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There’s often some sense of relief when a driver convicted of multiple deaths due to DUI in Los Angeles goes to jail; at least that person will be off the road for a few years. But in Anderson County, South Carolina, a recent DUI sentencing has left little more than a sense of loss and waste due to a young man’s poor decision one evening.McDermott-in-hearing-DUI

According to WYFF News 4, Riley McDermott, age 25, had gone out with his roommate to get chicken wings on the evening of November 8, 2014. He ended up drinking too much, getting behind the wheel, and crossing the center line of the road. He was going 73 mph when he slammed into a car carrying five young people. The crash killed Amber Hope Perkins, 17, Jessica Roberts, 20, and Cory Simmonds, 20. Jessica’s sister, 17-year old Samantha, suffered injuries in the crash. Amber’s sister, Cheyenne Queen, will face lifelong problems because of her extensive injuries.

McDermott reached a plea agreement with the Anderson County prosecutor. In return for a sentence of 18 years in prison, he pled guilty to three counts of felony DUI with death and two counts of felony DUI with manslaughter. The maximum sentence could have been 135 years in prison.

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Arrests for DUI in Los Angeles frequently have a twist–a celebrity arrested, an incident involving some unusual circumstances. But L.A. doesn’t have a monopoly on strange DUI arrests, as evidenced by this East Coast case.
A judge in New Jersey didn’t buy the excuse given by Sister Kimberly Miller, age 41, for her DUI arrest. Miller, who lives in Philadelphia, claimed that she hadn’t even known she was behind the wheel when police picked her up on November 7th in Gloucester County. She said that the combination of a glass of wine and a dose of the sleeping medication Ambien at bedtime had left her “sleep driving,” and she had no recollection of how she got to New Jersey or in police custody.

Sister Kimberly Miller of Little Flower H.S. is organizing its 1st Little Flower Teen Author Festival. Photograph in school library with display of books written by young authors that will attend the festival. Picture taken on Thursday afternoon February 20, 2014. ( ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER )

Sister Kimberly Miller of Little Flower H.S. is organizing its 1st Little Flower Teen Author Festival. Photograph in school library with display of books written by young authors that will attend the festival. Picture taken on Thursday afternoon February 20, 2014. ( ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER )

Police arrested Miller after witnesses saw her backing into the glass door of an auto repair store–breaking it–and leaving the scene. When the officers caught up with the nun, she had a half-empty bottle of wine behind the front seat. She blew a .16 on a breathalyzer test, but the judge threw out that evidence because police had not followed the proper procedures–observing Miller for 20 minutes–before administering the test.

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When courts find someone guilty of a DUI in Los Angles, the penalties that person faces will depend on whether or not he or she has prior DUI convictions. (It doesn’t matter if some of the DUI convictions occurred in another state; California treats those offenses as if they occurred in state.)House Bill 3146-los-angeles-DUI-Oklahoma

Most states also track DUIs that take place in different jurisdictions within their boundaries. But Oklahoma has provided an out for drivers convicted of DUI in most municipalities. Only two municipal courts in that state are courts of record, which report DUI convictions to the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network. That leaves 350 municipal courts that don’t report to the state. Drivers can rack up an unlimited number of DUIs, and as long as they took place in different municipalities, each would count as a first offense.

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Should the public be informed if a judge gives a driver convicted of a Los Angeles DUI a very light sentence? The State of New Mexico thinks that’s what should happen in the Land of Enchantment. susana_martinez-new-mexico-DUI-los-angeles

New Mexico judges who routinely hand out lenient sentences to DUI drivers may soon have observers in their courtroom. Governor Susana Martine announced in mid-April that New Mexico plans to pay staffers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to monitor these trials—and to report to state officials on what they’re seeing. State employees will tweet the names of the repeat offenders and the judges who let them off easily.

According to an Associated Press report, the state has given MADD an $800,000, two-year contract to carry out this work. Governor Martine said the program is necessary, because the justice system too often fails families whose suffer because they have lost loved ones in DUI-related crashes.

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Police officers who suspect a driver of DUI in Los Angeles must have probable cause before they can ask that person to take a breathalyzer test. But what constitutes probable cause? In Kansas, at least, police officers can no longer use some of the indicators that they used to employ.Kansas-Supreme-Court-DUI

According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Darcy Unrau, who appealed his conviction on DUI charges. Unrau’s lawyers argued that Officer Steve Koch, who arrested the driver, lacked good cause to ask the defendant to take a breathalyzer test.

Unrau had been driving 30 mph over the speed limit when Koch pulled him over in August 2014. After spotting a holstered gun in the vehicle, Koch asked the driver to get out. The officer admitted that Unrau had no problem talking or walking but said he smelled of alcohol. When Unrau’s passenger opened the glove compartment in the vehicle to take out the insurance information, a can of beer rolled out. Officer Koch subsequently found two other cans of beer, one opened, in the vehicle.

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With dash cams and body cams becoming the norm for police departments everywhere, people charged with DUI in Los Angeles may now find a video of their arrest posed online. The results can be embarrassing—just ask Georgia State Representative, Tom Taylor.Tom Taylor DUI Georgia

On the afternoon of April 7th, police in the city of Clayton, Georgia, stopped Taylor for going 72 mph in a 45 mph zone. The officer said Taylor had red eyes and smelled of alcohol, which the legislator said was due to the fact that he had been drinking the night before. The officer didn’t buy that excuse, however, and turned up a water bottle in the vehicle that smelled of alcohol. Police asked Taylor to take a field sobriety test, but Taylor didn’t comply.
The officers arrested Taylor, and, using a breathalyzer, measured his BAC at .225—almost three times the legal limit.

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Arrests for DUI in Los Angeles and other venues occur with such frequency that they rarely make the news, unless the driver is a celebrity or unless an accident causes loss of life. What happens, though, when the stakes are much higher? What if the person under the influence is an airline pilot getting ready to fly a plane? In short, understandably, people panic…DUI-while-flying-los-angeles

On March 26th, an agent from the Transportation Security Administration spotted a pilot acting suspiciously at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Authorities gave him a breathalyzer test, and he reportedly failed. They arrested him, gave him a second breathalyzer test, which he supposedly failed again. This all occurred just a few minutes before the scheduled takeoff of a flight on which the accused man was supposed to serve as co-pilot.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s rules for blood alcohol content are much more stringent than state laws for DUI. They apply to all pilots, from those controlling massive commercial jets to those piloting single engine aircraft.
One FAA rule is an eight-hour “bottle to throttle” requirement; pilots have to stop drinking at least eight hours before they enter the cockpit. According to the FAA, many airlines require a longer 12-hour waiting period.

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California Highway Patrol officers often see adults with some pretty bad parenting skills. One example: drivers charged with DUI in Los Angles who carry their children as passengers.  los-angeles-DUI-with-kids

It happens all over the country. In Minnesota, for example, police recently responded to a call from concerned parents at Scenic Heights Elementary School. They watched as one mother, 55-year-old Kelly Ann Bellanger, dropped off her two children at school and displayed signs of being under the influence. She reportedly slurred her speech and swayed when she tried to walk.

When police arrived on the scene, Bellanger couldn’t roll down her window, mistaking the door lock switch for the window control. Not too surprisingly, Bellanger allegedly flunked the sobriety test. Police found she had a blood alcohol content of almost three times the legal limit. Bellanger even admitted to drinking half a glass of wine before transporting her kids to school, although she said it had been two hours earlier.

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The damage done by drivers convicted of DUI in Los Angeles and other areas can last for years. Take the case of two families—one from Columbus, Ohio, and the other from Las Vegas—who had very little time to enjoy their memories of their recently-completed vacations. Accidents caused by DUI drivers ended the lives of some of these travelers, leaving the survivors with awful, painful recollections instead of happy ones. springbreakDUI-los-angeles

The extended Crowell family was on their way home from a memorable trip to Disney World when 35-year-old Cory Sheward of Tiffin, Ohio, collided head on with the family’s car. According to reports, he had been driving the wrong way on Interstate 77. Police believe he had crossed the median and had been heading south in the northbound lanes for at least two miles before he slammed into the Crowell’s car.

Sheward killed four people: Carlisa Crowell, age 29; Maxine Wade, age 27; Tasha Freeman, age 9; and Aubrey Willoubey, age 6. The four other passengers suffered serious injuries, including Crowell’s 28-year-old brother, Thomas, who had brain injuries. Reports say he was only breathing with the help of a respirator. Police will be charging Seward with four counts of DUI causing serious bodily injury.

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car-flooded-fatal-DUI-los-angelesOver the years, this blog has reported on dozens of Los Angeles DUI stories involving fatal wrecks. In court and in news reports, drivers often lament that they think about their crashes with remorse every single day.

Nen Yang, 55, will have to live the rest of his life knowing that he likely caused the death of an unidentified woman passenger on March 5th. Rains flooded some of the roads in Yuba County, but Yang, instead of stopping at a closed-off section of road between Highways 65 and 70, reportedly plowed right through the water that was laying on it. Only when it was too late did he realize that the water was six to eight feet deep—enough to submerge his vehicle.

Los Angeles’ KTLA television station reported that while Yang managed to struggle out of the flooded car, his 52-year-old female passenger was not so lucky. She died, trapped in the car as the water poured in.

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