KY Police Chief gets DUI after passing out at Taco Bell Drive-Thru, but don’t worry, he says he won’t do it again

The “I won’t do it again, let’s move on” defense usually doesn’t work for my clients, but a Kentucky police chief is hoping it will work in the court of public opinion, even if it is not successful in criminal court.

From Kentucky.com:

Cited for drunken driving in Hazard over the weekend, Whitesburg police Chief Tyrone Fields said Monday that he had learned from the experience.

Fields, who has been police chief in Whitesburg since 2011, acknowledged the arrest during a phone interview.

“It’s very unfortunate, but I’ve learned from it,” Fields said. “Just never do it again, pick up the pieces and move on.”

Hazard police Chief Minor Allen said Fields was cited for driving under the influence after Hazard officers received a call about 1 a.m. Sunday that someone had passed out in the drive-through of a Taco Bell restaurant.

Allen said an officer went to the restaurant, found the person and became concerned when the man couldn’t be awakened. The officer summoned an ambulance, Allen said.

Fields was taken to Hazard Regional Region Healthcare, according to published reports.

Fields said Monday that he was taken to the hospital for a blood test, not because of his condition.

Study shows earlier school start time leads to increase in teen driving accidents

Here are the results of an interesting study as reported in the Chicago Tribune:

research funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and reported in 2014 showed that for half of communities that instituted a later start time for their high schools, the rate of car crashes for high-school-age drivers dropped by 65 to 70 percent.

“By decreasing the likelihood that teens will be sleep-deprived when getting behind the wheel in the morning, we can help decrease the chance they will be involved in an accident,” Morgenthaler, who was not part of the new study, told Reuters Health in a statement.

Sleep and circadian rhythms change during adolescence, and school start times that aren’t aligned with their sleep needs puts teens at risk for chronic sleep restriction, he said.

“In puberty, a natural shift occurs in the timing of the body’s internal ‘circadian’ clock, causing most teens to have a biological preference for a late-night bedtime,” Morgenthaler said. “Current school start times are asking teens to shine when their biological clock tells them to sleep.”

Scheduling school start times should be a collaboration between parents and local school boards, he said.

“My suggestion would be that high schools should optimally start in the area of 8:30 to 8:45 such as the two later starting jurisdictions in our two studies,” Vorona told Reuters Health by email. “I would expect that they would need to end the school day later.”…

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1Hc0FE4 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, November 14, 2014

Illinois State Bar Association to push to correct law that punishes unimpaired driving with traces of cannabis

I have written several times about the Illinois “zero-tolerance” laws that make it a crime to drive a motor vehicle with even a trace of a narcotic, such as cannabis, in one’s bloody system, even if that trace is metabolite residue that comes from usage days or weeks before.

Even worse, if there is a fatal accident, and a driver has a trace amount of a narcotic in his or her system, he can be charged with a DUI involving death regardless of his or her fault in the occurrence.

Here is a a real life example of this poorly thought out law:  Scott Shirey was prosecuted by the Lake County State’s Attorney after a fatal crash which occurred when his vehicle was stopped at a red light and a distracted driver crashed into his car, killing one of his sons and seriously injuring another.  Because it was a fatality, Mr. Shirey was required to take a blood test, and he tested positive for cannabis metabolite, i.e., he had used marijuana days or weeks earlier.  No one ever accused him of being impaired and no one believed that he caused the crash.  However, he was charged and faced up to 14 years in prison.  He was ultimately sentenced to 30 months probation.

Not everyone is so lucky.  I have written about people getting 18 months, 6 years and 15 years for similar offenses that did not involve impairment — merely the presence of cannabis residue in their system.

Now the Illinois State Bar Association is pushing legislation to correct these terrible laws and to put Illinois in line with 34 other states that require impairment for a driving under the influence of drugs case.  There is no good reason to support the existing law, and none has been offered, except that “drugs are bad.”  That may be enough for Mr. Mackey, but that should not be enough for the rest of us.

Man gets 10 years for DUI crash by Cook County Jail that killed Correctional Officer

From a Chicago Sun-Times story by Rummana Hussein:

A Little Village man with a history of DUIs was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday for a hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of a Cook County correctional officer who was crossing the street to go to work at Cook County Jail.

Juan Bello, 58, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a deadly accident for the July 2012 crime, according to court records.

Nikkii Bostic-Jones, 37, was thrown onto the road and pinned under a sheriff’s car when she was hit by Bello ’s van as she crossed the street outside the jail.

The married mother of a little girl died a short time later at an area hospital.

Bello fled the scene, but a witness was able to give authorities a description of the Chevy van and a partial license plate number.

Bello was arrested the next day when he pulled up to his residence, in the 2900 block of West 25th Street.

A witness told investigators that Bello had been drinking alcohol shortly before the incident, Cook County prosecutors said at the time. The machine operator was allegedly driving to work, the same route he has taken for two to three years.

Bello ’s Illinois driver’s license was revoked in January 2010 for a DUI arrest in Iowa in Sept. 2009. He was eligible to get his license back in January 2011 but never applied, according to a spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White. Bello also received court supervision for a 2002 DUI from La Salle County.

75 Year Old Man Extradited from South Korea for 1996 Fatal DUI Crash Sentenced to 5 Years

You can run but you cannot hide, from Cook County prosecutors.  From the Chicago Tribune (story by George Houde):

A former Chicago businessman who fled to South Korea after he was charged in a 1996 fatal drunken driving crash was sentenced to five years in prison Friday.
Kyung Ho Song, 75, pleaded guilty Thursday to reckless homicide and aggravated DUI in the crash that killed 43-year-old Sonia Naranjo and critically injured her friend, Mayra Sanchez.

With time served, Song could be released in two years.

He was charged after the Oct. 11, 1996, accident but skipped out on his bail bond and fled to South Korea, where he was arrested on a fugitive warrant in December 2013.

Efforts to bring Song to justice were reactivated after the Tribune featured his case in its 2011 “Fugitives from Justice” series. The following year, a reporter working in collaboration with the Tribune tracked Song down in suburban Seoul, South Korea, where he lived openly for years.

Song has been in Cook County Jail since his extradition in March. At the time of the deadly crash nearly two decades ago, he was living in Schaumburg and owned a strip mall in Schiller Park and a business on Chicago’s West Side, but he began liquidating his assets after his arrest, the Tribune found.

Naranjo, a single mother, and Sanchez had been pushing a disabled vehicle along Lake Street in Bartlett when Song’s car struck them from behind. Prosecutors said his blood-alcohol content was 0.181.

Buddy Valastro, “Cake Boss” Chef, arrested for DUI in New York

From the Chicago Tribune:

The star of the reality TV show “Cake Boss” was arrested on drunken driving charges early on Thursday after he was stopped for weaving his sports car through traffic in New York City’s Hudson Yards neighborhood, police said.

Celebrity chef Buddy Valastro, whose Hoboken, New Jersey, bakery is the inspiration for the show on the TLC network, was pulled over in his 2014 yellow Corvette at 1 a.m. on 10th Avenue near 32nd Street, according to police.

“He was observed by officers swerving through lanes of traffic,” New York City Police Officer Adam Navarro said.

Valastro, 37, of Montville, New Jersey, was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated and driving while ability impaired, police said.

Report says St. Louis Cardinal’s Oscar Tavares had 0.287 BAC at time of fatal crash

From the Chicago Tribune:

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras apparently was driving drunk when he died along with his girlfriend in a fatal crash in the Dominican Republic last month.

A toxicology report indicated that Taveras’ blood-alcohol content was .287, more than five times the legal limit of .05 in the country, during the Oct. 26 accident on a highway in Puerto Plata, said Tessie Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the Dominican Republic Attorney General’s office, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Taveras’ girlfriend, 18-year-old Edilia Arvelo, was with him at the time of the crash.

The 22-year-old Taveras was considered one of the top prospects in baseball this past season. He made his major league debut with the Cardinals and batted .239 with three home runs and 22 RBIs in 80 games.

Two weeks before the accident, Taveras hit a home run that tied Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants.

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