylock suffered a medical emergency that caused him to pass out behind the wheel.

From One Cell to Another

Blaylock was released into police custody after he was medically cleared. He was taken to the Clayton County jail, but later posted the $250,000 bond to secure his release. Despite posting bail, Blaylock was not free to go as he pleased. He was immediately taken into custody and brought to the Spalding County jail. It turns out Blaylock was a wanted man before he was involved in the accident that killed Murphy.

Blaylock had a warrant out for his arrest in Spalding County, where he was wanted for failure to appear in court for drug possession and DUI charges.

A Look at the Law

Although the charge could be upgraded if authorities discover new evidence that shows Blaylock was under the influence of an illegal substance, the former point guard was only charged with second-degree vehicular homicide. According to Georgia law, second-degree vehicular homicide is considered a misdemeanor, “that upon conviction will result in a sentence of up to one year or a fine of up to $1,000 (or both).” This charge is much less serious than a charge for first-degree vehicular homicide, which is categorized as a felony.  It carries a possible sentence of 3-15 years in prison and a much higher monetary fine. A person will automatically receive a first-degree charge if alcohol or drugs are found in their system.

Related sources: Yahoo, CBS, Allan M. Trapp Attorney at Law

St. Paul Police Officer Arrested for Driving Under the Influence

Thursday, 13. June 2013

CC image Wikipedia.orgA St. Paul police officer was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence and attempting to flee in a motor vehicle.

Sgt. Cory Slifko, who has served on the force for 13 years, was arrested around 10:30 a.m. by Rosemount police, the South St. Paul Police Department said in a statement.

According to the police report, law enforcement officials received calls about an erratic driver who had caused damage to some neighborhood mailboxes. Officers in the area responded to the call and attempted to get Slifko to pull over to the side of the road. Slifko, who was driving his personal vehicle at the time of the incident, tried to drive away, but he was stopped and arrested shorty thereafter.

South St. Paul Police Chief Bill Messerich said Slifko’s conduct was unacceptable.

“We hold our officers to high standards, both on and off duty, and the incident that took place on Tuesday morning in Rosemount is very concerning to us all,” Messerich said a press release.

Slifko was booked into the Dakota County jail for his actions. He has since been released on bail and placed on paid administrative leave by the South St. Paul Police Department.

Not Above The Law

Everybody makes a mistake from time to time, but every so often we hear of a case where an officer believes the rules don’t apply to him. It’s uncertain if Sgt. Slifko drank heavily the night before or dabbled into the whiskey early Tuesday morning, but it was clearly a poor decision on his part. Even then, DUI’s for individuals in a position of authority are not uncommon, but his decision to attempt to flee clearly showed a disregard for the law he has taken an oath to defend.

We’ve written about officers who have shown a similar disregard for the law in the past. Recently, our attorneys have chimed in on two cases where the officer put himself above the law.

Criminal Defense Attorney Melvin Welch examined a 4th amendment case in Texas where an officer was caught on camera saying, “We are exempt from the law.” In his piece, Mel talks about the inherent conflict in the relationship between those tasked with the duty of upholding the law, and those tasked with the obligation of following the law.

Defense Attorney Avery Appelman also spoke about the recent police brutality case in Cotati, California. In the video of the incident, officers are seen forcibly entering a home and tasing the couple inside. While Appelman believes the police were acting in the line of duty in entering the home to check on the welfare of a child in a possible domestic violence situation, the officers used unreasonable force by tasing two individuals who had their arms up and posed no visible threat.

These cases showcase an extreme disregard for the law. While nobody is perfect, it is the citizens who are in danger when authority figures blatantly ignore the law.

Related source:  TwinCities.com

Memorial Day Weekend Leads to Traffic Accidents, DUIs in Minnesota

Wednesday, 29. May 2013

At least four people were killed and roughly 360 individuals were arrested for DWI over the Memorial Day holiday in Minnesota, according to preliminary data provided by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.

CC image Wikipedia.org

The total number of traffic fatalities matched the four fatalities over the same weekend a year ago.  Minnesota has seen a wide range of traffic deaths over Memorial Day weekend dating back to 2008.  There were no deaths on the roads during the holiday weekend in 2011, while there were 13 reported causalities in 2009.  Of the 28 traffic related deaths during Memorial Day weekend since 2008, 14 have been drunk driving related.

The four fatal crashes took place in Douglas County, LeSueur County, Hennepin County, and Morrison County.  The victims ranged in age from 19 to 81.

DUI’s Down From St. Patrick’s Day

Although more than 350 people were arrested for driving under the influence during the holiday weekend, the total is less than the 400 reported arrests over St. Patrick’s Day weekend this year.

It may not be surprising that more people decided to celebrate the Irish holiday by getting behind the wheel after having a few too many drinks, but there was plenty of law enforcement on the roads this weekend, as Memorial Day fell during the annual Click it or Ticket campaign.

The campaign, which began on May 20 and runs through June 2, has already netted 4,316 seat belt violations.  Law enforcement officials have increased their daily patrols, and they are keeping a closer eye on drivers and their passengers to ensure everyone is buckled up.

We talked about the importance of wearing your seatbelt when you’re in a car during a blog post last week, but it’s extremely important considering the Office of Traffic Safety has released updated fatal crash statistics for 2013.  So far, 112 people have been killed on Minnesota roads this year.  That is 13 more than last year, when 99 traffic fatalities were reported after the Memorial Day weekend.

Related sources: Minnesota DPS, HometownSource.com

Horses, Tractors and Lawnmowers: More Weird DUI Stories

Tuesday, 28. May 2013

CC image Wikipedia.orgLast time we rounded up some weird DUI stories from around the web, we talked about a man who blamed his erratic driving on swerving to avoid an elephant, and another driver that was found dancing naked in the street.

Today we look at three more individuals who took a strange route to a DUI charge.

Drunk on a Horse

A Montana woman was recently charged with her fourth DUI after trying to ride her horse around her neighborhood while intoxicated.

Dawnalee Ellis-Peterson, 43, was charged with felony DUI and misdemeanor counts of driving without insurance or a valid license after she went on a joyride late last month.

According to the police report, officers approached Ellis-Peterson after they saw her riding her horse in a local neighborhood.  Officers realized she was extremely intoxicated, and they helped direct her back to her home.  Ellis-Peterson initially cooperated with officers, but minutes after returning to her house she called the police department to complain, saying that she “should be able to ride her horse without getting pulled over.”

The department sent an officer to Ellis-Peterson’s home to check on her. When she answered the door she was completely naked, and told the officer “I’m just drunk, leave me alone.”

Despite all her actions, Ellis-Peterson still hadn’t received any tickets up to this point. A half-hour after the officer left her residence, a neighbor phoned police to report that they had seen Ellis-Peterson getting in her car.  She was quickly located by officers and cited for DUI.

It’s uncertain what type of car she was driving, but if we had to guess, our money would be on a Ford Bronco or a Mustang.

John Deere Drunk

A 26-year-old in New York was arrested last week after he was caught operating his riding lawn mower while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Scott McKenzie took his lawn mower out for a joy ride down Main Street when he was spotted by Oakfield police officers.  After a short interrogation, officers determined McKenzie was operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs and alcohol.  They also cited him for possession of marijuana and failure to display a slow-moving vehicle emblem.

When questioned about the incident, McKenzie did not deny the charges.  He admitted he was driving with marijuana in his system, and he added that he was only riding on the shoulder, but he was still hit with a slew of tickets.

McKenzie went on to say that he’s been the butt of plenty of jokes lately.

“Everybody at the store is laughing at me, and let me tell you what I told one of my friends for real, that, look, I got a DWI for riding my lawn mower at 11:30 at night, and she laughed at me and laughed at me and, let me tell you what, it’s not right, it’s not right.”

DUI on a Tractor

A Georgia man found himself in trouble with the law after the tractor he was driving collided with a vehicle when he was trying to cross the highway.

To make matters worse, Michael Coules, 65, was drinking a beer while operating the oversized farm equipment.

Neither Coules nor the driver of the other vehicle suffered major injuries.  Authorities said Coules remained on the tractor seat after being hit by the other car, “even after [the tractor] was ripped into three pieces.”

The accident shut down the highway for nearly two hours while authorities cleaned up the site.  Coules was arrested and taken to the local county jail for his role in the accident.

Related sources: Billings Gazette, Huffington Post, Savannah Now

McNeely DWI part 2 – Constitutional Rights

Tuesday, 21. May 2013

Drunk DrivingIn part 2 of their series on the implications of Missouri v. McNeely, which has the potential to affect DUI laws across the nation, Criminal Defense attorneys Stacy Kaye and Geoffrey R. Saltzstein discuss the role of the Constitution plays in deciphering the ruling.  If you want to learn more about the decision in Missouri v. McNeely, check out their first post on the subject.

The best place to start our discussion of the issues surrounding this whole McNeely frenzy is identifying the fundamental constitutional protections that all of us enjoy, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and how these rights are implicated by a DWI arrest.  Which of these rights are implicated throughout a DWI arrest, and how the courts have decided the rights are or are not protected in these situations, will give us a good foundation to navigate exactly what McNeely means for DWI law in Minnesota.

The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, known as the Bill or Rights, were designed to protect individual liberties and freedoms from governmental intrusion.  Keep in mind that the tyrannical rule of Great Britain was fresh in the minds of the authors of the Constitution, and that during the debates over adopting the Constitution, the fear of tyranny from one’s own government was a very real concern.  To alleviate the fears of governmental abuses of power that many of the framers of the Constitution harbored, the Bill of Rights, designed to limit the power of the government to intrude on the rights of its citizens, was ratified shortly after the Constitution itself.

Government intrusion is generally either in the form of actions by government agents – most often law enforcement; or by political action through the legislative branch – Congress, and the executive branch – the President.  Both branches are elected offices designed to advance the will of the people at a given time, and the founders were quite rightly fearful of vesting too much power in any source, knowing full well how majorities have a tendency to get swept up in political fervor at the expense of minority rights.  Therefore, the Constitution structured the United States government with the goal of balancing and separating authority into three separate branches – legislative, executive and judicial – to provide a system of checks and balances.  The judicial branch, i.e. the courts, is supposed to be immune to political pressure, and was therefore assigned the task of safeguarding individual rights from the whims of the public, out of the concern that majorities, if unchecked, would adopt legislation that while popular, would undermine the rights of others.

The Growth of Individual Freedoms

The preference for individual freedom over government intrusion in criminal investigations and prosecutions is known in modern times as Blackstone’s Ratio.  Written in 1765 by the famous English legal scholar William Blackstone, the principle that it is “Better that ten guilty persons escape that that one innocent suffer,” actually dates back to the ancient Greeks and the Bible.  Evidence appears in the writings of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, specifically Aristotle is said to have written that, “It is a serious matter to decide in the case of a slave that he is free; but it is much more serious to condemn a free man as a slave.” (Problems – though Aristotle’s authorship of Problems has been disputed). The idea also appears in the Bible’s opening pages, when The Lord told Abraham that “He would not destroy [the righteous] for ten’s sake” (Genesis 18:23-32).

The notion weaves its way through time, appearing in early English law and during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, when Increase Mather, an early rabble-rouser in the American Colonies, wrote while decrying the injustice of the prosecutions that, “One would much rather that twenty guilty persons should escape, than the Innocent Person should be Condemned.” (Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692).  Most importantly to American Constitutional history, though, Benjamin Franklin claimed in a letter to a colleague that the maxim, “has been long and generally approved; never, that I know, controverted.” (Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin Vaughan). Furthermore, John Adams invoked the principle when defending British Soldiers from charges stemming from the Boston Massacre, arguing that, “there never was a system of laws in the world, in which this rule did not prevail.” (Trial of British Soldiers)

Blackstone’s Ratio is the basis for what is known in American law as the Exclusionary Rule, which is intended to deter government misconduct by preventing the state from using evidence that it obtained through a violation of a person’s Constitutional rights to prosecute that individual.  The basis for this rule, again, is that while society does not like to see offenders go unpunished, it is a far greater evil to allow the government to violate our rights at will.

Protecting Our Rights

Chemical testing for blood-alcohol, which is used as the basis for arresting, detaining, prosecuting, convicting and sentencing offenders, implicates a number of fundamental rights granted by the Bill of Rights.  Most notably, chemical tests implicate the right against unlawful searches and seizures – the 4th Amendment, the right against self-incrimination – the 5th Amendment, and the right to due process – the 5th and 14th Amendments.

The framers of the Constitution believed that individuals had an inherent right to be free from unwarranted searches and seizures.  As a general rule, police cannot arrest or detain a person, or search their person, their belongings or their homes, without the explicit approval of a Judge signing off on a warrant.  It should be noted that although law enforcement and judges are often thought of as working together, law enforcement is actually an arm of the executive branch, whereby judges obviously belong to the judicial branch, and are thus charged against protecting individual rights against intrusions by the other branches of government.  Judges are therefore given the important role of being the first line of defense in the protection of the Bill of Rights in that they are charged with neutrally reviewing law enforcement requests for search warrants and arrest warrants to ensure that probable cause exists to justify the requested intrusion.

In addition, the framers of the Constitution firmly believed that a person should not be compelled by the government to provide incriminating evidence, as formalized in the Fifth Amendment.  Self-incrimination can take many different forms; the police may attempt to question a person who is their custody, but before doing so they must inform that person that they have Constitutional protections, one being the right against self-incrimination, or more popularly known as a person’s Miranda rights (a reference to the landmark United States Supreme Court case, Arizona v. Miranda.)

Self-incrimination can also be found in courtroom testimony; witnesses and defendants are protected against providing evidence against themselves when answering questions that may tend prove their own guilt.  A person is allowed to invoke their right against self-incrimination, or “plead the Fifth [Amendment],” which guarantees that person will be required to answer any incriminating questions and that the state cannot comment on that person’s silence to a jury.  Self-incrimination can also take more subtle forms, as when suspects are compelled to provide evidence other than verbal testimony that can be used against them. For instance, DWI suspects are asked to submit to field-sobriety tests, a battery of physical or mental tests that will provide evidence of impairment, evidence that is intended to be used in prosecuting that suspect.

Necessity of Due Process

The framers of the Constitution also believed that due process, and fundamental fairness, were essential elements of a just, free society and legal system.  Criminal penalties for impaired driving are significant, including incarceration, fines, and the stigma of having a permanent criminal record. Impaired drivers are also subject to severe civil penalties, including the loss of their driving privileges, which for many affects their livelihood and ability to attend to the needs of themselves and their families, and can also include the forfeiture of their license plates and vehicles. Given the high stakes of being charged with, and potentially adjudicated guilty of, an impaired driving offense, courts have recognized that certain due process protections must apply to both the criminal and civil sides of an impaired driving case.

Over the next several weeks, Stacy and I will delve deeper into the specific aspects of each of the Constitutional rights implicated, where the Courts have drawn lines in the sand – or not; and talk about how the ruling in Missouri v. McNeely has affected the laws concerning these fundamental protections.

Related Sources:  http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/guilty.htm

Weekend DWI Patrols Result in Over 150 Arrests in Minnesota

Monday, 13. May 2013

Over 150 drivers across the state of Minnesota were arrested for drunk driving on Friday night in connection with the state’s largest-ever DWI patrol.

Authorities decided to conduct the patrols on the eve of opening fishing weekend, an unofficial holiday for many across the state.  According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, over 150 squads from 70 different agencies across the state were involved in the crackdown.

Officers said about half of the roughly 150 arrests came in the Twin Cities metro area.

Friday’s DWI enforcement drew added attention because of the role social media played advertising the increased patrols.  The Minnesota State Patrol used social media to inform the public about the increased police presence in hopes of deterring would-be drunk drivers.

In addition to tweeting out pictures of the squad cars as they left the station, the Department of Public Safety tweeted out information about DWI arrests using the hashtag #May10DWI.

Previous reports had stated that authorities would tweeted out the names of those individuals arrested for driving under the influence, but they appeared to back off that statement, as they only tweeted out the age, sex, and location of a handful of perpetrators who were arrested.

However, the Twitter account @Mpls_DWI_Arrests tweeted out the names of some of the individuals arrested, also using the hashtag #May10DWI.  State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said that account was in no way affiliated with the Minnesota State Patrol or the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety.  The account which tweeted out the names has since been deleted from the Twittersphere.

The Office of Traffic Safety did not say if they planned to have another large DWI patrol in the future, but they do plan on concentrating their efforts to prevent drunk driving in the 13 counties that report the most DWIs.  That includes many of the Twin Cities metro counties, including Hennepin and Ramsey.

Related source:  TwinCities.com


 

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