Accused of DUI, Mercedes driver flees scene of accident after victim wants to involve police

Photos: Jared Koh / Facebook

A man’s new year unfortunately began with a literal bang in the wee hours of yesterday morning. Facebook user Jared Koh shared how his car was knocked into from the rear by a Mercedes sedan just hours into 2019.

According to Koh, the collision caused him to slam a cab right in front of him, which resulted in an injured taxi passenger who was conveyed to hospital for treatment. What made it worse was how the Mercedes driver apparently panicked when Koh decided to get the cops involved and drove off. But not before getting confronted when the driver, who had three other passengers in the car with him, had to stop at a red light. Watch below as the Mercedes driver casually waved off the suggestion that he should stick around.

Koh accused the man of being a drunk driver, claiming that he smelled of alcohol and didn’t have a “steady gait” while walking. But at least the Mercedes driver did pass him his personal particulars, so Koh is free to lodge a police report. And he should, considering that he claims that he and his wife were injured from the crash.

Netizens pointed out that the Mercedes driver saved himself from bigger trouble if he waited around for the cops — now there’s no way for Koh or the police to prove that he was drunk when the accident happened. The matter now lies with the police, who’ve taken the Mercedes car’s license plate that was dropped and left behind at the scene.

Woman gets 7 years in prison for Christmas Eve 2017 fatal crash

Tiffany R Fisher

NEWARK – A Newark woman was sentenced to seven years in prison for causing the 2017 crash that killed a Roseville woman.

Tiffany R. Fisher, 32, of Newark, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, one a first-degree felony and the other a second-degree felony; and two counts of operating under the influence, both first-degree misdemeanors. The state elected to sentence on the first-degree aggravated vehicular homicide charge.

Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Cliff Murphy said on Christmas Eve in 2017, Fisher drove left of center on U.S. 40, attempting to pass another vehicle when she collided with a 2003 Honda Odyssey. A passenger of the Honda, 73-year-old Delma Ross, died from injuries sustained in the crash.

More: Newark woman indicted for causing Christmas Eve fatal crash

Murphy said although Fisher told troopers she was driving about 65 mph, an Ohio Highway Patrol crash investigator estimated her speed was between 82-92 mph in a 55 mph zone.

The assistant prosecutor added Fisher was looking at her phone at the time of the crash and was driving under a suspended license. Later, he said he was particularly disturbed by information presented during a suppression hearing for the case – that Fisher had over 10 times the amount of the active component in THC that makes someone feel high and she had over 400 milligrams of marijuana in her system.

Fisher, he said, passed in a double yellow line while under three separate license suspensions. In one of the courts in which her license was suspended, Fisher allegedly told them she could do whatever she wanted.

“How many times does someone have to drive under suspension, how many time does the court have to tell someone they can’t drive under suspension…before they get the message?” Murphy asked aloud. “This is by far one of the most outrageous cases of death by auto. It’s not an accident.”

Addressing the court, Fisher said while she could say many things, words wouldn’t change the hurt from that day.

“I would like to sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart how truly sorry I am for the loss of your loved one. When I got into my car on Dec. 24, 2017 Christmas Eve, I would have never imagined on that evening someone would lose their life and so many hearts would be broken on a day that’s supposed to be shared with loved ones…,” Fisher said. “I know my words can never take away the pain, hurt the Ross family has.”

She asked aloud how an accident could turn into such a tragedy and told the family she prays for them daily.

Standing in the courtroom for that hearing was something Terry Dawson said he never thought he’d be doing.

“We hope that Miss Fisher has cherished her time for the last year with her children and her family because she has changed ours forever,” he said, adding he hopes now she can spend the time getting herself together and reflecting on life. Dawson, Ross’ son-in-law, said he hoped the court wouldn’t see the crash as an accident because Fisher had risked not only her life, but the lives of others.

In sentencing Fisher, Judge Thomas Marcelain said he considered her history of drug or alcohol use and her history of driving under license suspension. He added he found the video of her incarceration disturbing and bizarre, that it demonstrated someone who is 10 times the legal limit for prohibited illegal drugs.

“Those were choices you made,” Marcelain told her simply, continuing to say the first thing she could as an example for her three children is having the ability to follow the law – something he said doesn’t seem that hard or shouldn’t be.

Fisher’s drivers license was suspended for life and she was given a 76 day jail time credit. Upon her release from prison, Fisher will be placed on a mandatory five-year post-release control.

Firefighter hit by suspected drunk driver on the way to work

HAMBDEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The Hambden Fire Department reports a suspected drunk driver crashed into one of its firefighters who was on his way to the fire station for a shift.

According to a post on the department’s Facebook page, the firefighter, who was in his personal vehicle, was rear-ended at a red light, which forced his car into an intersection.

Hambden fire reports the driver was arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI).

The firefighter suffered minor injuries.

Hambden fire reports a Geauga County Sheriff’s deputy was hit by an intoxicated driver earlier this week. That deputy also suffered minor injuries.

Lawyer explains OWI concerns of BAC below legal limit

MADISON (WKOW) — Prosecutors are now dealing with a new twist in the crash that killed Lake Mills firefighter Chris Truman.

Police say Samuel Cremers hit and killed the off-duty fire captain, when Truman stopped to help another driver along the Beltline in Monona New Year’s Eve.

Cremers appeared in Dane County Court Thursday, and was released on a signature bond.

He was arrested on a tentative charge of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, but a court official who has seen documents on this case tells 27 News, Cremers’s blood alcohol level was .07, just below Wisconsin’s legal limit to drive: .08.

Even though it’s only .01 below the threshold, could it make that much of a difference in how this case moves forward?

According to Sarah Schmeiser, a lawyer for a Madison firm known for working on drunk driving cases, someone can be charged with an OWI even if they’re under the limit when tested.

In a situation such as this, Schmeiser says the test used was a preliminary breath test, or PBT.

The PBT is the handheld breathalyzer test usually used by police on scene but that can’t be used as evidence in court — a more thorough blood test is needed.

Schmeiser says as long as that blood test is taken within three hours of the offense, it will stand in court.

“For a person to be charged with having a prohibitive alcohol concentration, which is another common charge that usually goes along with the operating while impaired, they do have to prove specifically that the person was over .08 at the time of driving,” Schmeiser said.

Even if that blood test confirms the PBT as being below .08, that could still be considered operating while impaired.

“There the number doesn’t have to be over the legal limit, it doesn’t have to be exact,” Schmeiser said. “The state has to prove that at the time of driving the person was being impaired by alcohol, so affected enough that their driving was unsafe by alcohol.”

She says in this situation, where homicide is under consideration, it puts a stricter burden of proof which can end up swaying the final outcome of the case.

Schmeiser mentioned that in the time between the first test and the blood test that she suspects were taken, it is possible Cremers’s BAC could have changed either higher or lower, depending on how quickly or slowly Cremer’s body absorbed any alcohol he ingested.

Prosecutors say they need weeks to look at this case.

They’ll have that as Cremers appears in court again in March.

DWI Checkpoints: Checking All the Boxes

DWI cases often begin with a driver being stopped at what is referred to as a DWI checkpoint. From the standpoint of defending drivers charged with Driving While Intoxicated, there are important Constitutional issues arising from a checkpoint stop that should be considered.

As a basic Constitutional principle, individuals acting on behalf of the State such as Police Officers and State Troopers, cannot stop motor vehicles unless they can justify the stop. Both the United States and New Jersey Constitutions require that the State demonstrate a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the law has been violated before an officer can intrude upon the driver’s right to travel without State interference. Simply stated, the State has to make some showing that a law has been violated before a car can be stopped. If not, the State will be prevented from having evidence acquired as a result of that stop considered by the court. In the case of a DWI prosecution, this could include evidence of the driver’s intoxication, which could be crucial to the State’s ability to prove the driver’s guilt.

Obviously, cars stopped at DWI checkpoints are not stopped because of a motor vehicle violation. Rather, they are stopped simply because a checkpoint has been mounted at a particular location, on a particular date and at a certain time. This would seem to be at odds with Constitutional requirements. An exception to the unusual standard has been provided by United States and New Jersey court decisions holding that checkpoints meet Constitutional standards if certain requirements are met.

Firstly, the checkpoint must be under control of a superior officer who has organized the checkpoint so it meets Constitutional and safety standards. The United States Supreme Court determined some time ago that cars cannot be stopped without a prior plan being approved and put into effect by superior officers.

More important is the requirement that the checkpoint be placed at a location where intoxicated drivers are expected to pass through, based upon prior police experience. This, in turn, must be based upon objective data which demonstrates occurrence of prior DWI arrests and accidents where intoxication is a factor, in the vicinity of the DWI checkpoint. In other words, the State must demonstrate a reasonable expectation that intoxicated drivers will pass through a certain location at a particular time, based upon data reflecting this experience.

Before an attorney or prosecutor reaches the question of a driver’s intoxication then, the attorney and prosecutor must consider whether the checkpoint leading to the stop, was justified the stop in the first place. This means obtaining all documentation which was created, leading to the checkpoint in question, including data which the State relied upon in choosing the date, time and location. Obviously, this information must be carefully reviewed to determine whether Constitutional standards have been met. If not, evidence of intoxication will be excluded.

The viability of the checkpoint will be the product of the effort made to justify its existence, before a single drive passes through. The quality of the underlying police work, therefore, is crucial in determining whether the checkpoint meets Constitutional muster and results in suppression of evidence. I have seen officers go to great ends to gather this data. Even when this is the case though, problems can arise for the State.

I was involved in a case not long ago where the officer, who was bright and capable, went to great efforts to ferret out the necessary data to justify the checkpoint time and place. Close analysis of the data however, suggested that the officer’s decision was questionable.

The defense attorney’s first job in this type of case is to acquire all of the data upon which the officer and State is relying. The  next job is to evaluate, analyze and make sense of that data. To do so, all of the records of prior DWI and drug related investigations leading to arrests and accidents in the immediate vicinity of the proposed checkpoint site, must be evaluated to determine the frequency of these events. This is done with an eye to determine whether a correlation existed between the proposed site, date and time of the checkpoint and these previous events.

After putting this information together, some surprising results became clear. Firstly, the data showed that only four DWI related events over the prior 10 years occurred in the immediate vicinity of the proposed checkpoint location. More than that, the month chosen by the officer for the checkpoint was one of the lowest months in terms of occurrence of prior DWI events.  Indeed, a review of the data suggested a low probability that the particular site, date and location selected would be efficacious, that is, drunken drivers could be reasonably expected to pass through the checkpoint. That low probability was reflected in actual results from the particular checkpoint, where one single arrest was made for DWI, after almost four hours of stopping hundreds of cars passing through the checkpoint. Hardly efficacious, it would seem. But it got worse.

Due to our quaint tradition known as cross-examination, I was able at trial to delve beyond the data provided to get to what Paul Harvey referred to as “the rest of the story.” The rest of the story was simple. Notwithstanding all of the data obtained and what that data did or did not suggest, the officer set the date of the checkpoint so it did not interfere with his scheduled move into his new house! Data be damned … a man has to move when he has to move! Checkpoints can wait!

Winston Churchill famously said that that, “you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have tried everything else.” I guess the officer never got around to trying everything else.