Been 10 yrs
SCHENECTADY — Police Chief Eric Clifford said the city patrolman facing drunken driving charges stemming from Sunday’s motor vehicle crash may face disciplinary charges early next week.
But Clifford on Friday said even when the internal probe wraps up he may hold off on a decision pending how a judge rules on whether to suspend Officer Daniel Coppola driver’s license, which he needs to do his job.
“It’s possible he could go on (disciplinary) charges Monday, and if we make a decision by Monday, we may actually move faster than these court proceedings, which is really the new way of doing things,” the chief said, referring to to the state law that now determines police discipline with Public Safety Commissioner Michael Eidens in charge. “This situation is not going to be taken lightly and I will hold him accountable.”
At the same time, Clifford said it speaks to integrity of Coppola, 23, that he called in the wreck to police after being hit by a motorist, who police say was driving without a license at the time of the crash at 4:14 a.m. Sunday at Broadway and Liberty Street in Schenectady. It’s unclear if that driver has been charged.
“He does not have a history of discipline,” said Clifford of Coppola, noting that will be among the many factors he will weigh when deciding on discipline.
Court documents indicate Coppola’s eyes were glassy, his speech was deliberate, and he smelled of alcohol. He failed standardized field sobriety tests to stand on one leg and the horizontal gaze nystagmus but passed the walk and turn test.
Copolla, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.12 percent, pleaded not guilty Thursday in City Court to two counts of driving while intoxicated. He is due back in court June 7.
In New York, the legal threshold to be charged with driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, is 0.08 percent.
The court filings indicate that Coppola was read his Miranda rights at around 5:20 a.m. and was charged with DWI. Roughly about 20 minutes later at 5:42 a.m., he was placed under observation, as the law requires. The subsequent breath test, where his blood alcohol content came in at 0.12 percent, was given at 6:21 a.m.
Asked about the police handling of the matter, Clifford said everything was done by the book.
“The two-hour time frame doesn’t stand out as a problem and is not outside the boundary of reasonableness,” he said.
Eric Sills, an Albany-based attorney, said Friday that “with certain exceptions, the ‘two-hour rule’ provides that the police must administer a chemical ( blood or breath) test to a DWI suspect within two hours of the time of the person’s arrest.
He also stressed that that it is common for the defendant to leave the arraignment with their driver’s license.
“Although a driver’s license is technically supposed to be suspended pending prosecution at arraignment, the defendant has the right to a pre-suspension hearing, as well as the right to an adjournment to prepare for the hearing,” Sills said.
Clifford said he didn’t know but he suspects that Lt. Wesley McGhee, the supervisor on duty the night of the incident, didn’t respond but had to be called to the scene, which might also have prevented Coppola from getting the Breathlyzer test earlier.
“I don’t know if it caused a delay but it could have,” said Clifford.
As part of Thursday’s proceeding, City Court Judge Teneka Frost ruled she couldn’t suspend Coppola’s license, which normally happens when somebody is arraigned on a DWI charge, because a certified copy of the breath test was not contained in the court files.
Clifford said Friday that the department provided a copy of the breath test signed by the officer, “which is typically acceptable” and that an police officer would have had to drive to Albany to get the certified state copy.
“We provided everything that we normally provide, which has historically been accepted by the judge, but (the judge) didn’t feel it was appropriate,” said Clifford.
Court papers indicate that Coppola, 23, told the responding officer that he was driving home from Union Inn after having two beers.
Attorney Andrew Safranko, who is representing Coppola, said his client, is remorseful and has cooperated fully with authorities during the probe.
“He apologizes to the chief and the members of the department for casting a negative light on the department,” said Safranko. “He’s a young man, loves loves being a police officer, and apologizes for getting in this situation at all.”
For now, Coppola, who is 23 with two years on the force, remains on desk duty, watching prisoners and taking police reports, Clifford said.
Coppola is the stepson of Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino.
Over the years, several police officers in Schenectady and Albany have run afoul of the law after drinking and get behind the wheel of a car, in some cases striking parked cars and other stationary objects.
Basic Chicken :
31 REM need variable to get chicken to move
41REM need variable that shows what happens
51 REM I still need those variables!
60 RIMSHOT$=”Ba Dam Ta TSSSH!”
70 ?”why did “A$
80 ? B$
90 ? C
100 ? RIMSHOT$
The incident happened Tuesday beginning with an attempted traffic stop in Colonial Heights and a police pursuit that traveled through Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Petersburg.
A Colonial Heights police officer initiated a traffic stop for an equipment violation as well as suspected drunk driving on the driver of a 1998 Chevrolet pick-up truck in the area of Boulevard and Lakeview.
The driver, later identified as 27-year-old Timothy Charles-Nicholas Gray, failed to stop for the officer and a vehicle pursuit ensued, according to police.
Police say Gray, who was the lone occupant of the vehicle, led officers into Chesterfield County, where Chesterfield Police joined the pursuit.
While traveling through the Ettrick area, police say Gray threw several bags of suspected narcotics out of the window.
The pursuit also traveled through Dinwiddie County and then into the City of Petersburg, where the pursuit ended after the suspect crashed into another vehicle in the 1900 Block of West Washington Street.
Gray and two occupants from the victim vehicle were transported to Southside Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
Charges pending for Gray include, Felony eluding, driving on a suspended license, defective equipment, Driving under the influence, possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine.
Police say he may also be charged with crimes in Chesterfield and Petersburg related to the incident.
Gray with be transported to Riverside Regional Jail once released from the hospital.
A 52-year-old man is accused of endangering the life of his 20-month-old granddaughter by driving “super drunk” with the toddler in the back seat of his car.
Shortly after 8 p.m. May 3, Wyandotte police spotted the man in the area of Fort Street and Goddard, as he failed to signal a right turn and then was paced traveling at speeds in excess of 35 mph in a marked 25 mph zone.
Police stopped the driver near the Burger King restaurant on Fort Street in Lincoln Park.
The officer noted that the man’s eyes were bloodshot and glossy, and the odor of intoxicants emitted from his breath.
A toddler was in a car seat, in the rear of the vehicle behind the front passenger seat. The man said the child was his 20-month-old granddaughter.
In response to the officer’s question, the man said “I haven’t drank today.”
According to information provided by the Law Enforcement Information Network and Michigan Secretary of State, the man had one prior conviction for operating while intoxicated and had a few active warrants.
The officer told the man to get out of the car. He again asked him if he had consumed any alcoholic beverages.
“I had one earlier, but it was about 2 o’clock when I stopped drinking,” the man said. However, he later changed his story to say he had two drinks, then a few minutes later admitted to having three drinks.
Two additional officers arrived at the scene to offer their assistance.
In one of the field sobriety tests, police asked the man to recite the alphabet, starting with the letter “C” and ending at “M.” He started at “A” and ended at “Z,” then sang “Now I know my A, Z, M’s.”
After failing additional field sobriety tests, a preliminary breath test indicated his blood-alcohol content was 0.26.
Java Chicken : If your road needs to be crossed by a chicken, the server will download one to the other side. (Of course, those are chicklets!)
A West Virginia woman picked the wrong person to ask for directions last month in Virginia.
Lisa M. Polk, 56, of Capon Bridge, West Virginia was driving near Round Hill, Virginia on March 22 when she stopped to ask for directions from a Loudon County Sheriff’s deputy, their office said in a Tuesday release.
The deputy determined Polk was possibly under the influence of alcohol, and an open container of alcohol was found in her vehicle, the sheriff’s office said. A search led the deputy to find suitcases filled with around six pounds of marijuana, 200 grams of THC oil, more than $1,500 in cash, as well as rolling papers and other paraphernalia, according to the sheriff
Polk was charged with public intoxication and felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. She was released on bond.
Did you ever wonder why it’s important for law enforcement to establish that a driver they pulled over on suspicion of DUI has a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent? Aside from being the legal limit in practically all states, a BAC of .08 percent is all authorities would need to charge that driver with a DUI, thanks to “per se” laws. Here are some things you need to know about per se laws.
No further evidence needed with a per se DUI charge
The Latin phrase “per se” means “by itself,” which means that by itself, a 0.08 BAC is enough to prove that you are guilty of a DUI. No further evidence would be required to prove that you were intoxicated while behind the wheel.
All states have per se DUI laws
Per se laws are now in effect in every state in the U.S. as well as the District of Columbia. With their per se laws, these states no longer have to prove impairment or present that the driver failed a field sobriety test to charge him or her with a DUI.
Why were per se laws created?
Many individuals stopped on suspicion of drunk driving often feel and claim to be sober. With per se laws in place, drivers can claim to be as sober as can be, and none of that would matter if their BAC is at or over .08 percent. In a way, per se laws were created and implemented to make it easier for the state to convict people of a DUI.
Per se laws do not address drugged driving
The .08 percent BAC limit is confined to alcohol, so the per se laws, in general, don’t cover drugged DUI cases per se. Some states, however, have taken steps to ensure that their per se laws address drugged driving. Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia, for example, have established specific limits for the presence of drugs in a driver’s system. Then there’s the zero tolerance policy espoused by Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin, where detectable levels of certain drugs in your body can get you charged and possibly convicted of drugged driving.
You can challenge a per se DUI charge
A .08 BAC or higher does not necessarily mean an automatic DUI conviction. If you find yourself facing per se DUI charges, take comfort in the fact that you can challenge your test result’s validity. You can also question the procedures used to establish your BAC or even the machines used to process the samples collected from you.
Get the services of an experienced DUI attorney, and you can be sure he or she knows many other ways to defend your DUI case in court.
Michelle White currently works as the Marketing & Communications specialist at Law Offices of Brian Sloan. Her experiences with DUI cases in the past have inspired her to spread awareness about DUI laws in the United States.