Articles Posted in Drug DUI

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As a rule, DUIs in Los Angeles involve motor vehicles moving on interstates, highways and local roads—in other words, on dry land. But with the ocean close by, some law enforcement officers in Los Angeles County also have to deal with intoxicated boaters who pose a danger to themselves and to others on the water. These stories from other states demonstrate the kind of toll that BUIs can take:BUI-in-los-angeles

•    In South Carolina, around 6 a.m. on July 7th, police arrested Cynthia Lynn Averitt for boating under the influence on Lake Wylie. A few hours later they pulled the body of Kenneth Varandore, a passenger on the boat, from the lake. Police reported that Varandore apparently jumped into the water and never resurfaced.

•    A 43-foot fishing vessel smashed into a slip at Aurora Harbor in Juneau, Alaska, around noon on June 6th. Darrin Hess, age 51, was at the wheel of the Nor’Gale when it hit several boats and then caused significant damage to the harbor’s main float. Police charged Hess with driving under the influence and with refusing a breath 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 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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