The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

September 2012 Archives

U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Warrantless DUI Blood Tests

We've certainly talked about implied consent laws on this blog. Those laws state that all licensed drivers automatically consent to breath and blood tests for alcohol when suspected of a DUI; if a driver refuses such tests, she faces a license suspension along with other penalties.

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up a Missouri case to determine whether implied consent laws mean an officer can require you to take a blood test without a warrant, according to Courthouse News Service. A ruling by the Court could have nationwide impact, as all states have implied consent laws.

In the Missouri case, lawyers for the state are arguing that warrantless blood tests should be allowed because a person's blood alcohol level decreases over time, in a way destroying evidence before a warrant can be obtained, according to Courthouse News.

Lincoln Univ. Student Arrested for 2011 Fatal DUI Crash in Chesco

It's probably the No. 1 reason for making DUI laws stronger: Car accidents, especially those that result in severe injuries, property damage, and death, are bleak reminders of the effects of intoxication on the ability to drive.

Phillip Tomsic, a Lincoln University student from Grand Junction, Mich., was involved in a fatal accident in Chester County in 2011, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Now the 22-year-old has been charged with homicide by vehicle while DUI and other related charges, after having an alleged blood alcohol concentration of 0.089% at the time of the crash.

Tomsic was a criminal justice major at Lincoln, and was driving to get some food in a borrowed car when the accident occurred, according to the Inquirer. One passenger was killed and the other was severely injured, losing his right foot and left leg below the knee.

Bucks County Man's 9th Arrest for DUI, He Must Just Be Getting Started

Maybe the problem is that he started too soon.

In order to get so many DUI arrests and yet not be on a suspended license, you’ve got to be either in a situation like Anderson Sotomayor, who got six DUIs in about a month, or in one like Richard Derik Collins, who was arrested for his ninth DUI in a 23 year period, according to NBC10. Either way, it seems like you didn’t really learn your lesson.

Collins’ situation is interesting because while he has been arrested for DUI so many times, it is unclear if he was convicted on each arrest. Currently, he is in jail for this arrest because he was in the final year of his probation for a 2007 conviction of a DUI after a two-car crash, according to PhillyBurbs.com. Even in the 2007 case, Collins was driving on a suspended license from a DUI conviction prior to that.

Since Collins’ arrests go back more than 20 years, how much of that can be used in sentencing him if he is convicted?

Bar Owner, 77, Gets 2 Years for DUI Crash That Killed Wife

It does seem fitting that at some point a bar owner or bartender would be in the news because of a DUI. However, instead of being a case about serving a visibly intoxicated patron too much alcohol, this is a case of overserving oneself.

In January 2011, George Diederich, owner of Pudge's Place in Elyria, Ohio, was involved in an accident that claimed the life of his wife, who was not buckled into the couple's rented Nissan Versa, according to The Chronicle-Telegram. Recently, Diederich was sentenced to two years in prison for the crash, which was caused by his driving under the influence. He was convicted after having a blood alcohol level of 0.149%, nearly double the legal limit of 0.08%.

Two years is the minimum sentence that the 77-year-old could have received. So what are the legal minimum sentences in Pennsylvania?

Sally Struthers Charged With Drunken Driving in Maine

Ogunquit is a small resort town on the coast of southern Maine. It has nice sandy beaches and plenty of small boutiques, fresh seafood, and some good summer theater. This year's summer theater included Sally Struthers as a cast member of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5: The Musical," an adaptation of the 1980 movie.

Unfortunately, near the end of the month-long run, Struthers was pulled over and then arrested on suspicion of DUI (known in Maine as OUI, or Operating Under the Influence), according to the Los Angeles Times. Police did not offer specifics on why Struthers was pulled over or whether she was subjected to field sobriety tests, though they are routinely given in this type of situation, according to the Portland Press Herald. Struthers posted $165 bail and was released; her hearing is set for December.

In Maine, a first OUI conviction can get you a three-month license suspension and a $400 fine, but no jail time. What if she'd been busted in Pennsylvania?

Woman Thrown in Jail for 'LOL' About DUI Crash on Facebook

Just like a car, Facebook is increasingly becoming a tool that can steer you straight into legal trouble. There's been plenty of news about people finding out about insurance fraud or other crimes because of posts on the social networking site.

Then there's Paula Asher of Kentucky. After being accused of hit-and-run and DUI, Asher got an additional two nights in jail because of her comment on Facebook, according to Lexington, Ky.'s WLEX-TV. In reference to her crashing into a car full of teenagers and driving off, Asher wrote, "My dumb (expletive) got a DUI and I hit a car... LOL."

Needless to say, the judge did not find it funny and ordered Asher to shut down her Facebook page. When Asher failed to do that, she got thrown in jail for contempt.

So can social media hurt your case?

9th DUI for Tyrone Man; 8 Out-of-State DUIs May Hurt Case

You have to feel bad for the public defender in this case. What arguments can be made for a man who was pulled over in a convenience store parking lot for his ninth DUI charge?

Yevgeniy Yefraimov, 28, of Tyrone, got each of his nine DUIs in a different state, according to the Altoona Mirror. Yefraimov was pulled over after he almost backed into a car and then came close to hitting a child in a Sheetz parking lot. When police arrived, Yefraimov allegedly attempted to put his van in gear and tear off, but only got so far as revving the engine.

Will Yefraimov's out-of-state DUIs affect his sentencing if he is convicted of his ninth DUI?

NJ's Repeat DWI Offender Law Sends Speeding Driver to Jail

Everyone probably agrees that you should be able to get a do-over, at least for most things. We all make mistakes, that's for sure. But when we repeat the same mistake over and over it's a different story -- like one man's five DWI arrests earlier this year, which drove New Jersey lawmakers to introduce bills to strengthen its repeat DWI offender laws.

New Jersey's repeat-DWI laws were last updated in 2009; those changes took effect in 2011. Thanks to the updated law, Robert Fredericks will now spend six months in jail after he was pulled over for speeding. Fredericks' license had been suspended for 10 years -- a consequence of his fourth DWI conviction in 2008, according to the Associated Press.

So how does driving on a suspended license get you thrown in a New Jersey jail?

City Vehicle Crash Leads to DUI Charges for 2 City Employees

Job-related perks come with the responsibility of not going overboard while taking advantage of them. Sure, it's great to have snacks at work, but bringing work dinners home for the whole family is a bit much.

Two Philadelphia City Council employees apparently decided that they should get to use city-owned vehicles for their own purposes. Those personal uses led to DUI arrests. It started with Robin Jones, who crashed one of the city's 2008 Chevy Cobalts into a building Saturday, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

While Jones was being charged with DUI at the accident scene, she called City Council sergeant-at-arms Rodney Williams, who showed up in one of the city's 1997 Ford Explorers, according to the Daily News. Police allege that Williams was visibly intoxicated and charged him with DUI as well.

Will the fact that the two didn't have permission to use the vehicles affect their DUI charges?

Tapped Out: UFC Fighter Christian Morecraft Arrested for DUI

Tapping out -- it's like the weakest way to exit a fight. By doing so, you admit that you can no longer stand the pain of the armbar or whatever submission hold is being used. While you should not always be submissive when there are challenges in your life, taking an alcohol breath test is something you should submit to.

In the case of UFC fighter Christian Morecraft, he refused to submit to an officer's request that he take a breath test and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of DUI, driving without a license, speeding, and driving to endanger, according to the website MMA Junkie.

Would submitting to the Breathalyzer have helped him avoid arrest?

WWE Star Cameron Arrested for Alleged DUI and Bribery

Well, people must have heeded the warning that there would DUI patrols galore over the holiday weekend, because there were no major incidents.

However, before the weekend began, Cameron, member of the Funkadactyls, was arrested on suspicion of DUI late Thursday night, early Friday morning, according to TMZ. Not only was Ariane Nicole Andrew (Cameron) suspected of DUI, she allegedly offered the cops $10,000 to let her go because otherwise she would lose her job.

Was a bribe really worth it?