Man Accused of Being Under the Influence Crashes into Home in New London

New London Police have arrested a man who is accused of being under the influence when he crashed into a home on Bank Street early Saturday morning.(Published Sunday, April 28, 2019)

New London Police have arrested a man who is accused of being under the influence when he crashed into a home on Bank Street early Saturday morning.

First responders were called to Bank Street around 3:15 a.m. after getting a report of a vehicle crashing into a building.
When crews arrived, they said they found a pick-up truck that had crashed into the corner of the home and ended up in a bedroom on the first floor, where people were sleeping. The driver of the pick-up truck, later identified by police as 23-year-old Jayden Bruce, of Groton, was the only person in the vehicle.

Firefighters searched the first floor and removed anyone who was inside. They said they also searched the second and third floor and found another person who was removed.
Crews quickly secured the natural gas to the home and Eversource was called to the scene. The building inspector was also called to the scene.

Due to the heavy damage to the corner of the home, firefighters said they used various shoring and cribbing materials to make it safe so three animals inside could be removed.
The residents of the home reported no injuries and were relocated after the home received possible structure damage, police said. While an examination of the home’s structure is pending, officers said access is restricted.

The Red Cross is helping the residents who were displaced.
At the scene of the crash, Bruce reported no injuries and refused medical treatment, according to police. He was later transported to the hospital from New London Police Department.

After an investigation, Bruce was arrested. Officers said he is facing charges including driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, failure to drive right, traveling too fast for conditions and operating without insurance. https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Man-Accused-of-Being-Under-the-Influence-Crashes-into-Home-in-New-London-509160521.html

Mechanic arrested for open container violation in D.A.’s pool car

James Bass Jr.
James Boyden Bass Jr.

More troubles could be ahead for a mechanic who reportedly took a local district attorney’s pool vehicle for a test drive while drinking.

State troopers arrested James Boyden Bass Jr., 65, of Greenwood Monday afternoon in Caddo Parish on charges of operating a vehicle while under the suspension and possession of alcoholic beverage in vehicle.

Bass had an open container of alcohol but the trooper determined Bass was not impaired so he was not charged with DWI, a state police spokesman said.

Bass, who has a prior DWI conviction, was driving a 2007 Toyota 4Runner registered to the DeSoto Parish District Attorney’s Office. He also had a female passenger.

The SUV was left parked and locked at the site of the traffic stop, state police said.

DeSoto District Attorney Gary Evans confirmed to KTBS the SUV belongs to his office. He said it was taken on a trailer to Bass in Caddo Parish because it was inoperable.

Bass, whom Evans described as a “transmission man,” was supposed to be repairing the SUV. Evans said Bass must have been test driving it after repairs even though he didn’t have permission to do so.

“But he certainly should not have been drinking,” Evans said.

The SUV was released by the state police to the garage where it was being worked on, Evans said.

He’s still looking into what happened and will decide if he’ll file a complaint against Bass for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. https://www.ktbs.com/news/mechanic-arrested-for-open-container-violation-in-d-a-s/article_89ec7070-6873-11e9-b6e2-4353e961fc3c.html

Supreme Court stumped by the case of the unconscious drunken driver

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S.
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court building is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday wrestled with whether police need a court-issued warrant to draw an unconscious suspect’s blood in a case involving a Wisconsin man convicted of drunken driving based on blood obtained without his consent.

The nine justices appeared divided over the case as they heard about an hour of arguments in an appeal by the man, Gerald Mitchell, of state court rulings that endorsed the ability of police to test blood drawn from an unconscious person.

Mitchell appealed a ruling by Wisconsin’s highest court that the blood draw did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. Police drew the blood, which showed his blood-alcohol concentration far above the state’s legal limit, after finding Mitchell shirtless, wet and covered in sand near the shores of Lake Michigan.

At issue is a Wisconsin law that assumes motorists automatically give consent to tests of their breath or blood simply by driving on the state’s roads, even if they are unconscious. More than half the 50 U.S. states have similar laws.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both conservatives, appeared sympathetic to Wisconsin.

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” Roberts said, invoking a old legal maxim. “Why do you need them to sign a piece of paper?”

Alito noted that agreeing to a blood draw could be viewed as “a condition to the privilege of driving” on Wisconsin’s roads.

Liberal justices appeared to sympathize with Mitchell. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said although motorists generally know that driving under the influence is illegal, whether they are aware blood can be drawn without consent is a different issue.

“This is not quite ignorance of the law. This is something substantially different because you’re talking about … knowledge that your body can be invaded by police to secure evidence to prove you drove intoxicated,” Sotomayor said.

Fellow liberal Justice Elena Kagan said a law like Wisconsin’s works fine when drivers are conscious because they can withdraw consent when police ask for a blood draw.

“But that falls apart in this situation of the unconscious driver,” Kagan added.

The Supreme Court in recent years has limited police ability to draw blood without a warrant and without a motorist’s consent, and frowned upon criminal penalties against people who refuse to consent to a blood draw.

The case dates to 2013 in Wisconsin’s Sheboygan County when Mitchell’s neighbor called police to report that Mitchell had driven away in a van, apparently drunk, and may have been suicidal. He had taken about 40 pills along with vodka mixed with the soft drink Mountain Dew, according to court filings. Mitchell later testified he had been depressed and suicidal.

After police found him, Mitchell fell unconscious as authorities drove him to a hospital, where they ordered staff to draw his blood for an alcohol concentration test despite not having a warrant. Police charged him with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

A ruling is due by the end of June. https://news.yahoo.com/u-supreme-court-stumped-case-unconscious-drunken-driver-202108730.html;_ylt=AwrXnCFz78VcezkAlHLQtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTEyazBic2xyBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwM5BHZ0aWQDQjc2MDlfMQRzZWMDc3I-

Cops Draw Blood to Catch Impaired Drivers

April 18(Stateline) – It was about 6:30 on a Friday night in January when Phoenix Police Det. Kemp Layden pulled over a white Jeep Cherokee that was speeding and weaving in and out of its lane.

The 47-year-old driver spoke slowly, his eyes were red and watery, and his pupils were dilated. The inside of the Jeep reeked of marijuana, and the driver failed a field sobriety test, which includes walking heel-to-toe and standing on one leg.

He told the officer he had smoked marijuana a few hours earlier and taken a prescription sedative the night before, police say. The man passed a portable breath test — he wasn’t drunk. But Layden suspected he was impaired by drugs, which the test can’t detect.

A DUI police van equipped with a special chair and table for blood testing pulled up. The man refused to submit to a blood draw. So Layden grabbed his laptop and filled out an electronic warrant, or e-warrant, which was transmitted directly to a judge.

Within 10 minutes, Layden had a search warrant. Another officer drew the man’s blood. A lab report later confirmed he had active THC and a sedative in his blood.

Police photographed and fingerprinted the driver and issued him a citation for DUI. It took 79 minutes from the time he was stopped until he was picked up by an Uber.

Drugged driving is a growing concern as more states legalize marijuana and the opioid epidemic rages on. To fight it, more communities are training police officers to draw drivers’ blood at police stations or in vans, as in Arizona. And on-call judges are approving warrants electronically, often in a matter of minutes at any time of day or night.

Together, the blood tests and e-warrants “could be a game-changer in law enforcement,” said Buffalo Grove, Illinois, Police Chief Steven Casstevens, the incoming president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

While it’s easy for police to screen drivers for alcohol impairment using breath-testing devices to get a blood alcohol concentration level, there’s no such machine to screen for drug impairment.

That’s why blood tests are so important, traffic safety experts say. And alcohol and drugs such as heroin and the psychoactive compound in marijuana are metabolized quickly in the body, so the more time that elapses, the lower the concentration.

Having an officer draw the suspect’s blood soon after he is stopped gives a truer picture of his impairment because he doesn’t have to be taken to a health center for a blood draw after he is arrested, they say. Police departments also save money because they don’t need to pay phlebotomists and hospitals for blood draws.

And having a system in which a judge can sign off quickly on an electronic warrant for a blood test streamlines the process.

Whether or not a state has legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, you can’t get behind the wheel while you’re impaired. Police make that determination based on your driving pattern, physical appearance, interaction with the officer and roadside sobriety tests. The blood test identifies which substances, if any, are causing that impairment.

A 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling found that police don’t need a warrant if a driver suspected of impairment refuses to take a breath test, but they do for a blood test, which pierces the skin. But critics say blood draws outside of a traditional medical setting are unhygienic and that e-warrants could infringe on an individual’s rights.

“There’s an absolute potential for a dilution of a citizen’s constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure when it’s done that way,” said Donald Ramsell, a Wheaton, Illinois, DUI attorney and Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers board member. “A judge can just wake up in his bedroom and hit ‘accept’ [on his device] and go back to sleep.”

Deadly Crashes

Impaired driving kills and injures thousands of Americans every year. Alcohol-related crashes claimed 10,874 lives in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There isn’t comparable fatality data for drugged driving because reporting requirements differ from state to state and not all of them test fatally injured drivers for drugs. But a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association found that in 2016, about 44 percent of fatally injured drivers who were tested for drugs had positive results, up more than 50 percent compared with a decade earlier. The data does not specify how many were at fault.

Police blood-draw programs and e-warrants speed up the investigative process.

“It especially helps with drug-impaired driving by getting a blood sample as close to the time someone is operating the vehicle, versus two hours later,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s traffic safety advocacy and research director.

It’s not only quicker for a certified phlebotomist officer to take the blood, he said, but it also helps with the chain of custody because fewer people are handling the evidence.

“That helps tie it up in a nice bow,” said Nelson, whose organization is advocating for more law enforcement phlebotomy and e-warrant programs. “It protects the suspect and it’s stronger in a court of law.”

Drawing Blood

Police who draw blood from suspected impaired drivers must be trained and certified before they can pull out a needle.

At least nine states have law enforcement phlebotomy programs: Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington state, and Illinois is starting one, according to the national highway safety agency.

Police phlebotomist training varies. In Arizona, for example, officers take 100 hours of training, during which they do 100 clinical blood draws. They also get eight hours of refresher training every two years.

In Phoenix, where police use blood draws as the primary testing method, 49 officers and three police assistants are phlebotomists, according to Layden. They wear gloves when they draw blood, and work in a clean environment, following Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and sanitizing the chair and table.

But Ramsell, the Illinois DUI lawyer who also practices in Arizona, questions whether blood draws should be done outside of a medical facility, saying it’s “ripe for infection and disease.”

And since officers aren’t in the healing profession, Ramsell said, they’re not concerned about pain reduction or hitting a vein. He cited the case of a client arrested in Arizona who had a blood draw in a police DUI van.

“The officer poked him at least 15 times, and because he has a medical condition it was next to impossible to draw enough blood to fill a 10-cc tube,” he said, referring to the size of the tube in cubic centimeters. “Those knuckleheads just kept poking the hell out of him. They only got 3 ccs.”

Electronic Warrants

Forty-five states have legislation, court rules or a combination that allow the issuance of warrants by telephone, video or electronic affidavits, according to a 2018 study by Responsibility.org, a Virginia-based nonprofit funded by distillers that aims to eliminate impaired driving. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia specifically allow electronic transmission.

But having a law or rule doesn’t mean court systems are using e-warrants for DUI cases. Nor does it mean they need one to do so. The study examined five states that use e-warrants — Arizona, Delaware, Minnesota, Texas and Utah. Delaware has neither a law nor a court rule specifying requirements for transmitting warrants.

In Utah, where more than 400 officers are trained phlebotomists, police submitted 2,219 DUI blood draw e-warrants last year, according to Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street. He said the vast majority came back positive.

According to Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Janet Miller, a certified phlebotomist, “It’s been a great tool not only for law enforcement but for the individual placed under arrest.

“Instead of spending three to six hours with the officer, it’s been cut down to one to two,” she said. “They can get to the jail sooner and get out sooner.”

But critics worry that the e-warrant process for DUI blood draws can end up being the electronic version of a rubber stamp.

“It’s primarily a question of whether judges are actually reading the warrants with the degree of attention that one would expect,” DUI attorney Ramsell said. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2019/04/18/cops-draw-blood-to-catch-impaired-drivers

Oakland County restaurant worker to serve 1 year in jail for fatal drunken driving crash

Talon Dawson, 21, killed in crash

Alexander Munch (WDIV)

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – An Oakland County restaurant worker, who pleaded no contest to charges in connection with a suspected drunken driving crash that left one of his coworkers dead and another seriously injured, was sentenced Tuesday to 1 year in jail.

Alexander Munch, 21, of Troy, was charged with one count of operating while intoxicated causing death, a felony with a sentence of up to 15 years, and one count of operating while intoxicated causing injury, a felony with a maximum five-year sentence.

A no contest plea is the same as a guilty plea in Michigan. On Tuesday he was sentenced to 1 year in jail with credit for 82 days served. He also will be on probation for 5 years and he must serve 300 hours of community service.

Munch is accused of drunkenly crashing into a utility pole at 12:10 p.m. June 10, 2018 in Rochester Hills. His coworker, Talon Dawson, 21, of Troy, was killed. The crash happened on eastbound South Boulevard near Fredmoore Drive. Investigators said Munch was driving a 1988 Dodge Daytona east on South Boulevard when he crossed to the other side of the road, went through a ditch and crashed into a utility pole.

A 55-year-old Rochester Hills man in the back seat was taken to Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital in critical condition.

Munch and the others were employees at Loccino Italian Grill and Bar in Troy. https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/oakland-county-restaurant-worker-to-serve-1-year-in-jail-for-fatal-drunken-driving-crash