Illinois take note: Colorado Troopers to pilot test marijuana detection devices

While Illinois is still considering amending its marijuana laws to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis and replacing its “zero tolerance” cannabis DUI laws with a “legal limit, ” Colorado, which has taken the lead in legalization, is moving forward with a pilot program using new marijuana detection devices.

From Colorado’s Fox 31:

The Colorado State Patrol is using marijuana DUI devices as part of a three-year pilot program.

Since March, more than 125 troopers have been equipped with one of five types of an oral fluid tester that sample a driver’s saliva for the presence of drugs, including marijuana.

“It would be nice to have that additional evidence on the side of the road,” CSP Major Steve Garcia said.

Troopers can perform roadside sobriety tests and seek a blood test, but much like a Breathalyzer for alcohol use, investigators would like a roadside device to give troopers probable cause to make an arrest.

“It would confirm or deny the officer’s investigation that the suspect would be under the influence of marijuana or other drugs,” Garcia said.

Under the pilot program, drivers have to consent to have the inside of their cheeks swabbed for saliva. The device then takes about five minutes to deliver an electronic readout, evaluating the presence of several narcotics, including marijuana.

Garcia said the legalization of marijuana has increased the need to stop drivers who have more than 5 nanograms of THC in their system, which is Colorado’s legal threshold for impaired driving.

In the meantime, a Wheat Ridge lab is working on a marijuana Breathalyzer-type device thanks to a $250,000 grant from the state.

“It would be home run for any company that develops the technology,” said Barry Knot, CEO of Lifeloc Technologies. “The advantage of a Breathalyzer is that it provides virtually instantaneous feedback to the officer, so within a matter of seconds they can get an accurate determination of blood alcohol content.”

But Knott admits the disadvantage of a Breathalyzer is that it only detects breath from a smoker and not someone who consumes an edible.

As for the saliva test, suspected drivers must consent and so far only 82 have.

“It hasn’t been used in court yet that we’re aware of, but we foresee that in the near future,” Garcia said.

CSP will evaluate the success of the oral testing devices in March, but the pilot program will continue for two more years.



Supermodel Stephanie Seymour arrested for DUI


From NBC news, via the AP:

GREENWICH, Conn. — Supermodel Stephanie Seymour was arrested over the weekend in Connecticut and charged with drunken driving.

Police say Seymour backed her SUV into another car Friday evening at an exit ramp on Interstate 95 in Greenwich. Nobody was injured in the crash.

A Connecticut State police report says Seymour was unsteady on her feet, her eyes were bloodshot and her breath smelled of alcohol. It says Seymour refused to perform field sobriety tests.

The 47-year-old celebrity was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and unsafe backing. She was released on a $500 bond.

DNA Info story: Chicago Police hid mics, destroyed dashcams

From DNAInfo (story by Mark Konkol and Paul Biasco):

Why are so many police dashcam videos silent?

Chicago Police Department officers stashed microphones in their squad car glove boxes. They pulled out batteries. Microphone antennas got busted or went missing. And sometimes, dashcam systems didn’t have any microphones at all, DNAinfo Chicago has learned.

Police officials last month blamed the absence of audio in 80 percent of dashcam videos on officer error and “intentional destruction.”

A DNAinfo Chicago review of more than 1,800 police maintenance logs sheds light on the no-sound syndrome plaguing Police Department videos — including its most notorious dashcam case.

Maintenance records of the squad car used by Jason Van Dyke, who shot and killed Laquan McDonald, and his partner, Joseph Walsh, show monthslong delays for two dashcam repairs, including a long wait to fix “intentional damage.”

On June 17, 2014, police technicians reported fixing a dashcam wiring issue in police vehicle No. 6412, the squad shared by Van Dyke and Walsh, about three months after it was reported broken, records show.

A day later, the same vehicle’s dashcam system was reported busted again. It took until Oct. 8, 2014, to complete repairs of what technicians deemed “intentional damage,” according to reports.

Just 12 days later, on Oct. 20, 2014, dashcam video recorded from squad car No. 6412 on the night Van Dyke shot and killed McDonald did not record audio. The video that went viral showing Van Dyke killing Laquan was taken from a different squad car, but it, too, had no audio.

And on Nov. 21, 2014, a review of 10 videos downloaded from Van Dyke’s squad car dashcam determined it was “apparent … that personnel have failed to sync the MICs [sic],” police records show.

Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder in Laquan’s shooting. And Walsh, who filed reports backing up Van Dyke’s version of events that didn’t jibe with the video of the shooting, has been placed on desk duty as criminal and disciplinary investigations continue.

Four other police vehicles at Laquan’s shooting scene that had dashcam systems also failed to record audio. Only two of the five vehicles had dashcams that actually captured video.

The dashcam in police vehicle No. 8489, shared by officers Thomas Gaffney and Joseph McElligott the night of Laquan’s shooting, recorded 37 “event videos” in October 2014, and had an operational dashcam the night of the shooting. But “due to disk error” no video was recorded at the shooting scene, according to police reports.

Police maintenance records show a request to repair the dashcam in that squad car was made Oct. 15, 2014 — five days before Laquan’s shooting. Yet, on Oct. 31, 2014, technicians found “no problems” with the equipment.

A week later, the dashcam system was reported broken again. Repairs to a “hardware failure” were completed more than four months later, police records show.

Read the whole story here:

Sorry Virginia, Santa Claus arrested for DUI

santa booking

From KREM 2 Spokane:

POST FALLS, Idaho— Santa Claus is making headlines in his off season in North Idaho.  All because a recent sighting of Santa in Post Falls ended with a DUI arrest.

Court documents obtained Monday stated Post Falls officers arrested a Washington man legally named Santa Claus after he was spotted driving the wrong way.

The charge was reduced on Friday to misdemeanor reckless driving when Claus appeared in court. He pleaded guilty and paid a $700 fine.

Officers arrested Claus late Thursday night.

He was spotted by police on Thursday night driving the wrong direction on Syringa Avenue according to court records. An officer activated his lights and Claus pulled over near Polston Avenue and Albert Street.

“It should be noted that the vehicle was still in the wrong lane of travel,” wrote the officer who pulled over the 67-year-old Claus.

Police said they informed Claus why she pulled him over. Claus stated he was not from around here and unfamiliar with the streets according to court records. Police said they could smell alcohol coming from the vehicle when they spoke to Claus.

Court records showed Claus admitted to having three or four beers at Moon Dollars Bistro in Post Falls.

Officers at the scene conducted a field evaluation of Claus and said he had difficulty maintaining his balance. He later agreed to submit a breath test. Court records stated the two samples read .130 and .119.

Police arrested Santa Claus for DUI but noted he was “cooperative throughout.”

Link to NBC 4 Columbus’ video:

Driver charged with DUI after crashing into State Trooper’s Squad Car


From CBS 2 news:

A 28-year-old woman has been charged with driving under the influence after she crashed into the back of an Illinois State Police trooper’s vehicle who was in the middle of a traffic stop early Sunday on the Kennedy Expressway near Bucktown on the North Side.

Kendra Hernandez, of the 1000 block of Argyle Street in Bensenville, was charged with aggravated driving while under the influence, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, improper lane usage and driving with a suspended license, according to Illinois State Police.

The crash happened shortly after 2 a.m. in the outbound lanes of Interstate 90/94 near Damen, sending the trooper’s car into the back of the vehicle he had originally pulled over, state police said.

The trooper was not in his car when it was rear-ended and was not hurt, police said.

Hernandez was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening, police said.

Vince Young arrested for DUI


youngFormer NFL Quarterback Vince Young was arrested for DUI in Austin, Texas over the weekend.

According to Austin Fox 7 local news:

Former University of Texas quarterback Vince Young has been arrested for DWI.

It all started at around 11:30 p.m. on January 24. In an affidavit, an Austin police officer reports that he saw a 2016 white Chevy Silverado at a red light while northbound at the intersection of the 600 block of I-35 Service Road and 6th Street.

The officer followed the vehicle for a short time as it moved north. The driver of the Chevy then entered onto 35 at the 1500 block without signaling intent to change lanes.

The affidavit states that the officer noticed the driver drifting within its lane at varying speeds.

APD tells FOX 7 that the vehicle was pulled over at an empty parking lot near 51st and that’s when the sobriety tests were administered.

The officer in the affidavit states that Young had a “strong” alcoholic beverage odor and was “swaying” with “glassy” eyes and that his speech was “mumbled, slurred.”

The affidavit states that Young admitted to drinking at least three or four bottles of beer before driving and also misstated the time of the arrest.

The affidavit says that Young was “polite” but “uncooperative.”

Man arrested for DUI after crashing into liquor store


From the Chicago Tribune (story by Ronnie Wachter):

A Wheeling man was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol this week, after police say he drove an SUV through the window of an area liquor store.

According to a Buffalo Grove police report, Ramakanth Gentela, 40, of the 1600 block of Woodduck Lane in Wheeling, drove a Land Rover on Tuesday to BG Liquor, 223 W. Dundee Road.

“He was attempting to park his vehicle and accidentally accelerated, causing his Land Rover to crash into a sign (belonging to the business) and then crash into the glass entrance doors, causing severe damage,” an officer wrote in the police report.

Police photos of the scene show the car hit and bent BG Liquor’s double front glass doors, but did not break through them. According to the police report, firefighters examined the brick walls on both sides and declared the building sound for continued operation, but recommended that the owner board up his now open-air store.

The Land Rover suffered heavy front-end damage and was leaking fluid, the report said.

“I could immediately smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from his breath,” the reporting officer wrote in the report.

Gentela had a blood-alcohol content of 0.135, police said. The legal limit for driving is 0.08.


Sixth DUI gets woman 13 years in prison


From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A woman was sentenced Thursday to 13 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to her fifth and sixth charges of DUI in northwest suburban Elgin.

Cheri L. Bookman, 48, who is homeless, pleaded guilty to Associate Judge David Kliment to two counts of aggravated DUI, one a Class X felony and one a Class 1 felony, according to a statement from the Kane County state’s attorney’s office.

On Jan. 4, 2015, Bookman crashed her vehicle into another vehicle in the 1500 block of Mark Avenue in Elgin and the driver of the other vehicle noticed that she seemed intoxicated, prosecutors said. She then left the scene and the other driver called 911.

When Bookman was later approached by Elgin police at a home where she was staying she was drinking vodka and admitted that she had been drinking vodka all day, prosecutors said.

The other driver identified Bookman and she was subsequently charged with DUI, prosecutors said. She was released on bond after serving one day in jail.

On Aug. 2, 2015, officers spotted Bookman driving the wrong way on Chicago Street, a one-way street, prosecutors said. When she was stopped, the officer smelled alcohol on her breath.

When the officer returned to his vehicle in an effort to get more information on Bookman, she sped away and eventually crashed into a guardrail at Chicago and State streets, prosecutors said. She then crawled through the passenger-side window and ran into a wooded area.

The officers found her and she was charged with DUI, prosecutors said. Her blood-alcohol content was .247.

Bookman’s four prior DUI charges were twice in 2001, once in 2002 and once in 2008 in Jefferson and Cook counties, prosecutors said.

A sixth DUI is a Class X felony in Illinois, punishable from 6 to 30 years.

Illinois Secretary of State White says 0.05 BAC law needs further study

From the Sun-Times:

Secretary of State Jesse White believes the idea of reducing Illinois’ drunk-driving threshold merits “further study,” his office confirmed Tuesday after a federal agency recommended all states scrap their .08 DUI standards.

The National Transportation Safety Board urged all 50 states to lower their drunk-driving limits by nearly half from .08 blood-alcohol content to .05 blood-alcohol content.

“It’s an issue that needs further study. We commend them for looking into this and the work they’ve done. But we feel at this point, it needs more study to go to .05,” White spokesman Dave Druker told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Druker said White was not prepared to move any kind of legislative package in the dwindling days of the spring legislative session and that his senior staff would delve more deeply into the NTSB’s findings.

A 180-pound man could drink no more than two 12-ounce servings of light beer in an hour to stay below a .05 blood-alcohol content, according to an online blood-alcohol calculator maintained by the University of Oklahoma.

Under the existing .08 law, that same person could drink four 12-ounce servings of light beer to remain below the drunk-driving limit, the university calculator showed.

When asked whether the secretary of state’s office has a concern about how those tighter standards would could make it impossible for Illinoisans to drink alcohol at weddings, anniversaries or Super Bowl parties and still drive legally, Druker said, “It’s an issue.”

But Druker cautioned that White had not formulated a position on the NTSB recommendations.

“I don’t think we’ve thought it through to that extent. We just heard about the report today,” Druker said.

Illinois has had a .08 blood-alcohol standard since 1997, when then-Secretary of State George Ryan successfully pushed the change through the General Assembly. Previously, the state’s drunk-driving limit stood at .10 blood-alcohol content.

Actor who voices Squidward on SpongeBob arrested for DUI


From People Magazine:

SpongeBob SquarePants Actor Rodger Bumpass was arrested for an alleged DUI Friday evening, PEOPLE has confirmed.

Law enforcement records show the star, who voices Squidward on the show, was arrested in Burbank, California shortly before midnight Friday and held on $15,000 bail. Bumpass, 64, spent the night in jail and was released shortly after 7:30 a.m. Saturday after posting his bail.

A Burbank Police Department spokesperson tells PEOPLE Bumpass was leaning against his car, which was stopped in the middle of the street, when police discovered him. The actor admitted he had been driving before police discovered him. TMZ first reported the news.

No court date has been set.