Simulator aims to help police test whether a person is too high to drive

The new year will mark the official start of recreational marijuana sales in California, and there are fears it could lead to more impaired driving. Among U.S. drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for drugs, more than a third in 2015 had used marijuana.

At the University of California San Diego, researchers are trying to help police detect whether a person is too high to get behind the wheel.

At the University of California San Diego, researchers are using a simulator to help police detect whether a person is too high to get behind the wheel.CBS News

When you drive on Marcotte’s simulator, he’s not checking how good a driver you are – but how bad a driver you may become high on pot.
“The idea of the off ramp is actually something that the police suggested to you,” CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen said.

“Because in their estimation, that’s one of the areas that are most difficult for impaired drivers to handle,” Marcotte responded.
The real test subjects light up, some with a real joint, others with a placebo. Then they are put through the simulator challenges like deciding whether it’s safe to drive through a yellow light. They also face a multi-tasking test: finding the right circle.

It’s all designed to eventually create a tool, perhaps a tablet test, that police can use roadside to determine if someone is too stoned to drive.

“The ultimate outcome is to see whether or not we can really help law enforcement separate those people who are impaired due to cannabis or those people who may have cannabis in their system and are not impaired,” Marcotte said.

Unlike alcohol, there is no accepted marijuana breathalyzer. Blood tests can be inconclusive depending on when the test is taken. To make it more complicated, pot affects different people differently.

“There are indications that the more experienced you are, the more tolerance you develop,” Marcotte said.

“So a person who smokes a lot might actually have less effect when it comes to driving?” Petersen asked.

“That’s correct. Because their body is adjusted to it, they know what to expect,” Marcotte said.

California Highway Patrol’s Sgt. Glen GlaserJr. teaches officers how to recognize a driver under the influence.

“How much does this end up making a kind of a judgment call, if that’s the right word?” Petersen asked.

“Well, I think it very much is a judgment call because we want our officers only arresting people who are impaired,” Glaser said.

Right now officers mostly rely on subjective observations like walking the line and “is there a pot smell in the car?”

While a lot of Californians are looking forward to January 1 when recreational marijuana goes on sale, Glaser and police across the state are braced.

“The big scare is going to be those people who are going to try for the first time come January 1 and not knowing how it affects their body,” Glaser said.
One day, the simulator may lead to an answer and help catch someone impaired by pot before getting too high gets someone hurt.

LAPD cop hit by DUI vehicle: Major injuries as 405 freeway shut

A Los Angeles police officer was seriously injured when a man allegedly driving while impaired crashed into his patrol SUV on the shoulder of the San Diego (405) Freeway while he was outside the vehicle conducting a traffic stop on another motorist, authorities said Tuesday.

The crash occurred at 11:47 p.m. Monday on the northbound freeway near Santa Monica Boulevard, California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Polizzi said.

The officer had just pulled over the driver of a Honda Accord for alleged speeding, and he was outside his 2014 Ford Explorer SUV, which was parked behind the Honda, when a 2003 Infiniti Q35 crashed into the SUV, which then struck the officer, the CHP reported.

The officer, whose name was not released, suffered a “major” injury, the CHP reported. According to reports from the scene, the officer suffered a serious leg injury. He was hospitalized in unknown condition. An LAPD spokesman declined to provide a condition report, citing privacy concerns.

“It was a close call,” CHP Officer Vance Perreira told reporters at the scene. “Any time you operate on the right shoulder of the freeway, it’s never safe.”

Perreira said CHP officers were driving in the area a short time after the crash occurred.

“They said it could have been about … a minute after it happened,” Perreira told ABC7. “They passed by, were first on scene, rendered aid, possibly saved his life.”

CHP officers arrested the driver of the Infiniti, 34-year-old Douglas Donovan of Woodland Hills, and booked him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, the CHP reported. He was not injured.

The driver of the Honda also was not injured.

All northbound lanes were closed until about 6 a.m., when two lanes were re-opened, the CHP reported. By about 7:30 a.m., all but one northbound lane had been re-opened. The remaining lane was re-opened a couple of hours afterward.

Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the West Los Angeles Area CHP office at (310) 642-3939.

Christmas Party

Christmas Party Bj’s Brewary

Monday, Dec 18, 2017, 6:00 PM

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
1690 28th Street Boulder, CO

24 Members Attending

Happy Holidays WordPress Peeps!After almost 5 years of leading the WordPress meetup, I have decided its time to pass the baton to Angela Bowman ( As most of you know Angela teaches classes at BDA, and she has been co-organizing the WordPress Builders Meetup for the past three years. This meetup is designed for people who build WordP…

Check out this Meetup →

Checkpoints don’t violate amendment in most cases, officials say

Percentages of crash deaths involving alcohol or speed
The International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group reported in 2015 that the United States, among 19 countries, has one of the highest percentages of crash deaths involving alcohol or speed.

WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2015. IRTAD Road Safety Annual Report, 2015.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that if they’re conducted properly, sobriety checkpoints do not constitute illegal search and seizure, in most states.

The decision held that the interest in reducing alcohol-impaired driving was sufficient to justify the brief intrusion of a properly conducted sobriety checkpoint.

“We understand that some think checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment,” said Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King. “However, both Oklahoma Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have found that checkpoints are legal.”

Checkpoints are used randomly to check primarily for sobriety and driver’s license and insurance verification. Most states, including Oklahoma, allow sobriety checkpoints, during which suspicious drivers are subject to sobriety tests.

The Daily Press recently conducted a Facebook Forum wherein it asked citizens what they thought about the legality of random checkpoints.

“I don’t mind DUI checkpoints because I feel there is no excuse for impaired driving,” said Brandon Eubanks. “Drunk driving constitutes what I think of as a crime against the community. However, using them as random search points and running ID, I am not nearly as OK with.”

According to guidelines passed by the Tahlequah City Council on Oct. 3, 2005, the TPD may conduct random driver’s license and safety stops to check driver’s license and mechanical condition of vehicles. Officers are expected to be alert for other violations of the law. It reads: “Officers shall use care and good judgment in placing checkpoints at locations that will not endanger the public or the officer.”

Night checks will be conducted at the supervisor’s discretion, and officers shall follow guidelines in accordance with federal, state and municipal laws.

Some citizens believe authorities use checkpoints as a form of harassment.

“I’ve had too many friends and family have this used as a reason to harass them and throw them on the ground, because small-town cops and brown people… pretextual stops have been used forever as ‘reasonable suspicion,'” Izzy Rayovac said on Facebook. “When you get pulled out with a gun to your head while your 5-year-old is in the car watching, just because of the way you look, you tend to think a bit differently. If using the checkpoint as a pretext for stop is finally made unlawful, then I’d feel safe with DUI checks. There is no accountability these days and until there is, it’s not worth the risk.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a sobriety checkpoint is a predetermined location at which law enforcement officers stop vehicles to check whether the driver is impaired. They either stop every vehicle or stop them at some regular interval, such as every third or 10th vehicle.

“While performing checkpoints, we have to have some type of pattern where we randomly stop every other car, stop every car, and so on,” King said.

At sobriety checkpoints, law enforcement officials evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol or drug impairment at certain points on the roadway.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troop C, Lt. Bill Golden said each department has its own policies to follow on how to perform checkpoints. Checkpoints performed by the OHP Troop C must have a minimum of two officers, be conducted in a safe area, and receive supervisor approval.

The CDC stated the purpose of checkpoints is to deter driving after drinking by increasing the perceived risk of arrest. To do this, checkpoints should be highly visible, publicized extensively, and conducted regularly.

Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said while the sheriff’s office doesn’t typically participate in checkpoints, sobriety checkpoints have to be publicized before they are conducted.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2016 that there were 10,497 drunken driving deaths across the nation.

OHP Lt. Golden said while performing random checkpoints, the OHP typically checks for vehicle defects, driver’s license and security verification, and sobriety.

“DUI arrests are high in Cherokee County, particularly during the summer,” he said.

The CDC reported that sobriety checkpoints can potentially prevent nearly one out of 10 DUI-related deaths, reducing impaired driving crashes and deaths by a median of 9 percent.

“Checkpoints do help reduce the amount of impaired driver’s,” King said.

NHTSA defines a sobriety checkpoint as the stopping of vehicles, or a specific sequence of vehicles, at a predetermined fixed location to detect drivers who are impaired by alcohol or other drugs.

For instance, while conducting a checkpoint in 2015, TPD, OHP and the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service arrested Nicholas Ryan Renfro, 25, after observing he had “exaggerated reflexes” and displayed signs of impairment.

He was arrested for possession of a controlled dangerous substance, driving while under the influence of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of more than $1,300 in counterfeit bills.

According to Oklahoma statutes, any person operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or any other substance, shall be subject to a fine of not less than $100, not more than $500, not more than six months’ imprisonment or a fine and imprisonment.

Upon conviction, the Department of Public Safety shall suspend that person’s driving privilege. The first suspension would be for 30 days.

King said TPD has participated in at least five checkpoints this year, but he could not determine how many citations were issued.

Ohio Sheriff: Drinking-and-driving Facebook video leads to arrest

COLUMBUS – Authorities say an Ohio man took cellphone video of himself drinking while driving and posted it on Facebook, leading to his arrest hours later.

The Franklin County sheriff’s office says someone tipped off deputies about the video after it was posted Monday, and the vehicle was stopped that afternoon south of Columbus, in Hamilton Township.

The driver, 28-year-old Dustin Rittgers, is from nearby Obetz. He faces five misdemeanor charges, including operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and having an open container in a vehicle.

Rittgers pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Franklin County Municipal Court. Rittgers had no publicly listed phone number, and his public defender couldn’t be reached for comment early Wednesday.

Records indicate Rittgers pleaded guilty earlier this year in a separate impaired-driving case.

“This situation shows the power of social media. Social media led us straight to this suspect to stop him before he was able to hurt himself or others. Social media is another crime-fighting tool we use to keep Franklin County residents safe,” said Sheriff Scott.

Police officer charged with DWI on the job

Officer was allegedly driving a department vehicle in uniform 

A 16-year veteran of the Pearland Police Department was charged Saturday with driving while intoxicated, according to the department.

Officer Michael Gebert “was in uniform and driving a department patrol vehicle at the time of the incident,” the department reported.

As a result of the incident, the department as opened an internal affairs investigation. Gebert, 42, was immediately placed on administrative leave.

“I am disappointed one of our officers is the subject of a criminal investigation,” Chief of Police Johnny Spires said in a written statement. “I can assure the citizens we will conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations, keeping in mind the officer is entitled to the same due process as any other citizen.”

Gebert originally joined the department in 2001, and has earned recognition for the quality of his work throughout the years.

“I believe he was the traffic division officer of the year one year,” said Department Spokesman Capt. Onesimo Lopez.