The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

April 2012 Archives

Murder Charges in Wednesday Morning's DUI Crash

An allegedly drunk man in a bright red Chevy Camaro blasted through a stop sign and into another car on a Wednesday morning, causing multiple fatalities, reports NBC 10 Philadelphia. Now the driver, 26 year-old George Vidra, has been identified and charged. He is facing charges for driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle, homicide by vehicle while DUI, and murder.

Vidra hit the second vehicle with so much force that it burst into flames. Witnesses reported hearing the engine race, as if he was accidently speeding up instead of braking. The fire was quickly extinguished by bystanders and the occupants pulled to safety, but they were pronounced dead on the scene. The driver of the Camaro was not seriously injured.

Driving Under the Influence of Weed

You probably knew that driving while higher than a kite is illegal. You may have known that driving while even slightly high is illegal. But really, how can they tell if you're just a little bit stoned?

Until the roadside saliva test is widely available, convictions rely on a lot of police "intuition" and little hard evidence. With a saliva test, officers will be able to administer a test on the roadside to determine whether someone has THC in their system.

DUI Accident Results in Homicide By DUI, INS Detainer

The 2000 Volkswagon Jetta was allegedly travelling at a minimum speed of 79 mph when it crossed the oncoming lane of traffice, flew over a guardrail, went airborne, and flipped end over and and side over side for over 117 feet before it caught the dirt. It then rolled side over side for another 85 feet before landing in a ditch, reports the Pottstown Patch.

The front seat passenger, who wasn't wearing a seatbelt, was ejected through the sunroof when the car came to rest. That passenger, Armando Mora-Lemus, died at the scene.

Marco Mora was determined to be the driver during the crash. He was found at the scene by officers, smelling of alcohol and visibly impaired. The hospital took his blood for testing before he stated that he had enough of the United States and was heading back to Mexico.

Fire Chief Yuknavich's DUI to be Extinguished?

Wilkes-Barre Township Fire Chief John Yuknavich has not had a good year, but things might be turning in his favor legally, reports GoLackawanna.com. Yuknavich recently received a year of probation for an assault incident. In addition, he is facing unresolved charges on theft incidents stemming from alleged misappropriation of fire department funds as well.

To top it all off, Chief Yuknavich was charged with driving under the influence when he was pulled over for violating a restraining order by driving near a woman's home, who just happened to have a protective order against him. That's a bad year for a Fire Chief.

Host's Liability for Underage Drinking; Social Host Liability Law

We posted a story yesterday on the police raiding underage drinking parties. A hypothetical consideration that the host should have undertaken is, what would happen if one of these guests got hammered, drove, and was either injured or injured someone else?

Social Host Liability Laws are what would happen, you gracious host! Pennsylvania makes you liable for damages if you provide alcohol for underage guests at your party.

Bummer! Cops Bust Underage Drinking Party, Cite 34

In one of the largest busts of it's kind in the history of the police department, the Lansdale Borough police raided an underage drinking party. The scene was reportedly chaotic, as the children fled like ants from water.

Not all escaped, however. The police detained 34 individuals and cited them for underage drinking. They also published their names in the local paper, specifically the Philadelphia Inquirer. The streets are safe once again.

Hit and Run Killer Could Serve Only Six Months

Due to the shortcomings of existing law, a hit and run driver, who admitted that he had been drinking on the night of the accident, could be released from prison after only six months, reports CBS New York.

Brian McCauslin, 39, was driving along at 1a.m. when he hit 23-year-old Tiffany Jantelle. Jantelle had stopped to care for a dog that had been hit moments earlier by another driver. McCauslin got out of his car, observed Jantelle's condition, and then proceeded to get back into his car and drive over three hours back to his home in Pennsylvania.

Strange DUI: Man Gets DUI in His Own Driveway

Another strange DUI tale emerged from Pennsylvania today. A 57-year-old man from Paisley, Pennsylvania got a DUI in his own front yard, as he was allegedly too drunk to pull his car out of his driveway, reports the Daily Commercial.

Dennis Kaywood Jones was reported to the police by a neighbor after he drunkenly tried to pull out of his driveway and hit his fence and trees. He apparently failed so miserably at backing his car up that he continued to hit the fence and trees for fifteen minutes before someone alerted authorities.

An Alternative Solution to Ignition Interlock: Everyone Has One

Previously, we reported that the Senate was trying to add funding to a highway bill that would compensate states if they adopt laws that require first time offenders to install ignition interlock devices into their cars. In addition to that provision, there was apparently millions in funding for research on passive detection systems in cars that could also detect alcohol, reports Politico.

The way these systems would work is much like an ignition interlock device, except the driver would not have to blow into a machine. The car would have sensors built in that could detect alcohol on the breath, or could detect alcohol through the skin. If a BAC reading over the limit were found, the car would not start up.

Ignition Interlock Devices Nationwide for First Time Offenders?

It looks like it might be time to buy stock in ignition interlock device companies. Congress has been deadlocked recently over highway funding bills, with House Republicans pushing a ninety-day temporary bill through and Senate Democrats trying to push a longer-term bill as well.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, one small key difference, which hasn't attracted much attention, is the payments given to states that require first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices into their cars. Under the plan, certain highway funds would be earmarked for states that require such a measure.

Altoona Woman Tries to Avoid DUI by Stripping Down

Give her points for creativity. Monica M. Barnhart, 40, of Altoona, was arrested for DUI, despite her best attempts to distract the officer from her alleged criminal offense, reports the Altoona Mirror.

The officer was responding to a neighbor’s call regarding the woman’s driving. She had apparently been driving at over 90mph on the interstate and swerving across lanes. A concerned neighbor followed her and alerted the cops to her location. The Mirror reports that when the officer arrived, the woman answered the door in a green top and underwear. She handed the officer two roses and stated that she wished to entertain a cop fantasy.

Unfortunately, the cop did not wish to entertain anyone.

Kid Rear-Ends Trailer While High, Runs From Tigers?

It is rare that a DUI, or in this case a DUID could be labeled funny. This one though, because no one was severely injured in the crash, is pretty hilarious. The driver, twenty-year-old William Fleming, was driving while high on marijuana and rear-ended a trailer, reports Metro Philadelphia.

Fleming was seen running from the accident, but not to avoid the police. The trailer contained two full-grown Bengal Tigers. The combination of weed, shock, and two big kitty-kats reportedly scared Fleming so much that he took off running down I-95. Expect to see this scene recreated in Harold and Kumar 4, with Neil Patrick Harris riding the tigers.

DUI Checkpoints, App for That, But Are They Dangerous?

You can point an app towards the sky that will locate and map constellations. There is an app that finds the lowest gas prices in your area and gives you directions to the pump. And there are apps to help you avoid DUI checkpoints, reports the Times Leader. These apps, which rely on publication notices by police departments, notify drivers of checkpoints so that they will be deterred from driving drunk.

The apps have scored the endorsements of local police departments, as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, because they feel that the app will deter drunk driving.

New Yorker Arrested for DUI on the Boardwalk, Pedestrians Flee

A Staten Island man, John Thompson, 28, was arrested for driving under the influence on the pedestrian-only Atlantic City Boardwalk, reports NBC 10 Philadelphia. Thompson led the police on a high-speed chase through a pedestrian-only walkway, leading to one injury and lots of legal trouble for Thompson.

Police attempted to pull John Thompson over after he entered the Boardwalk shortly after midnight. Thompson took off at a high rate of speed, sending pedestrians and a bicycle cop scrambling for their lives. Thankfully, no pedestrians or police officers were harmed.