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Addiction to alcohol and other drugs obviously contributes to many arrests for DUI in Los Angeles. But could repeat DUI offenses also be an indicator that a person has a mental health disorder? The San Joaquin Superior Court’s Collaborative Courts Department will be working with Harvard Medical School to try to find out. Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS)-DUI-los-angeles

Recordnet.com reports that the court will be serving as one of six test sites for a Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) developed by Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction of Cambridge Health Alliance and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. The court’s case managers and substance abusers have already begun screening repeat DUI offenders using the system.

CARS asks repeat offenders a series of questions about signs and symptoms of mental health issues within the past year and during their lifetime. It identifies 15 specific mental health disorders for which they might be at risk, including depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. The system then generates a report to the court that suggests treatments and provides a list of referrals to providers who could offer help.

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What evidence should a judge permit police to present during a DUI trial? If a driver suspected of DUI in Los Angeles refuses to take a field sobriety test, for example, should the court allow police officers to use that as evidence against him/her?Washington State Supreme Court DUI case july 2016

The Washington State Supreme Court thinks so. In a recent 5-4 vote, the court ruled that Mark Tracy Macham did not have a constitutional right to refuse a field sobriety test on the grounds that it was an unreasonable search.
According to King 5 News, police had pulled Mecham over back in 2011 because there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. After trying to talk to Mecham, the officer concluded that he was impaired and asked him to take a field sobriety test. Mecham refused. During his booking at the police station on DUI charges, Mecham also refused repeated requests to take a breathalyzer test.

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A driver might be very happy when a judge reduces a charge of DUI in Los Angeles to a lesser charge, like wet reckless. But getting intoxicated and driving down a busy main street is not a good way to celebrate. Just ask 18-year-old Lucas Brandenberg of Knoxville, Tennessee. He’d likely be in less trouble today if he had found a quieter and less dangerous way to express his satisfaction with the outcome of his court case.knoxville-DUI

On Thursday, June 14th, Brandenberg appeared in a court in Knox County, where Judge Scott Shipplett accepted a plea deal that reduced a DUI charge against him to reckless driving. (Another judge, Stephen Mathers, had initially rejected the plea deal, but Brandenburg’s case ended up in Shipset’s courtroom.)

Around 2 a.m. on the morning of Friday, June 15th, police responded to calls about a pickup truck driving through Knoxville with two occupants throwing beer cans out the window. Officers tried to intercept the truck, but it blew through a red light and then led them on a chase through another town. The officers eventually found the vehicle abandoned and Brandenburg hiding in a nearby shed. (They never caught the vehicle’s second occupant.) But the police did discover several illegal and prescription drugs as well as illegal drug paraphernalia in the truck.

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Police officers frequently find passengers in a vehicle when they’ve pulled someone over for DUI in Los Angeles. All too often those passengers suffer critical and sometimes fatal injuries if the car hits a light pole, another car or a wall.fatal-dui-kills-passenger

In Spartansburg, South Carolina, Joshua Meadows was traveling between 67 and 74 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone when he lost control of his vehicle on the night of June 8th. The car spun, went off the road, climbed an embankment and then went airborne before hitting a tree with the passenger side door. One passenger, Harold Dean Fields, 57, lost his life in the crash. Two other passengers suffered serious injuries.

Meadows faces charges of felony DUI resulting in death and felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury. His blood alcohol level allegedly was 0.104, and he also tested positive for barbiturates, Benzodiazepine and cannabinoids.

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Police officers are accustomed to finding illegal drugs, guns or open alcohol containers when they arrest someone for a DUI in Los Angeles. But few start out investigating a DUI-related crash and end up with a gruesome homicide case.dui-los-angeles-lightpole-death

On the evening of June 27th, officers in Anchorage, Alaska, responded to the scene of what appeared to be a crash involving a DUI. Benjamin Wilkins, 34, had run his vehicle into a light pole. He was next to the car and talking into a cellphone. After some conversation with him, officers arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.

The website JuneauEmpire.com reports that police were waiting for a tow truck when they looked in the back seat of Wilkin’s car. They saw what they thought was a sleeping passenger, but when they took a closer look they found the bound and beaten body of 30-year old Jacqueline Goodwin.

Police eventually went to Wilkins’ home, where they found a multitude of illegal drugs, including heroin, mushrooms, methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs. Further investigation led them to believe that Wilkins had killed Goodwin in the basement of the home and then enlisted the assistance of his mother, Jacqueline Stefano, and his brother, Connor Stefano, in cleaning up the scene of the crime and helping Wilkins move the woman’s body to his car.

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The Port of Los Angeles has a total of 16 marinas with 3,795 recreational boat slips. Since a day on a boat often involves enjoyment of adult beverages, there are plenty of opportunities for boaters to face arrest on a water-related DUI in Los Angeles (technically a BUI–boating under the influence). The results of this behavior can be deadly; according to a U.S. Coast Guard Boating report, 16 percent of the boating-related fatalities in the Pacific region of the U.S. involved boating while intoxicated.boating-dui-los-angeles-1

Other parts of the country have even worse records. In the Western region, which includes Oklahoma, 18 percent of the boating deaths were alcohol-related. Fortunately, the boating accident caused by Aaron Christopher Hux on July 6th didn’t cause any fatalities. But when the 39-year old Hux struck a concrete wall just north of a marina on Keystone Lake, the impact did plunge three of the four teenagers onboard into the water and sent them to the hospital for treatment.
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DUIs in Los Angeles often involve collisions between vehicles, between a vehicle and a pedestrian or between a vehicle and some building. But the DUI driver rarely hits the same object more than once–at least not on purpose.bumper-cars-DUI-los-angeles

In Naperville, Illinois, however, John Chiampas was apparently determined to get the vehicle that blocked his route out of the way. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chiampas was driving his 2011 BMW when he struck a Volvo that was stopped by the side of a road. Chiampas hit the Volvo once, and it rolled forward. He proceeded to strike the car from behind several times, at one point backing up and then moving forward again to slam into it.

Fortunately, the family inside the Volvo—a man, a woman and their three children—were not injured.

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The Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, has ruled that parents who knowingly let underage teens drink in their home are liable for damages if a teen injures someone or suffers injuries while under the influence. Although the ruling does not have a direct effect on cases of underage DUI in Los Angeles, justices in state courts do take note of the decisions of their peers in other states. Maryland-court-of-appeals-DUI

The ruling by Maryland’s Court came in two cases. One involved Manal Kiriakos, who had been out walking her dogs when she was hit by a car driven by 18-year-old Shetmiyah Robinson. He had been drinking vodka and orange juice at a co-worker’s home. Although the homeowner, Brandon Phillips, knew that Robinson was underage and expressed concern about Robinson’s sobriety, he let the teen drive himself home. When Robinson hit Kiriakos, she suffered life-threatening injuries and is still in pain. So Robinson sued Phillips for serving the teen alcohol.

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A recent Supreme Court decision requires police officers to get a warrant if a suspected DUI driver refuses to take a blood test voluntarily. This ruling could eventually impact procedures in future cases of DUI in Los Angeles.SCOTUS-DUI-ruling

In a split decision, five of the eight justices said that police may not arrest a driver for refusing a blood test if they do not have a warrant. The Court ruled that warrantless blood tests violate drivers’ Fourth Amendment constitutional rights. The same justices also said that the same protection did not extend to drivers when it came to breathalyzer tests, because the breath tests are less intrusive than blood tests.

In dissenting opinions, two justices said that warrants should be required for both blood and breathalyzer tests; one said that they should be required for neither.

The Supreme Court was ruling on three cases—two from North Dakota and one from Minnesota—that had raised the issue of warrantless blood tests for drivers accused of DUI. Those two states, plus 11 others (Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia) have laws making it a crime for a driver to refuse a request for a blood alcohol test when an officer suspects that a motorist is driving under the influence.

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Drivers looking to avoid charges of DUI in Los Angeles have tried many creative ways to avoid an arrest. They can make excuses, plead with the arresting officer to let them off and threaten the police department with reprisals by powerful friends. These attempts to evade DUI charges don’t work in the City of Angels, and they don’t work elsewhere either.lewd-DUI-arrest-mug-shot

In the Chicago suburb of Riverside, Hazel Rojas didn’t avoid DUI charges when she told the arresting officer that she had many friends in the suburban police force. But that may have been due to the fact that she allegedly had already used many different excuses to prevent her arrest.

Police first noticed Rojas’ car when she reportedly neglected to go on a green light, then went 20 mph in a 35 mph zone. When an officer pulled her over, Rojas claimed that the alcohol he smelled was the result of her spilling alcohol on herself while serving customers at her workplace. But she reportedly failed the sobriety test and practically fell into the officer’s arms.

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