Despite law, vehicles often not impounded in repeat DUI cases

Law allows officers to impound vehicles of some repeat offenders SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —The financial burden that comes with getting a vehicle out of impound is one of the ways the state of California hopes to deter drunken driving. California law states that the car of anyone driving under the influence in the past 10 years who is pulled over on suspicion of DUI can be impounded. Watch report: Vehicles often not impounded in repeat DUI cases But a KCRA 3 investigation found the law isn’t used often. KCRA 3 obtained the number of vehicles impounded for repeat DUI offenders from several Northern California police departments. Many departments have not impounded a single car in the last four years, including Stockton, Roseville and Folsom. Modesto has impounded fewer than five. The city of Sacramento, however, has impounded 106. KCRA 3 also asked departments to provide data on how many repeat DUI offenders qualified for impound because they were arrested during the 10-year time period. The Roseville Police Department, which was they only agency to provide data, said officers had arrested 20 such drivers in the last four years. None of those drivers had their cars impounded. Other agencies, including Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto police departments, said they did not have the records available. The Stockton Police Department, meanwhile, told KCRA 3, “Officers do not typically know about prior DUI arrests or other criminal histories when making decisions about whether to impound a vehicle.” The majority of other departments said they either didn’t have any data, or couldn’t collect the data. One of the biggest departments in Northern California, San...

Authorities worry about drugged driving after new pot law takes effect

Maryland needs more trained police officers to combat problem, prosecutors say Maryland prosecutors are concerned that the new law eliminating criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana will result in an increase in “drugged driving” that police are ill-equipped to handle. “It is inevitable that there will be an increase in drugged driving in Maryland,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said. “We’d better be ready.” Maryland’s decriminalization law, which makes possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil violation, takes effect Oct. 1. Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger and other prosecutors wanted state legislators to delay passing the law until such consequences could be better studied in Colorado and Washington, where voters legalized marijuana use in 2012. Colorado authorities are more aggressively addressing drugged driving, and Maryland officials should take notice, McCarthy and Shellenberger said. Colorado Department of Transportation officials launched a public education campaign in March called “Drive High, Get a DUI” featuring comical commercials about people who are high on marijuana and have no business driving. “We have seen an increase in drugged driving,” said John Jackson, first vice president of the Colorado Chiefs of Police Association. The evidence has been largely anecdotal, but his organization is receiving funds from state taxes on marijuana sales to train more officers as drug recognition experts. “We want to get ahead of the curve.” Colorado wants to expand the number of drug recognition experts from 212 to 300 over the next year, said Glenn Davis, Colorado’s highway safety manager. The costly training process takes nearly two weeks. The Maryland State Police employs 28 drug recognition experts and...

Assessing a DUI suspect starts with the eyes, progresses to the breath

April 26, 2014 11:00 PM Comments 0 Glenn Osmundson/The Providence Journal DUI suspect George F. Daniels Jr., 47, of Providence, takes a preliminary breath test after being stopped by Providence police on suspicion on DUI on April 11. 1 of 2   After pulling over a motorist, a police officer questions the suspect and then administers a Standardized Field Sobriety Test. It is an assessment of a suspect’s mental and motor skills that consists of three familiar exercises: the tongue-twisting horizontal gaze nystagmus (inability to track), in which the suspect’s eye movements are checked by waving a finger or pen back and forth and up and down; the heel-to-toe walk and turn; and the one-leg stand. Clues are taken from each of the exercises to conclude whether there is sufficient evidence of impairment to establish the probable cause necessary to continue to detain and evaluate the individual, explained Richard T. Sullivan, a former Providence police chief who, as state law enforcement highway safety training coordinator, teaches officers at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy. With the one-leg stand, for example, if the suspect is swaying and hopping, failing to keep the leg up and holding his arms out for balance, he fails that element of the test. The field sobriety test is applicable whether someone is suffering impairment from alcohol or another kind of drug, although there are additional telltale signs of nonalcohol impairment that an officer certified as a drug recognition expert would look for, according to Sullivan. If an officer has a preliminary breath tester, he uses that next. It is a battery-operated instrument resembling an...

Cracking down on impaired drivers

Troopers train to conduct field sobriety tests, even catching those under .08             DUI Training OFFICE AT THE NUMBER YOU SEE ON THE SCREEN, 264-6512. A FLORIDA HOUSE PASSED A BILL TO ALLOW TRAINED OFFICIALS TO CARRY GUNS IN SCHOOL. IT MAY NOT BECOME LAW THIS YEAR. THE HOUSE VOTE WAS 71-44 FOLLOWING AN EMOTIONAL DEBATE. THE BILL WOULD ALLOW SCHOOL BOARD TO DEVELOP A POLICY TO ALLOW RETIRED POLICE OR FORMER MILITARY PERSONNEL TO CARRY CONCEALED WEAPONS AT SCHOOLS. OPPONENTS SAY THE PRESENCE OF MORE GUNS AT SCHOOL INCREASES THE CHANCES FOR ANOTHER VIOLENT INCIDENT BUT THE BILL’S SPONSOR SAYS HAVING ARMED OFFICIALS IS CRITICAL WHEN SECONDS COUNT. UNFORTUNATELY THE INCIDENTS HAPPEN SO QUICKLY, IF SOMEBODY IS NOT PROPERLY TRAINED AND ARMED ON CAMPUSES TO RESPOND TO AN ACTIVE SHOOTER, THEY’RE GOING TO BE AT THE MERCY OF THE ACTIVE SHOOTER UNTIL LAW ENFORCEMENT GETS THERE. ALTHOUGH THE HOUSE PASSED IT, THE BILL HAS NOT BEEN HEARD IN ANY SENATE COMMITTEE. WITH ONLY FOUR DAYS LEFT IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, IT’S UNLIKELY THE SENATE WILL TAKE UP THE BILL. THIS THURSDAY, CHANNEL 4 WILL EXAMINE GUNS HERE IN FLORIDA. IT’S AN ALL DAY SOCIAL TV EVENT WE’RE CALLING PROJECT 4, FIREARMS IN FLORIDA. WE’LL HAVE SPECIAL REPORTS EVERY HOUR DURING OUR NEWS, COVERING ALL THE ANGLES, INCLUDING WHAT IT TAKES TO LEGALLY CARRY A GUN. AND WE’LL INTRODUCE TO A LOCAL WOMAN WHO WAS THREATENED BY AN INTRUDER. WE’LL BRING IT TO YOU LIVE ON news4jax.com. ONE DRINK BY ONE DRIVER CAN CHANGE AND RUIN COUNTLESS LIVES. IN A WORD OF WARNING, JUST BECAUSE YOUR BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL IS...

‘Drive High, Get a DUI’ campaign launches in Colorado to stop stoned driving

DENVER - Colorado is launching a new “Drive High, Get A DUI” campaign to remind drivers that newly legal weed should be treated like alcohol and not consumed before driving. The campaign includes radio and TV ads and new posters to be displayed in dispensaries. The other part of the effort is enforcement. Right now, 200 officers of various agencies are trained recognition experts. Another 20 graduated with that certification Thursday. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper calls this a top priority, and wants at least 300 officers to be trained with this certification by next year. During 56 hours of training, officers are taught a 12-step process for recognizing the symptoms of drivers who may be impaired by a variety of drugs or alcohol. With marijuana, the officers are taught to look for enlarged pupils, sniff for the drug’s odor and look for small tremors in the driver’s body. “We teach them to look at certain things, and it is kind of an elimination process,” said Sgt. Rodney Noga from the Colorado State Patrol. Officers also check blood pressure, muscle softness and look for injection sites for other kinds of drug use. If drivers fail the observation test, a blood test is the next option to confirm or deny the presence of drug or alcohol impairment. The effort from the Colorado Department of Transportation comes as Colorado struggles to keep accurate statewide records on marijuana-impaired drivers. State police chiefs told lawmakers this week that they need more money to train officers in recognizing stoned drivers. The chiefs wrote a letter saying, in part, that they “have diverted staff from other...

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...