Archive for ◊ May, 2011 ◊

• Tuesday, May 31st, 2011|head

Marion Superior Court Judge Grant Hawkins ruled today that a blood test taken from Indianapolis police officer David Bisard cannot be used as evidence in DUI charges filed against him.

However, Hawkins said the blood draw can be used to establish recklessness in other criminal charges pending against him.

The ruling dealt a blow to Prosecutor  efforts to show that Bisard was driving drunk when his police cruiser crashed into three motorcyclists Aug. 6 on the city’s Northeastside. predecessor, , had dropped drunken-driving charges against Bisard, citing problems in the way the blood draw taken hours after the crash had been administered. The problem stems from a technicality in the drunken-driving law that says blood drawn outside hospitals for tests must be drawn by certain medical professionals.

They  had refiled the charges after taking office earlier this year, saying he wanted a judge to rule on the issue.

If the six drunken-driving charges against Bisard are not allowed to stand, the most serious charge against him would be reckless homicide, a C felony that carries a possible sentence of two to eight years and a $10,000 fine.

After today’s ruling the prosecutor’s office filed two new charges against Bisard: criminal recklessness resulting in serious bodily injury. Those were filed as D felonies, which carry a possible sentence of six months to three years.

Hawkins’ decision likely won’t end the debate on the future of the drunken-driving charges. Curry could appeal Hawkins’ ruling to a higher court, but a spokeswoman for his office said today no decision has been made on whether to do that.

“The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office has presented a sound legal argument as to why the blood test should be admitted. We will review today’s court ruling and make a prompt decision regarding a possible appeal. We are committed to prosecuting this case to its conclusion,” said the statement issued by Brienne Delaney.

Hawkins’ ruling came before a standing-room-only audience in his courtroom. Among those present were the parents of Eric Wells, the motorcyclist who was killed in the crash, and Mary Mills, who was injured.

Bisard, who has been suspended without pay and faces dismissal, was responding to an emergency call when his car crashed into the motorcyclists at 56th Street near I-465. Police said the canine unit officer was going 65 to 70 mph when his squad car crashed into Wells, Mills and Kurt Weekly.

The incident ignited public outrage at the way the case was handled. An IMPD investigation later criticized police officials at the scene for treating Bisard like a victim instead of a suspect and for not preserving evidence.

They  refiled the drunk driving charges in January, and both sides argued the legal merits of the blood test during a five-hour hearing May 20. The blood test showed Bisard’s blood-alcohol content was 0.19, more than twice the limit at which a driver is considered DUI under state law.

Bisard’s attorney, has claimed that the woman who drew Bisard’s blood did not have the level of expertise that a statute requires to perform a forensic blood test.

Prosecutors said other statutes and case law trump the statute the attorney cited and would allow the test to be used.

Category: Criminal
• Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

IRVINE, Calif.—Irvine police say a 14-year-old girl injured in a suspected DUI accident has irreversible brain damage.

The Orange County Register says Ashton Sweet is being kept on life support until her organs can be donated.

She and three other teenage girls were in a Mercedes-Benz that was struck by a pickup truck that ran a red light shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday.

Fifteen-year-old Krista Merassa suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs and was hospitalized in critical condition. The other two girls also were hurt.

The pickup driver, 26-year-old Austin Farley of Irvine, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and remains jailed Tuesday.

Court records show Farley has a long criminal history and pleaded guilty to DUI in 2009.

Category: Criminal
• Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Law enforcement agencies arrested 148 people in Orange County on suspicion of DUI the Memorial Day weekend, authorities said.

From Friday to Monday night, authorities made the arrests through checkpoints and saturation patrols, said Deputy Wayne Howard of the sheriff department’s traffic unit. The arrest figures are expected to be higher with some agencies yet to report their results.

Article Tab : From Friday to Monday night, authorities arrested 148 people on suspicion of DUI through checkpoints and saturation patrols, said Deputy Wayne Howard of the sheriff department's traffic unit.
From Friday to Monday night, authorities arrested 148 people on suspicion of DUI through checkpoints and saturation patrols, said Deputy Wayne Howard of the sheriff department’s traffic unit.

During last year’s enforcement period, 139 DUI arrests were made, Howard said.

The campaign was carried out by the multiagency anti-DUI task force known as “Avoid the 38,” which includes the Sheriff’s Department, local police departments, and the California Highway Patrol.

Over the weekend, a teenage girl was gravely injured Sunday morning in a DUI crash and a man was killed in a traffic collision Monday.

Ashton Sweet, a 14-year old cheerleader, is on life support after the vehicle she was riding in was hit by a drunk driver Sunday morning in Irvine. The driver, who has a prior DUI, was arrested at the scene and booked into jail on felony DUI charges, authorities said.

Just after midnight Monday morning, a 25-year-old pedestrian whom police said may have been drunk, was struck by an SUV while he was in the street across from the Fountain Valley Promenade Shopping Center.

In Riverside County, two O.C. residents died in traffic collisions over the weekend with one involving the driver suspected of being under the influence.

The next “Avoid” enforcement period will be an 18-day campaign at the end of August that will include checkpoints, roving patrols, and court stings, Howard said.

Funding for this enforcement program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Category: Criminal
• Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The Tehama County Avoid the Five Memorial Day Anti-DUI Campaign was in full swing over the weekend, but numbers were down from 2010 as of figures reported Monday morning.

There were no arrests made on the first or second day of the campaign, which kicked off Friday and only two arrests were made on Sunday. On Sunday, the California Highway Patrol made the arrest of Sommer Brown, 27, of Red Bluff who had been involved in a collision.

Details of the collision were unavailable Monday as the CHP office was closed for the holiday. CHP also arrested Ruben E. Vargas, 24, of Gerber.

In the same 48-hour period during the 2010 campaign there were six arrests made. A total of eight arrests for driving under the influence were made during the 2010 Memorial Day weekend campaign with the largest amount of arrests being on Sunday.

In 2010, two people were arrested Saturday, four on Sunday and one each on Monday and Tuesday.

A DUI checkpoint was deployed Saturday in the Los Molinos area and extra DUI Saturation patrols were deployed throughout the weekend in Red Bluff, Corning and Los Molinos.

The Anti-DUI campaign continued through midnight Monday.

Category: Criminal
• Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Santa Clara County prosecutors have so far dropped one DUI case and found 41 others that could be in jeopardy because of a faulty breath-test device used by police in Palo Alto and San Jose.

Prosecutors are about midway through a review of 858 DUI cases that used the Alco-Sensor V breath-test device. The device was found to give incorrect readings because of a manufacturer’s defect that can cause condensation to build up in the tube.

Assistant Public Defender Nona Klippen-Hughes told the San Jose Mercury News she does not think there will be that many more problematic cases.

Prosecutors apparently have corroborating evidence in most of the cases, including a second sobriety test at the police station.

The entire review is expected to be completed in the next few months.

Category: Criminal
• Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Miguel Cabrera‘s Maserati goes one-eighty-five. Got back his license, now he can drive. Life’s been good to him so far:

Florida officials have returned Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera’s driver’s license, but he still faces DUI charges. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department determined Friday there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Cabrera had been driving or was in actual control of his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol when he was arrested Feb. 16.

According to the article this doesn’t affect his DUI case, merely his license suspension for refusing the breathalyser, but someone who knows Florida DUI law will have to explain to me why that is. Because if the cops can’t establish that he was actually driving for the license suspension, how can they do it for the DUI?

In other news, maybe Jim Leyland was right when he said that Cabrera was in the best shape of his life at the time of the arrest. I mean, really, the guy apparently walked from his home in Miami all the way to that rural road in Fort Pierce in a couple of hours …

Category: Criminal
• Saturday, May 21st, 2011

A Diamond woman who was convicted twice before of DUI was sentenced in circuit court for her third offense.

Cindy L. Hodges, 49, was sentenced to 30 months conditional discharge and ordered to serve 52 days in Grundy County Jail. She received credit for already having served 26 days in jail. She was also fined $405 and ordered to attend the Victim Impact Panel.

An additional DUI charge and a charge of improper lane usage were dismissed.

Hodges was arrested Sept. 6, 2009 while traveling in her green 1994 GMC eastbound on Illinois 113 at Higgins Road. Deputy L . G. Dergo reported at the time he saw Hodges weaving while driving on Illinois 113.

After stopping the vehicle, he reported she appeared intoxicated and was charged with DUI, a charge that was upgraded to a Class 2 felony due to her prior convictions. Hodges was previously convicted of driving under the influence Sept. 3, 2001 in Kane County and Dec. 27, 2007 in Kendall County.

Category: Criminal
• Saturday, May 21st, 2011

May 18, 2011 (JOLIET, Ill.) (WLS) — A Will County man convicted of killing his girlfriend’s son in a DUI crash is asking for a new trial.

Cecil Conner was convicted in the death of 5-year-old Michael Langford Jr.

During his trial, Conner said he was following orders from a Chicago Heights police officer when he tried to drive the boy home in May 2010.

The officer had arrested the boy’s mother for driving on a suspended license.

Defense attorneys say Conner’s jailhouse conversations were recorded without their knowledge and that’s why they’re asking for a new DUI trial.

Category: Criminal
• Saturday, May 21st, 2011

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A woman who police say refused to get out of her car and dragged an officer for several feet as he attempted to stop her was arrested early Thursday.

Police were called to a Smith’s parking lot, 3470 E. Bengal Blvd. (7790 South), about 4:30 a.m. on a report of a minor hit-and-run accident. A woman had run into a light pole and taken off, according to police.

While investigating the  DUI crash, police spotted the alleged driver’s vehicle on the other side of the parking lot.

“The suspect had returned to the scene,” a Salt Lake County Jail report states. “The suspect was given multiple commands to exit the vehicle and refused.”

“She’s not complying with directions,” said Cottonwood Heights Police Sgt. Mark Askerlund. “It appeared she was intoxicated. She wouldn’t follow commands to produce ID or get out of the vehicle.”

Officer Nick Garcia then reached in the car in an attempt to turn it off. When he did, the woman tried to speed away while his arm was still stuck in the steering wheel. Garcia ran beside the car until his feet went out from under him and was dragged 10 to 15 feet.

But rather than panic, he said he relied on training.

“The training kicks in and we react,” Garcia said.

The officer got right back up, got into his vehicle and chased after the woman. The woman drove down Bengal Boulevard and to the back of Butler Middle School, 7530 S. 2700 East, where she stopped.

“The suspect exited the vehicle and was taken to the ground and then into custody,” the jail report states.

Nancy A. Cleveland, 48, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of hit and run, assault on a police officer, felony fleeing and DUI.

Garcia suffered “no injuries whatsoever,” he said. “I was pretty lucky.”

Category: Criminal
• Saturday, May 21st, 2011

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Police say a woman suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol tried to take off and drag an officer during a traffic stop early Thursday morning.

According to Cottonwood Heights Police Sgt. Mark Askerlund, officers responded to a DUI call in the parking lot of a Smith’s grocery store on 3470 East Bengal Blvd. (7790 South), at about 4:30 a.m.

Askerlund said that officers located the driver’s vehicle and ordered the driver, 48-year-old Nancy A. Cleveland, to get out of the car.

Askerlund said Cleveland refused to comply, and tried to drive away as one of the officers reached inside the car and tried to remove the keys from the car’s ignition, falling as he ran alongside the vehicle.

Askerlund said the officer got up and chased after the woman in his own vehicle after she sped away.

According to Askerlund, the woman drove 5-6 blocks until she stopped behind Butler Middle School on 7530 South 2700 East.

The woman got out of her car and was subsequently arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of DUI, according to Askerlund, who said Cleveland may also face charges for a hit and run, assault on a police officer, and felony fleeing.

Category: Criminal
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