Officers step up DUI efforts before St. Patrick’s Day

By Debora  Villalon KTVU.com SAN FRANCISCO — Saint Patrick’s Day is Monday March 17, but police agencies on the Peninsula are getting a jump-start on the party with early DUI enforcement. “People need to be aware these collisions kill people, ” Sgt. Jay Kiely of the Burlingame Police Dept. told KTVU. Kiely coordinated saturation patrols Monday night, putting officers from Burlingame, San Mateo, and Hillsborough on the streets in area of high citations and collisions. They hoped their visibility and enforcement would plant the idea, as people plan for St. Patricks Day, also plan a sober way home. “It’s not worth it,” Kiely added, “even after a couple of drinks, if you’re not sure, call somebody, take a cab, Uber, whatever.” San Mateo County racked up a startling 12 DUI related deaths last year, counting only the crashes on surface streets, not the freeways. That compares to only one the year before. And behind the statistics, are broken families. “Life is what you make of it Katie, and you have everything you need to make it a great one, ” Kate Swanson read aloud to KTVU. In her hand, on a yellow pad, a letter her mother wrote to her as she graduated from high school 20 years ago. “I’m always here for you, Katie, no matter what, ” Swanson read, her voice wavering with emotion at some passages. It’s a letter she shares with students and community groups as a volunteer for MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Swanson’s mother, 63-year-old Mona Norman was killed by a drunk driver near Turlock, hit head-on by a pick-up truck going the...

Ads launched warning people who drive high will get a DUI

DENVER — The state of Colorado is using humor to drive home the point that drivers who smoke marijuana will get a DUI if they drive High. State officials with CDOT, CSP and the Governor’s office, joined the members of the marijuana industry to unveil the new “Drive High Get a DUI” campaign. The campaign includes three television ads, which poke fun at people who are high after smoking marijuana recreationally. One of the ads shows a man who is struggling to ignite his grill, only to discover that he has no propane tank attached. The ad simply says… “Grilling high is now legal. Driving to get the propane you forgot isn’t.”Despite the humor, state officials say history shows that the public awareness campaigns are effective. “Programs such as “Drive High Get a DUI” will make a difference,” said Andrew Freedman, Director of Marijuana Coordination for the Governor’s office. “We know that it will save lives.” The ads will be broadcast in English and Spanish across the state. Marijuana industry members, who helped with the campaign, are also going to be posting print ads in their stores. “I think most importantly we need to, as responsible vendors, be sparking that conversation that carries on outside of our stores,” said Elan Nelson, Vice-Chair of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group. Stats on high driving are scarce because Colorado hasn’t kept track of them until this year. In January the Colorado State Patrol issued 61 Total DUIs for alcohol and other drugs. 31 of those were for marijuana only. That’s why the state is also investing more in drug recognition training. Thursday...

Man blows 0.00 on breathalyzer, gets arrested for DWI

Back in 2013, Texas resident Larry Davis ran either a red light or stop sign (reports vary) in his Buick in the city of Austin. Despite his insistence that he had had only one drink, he was put in handcuffs and arrested for driving while intoxicated. Then, when he was given a Breathalyzer test by the AustinPolice Department, he blew a 0.00. Nonetheless, as KVUE reports, Mr. Davis spent the night in jail.  While at the station, Mr. Davis agreed to give a blood sample as well, to prove he was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. The results would later come back 100% negative. Davis’ attorney, Daniel Betts, told KVUE, “My reaction was just shock that this happened.”   (KVUE) The Austin Police Department stands by the arrest, saying they believed Davis showed signs of impairment, that while standing on one leg, he “swayed,” and “needed his arms for balance.” They also suggested that he could have been on marijuana, a drug that wouldn’t necessarily show up in a test. The APD said they’re going by a “take-no-chances” policy. That being said, they did acknowledge how unusual it is that Davis was arrested despite registering a zero on his breath test. Davis’ attorney, Daniel Betts (KVUE) The Statesman reports that people, including Davis’ attorney, Mr. Betts, have characterized Austin PD’s drunken driving arrests as “overzealous.” They noted back in 2011, that Austin’s Travis County has, “dismissed a higher percentage of drunken driving cases than other major Texas counties — in part because prosecutors said police filed weak charges or prosecutors allowed suspects plead to other...

Study: Fatal Car Crashes by Marijuana Smokers up 300% over Last Decade

Fatal Crashes involving marijuana use tripled during the previous decade, according to researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The pot related accidents have helped fuel the overall increase in drugged-driving traffic deaths. As widespread acceptance of marijuana becomes the norm in the U.S., demonstrated by recent legalization laws in Colorado and Washington, many experts fear a continuing upward spiral of marijuana related traffic injuries and deaths. “Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.” The study draws its conclusions from statistics on more than 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010. The toxicology tests were performed on victims from six states including: California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. While alcohol related traffic fatalities remained steady at 40% throughout the decade, drug related deaths soared from 16% in 1999 to a whopping 28% in 2010. Significantly, the study cites marijuana use as the leading culprit for the swelling number of drug related traffic deaths, contributing to 12 percent of 2010 crashes. This represents a 300% increase compared with four percent in 1999. The study qualifies the pot statistics by emphasizing that because marijuana stays in the blood for up to one week, therefore, researchers said, “the prevalence of nonalcohol drugs reported in this study should be interpreted...

Driving Under the Influence, of Marijuana

MAGGIE KOERTH-BAKERFEB. 17, 2014 If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving, the police officer is likely to ask you to complete three tasks: Follow a pen with your eyes while the officer moves it back and forth; get out of the car and walk nine steps, heel to toe, turn on one foot and go back; and stand on one leg for 30 seconds. Score well on all three of these Olympic events, and there’s a very good chance that you are not drunk. This so-called standard field sobriety test has been shown to catch 88 percent of drivers under the influence of alcohol. But it is nowhere near as good at spotting a stoned driver. In a 2012 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, only 30 percent of people under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, failed the field test. And its ability to identify a stoned driver seems to depend heavily on whether the driver is accustomed to being stoned. A 21-year-old on his first bender and a hardened alcoholic will both wobble on one foot. But the same is not necessarily true of a driver who just smoked his first joint and the stoner who is high five days a week. In another study, 50 percent of the less frequent smokers failed the field test. Launch media viewer                         Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin in the film “Up in Smoke.” In one study, only 30 percent of drivers who had smoked marijuana failed a sobriety test. Everett Collection As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, distinctions like these will grow...