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Detention Center officer charged with DWI

A Cleveland County detention officer was charged with driving while impaired earlier this month.

Samantha Autumn Earley, 27, who lives in Forest City, was arrested shortly after midnight on Nov. 2, according to a Shelby Police report.

She was charged with impaired driving, expired registration/tag and speeding.

Sheriff Alan Norman said Earley was hired to work at the Cleveland County Detention Center on Jan. 1. Following her arrest, she has been suspended without pay while an internal investigation is conducted.

According to a Shelby Police report, an officer was running radar near Lidl on East Dixon Boulevard early in the morning and clocked a car going 68 miles per hour in a 45-mph zone. The officer wrote that he activated his lights and sirens and started to follow the car but it “was slow to react,” and the car passed two entrances before yielding to the right on Earl Road.

Once the car stopped, the officer spoke to Earley and asked her why she was speeding, and she said she was “trying to slow down” and was heading home, according to the police report.

The officer reported that Earley had red eyes and her breath smelled of alcohol. The officer said she told him she had one beer and drank it just before she left for home.

When the officer ran her tag, it allegedly came back to a different vehicle, and Earley told him she was waiting for her tag to come in the mail.

The officer wrote that he gave Earley a breathalyzer test, and she blew a 0.1. It is illegal to drive with a 0.08 or higher.

“I asked Ms. Earley how big the beer was, and she advised me it was a big beer,” the report reads.

He said he also put her through several sobriety tests before placing her under arrest and bringing her to the Cleveland County Detention Center to be fingerprinted and brought before a magistrate, the police report says.

She was released on an unsecured bond. Earley could not be reached by phone for comment, and her mugshot was not available on the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office website.

Oslo attack: Armed man shot and wounded by police after ‘driving stolen ambulance into crowd’

The stolen ambulance crashed on the side of a road: EPA
The stolen ambulance crashed on the side of a road: EPA

An armed man has been shot and arrested after he “hijacked” an ambulance and ran down pedestrians, including two seven-month-old babies, during a major incident in Oslo.

The driver lightly injured five people. Police said there was no information to suggest the crash was related to terrorism.

A woman and two infants were hit by the vehicle, which was stolen from the area of Rosenhoff at around 12.30pm, a police spokesperson said.

“They were called to an ordinary traffic accident where they were met by the armed person,” a spokesperson for Oslo University Hospital said.

“One [ambulance] was hijacked by an armed person with a shotgun.

“Some minutes later one of our other ambulances managed to stop the hijacked vehicle by crashing into it. Then the police came after the crash and got him.”

Three hospital employees in the vehicle at the time of its hijacking were unharmed. Hospital staff tracked the ambulance using its built-in GPS device.

The man was apprehended 15 minutes after stealing the ambulance.

NRK broadcast footage of the ambulance driving through the city’s Torshov neighbourhood while the sound of gunshots rang out.

Officers fired shots at the vehicle, wounding and detaining the man, who was not critically injured.

“We are in control of the ambulance that was stolen,” Oslo police tweeted.

A hospital spokesperson confirmed that the ambulance had run over twin babies in a pushchair and a woman.

“Two babies were injured after the hijacked ambulance hit a family,” the spokesperson said.

“They are twins, seven months old, they are being treated.”

The woman has been taken to hospital, along with an elderly couple who ran from the vehicle’s path.

A large area in northern Oslo was closed off as significant numbers of officers were deployed in the city.

Police officers are hunting for a second suspect, a woman, over the theft of the ambulance.

Oslo police said the woman was wearing a black jacket and “looks intoxicated…upon observation the police must be contacted immediately.”

A police helicopter could be seen above the city as the situation developed.

“An armed man stole an ambulance, drove away and hit some people. We got him now,” a police spokesperson said.

“There is nothing to indicate that this incident is terrorism related.”

The Aftenposten newspaper published a photo showing a man, wearing green trousers, lying next to the vehicle surrounded by police officers.

A witness told the newspaper — one of Norway’s largest — that he saw “the ambulance driving at high speed toward me … and right behind a police car.”

“I heard several shots,” Omar Khatujev said.

NRK said the suspect was in his early thirties.

The incident took place in the north of Norway’s capital.

Cannabis-Impaired Driving Is Hard To Test And Even Harder To Prove, Experts Say

Accurately and consistently proving that a driver is impaired by cannabis use remains a daunting scientific challenge, toxicologists concluded during a recent conference.

Unlike alcohol, levels of impairment from cannabis can’t be determined by a single measure. Even if intoxicating elements of cannabis are detected in the body, no precise amount signals a level of unsafe impairment. As a result, the lack of a legal standard hampers the courts and law enforcement.

Researchers and toxicologists at the University of California, Irvine’s Cannabis and Driving workshop May 31, 2019,  acknowledged serious difficulties in being able to prove whether and to what degree some drivers might be impaired by recreational or medical marijuana.

“It’s the No. 1 short-term consequence of cannabis legalization,” said Marilyn Huestis of Huestis & Smith Toxicology, the workshop’s main speaker.

The scientific challenge is due in part to the need for more research focused on tracking impairment. Existing studies have shown that cannabinoids aren’t like other potentially intoxicating substances.

With alcohol, for example, Huestis said, “There is a clear line between concentration and effect. Cannabis is just so much more complex.”

According to Huestis, researchers found no consistent pattern or correlation between detectable THC in the brain or blood and a person’s impairment. They also found key differences in effects between regular and occasional users, and men and women.

However, studies have been able to prove some of the basics of impairment, Huestis said. Scientists know enough to conclude that cannabis use does have an impairing effect on driving. Cannabis affects multiple areas of the brain, including the neocortex, which is involved in motor commands and executive control.

“Executive control is taking in all the information from your environment and deciding if it’s important or not,” Huestis said. “Once you decide it’s important, you compare it to your memory, and your knowledge and you decide on a course of action. Then you have to implement it. Cannabis slows every one of those processes.”

But beyond that, toxicologists agreed current knowledge cannot yet deliver law enforcement a clear set of national standards that can be used in the vast majority of driving conditions. Regular users can show high levels of THC in certain field tests and not be critically impaired, while occasional users can show small amounts of THC and be extremely impaired for longer periods of time.

“The problem is, we want to match the window of detection with the window of impairment and we can’t do that,” Huestis said. “What number are you going to pick that is going to work with chronic users and the casual users?”

Oral, urine, and blood tests all have limitations in proving levels of impairment. Crime lab toxicologist Jennifer Harmon of Orange County, California, said blood tests are popular in California, but have a very short window of time to reflect accurate results. The test also requires a technician to be at the scene to administer the test, which presents logistical challenges for police.

In the end, law enforcement officials are most interested in preventing unsafe driving, no matter the source of the intoxicant. According to Harmon, half of driving-under-the-influence (DUI) arrests in Orange County are due to the presence of at least two drugs, making it even harder to single out marijuana as the source of impairment. Scientific tests also aren’t intended to determine the reason behind consumption.

”We can’t tell the difference between someone using it recreationally and someone using it for medicine,” Harmon said. But she and other toxicologists are hopeful that oral liquid tests, currently used in most countries, will soon be sophisticated enough to provide law enforcement and courts with reliable and immediate testing.

Feature image: While chemicals in cannabis can be shown in tests, proving impairment is too complex, law enforcement and scientific experts concluded during a Cannabis and Driving workshop at the University of California, Irvine, on May 31, 2019. Linking the presence of cannabis to impairment at the time of driving has more variables than a comparable alcohol-impaired driving test, such as differences between sexes and frequency of use. (Photo by nik radzi on Unsplash)

Homes under the Hammer presenter claims he was unable to give drink driving test due to asthma

Homes Under The Hammer presenter Martin Roberts attempted to avoid a drink driving conviction by claiming his asthma stopped him from giving a breath sample.

The 56-year-old, who has failed to get his conviction overturned, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol last year, after failing to provide a breath test.

But Roberts insists this is because of his chronic asthma, and said that he tried several times to provide a sample of breath.

He denied failing to provide a specimen of breath but in March Bath Magistrates convicted him, fining him £3,461 and banning him from driving for 23 months.

Police accused him of sucking rather than blowing and, after only one successful test which showed him to be almost twice over the limit, they charged him with failing to provide a specimen of breath.

Roberts maintains the reading could have been contaminated by his asthma inhaler.

He appeared at Bristol Crown Court on Friday, where he failed to have the conviction and sentence overturned.

The recorder Mr Noel Casey, who heard the appeal with two magistrates, dismissed the appeal against conviction, retained the sentence and imposed £520 costs.

Mr Casey told Roberts: “We accept the appellant suffers from asthma but not to an extent much greater than many other sufferers.”

Speaking outside the courtroom, Roberts said: “This is a bad day for me. But it is also a terrible day for asthma sufferers.

“How can it be fair that someone that has a lifelong history of asthma, that declares that asthma to police, is only offered a breathalyser test that involves exhaling effectively – and is not offered any alternative way of providing a sample – such as giving blood or urine?”

Mr Roberts stressed his doctor said it was very likely he would not have been able to provide the required breath test.

He said: “My failure to provide a sample was for genuine medical reasons. I would have happily provided a blood or urine sample but was never offered the opportunity to do so.

“I believe the law needs to be changed to protect other asthma sufferers like myself from being prejudiced against in this grossly unfair way, by making it mandatory that they are offered an alternative way of providing a sample.

“This matter has caused me and my family unbelievable stress and worry and I am now being faced with a 23 month driving ban and a big fine – equivalent to being ten times over the limit and crashing into a street full of parked vehicles.

“Yet I wasn’t even in my car, or anywhere near it, when I was stopped by police.”

Nicholas Lee, prosecuting, said the saga unfolded after security man Paul Sharp spotted Roberts at 2.08am in Bath.

Mr Sharp thought Roberts looked a “little unsteady” and tracked him on CCTV.

The court was shown footage of how Roberts walked to his Volvo, leaned on the boot and then drove off.

As he reversed he nudged another car and headed for the exit.

Such was Mr Sharp’s concern that he locked the automatic barrier, preventing Roberts from exiting the car park, and he called police.

Police sergeant Andrew Mundy told the court he arrested Roberts on foot in Manvers Street.

The officer said: “I invited him to the police vehicle for a sample of breath.

“He was slurring his words, speaking in a repetitive manner and you could smell alcohol.”

That last toke for the road could be a downer with pot breathalyzers coming

A Hound Labs marijuana breathalyzer, which the Oakland-based company says can detect minuscule amounts of THC on a user’s breath, lies on top of its base-station in Newark

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – One toke for the road could end up being a total bummer for drivers who smoke pot, with several companies in the United States preparing to market cannabis breathalyzers as legalized marijuana spreads across the country.

Law enforcement agencies will require breathalyzers to detect marijuana as they are “faced with the necessity of stopping more and more motor vehicles being operated under the influence of THC,” said Brett Meade, a retired police chief and a senior program manager for Washington-based non-profit group the Police Foundation.

Nearly a dozen U.S. states allow recreational marijuana consumption and 33 states permit pot for medical use. But all states prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana.

Oakland, California-based Hound Labs is one of the companies developing a breathalyzer to detect THC – the component in marijuana that gets people high – and plans to market it in 2020.

Construction companies could be a big part of its market, said Hound Labs Chief Executive Officer Mike Lynn.

“Nobody wants a crane operator 50 stories up to be smoking a joint,” he told Reuters.

Lynn, a physician, said pregnancy tests, which can detect minute quantities of hormone, inspired him to tackle the challenge of measuring THC on users’ breath.

Separately, Cannabix Technologies Inc based in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby is testing a pair of devices at different price points.

Its THC Breath Analyzer could be cheap enough at a few hundred dollars per unit to potentially allow parents interested in testing their teenager before turning over the keys to the family car, said Cannabix CEO Rav Mlait.

The U.S. court system would need to consider how to treat evidence from THC breathalyzers.

Assuming a motorist who tested positive with a THC breathalyzer was impaired behind the wheel could be “problematic,” said Stanford University law professor Robert MacCoun.

Unlike with alcohol, scientific research has not yet established firm correlations between the amount of marijuana people consume and how impaired they become, MacCoun said in an email.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, expressed similar concerns.

But he welcomed breathalyzers as an improvement over existing tests used by police and employers, such as urine analysis that is unable to determine whether marijuana was used recently with the potential for impairment, or days or weeks in the past. Breathalyzers are likely to only detect a user who consumed cannabis within the last few hours.

“A test like that would frankly make sense,” Armentano said. “Just like we wouldn’t allow employees to have a couple drinks and show up to work.”