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FDLE: Hundreds of Northeast Florida DUI cases may be wrong

Breathalyzer tests in Duval, Nassau, St. Johns purchased from unofficial vendor

By Ethan Calloway – Anchor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Imagine getting arrested for driving under the influence, only to later learn you weren’t actually over the legal limit. It could happen to hundreds of cases in Northeast Florida.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement discovered more than 250Breathalyzer tests distributed by the Florida Highway Patrol within Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties weren’t completed properly. Despite that, it says there’s no way to know for sure those tests are inaccurate.

“It’s junk. It’s just plain junk,” said David Robbins, a DUI attorney. “They are playing with people’s lives and it’s reckless.”

According to the FDLE, the breathalyzer tests administered October 2017 to July 2018 may have been calibrated using unapproved methods as they were purchased from an unofficial vendor. That means they could be wrong.

As attorney Susan Cohen explained, whether the case is admissible depends on what’s known as the alcohol reference solutions. Those are used to determine the results of the breathalyzer in the field.

Still, Cohen said, the outcome doesn’t mean all affected DUI suspects will avoid conviction.

“The only thing this impacts is the breath test result.” Cohen said. “While that is significant, there may be other evidence, there may be a video, there may be sufficient other evidence that the state can still prosecute the case.”

Robbins said in many instances, it wouldn’t make a difference if the case was thrown out.

“People lose their jobs, people get jail sentences. You can’t give them back a jail sentence. They’re not going to get their job back,” Robbins said.

FDLE said it’s unclear why the solutions were purchased from an unapproved vendor. FHP said going forward officers will be using the approved solution.

https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/https:/www.news4jax.com/news/florida/fdle-hundreds-of-northeast-florida-dui-cases-may-be-wrong

Deputy fought with officers during drunk driving arrest

Deputy Robert Nathan Fontana, 27, was arrested Saturday for AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – A Wayne County deputy was arrested for drunk driving and fighting with officers in Auburn Hills early Saturday morning, police said.

Deputy Robert Nathan Fontana, 27, is facing a drunk driving charge, as well as misdemeanor charges of possessing a firearm while intoxicated and resisting arrest, according to officials.

Police said Fontana was pulled over about 1:12 a.m. Saturday after he was observed driving at 90 mph and nearly hitting another car on northbound I-75 near Lapeer Road. The deputy informed arresting officers that he was armed with a pistol, and he was arrested for drunk driving.

While being transported to the police station, officers said Fontana was able to get his handcuffs in front of himself. The deputy then attempted to choke himself out, according to police. Officers said that when they pulled over to resecure the deputy, he became combative.

Fontana was taken to the hospital before being transported to the Oakland County Jail, according to officials.

Fontana was arraigned on Monday. His bond was set at $20,000, officials said.

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/wayne-county-deputy-fought-with-officers-during-drunk-driving-arrest-in-auburn-hills-police-say

Former DJ sentenced to probation for wrong-way DUI crash

A former Indianapolis radio personality who pleaded guilty to hitting multiple cars in Fountain Square while driving under the influence will spend the next two years on probation.

Last week Zachary Babb, 30, was sentenced to serve 714 days on probation and perform 64 hours of community service on one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated while endangering a person, according to online court records.

The man previously known as to listeners as “Zakk On Air” on WZPL-FM was also originally charged with operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent of 0.15 or more with a prior conviction, but online records indicate that the charge was dismissed as part of a plea deal.

The incident that led to Babb’s arrest and charges happened around 10:30 p.m. at Woodlawn Avenue and Shelby Street on Aug. 4, 2017, according to court documents.

Police said Babb was driving his 2016 Chevrolet Equinox in the wrong direction down one-way Shelby Street. Babb slammed his vehicle into five parked cars along Shelby Street, court documents said.

A police report lists one of the victims as chef and restaurant owner Neal Brown.

When police arrived at the scene, they approached Babb and smelled alcohol on his breath. Police then took Babb into custody. Court documents said that is when Babb “became belligerent toward officers.” He told investigators that he was a radio DJ and said that he was being treated unfairly.

He then refused to take sobriety tests both at the scene and at the hospital, court documents said.

This is not the first time Babb was placed on probation for driving under the influence. Jail records show that Babb was booked for operating while intoxicated in June 2016. He eventually pleaded guilty to that charge and was sentenced to a year of probation.

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2018/08/20/former-local-dj-sentenced-probation-wrong-way-owi-crash/1040263002/

OVI suspected after underage teen crashes truck into parked cars

 

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — An underage teen crashed a pickup truck into parked vehicles on a Dayton street early Friday morning.

 

Officers responded to reports of a crash on Wyoming Street around 1 a.m. Friday.

When officers arrived, they found the actual crash scene on nearby Hawker Street.

Police say a 15-year-old boy crashed a pickup truck into parked vehicles.

OVI is suspected as a factor in the crash.

No one was injured.

Police did not release how much damage was caused in the crash.

Sergeant, officer suspended for violating department policy in OWI investigation

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) — CBS 58 Investigates learned a sergeant and an officer were suspended after an internal investigation.

On Monday, CBS 58 Investigates obtained the West Allis Police Department’s internal investigation report. That investigation found the sergeant and the officer violated multiple department policies and procedures during the OWI crash investigation.

The sergeant was suspended for five days without pay. The officer was suspended for seven days without pay. Neither officer had any prior suspensions.

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Posted: 10:45 p.m. on August 10, 2018

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CBS 58 Investigates: Police errors destroy case against suspect in fatal drunk driving case

WEST ALLIS (CBS 58) — New video sheds light on what went wrong in an fatal OWI investigation, that led to the suspect getting off without charges.

The crash happened at 92nd and Lapham in West Allis on January 30, 2018. A 51-year-old woman rear-ended one car, then continued across the intersection and slammed in to a second car. That second car and the suspect’s car then smashed into a building. The driver of the second car, 78- year-old Kathleen Deischel, died a day later from her injuries.

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CBS 58 Investigates reported in July that errors forced the District Attorney’s Office to not file charges. Now CBS 58 Investigates obtained hours of police body camera video from the investigation.

CBS 58 is not naming or showing the suspect because she is not charged with a crime.

Video shows the suspect, a then 51-year-old West Allis woman, at the hospital after her arrest. She is given a blood test and a breathalyzer test.

The suspect initially denied drinking, but after blowing a 0.24, three times the legal limit, she came clean. She admitted first to have a couple drinks ultimately admitted to having multiple drinks and shots throughout the day.

“Why did you drive?” an officer asks the suspect.

“Because I was stupid and wanted cigarettes,” the suspect responds.

It seems like a straight forward case, but the suspect isn’t facing charges. Prosecutors say they can’t use the evidence collected because police made mistakes before the arrest.

Friday night

WAPD OWI ERROR WEB EXTRA from CBS 58 News on Vimeo.

The problems started at the scene. The suspect was driving this black jeep and slammed in to this tan Camery, killing the driver. The officer who interviewed the suspect on scene repeatedly said she didn’t seem drunk.

“She’s walking fine, she’s talking fine,” the officer is heard saying on body camera video.

The officer even tells a sergeant he doesn’t have probable cause to get a blood test.

“So you have nothing?” the sergeant asks.

“She’s walking fine, talking fine, all I smell on her is perfume,” the officer says. “ The only thing she took, I asked her when’s the last time you drank, she said three days ago. She really doesn’t drink that much.”

Deputy District attorney Kent Lovern says it’s statements like this that destroy the case.

They talked among themselves about the situation, that she was not intoxicated,” Lovern said. “After that they couldn’t order her to do things. They had to get her consent to do things.”

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Police did ask the woman to do a voluntary blood test.

“Yay? Nay?” the sergeant asks the officer.

“She said no because she’s worried about her dogs,” the officer said.

So officers decide to take the suspect home so she can let her dogs out then ask again for the voluntary test.

Back at her home, the suspect still refuses to consent to any tests. So the officer orders her to do field sobriety tests

“They did not have reasonable suspicion to engage her in field sobriety tests,” Lovern said. “They had to ask her permission and she did not give permission.”

Lovern says it doesn’t matter that the suspect failed those tests. None of those tests or anything that happened after the arrest can be used in court.

Back on scene, after learning the woman was in fact intoxicated, other officers question why field sobriety tests weren’t done right away, just based on the severity of the crash.

“That’s why I say do the fields,” one officer says on body camera video. “We all miss s***.”

West Allis Police Deputy Chief Robert Fletecher tells CBS 58 an internal investigation was conducted and officers were disciplined and re-trained.

In a statement he says the department made policy changes and now, more experienced officers will handle drivers during investigations of serious and fatal crashes.

Benjamin Wagner, an attorney for the victim’s family, declined to comment on the investigation, but did say, “We are fighting for the victim’s family to achieve justice in every way we can in the civil justice system.”

CBS 58 Investigates did file an open records request for the internal investigation in order to find out what discipline was issued. We’re still waiting for those records.

Here is Deputy Chief Fletcher’s full statement on the crash:

“You have inquired into the status of a fatal crash that occurred at S. 92nd St. and W. Lapham St. on January 30th, 2018. This crash resulted in the death of Kathleen C. Deischel. On the date of the crash, the West Allis

Police Department arrested a 52 year old West Allis woman for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The case was referred to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office for review and determination regarding the filing of criminal charges.

Ultimately, the Milwaukee DA’s office did not issue charges against the suspect. It was determined that during the course of the investigation errors were made by the West Allis Police Department. Based upon the errors, the Milwaukee DA’s office did not believe the evidentiary blood test results obtained would be admissible in court. Lacking the blood test result, the District Attorney’s office did not believe the case could be proved beyond a reasonable and therefore did not file criminal charges.

Based upon the decision and reasoning of the DA’s office, the West Allis Police Department conducted an internal investigation into the actions of the investigating officer and supervisor involved in the OWI investigation. The investigation did not find any willful wrong doing or bad intent on the part of the involved WAPD members. The investigation did find the OWI investigation was not conducted thoroughly and properly.

The West Allis Police Department is committed to providing the best possible service to the community. As part of this service, the WAPD is committed to aggressively enforcing the laws against intoxicated driving in the State of Wisconsin. This is evidenced by the fact that in 2016 the WAPD arrested over 700 individuals for OWI and in 2017 arrested 693 individuals.

As a result of the internal investigation, the West Allis Police Department instituted policy changes, provided additional training to the involved officer and discipline was imposed. The purpose of this corrective action is to help ensure the errors which occurred on January 30th are not repeated and that individuals violating OWI laws are held accountable for their actions.”

https://www.cbs58.com/news/watch-body-cam-video-shows-police-errors-that-let-suspect-in-fatal-owi-go-free

Woman who drove car into fish hatchery charged with DWI after rescue

A Washington woman was rescued after she drove her car into a Hackettstown fish hatchery early Monday morning, said police. Shortly after, she was arrested and charged with drunk driving.

Responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle at the Charles O. Hayford State Fish Hatchery at 2:05 a.m., police found Michelle Clarke, 42, of Morris County sitting on the trunk of her partially submerged car and waving to them for help.

After the officers assisted her, one detected the odor of alcohol on her breath, according to Sgt. Darren Tynan.

She was charged with driving while intoxicated and unauthorized vehicle in a park area, then released pending a court appearance.

No damage occurred in the pond where Clarke’s car was submerged. The pond at the time was empty of fish stock, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

The hatchery, more commonly known as the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery, opened in 1912. The state Division of Fish and Wildlife used it for trout production until 1981, when the Pequest Trout Hatchery in Oxford took over cold-water fish production.

The hatchery, with pond facilities on both the east and west side of Hackettstown, is currently responsible for the production and distribution of 15 species of cool- and warm-water fish depending on annual requests from the Division’s regional fisheries biologists.

The hatchery also raises gambusia, also known as mosquitofish, to supply to county mosquito control commissions. Annual production numbers range from 1.5 to 2.5 million fish per year.

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2018/08/14/driver-rescued-fish-hatchery-hackettstown-nj-charged-dwi/984753002/

Congressional candidate sentenced to six months in jail for DUI

Congressional candidate sentenced to six months in jail for DUI
Steve Foster looks around the courtroom in the Whitfield County Courthouse on Tuesday. Foster was sentenced for his DUI conviction from last week.

DALTON, Ga. — Steve Foster, the local Democratic candidate for Congress, is eligible to be on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election, but likely will still be in jail on Election Day after being sentenced Tuesday for his DUI conviction.

Whitfield County Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris sentenced Foster, who is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Graves in the 14th Congressional District, to one year in jail with six months to serve and six months on probation for his Aug. 7 conviction. A jury found Foster guilty in 15 minutes

The Dalton Police Department arrested Foster for DUI on Sept. 23, 2017. In police dash cam video played in court and released after the trial, Foster rambles and rants through the arrest, a trip to the hospital and eventual booking into the Whitfield County jail. On the video, Foster told police he prayed to God for a curse on Whitfield County.

After pleas from family and friends before the sentencing to not let one bad night destroy what they said was a life of altruism, charity and compassion, Morris was not moved to give Foster a probated sentence with no jail time, saying Foster has shown no remorse. Foster, who has been in jail since his conviction, did not speak at the sentencing.

“Sometimes we forget that probation is a privilege and not a right,” Morris said. “Because we do give a lot of probation. And a person gets probation when they have demonstrated remorse and have taken responsibility and have shown a desire to change the behavior which got them here. And they have shown some indication they will comply with the terms of probation.

“But the court does look at his lack of remorse, lack of taking responsibility, lack of desire to change, and I have concerns with his ability to comply with probation,” Morris said. “And that is the way anybody would be viewed.”

In addition to the jail time and probation, Foster must pay a $700 fine and court costs, perform 40 hours of community service, attend DUI school and have a mental health evaluation within 30 days of his release from custody.

“I believe Judge Morris had her mind made up before we even came in today,” said Connie Hall-Scott, Foster’s fiancé.

Before the sentencing, family and friends asked Morris to give Foster a light sentence. Kenna Betterton, who said she has been Foster’s friend all her life, said the man on the video during his arrest is not the friend she has learned to love and trust.

“Steve has had an impact on human lives,” Betterton said of Foster, a former doctor. “He has given his time, his dedication and his passion to taking care of others. While he can get very, very passionate, he has strived to do the best for everyone he has been in contact with.”

Character witnesses and appeals for a reduced sentence were delivered by Dalton City Councilman Gary Crews, Foster’s 80-year-old mother Belma Foster and restaurateur T.J. Kaikobad. Hall-Scott, whose voice cracked as she spoke of Foster, also spoke before Morris.

“When Steve gives humanitarian stuff, he likes to go to the place of the least served,” said Crews, who is manager of MedNow, the medical clinic Foster owns. “It’s not the places that are on TV a lot of times. That is how he ended up on the Mosquito Coast because those were the folks who were the least cared about and those were the places everybody has really forgotten.”

The Mosquito Coast is an area in present-day Honduras and Nicaragua that has become an impoverished community. Foster has done charity and humanitarian work throughout Central America and in the Caribbean.

“I preface my statement with I don’t necessarily agree with him on a lot of things,” Kaikobad said. “I happen to think a lot differently on a lot of issues. But the point that I want to make is that deep down there is a decent person out there. I have known him to be cerebral. I have known him to be kind. I’ve known him to be compassionate. And I feel that any strong sentence imposed on him would serve only one purpose and that is to push him down further deep under. That doesn’t serve anyone.

“I ask you very humbly to consider that as you decide what your sentence is,” he said.

Hall-Scott said she has lived with Foster for about a year and they choose to live in Whitfield County because this is where they want to be.

“He does not hate or curse this community as the headlines boast,” she said. “He has told me he is profoundly ashamed of those things he said on one regrettable night almost a year ago while under duress, and he said he is sorry, ashamed of the things he said to you guys, too. The things we heard on that police audio are not an accurate representation of Steve Foster.”

The conviction and sentence will not prevent Foster from being on the ballot for the congressional race, according to Whitfield County registrar Mary Hammontree. She said only a felony conviction would prevent that. DUI is a misdemeanor offense.

Messages sent to Dan Lovingood, who is the Democratic Party’s 14th Congressional District chair, were not immediately returned. Lawyer Richard K. Murray represented Foster.

http://www.suwanneedemocrat.com/news/ga_fl_news/congressional-candidate-sentenced-to-six-months-in-jail-for-dui/article_6cd1197a-3081-56c8-9c95-a6401e89f243.html

Former LAPD sergeant involved in Rodney King beating pleads not guilty to DUI

Former LAPD sergeant involved in Rodney King beating pleads not guilty to DUI
Stacey Koon, left, discusses the Rodney King beating video in 1993. The former L.A. police sergeant faces drunk driving charges stemming from a May 1 traffic collision in Castaic in which Koon was involved. (Associated Press)

A former Los Angeles police sergeant who served a prison sentence in the beating of Rodney King pleaded not guilty Tuesday to drunk driving charges, officials said.

Stacey Koon, 67, faces one misdemeanor count each of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He is due back in court in October.

The charges stem from a traffic collision Koon was involved in on May 1 in Castaic, the district attorney’s office said. Police arrived and arrested him. No one was injured.

Koon was one of several LAPD officers who dealt more than 50 blows to King while he was handcuffed on the ground. When the officers were acquitted in 1992, riots broke out across Los Angeles.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-stacey-koon-dui-20180814-story.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fsports%2Ffootball%2Fnfl+%28L.A.+Times+-+Pro+Football%29&utm_content=Yahoo+Search+Results

Man crashes into a home while allegedly driving drunk

Thomas Maciver, 21, of Hull, has been charged with operating under the influence of liquor and a marked lanes violation.

The home on Phipps Street that Maciver allegedly crashed into while driving drunk.
The home on Phipps Street that Maciver allegedly crashed into while driving drunk. –Hull Police Department

A Hull man was arrested early Sunday morning after crashing into a home while allegedly driving drunk.

Thomas Maciver, 21, of Hull, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor and marked lanes violation.—Hull Police Department

Hull Police responded to the crash on Phipps Street around 2:41 a.m. After authorities spoke with the driver, Thomas Maciver, 21, of Hull, and conducted a subsequent investigation, officers determined he had been driving while intoxicated, John Dunn, the department’s chief, said in a statement.

Two passengers in Maciver’s vehicle were transported to a local hospital following the incident, Dunn said. Their injuries are believed to be non-life threatening.

While searching Maciver’s car, police found “multiple miniature bottles of liquor, or ‘nips,’ that were unopened,” he said.

Maciver has been charged with operating under the influence of liquor and a marked lanes violation.

The home sustained damage to its front porch as a result of the collision, Dunn said. The town’s building inspector was called to the scene.

https://www.boston.com/news/crime/2018/08/13/hull-man-crashes-into-a-home-while-allegedly-driving-drunk