The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

November 2010 Archives

John Cusick Sentenced To Prison For Driving Drunk And High

21-year-old John Cusick pleaded guilty to driving while drunk and high, which lead to a motor vehicle accident in June 2009 that almost killed two Philadelphia police officers. Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley sentenced Cusick with six to 12 years in state prison followed by 10 years of probation. Cusick said he felt that he needed rehab rather than time behind bars, but Brinkley didn't agree.

Although he was looking forward to spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his family, Brinkley said John Cusick's sentence was to begin immediately. "Hearing the agony and unbearable pain that the families have expressed, this sentence is absolutely necessary," she told him. Cusick's Philadelphia DUI lawyer William J. Ciancaglini said the sentence was fair.

Philadelphia Police Begin "Operation Safe Holiday"

Philadelphia law enforcement and police agencies across the state will be working together with PennDOT for "Operation Safe Holiday." According to PR Newswire, the operation will begin on Thanksgiving and end after the New Year's holiday. Police officials will be on the lookout for aggressive or drunk driving and proper seat belt use.

PennDOT reported that Thanksgiving is still the leading holiday for traffic and motor vehicle accidents. Over 4,500 collisions and 41 fatalities occurred during the holiday last year in Pennsylvania, including the weekends prior to and after Thanksgiving. Among those crashes, 500 were alcohol-related. PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler asks PA drivers to "be smart" and "avoid distractions behind the wheel."

Broncos Linebacker D.J. Williams Arrested for DUI

D.J. Williams, the Denver Broncos defensive linebacker, was arrested last Friday on suspicion that he was driving drunk. Police officials found Williams driving his vehicle without headlights and had asked him to pull over, according to CBS News. Denver District Attorney Lynn Kimbrough said “once the stop was made, there was reasonable suspicion he was driving under the influence.”

Authorities charged Williams for DUI and immediately brought him to a detox facility. Broncos fans are not the only ones let down by Williams’ arrest. In a statement released the day after police took Williams into custody, the team said they were “extremely disappointed in D.J. Williams’ careless and irresponsible actions.” He was fined by the team and could also potentially be suspended from playing in any more games for the rest of the year.

A Closer Look at Field Sobriety Testing in Philadelphia

79 cases of drivers who were arrested and charged for driving under the influence were thrown out in Sacramento County after police officer Brandon Mullock, 24, was accused of fabricating information in his DUI reports. An abuse in authority can go unquestioned even in Philadelphia, so it’s important for people to know what proper field sobriety tests may be administered by police. The different tests you may be asked to perform can include:

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test;
  • The walk-and-turn (WAT) test;
  • The one-leg stand (OLS) test; or
  • A sobering look.

John Lawless Sentenced to Prison for Fatal DUI Car Crash

6 ABC Action News reported Northeast Philadelphia local John Lawless recently pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter for killing 50-year-old Frederick Shelton while driving under the influence. Judge Raymond Batten sentenced Lawless to a maximum of 30 years in prison given the 38-year-old’s previous records, revealing seven DWI arrest and four convictions for drunk driving during the last thirteen years.

John Lawless only served a short time in jail for his prior convictions and has had his driving license suspended since 2001. On September 2009, he crashed into Frederick Shelton’s vehicle while driving on Route 9 in Lower Township. Prosecutors said Lawless had guzzled down twelve beers before the collision. Shelton died immediately after the car accident, and his wife Sheri and daughter Brittany, 13, suffered critical injuries.

Philadelphia Cop William Haviland Faces Potential DUI Charges

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Philly patrol officer William Haviland was allegedly driving drunk while he was on duty. Police officials claim Haviland was working while “in uniform, and operating a patrol car while he was intoxicated.” No charges have been filed yet against Haviland, but he has been suspended for 30 days with the potential dismissal from the force.

42-year-old William Haviland had worked for the Philadelphia Police Department for seven years and is the twelfth police officer to get fired this year. Eleven other cops have been terminated and charged with various offenses, including drugs, theft and murder. Haviland’s case has been referred to the District Attorney’s Office.

SCRAM Bracelets Used To Monitor DUI Offenders

Philadelphia is one among many jurisdictions that has started using SCRAM bracelets to check on the alcohol use of certain individuals convicted with driving under the influence. SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring, and the SCRAM bracelet programs are one way to monitor continuous alcohol use without calling for regular in-person alcohol tests.

SCRAM bracelets may be ordered as a condition of probation, parole, or early release for people convicted of DUI. Judges may also order the bracelets for repeat DUI offenders. SCRAM bracelets help monitor individuals ordered not to drink any alcohol or who have a serious alcohol problem. Some DUI offenders may be able to choose whether or not they prefer to wear the bracelet instead of receiving in-person testing.

Former Actor David Cassidy Arrested for DUI

The Associated Press reported former "Partridge Family" famed actor David Cassidy was charged with a DUI in Florida. The former heartthrob was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol, who found Cassidy's car zigzagging on the road and almost causing an accident.

According to police, David Cassidy said he had a glass of wine during lunch and took a pain pill later that afternoon at around 3:30. Law enforcement officials inspected Cassidy's vehicle and discovered a half-empty bottle of bourbon in the back seat. The FHP then asked David Cassidy to take a field sobriety test, which they reported the former actor failed along with two breath tests.

What To Expect When Pulled Over For A DUI

Many drivers don't know what to expect when a Philadelphia cop pulls them over for a DUI-related offense. Even so, it's important to remember that you have rights regardless of whether or not you are tested and found driving above the legal limit. Fortunately, FindLaw's KnowledgeBase provides some helpful information for drivers to keep in mind when confronted with a potential DUI arrest.

Even if you feel like a police pulled you over on pretext, like failing to turn on your turn signal, you should always maintain a composed and cooperative attitude when dealing with an officer. You still have the right to remain silent, as in any other type of criminal investigation. Any information you reveal to police may be used against you, even if you say you only had one glass of wine before driving.

Former Yankee Jim Leyritz Charged with DUI Manslaughter

NBC Philadelphia reported Jim Leyritz's DUI manslaughter trial has begun this week. The 46-year-old former Yankee faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for the death of Fredia Ann Veitch, 30, in a December 2007 crash. Prosecutors said Leyritz had a blood-alcohol-content of 0.18, which is twice the Florida legal limit of 0.08, when he collided into Veitch's automobile.

Jim Leyritz was celebrating his 44th birthday with his friends when he allegedly ran a red light and slammed into Fredia Ann Veitch's car. Prosecutor Stefanie Newman said the vitamin water bottle police found in Leyritz's vehicle had tested positive for alcohol, and law enforcement officials asked him to perform a field sobriety test. Footage from a police car camera revealed Leyritz had difficulties completing the tests.