West Mifflin School District Superintendent To Stand Trial On DUI Charges

WEST MIFFLIN (KDKA) — The superintendent for the West Mifflin School District will stand trial on DUI charges.

West Mifflin School superintendent Daniel Castagna showed up in Beaver County Court on Friday to face charges of driving under the influence, speeding and careless driving.

In September, Castagna was stopped on Interstate 376 in Beaver County after his car was seen weaving and straddling the lane. State police say he had slurred speech, blood-shot eyes and smelled of alcohol.

State police say Castagna’s .15 alcohol blood level was nearly twice the legal limit.

“His reputation is suffering, obviously, with the nature of the allegations with the school district, but again, I can’t comment to that,” defense attorney Steven Valsamidis said.

The West Mifflin School District would only say that it’s taking the charges seriously. The law requires that Castagna receive due process, and this is considered a personnel matter. However, this is Castagna’s second DUI offense. Nine years ago, he went through the ARD program; it allows first-time offenders who go through the program to get the charges dismissed and their record expunged.

“This is a second offense DUI. Statutorily, he is eligible for ARD again in light of the circumstances of the first ARD. A little known fact a lot of people don’t realize, you can get ARD a second time for a second DUI,” Valsamidis said.

Castagna was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court on Jan. 30.

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2017/12/22/west-mifflin-superintendent-dui-charges-trial/amp/

Des Moines police officer charged with drunk driving, authorities say

Of the 54 drivers involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes in Iowa in 2016, 43 percent of them were repeat drunk driving offenders. Since 2005, more than 134,000 people have been charged with drunken driving. A Des Moines Register investigation. Wochit
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A Des Moines police officer was charged late last week after he was pulled over for driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit, authorities said.

Brett Vanderpool, a probationary officer with the force, was arrested early Friday morning in Ankeny after he was pulled over on suspicion of driving while drunk, Sgt. Paul Parizek said. Vanderpool has been placed on administrative leave while Des Moines police conduct an internal investigation, he said.

Parizek said police officials were surprised by Vanderpool’s arrest, calling him an exceptional officer who had a lapse in judgment. He was hired as a probationary officer in January and was set to become a full-time officer Jan. 3.

Following the department’s internal investigation, Vanderpool could be suspended or terminated. Parizek said the officer was arrested with a blood alcohol concentration of .145; the legal limit in Iowa is .08.

“Everyone makes mistakes … but we set our standards high at this organization,” Parizek said. “Bottom line is, we’re not supposed to get arrested.”

Vanderpool is out on bond. He could not be reached for comment Monday morning

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2017/12/25/des-moines-police-officer-charged-drunk-driving-authorities-say/980605001/

Country star Michael Ray Roach arrested for DUI and possession of cannabis oil

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– Slurred speech and bloodshot eyes – that’s what Eustis Police say they noticed about country music star Michael Ray before conducting a field sobriety test captured on police body cameras outside a Eustis McDonald’s early Wednesday morning.

The 29-year-old, born-and-raised in Eustis entertainer, was arrested and booked into the Lake County Jail under his full name Michael Ray Roach. Officers say he was driving under the influence when he allegedly hit the car in front of him in the McDonald’s drive thru line, telling officers he was coming from a bar in Tavares.

“I feel what happened last night was very unfortunate, we all make bad decisions,” said Melissa Frazier, a family friend.

His loyal fans are standing by their hometown heartthrob, Frazier has known him and his family for years.

“I just feel really bad for him, I’m praying for him I know he’s resilient, he’ll bounce back but I just want people to know what great kind caring soul he is,” Frazier said.

Ray is still very connected to his hometown. His music video for his hit song “Kiss Me In The Morning” was all filmed in Eustis. In the video, he sings to the backdrop of a large crowd in the city’s downtown, and the video highlights Eustis lakes, wildlife and rural scenery.

“He’s the most wonderful artist to his fans, he has a following you can find Michael Ray fans everywhere, all over lake county,” Frazier said.

Roach was also charged with possession of cannabis after police say the found cannabis oil in the car he was driving.  He bonded out of the Lake County Jail Wednesday afternoon.

http://amp.fox26houston.com/entertainment/country-star-michael-ray-roach-arrested-for-dui-and-possession-of-cannabis-oil

Poll: People get behind the wheel when impaired because they think they are OK to drive

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ – The Traffic Injury Research Foundation USA, Inc. (TIRF USA), in partnership with TIRF in Canada and with sponsorship from Anheuser-Busch, released the third annual Road Safety Monitor (RSM) on alcohol-impaired driving. The public opinion poll conducted in September and October 2017, investigated U.S. drivers’ opinions and behaviors in relation to this issue. Results are based on a representative sample of 5,027 drivers, aged 21 years or older.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol-impaired driving fatalities involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater accounted for 28 percent of total motor vehicle crash fatalities in 2016. This percent is the lowest since 1982. However, expressed in absolute numbers, data show there were more alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2016 (10,497) compared to 2015 (10,320).

According to Dr. Ward Vanlaar, Chief Operating Officer of TIRF in Canada and a co-author of the study, “When asking U.S. drivers why they drove when they thought they were over the legal alcohol limit, our data consistently reveal the number one answer is that they thought they were “OK to drive.” Other top reasons include driving short distances, thinking they can drive carefully, and simply not thinking about it. In other words, a lack of appreciation of the dangers associated with this behavior appears to be an important factor. This is concerning.”

The poll revealed a smaller percentage of drivers in 2017 thought they had no alternative to alcohol-impaired driving in comparison to previous years. This may indicate that drivers are learning about alternatives to driving while impaired, such as ridesharing and safe ride programs, which have been hailed as promising countermeasures.

The three years’ worth of RSM data collected to date (2015, 2016 and 2017) show that the number of U.S. drivers reporting alcohol-impaired driving was the highest in 2016, which is also the year with the highest number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. In fact, since 2014, there have been two consecutive increases in this number from 9,943 in 2014 to 10,320 in 2015, and to 10,497 in 2016. These increases have taken place in a context of decreasing concern about the issue, both measured in relation to other societal topics as well as other road safety topics.

According to Vanlaar, however, there is perhaps also some good news as the 2017 RSM data reveal decreases in the prevalence of alcohol-impaired driving in comparison to 2016. “While there is no perfect correlation between self-reported behavior and its consequences, our RSM early warning system suggests there might be a decrease in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2017. Continued monitoring will be essential to inform countermeasures.”

Click here to download: Alcohol-Impaired Driving in the United States. Results from the 2017 TIRF USA Road Safety Monitor.

About the poll. These results are based on the 2017 TIRF USA RSM, an annual public opinion survey developed and conducted by TIRF USA, in partnership with TIRF in Canada. A total of 5,027 U.S. drivers aged 21 years or older completed the poll in September and October of 2017. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 1.4 percent, 19 times out of 20. The data were stratified and weighted by sex, age, and region. The majority of the questions were answered using a scale from one to six where six indicated high agreement, concern, or support and one indicated low agreement, concern, or support, as well as numerous yes/no questions. All respondents completed the survey online.

About TIRF USA. The mission of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation USA, Inc. (TIRF USA) is to develop and share the knowledge that saves – preventing injuries and loss of life on American roads, reducing related social, health and insurance costs, and safeguarding productivity. TIRF USA is an independent road safety research institute that obtained 501(c)3 non-profit status in the U.S. in 2014 and is affiliated through an exchange of services agreement with TIRF in Canada, established in 1964. Visit us online at www.tirf.us or twitter.com/tirfusainc

About Anheuser-Busch. Anheuser-Busch and its employees build on a legacy of corporate social responsibility by focusing on three key areas: promoting alcohol responsibility, preserving and protecting the environment and supporting local communities. In the past three decades, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers have committed more than $1 billion in national advertising campaigns and community-based programs to encourage responsible drinking and prevent underage drinking and drunk driving. Anheuser-Busch reduced total water use at its breweries 32 percent over the last 5 years and by 45.5 percent over the last 10 years. The company has been a leading aluminum recycler for more than 30 years. Since 1997, Anheuser-Busch and its Foundation have invested in local communities through donations of more than $573 million to charitable organizations. The company also has provided more than 76 million cans of emergency drinking water to people impacted by natural and other disasters since 1988. Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch, the leading American brewer, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading global brewer. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/poll-people-get-behind-the-wheel-when-impaired-because-they-think-they-are-ok-to-drive-665194953.html

University of Iowa researcher finds alcohol involvement lead to more devastating farm-equipment crashes

‘There needs to be continued education’

    The crash involving a tractor and reality TV star Chris Soules happened on this straightaway in the 1000 block of Slater Avenue north of Aurora about 8:20 p.m. Monday. (PHOTO BY JEFF REINITZ, Waterloo Courier)

    IOWA CITY — A relatively low portion of accidents between farm equipment and passenger vehicles involve alcohol. But those that do tend to be more dangerous and deadly, according to a new study out of the University of Iowa.

    Karisa Harland, UI adjunct assistant professor of emergency medicine, led the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-funded research from the UI’s Great Plains Center for Agriculture Health.

    She said the hope for the study — published this month in “Traffic Injury Prevention,” a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal — is to educate motorists and farmers and encourage preventive practices.

    “From a farmer perspective, they need to make sure that their equipment is well lit,” Harland said.

    She added making equipment such as tractors and combines more visible could be as simple as “cleaning off your slow-moving vehicle sign so it’s more reflective and replacing it if it’s starting to fade.”

    “From a motor vehicle and passenger vehicle standpoint — obviously there needs to be continued education on the risks of driving while impaired,” she said. “And also on interacting with farm equipment on the roadways.”

    The study comes at an especially relevant time after former reality TV star Chris Soules in April crashed his truck into the back of 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher’s tractor just north of Aurora. Soules, 35, was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal crash, as Mosher died in the collision.

    First responders found empty and partially consumed open alcohol containers in and around Soules’ truck, and he also was seen buying alcohol before the crash, according to court documents. His attorneys reported two urine and blood samples were negative for drugs or alcohol, but authorities said Soules went home after the crash and refused to open the door until law enforcement obtained a search warrant hours later.

    His trial is scheduled for Jan. 18, and he faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Harland, who started her research in 2011 and wrapped it earlier this year, said the case hit the news as she was absorbed in her study and analyzing its findings.

    “If felt like our research was timely,” she said.

    But the Soules case bucked her study’s findings — that odds of an injury or fatality are more than two times higher for passenger vehicle drivers than for those operating the farm equipment.

    “If you have a gigantic combine and a small car runs into it, the car is going to absorb all the energy and therefore that person is more likely to be injured,” Harland said.

    That size difference likely explains why alcohol-related collisions between farm equipment and passenger vehicles — while less frequent than standard vehicle crashes — more often have devastating consequences.

    “If we’re looking at only crashes that involved alcohol impairment, which we had 61 of those, then 75 percent of those 61 had either an injury or fatality,” Harland said.

    Her research analyzed data between 2005 and 2010 from four regional states — Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Researchers found data for 1,971 total on-road farm equipment crashes — with Iowa reporting the most crashes, at 1,023, and North Dakota reported the fewest, at 165.

    But North Dakota reported the highest percent involving alcohol, at 6.1 percent, while Iowa reported the fewest involving alcohol, at 2.4 percent.

    The 61 total alcohol-related farm equipment crashes has them accounting for just 3.1 percent of the total — which is smaller than for standard vehicle crashes. One in 20 of the farm-equipment crashes resulting in injuries, or 5.6 percent, and one in six of the fatality crashes, or nearly 18 percent, involved an alcohol-impaired driver.

    Meanwhile, 30 percent of standard fatal motor vehicle crashes involve alcohol.

    Reasons for the difference could include timing, Harland said, as farm vehicles aren’t on the road as often and aren’t as prevalent at night, outside urgent harvest seasons.

    “Other than in the fall when they’re maybe working 24/7, or the spring my hypothesis would be that the farm equipment is probably not on the road at night when there is more likely to be an alcohol involved crash,” she said.

    But because farmers in this and neighboring rural states do sometimes have to traverse the roads at night, Harland said her research sheds a spotlight on the risk of doing so and the need to improve awareness and prevention efforts.

    “Although these crashes with alcohol are rare, three percent, when it does happen, there are severe consequences,” she said.

    http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/education/higher-education/university-of-iowa-researcher-finds-alcohol-involvement-lead-to-more-devastating-farm-equipment-crashes-20171220