July 17th-July 23rd in the year Two Thousand and Seventeen
Sunday, July 23rd, 2017What Can And Can't You Do Under Washington's New E-DUI Law
Texting or holding a phone to your ear while driving is already illegal in Washington state. But starting Sunday, Washington state troopers and local police will begin enforcing a toughened law against distracted driving.
This spring, the legislature expanded the distracted driving law to forbid handling a phone behind the wheel for any reason, even when stopped in traffic or at a red light.
Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said you can also get a ticket for eating, sipping coffee, starting a video or grooming if a trooper sees you driving badly as a consequence.
The citation for being "dangerously distracted" by something other than an electronic device could only be enforced as a secondary offense, meaning another infraction such as an improper lane change would need to be observed to pull you over.
"It's a hands-free situation,” Batiste said. “Before you get in your vehicle, if you’re going to use GPS, get that started before you turn the key. If you're going to listen to music, get that all programmed and started before you head off down the roadways."
Using voice commands to make a phone call or get directions while the phone is in a cradle or connected to your car via Bluetooth is still allowed. Hands-free devices must not take more than "minimal" finger touches to activate or deactivate.
Using a CB radio is OK. Picking up the phone to call 911 in an emergency is a permissible exception.
Batiste said troopers are likely to give more lectures than tickets during the initial three to six months under the toughened law.
"Our first effort is to educate folks as we typically do with new laws," Batiste told reporters in Olympia Monday. "We go on a heavy emphasis of educating folks. So we'll give out a lot of warnings."
Another change from current law highlighted at a photo op and media event in Olympia Monday was that cell phone violations will be reportable to auto insurance companies from now on. Previously, cell phone tickets were exempted from disclosure to your insurance company.
A first ticket for driving under the influence of electronics—or E-DUI—will cost you at least $136. A second violation within five years will cost at least $236.
The stiffer consequences were welcomed by Tina Meyer of Arlington, who tearfully recounted how her 23-year-old son Cody was run down by a distracted driver in 2015 while he was working as a flagger in a construction zone near Issaquah. Cody eventually died from his injuries.
"By making this change in the law, it is going to save a lot of lives," Meyer said.
Saturday, July 22nd, 2017Problems persist with police drunken driving data, Austin auditor says
Police routinely changed queries used for drunk driving stats, producing unreliable statistics, auditor says.
Auditor’s report found many of the same issues first identified by 2016 Statesman investigation.
Police data can be essential for police and policymakers to figure out how to enforce laws, protect safety.
The Austin Police Department has changed how it tallies drunken driving wrecks, now using the Texas Department of Transportation’s database, according to a new report by the city auditor’s office.
That change alone increased the average annual number of drunken driving wrecks in Austin by 52 percent — more than 600 collisions — when compared with numbers pulled from the Police Department’s own database, the auditor’s report found.
In the past, the department routinely changed how it crunches drunken driving statistics — key data used to help shape law enforcement decisions made by city and police officials, according to the report.
The American-Statesman spotlighted the Police Department’s statistics problem in May 2016 — during the closing days of the $10 million fight over Austin’s ride-hailing regulations — when the department provided contradictory counts on drunken driving crashes in the city.
A subsequent analysis by the Statesman in August found significant deficiencies in how authorities have analyzed cases of driving while intoxicated — findings echoed in the city auditor’s report released this week.
“APD has routinely changed the techniques used for analysis of DWI data,” the audit report said. “These changes … have resulted in fluctuations in both the overall DWI arrest and crash statistics used for research and/or reported to stakeholders during the scope period October 2013 through March 2017.”
RELATED: Police revise drunken driving crash stats key to Prop 1 campaign
The report also plainly laid out the importance of the data: “These changes affect the accuracy of DWI incident data used by the department for decision-making and the consistency of reporting on DWI incidents.”
The department didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to questions about what — if any — changes it made in how it produces DWI counts, in the wake of the Statesman’s investigation and the auditor’s review.
However, the auditor’s report says the department made a key change the month after the Statesman published its investigation into the department’s DWI statistics.
The drunken driving data became a critical part of a political campaign seeking to overturn Austin’s ride-hailing regulations during the spring of 2016.
At the time, police data showed a 23 percent drop in drunken driving wrecks from 2013 to 2014, when ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft began to officially serve the city — a figure they used to support Proposition 1, which would have repealed City Hall regulations that required drivers be fingerprinted.
But, in the closing days of the campaign, the police provided the Statesman with a second set of figures that showed the drop was just 12 percent.
Uber and Lyft went on to lose by 12 percentage points.
Then, just days after the election, the police sent the Statesman a third set of numbers that showed the drop was 17 percent.
“The data that was given to us in the heat of the battle turned out to be wrong,” said District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool, who requested the review. “To the extent that we can control for some of this, we should be controlling for some of this.”
Pool said she will raise the issue of the Police Department hiring a full-time statistician during upcoming budget talks this summer as one way to reduce such errors in the future.
The Statesman investigation that followed identified key deficiencies in the Police Department’s statistics unit and how it crunches the drunken driving data. Like this year’s audit, the Statesman found that the department failed to standardize the criteria it used to pull and crunch the statistics from its database.
The investigation also found the department’s statistics unit had no formal system for storing these queries or the results they produce, depriving it of a key way to check its work, and that its staff has little formal training in computerized mapping, databases or statistics when they were hired.
“A tip of the hat to (the Statesman),” Pool said, for uncovering the shortcomings.
Friday, July 21st, 2017State transportation worker suspended after OUI arrest in R.I.
A MassDOT electrician arrested Wednesday for allegedly driving under the influence in Providence has been suspended without pay after he reportedly struck multiple cars in his state-owned vehicle after leaving a North Attleboro job site, according to an official’s account.
Rhode Island State Police arrested the man, identified in e-mails between senior MassDOT officials as Robert Chaves, on suspicion of drunk driving in the vicinity of the Lower South Providence neighborhood.
MassDOT officials were notified of the arrest at around 12:25 p.m. after Chaves was ordered off a job site Wednesday morning when he got into a verbal altercation with a state contractor over that worker’s “method of installation,” according to a written description by a MassDOT official of the sequence of events.
The details of the incident were revealed in a chain of e-mails between MassDOT management inadvertently sent to the News Service as they discussed the latest information available to them and a public response should they get questions from the media.
The Rhode Island State Police confirmed Chaves’s arrest to the News Service early Wednesday evening on charges of operating under the influence, and said the prisoner was still being processed as additional charges were considered. Damage to the vehicles hit by Chaves was minor, according to police, and no one was injured.
Acting Massachusetts Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, District 5 Highway Director Mary-Joe Perry and MassDOT spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard were among the officials on the e-mail chain.
Goddard, when contacted by the News Service, declined to discuss the details of the incident or the identity of the state employee involved.
“MassDOT is aware of this incident of very serious and unacceptable behavior, and has taken immediate steps to suspend the Highway Division employee in question from work without pay until the results of the law enforcement investigation become available,” she said in an official statement.
MassDOT District 5 engineer Bill Travers relayed one version of the morning’s events in an email to other MassDOT management as told to him by Chaves’s supervisor Michael Mulkhern. Based on that account, Chaves was working on a traffic loop installation project in North Attleboro Wednesday morning when he began “yelling and cursing” at one of the contractors.
Mulkhern “de-escalated” the situation and ordered Chaves back to the electrician’s depot in Middleborough.
After the incident was reported to the District 5 office, Mulkhern relayed orders to Chaves that he report to district offices in Taunton, but Chaves showed up again near the job site in North Attleboro before being told a second time to go to Taunton.
Instead of going there, it appears that Chaves drove to Rhode Island and Rhode Island State Police called the District 5 office to report that he had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after striking several vehicles, according to Travers’ e-mail.
According to Travers, the MassDOT vehicle Chaves was driving sustained “minor damage,” but was towed by state police to a lot in Providence because it had run out of gas.
Chaves, according to the e-mails, has been employed as a MassDOT electrician since August 2016.
Thursday, July 20th, 2017Fuel truck driver who OD'd at gas station had previous OVI conviction
CLEVES, Ohio -- A fuel truck driver whom police said overdosed with the motor running outside a gas station has been convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence before, according to records from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Police discovered Kristopher Phoenix bleeding from the nose and slumped to the floorboard of his truck after an overdose Wednesday morning, Police Chief Rick Jones said. Phoenix’s driver record indicates this wasn’t his first drug- or alcohol-related encounter with law enforcement: He was convicted of OVI in Ottowa County October 20, 2004.
His license was suspended for eight months as a result of that arrest and conviction. Phoenix’s driver record also contains three other suspensions for infractions related to non-compliance and improper equipment.
Phoenix's tanker was stopped at a BP station along U.S. Route 50 and state Route 264 Wednesday when a passerby spotted his prone body and told a clerk inside.
"It was kind of the perfect scenario of a bad storm, because you’ve got a fuel tanker truck with some sort of flammable liquid throughout the whole thing parked at a BP gas station with a driver who has overdosed on heroin," Jones said. "You could not ask for a worse scenario."
The chief said he startled Phoenix when he got inside. Phoenix admitted to using heroin, Jones said, but he didn't need naloxone to be revived. The truck also contained pills.
Jones said Phoenix was on the clock; WCPO contacted his employer, but no one was available to talk about his arrest.
Wednesday, July 19th, 2017Suspended Franklin attorney faces decade in prison following third OWI arrest
JOHNSON COUNTY -- A suspended Franklin attorney is facing more than a decade in prison after her third arrest for drunk driving.
Julia Compton was arrested on December 29, 2016, in Johnson County and charged as a habitual vehicular substance offender.
Johnson County prosecutors also filed three other criminal charges against Compton including operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a prior conviction, a felony, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person.
“We have every intention of arguing that she spend some time in prison,” said Johnson County deputy prosecutor Rob Seet. “We have every intention of proving her guilty.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is also pushing for Compton to receive a prison sentence.
"Based on her history and her convictions of drinking and driving, I am concerned she's going to hurt herself or somebody else, and I want to keep this community safe," said Lael Hill, Indiana spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Call 6 Investigates was unable to get video of Compton’s December 2016 arrest because the case is still pending.
However, Call 6 Investigates did obtain video of her March 29, 2012 arrest in Fortville.
Police pulled over Compton after officers saw her driving on the shoulder.
After failing her field sobriety and breath tests, police removed alcohol bottles from her car and struggled to get the handcuffs on her.
When they took her back to the Fortville police station, Compton told them she was an attorney.
At the time of her arrest, Compton was a licensed attorney in Franklin.
“I’m an attorney, please don’t do this,” Compton told the officer. “I will do whatever you want me to do.”
A chemical test showed Compton’s blood alcohol at .23, nearly three times the legal limit.
“I’m a f****** lawyer, alright?” said Compton. “I will call the judge, ok?”
Just a few months after the March 2012 arrest in Hancock County, Compton was arrested again in June 2012 for drunk driving in Johnson County.
Johnson County prosecutors filed seven criminal charges against Compton including OWI with prior OWI within 5 years, OWI with a BAC of .15% or more, driving while suspended with a prior, and resisting law enforcement.
Compton’s actions caught the attention of the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, the agency that investigates allegations of attorney misconduct.
In 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended Compton’s law license for six months, citing multiple alcohol related arrests within three and a half months.
She also had to serve two years of probation with monitoring from JLAP, the judges and lawyers assistance program.
In November 2013, Compton went to work at Marion County’s juvenile court as Best Practices Director where she handled court cases involving abused and neglected children.
She resigned in October 2016, and in December 2016, Compton was arrested a third time in Johnson County for drunk driving.
She’s facing more than a decade in prison if convicted.
It wasn’t until after Call 6 Investigates started asking questions about Compton’s case that her driver’s license was suspended in court on May 30, five months after her third drunk driving arrest.
Deputy prosecutor Rob Seet said Compton’s driver’s license suspension should have been automatic because Compton refused to take a test.
It’s unclear exactly why the suspension did not happen immediately following Compton’s arrest.
“I checked her license as I was kind of getting ready for trial, and I noticed that it was valid,” said Seet. “That’s a problem.”
Seet said they moved to impose Compton’s license suspension on the day they noticed, which was on May 19, and the court chose to address the issue at the May 30 hearing.
The BMV said they did not receive an order to suspend Compton’s license until June 1.
MADD is concerned about Compton driving on the road with other Hoosiers.
Tuesday, July 18th, 2017Longhorns volleyball star Micaya White faces DWI charges
AUSTIN, Texas -- Micaya White, who helped lead Texas to the NCAA women's volleyball final last season, will appear in court next month on a DWI charge.
According to Travis County state district court records, White is scheduled to appear Aug. 4 after being charged with driving while intoxicated by University of Texas police following a March 18 traffic stop. The Austin American-Statesman reported that White failed a field sobriety test.
The 20-year-old White, who will be a sophomore this season, is an outside hitter from Frisco, Texas, and was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year last season. Texas opens the season Aug. 25 against Florida.
Coach Jerritt Elliott said in a statement that the team has been aware of the situation and is addressing it internally.
Monday, July 17th, 2017Aaron Carter says he won't get caught for DUI, then gets caught for DUI
Aaron Carter and his girlfriend Madison Parker were arrested on DUI and drug charges in Georgia, authorities say. (Habersham County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Aaron Carter's words have come back to haunt him.
The singer and his girlfriend Madison Parker were arrested over the weekend in Georgia on DUI and drug charges in Georgia, according to authorities.
Last Monday, the couple was asked in a video obtained by TMZ taken in Tampa, Florida, about actor Shia LaBeouf. LaBeouf was arrested July 8 for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and obstruction in Georgia.
"You won't catch me getting any DUIs, I don't have any DUIs," Carter said at one point in the clip.
Carter and Parker were arrested Saturday, Habersham County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Floyd Canup said.
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Carter was released on bail Sunday. Canup said Parker was eligible for bail but has not been released and remained in jail for "unknown reasons."
Carter tweeted Sunday, "I'm coming to get you baby." Online jail records indicate both Carter and Parker have both been released.
Carter is accused of drunken driving and possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana and paraphernalia. Parker was arrested for obstruction, possession of less than 1 ounce of pot and paraphernalia.
Carter's vehicle was stopped on a highway in Cornelia. He was set to perform in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday night. A tweet from his account hours before the show said he wouldn't make it because of "transportation issues."
Carter is the younger brother of Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter, who said in a Sunday tweet directed at his sibling, " I am here and willing to help you get better."