Editorial: Harry Griffin DUI case points to another problem with SC law

harry-griffin-video (copy)
Charleston City Councilman Harry Griffin refused to take a field-sobriety test or a breathalyzer test when he was arrested on May 29 by the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office. The charges were dropped this month because the arresting officer had left law enforcement. Provided

The most obvious thing to say about Charleston City Councilman Harry Griffin’s driving under the influence charge that was dropped last week is that he wasn’t exonerated. Whether he was a lucky DUI lottery winner or was unfairly stripped of the right to prove his innocence is something we’ll never know.

Fortunately, that’s not the most important thing about this case.

The most important thing about this case is that it highlights one more problem with South Carolina’s inebriation-friendly DUI law.

Mr. Griffin was arrested on May 29 when the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office stopped him at a sobriety checkpoint and smelled alcohol on his breath. After initially telling deputies he hadn’t been drinking, he said he had “only one” drink. Then he refused to take a field sobriety test or a Breathalyzer test.

And as The Post and Courier’s Gregory Yee reports, the deputy who arrested him decided to get out of law enforcement before the case came to trial. Since Mr. Griffin’s refusal to take any sort of sobriety test meant the only evidence against him was the deputy’s video and testimony, the charge was dropped.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is “a very common problem,” according to Steven Burritt, executive director of South Carolina Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Mr. Burritt told us that the high turnover rate among police officers in many S.C. agencies “creates a level of jeopardy for the cases they made that have not been adjudicated.”

Police are able to preserve most criminal cases, which rely on evidence beyond an officer’s observations, but other cases are usually dropped.

What does this have to do with our driving under the influence law?

First, our DUI law incentivizes people to do what Mr. Griffin did and refuse to take a sobriety test.

A state law that should discourage this says drivers who refuse to submit to a test of their blood alcohol level automatically lose their license for six months, on the spot, even before a trial.

Unfortunately, this smart law has an insane provision that allows people to go down to the DMV and get a temporary license to drive while their permanent license is suspended. That’s right: It completely undercuts the intent of the law. That’s why more than 40% of people stopped for drunken driving in South Carolina now refuse to take a test. So the only evidence against them is the arresting officer’s word.

(The S.C. Senate passed a bill this year that requires people with suspended licenses to have an ignition-interlock device installed on their vehicles before they can get a temporary license. That wouldn’t take away the incentive to refuse the test, but it could stop people from driving drunk until their case eventually is heard. Unfortunately, the House refused to consider the bill.)

But even when people submit to a blood alcohol test, the cases are still dropped when arresting officers moves on unless their agencies send another officer to court to prosecute. And they usually don’t, because the many loopholes in our DUI law make convictions unlikely. Loopholes like, for instance, the one that makes it nearly impossible to win a conviction if the suspect wanders out of range of the officer’s dashcam for even a few seconds.

Precisely because all those loopholes make DUI cases so complicated, there’s a good chance that a trial will be delayed. That increases the chance that the officer will be gone by the time the case is tried.

The best way to fix this problem is for the Legislature to fix our DUI law: to change the mother-may-I dashcam video requirements and eliminate the incentives to refuse blood alcohol tests. It’s to provide funding so prosecutors rather than police try these highly technical cases; to provide funding for our courts so the wait for a jury trial isn’t so long; and to require better training for magistrates, who usually know much less about the law than the defense attorneys appearing before them.

All of that would make DUI cases seem more winnable to police and would make driving under the influence seem like a riskier choice to drivers.

But even absent legislative action, there are other steps that can help reduce the departed-officer problem — and a host of other problems with DUI cases.

Judges can be more skeptical about defense requests for trial delays. Most of us might have been unaware of the problem with departing officers, but MADD and other organizations have documented that the odds of winning a DUI conviction go down every day a trial is delayed. You can be sure that DUI attorneys know that, too.

And police agencies can send another officer to prosecute DUI cases when the arresting officer has moved on, and the agencies can ask (or require, through subpoenas) departed officers to return and testify in some cases.

This is about a lot more than holding the occasional politician accountable, or simply winning a conviction. It’s about saving lives.

One reason so many South Carolinians are injured and killed by drunken drivers is that our state doesn’t take drunken driving seriously enough. That’s mostly the fault of the Legislature, but even with the laws we have, everybody in the criminal justice system has an opportunity to recognize and treat drunken driving as the deadly crime that it is. https://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-harry-griffin-dui-case-points-to-another-problem-with-sc-law/article_afda2c38-e9a3-11eb-8ed3-03a4f9357527.html

Can gas stations be held liable for selling to DWI drivers?

(Michael Snyder/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

Some good news for the more litigious people in New Mexico showed up this week, though it may only be a temporary victory. In the case of Morris v. Giant Four Corners, Inc., the New Mexico State Supreme Court has ruled that gas stations may be held liable in lawsuits seeking damages after drunk drivers are involved in accidents. It wasn’t a unanimous decision and the reasoning behind it raises some significant questions, but the specific incident in question also hasn’t been decided. All the State Supreme Court was ruling on was the question of whether or not a gas station could be sued for serving an inebriated driver. The lower courts will still have to determine whether this ruling applies in the case of Gallup Deacon Marcellino Morris Jr., who was killed in an accident caused by Andy Denny in 2011. Denny had a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit and was driving down the wrong side of the highway at the time.

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Monday that gas stations may be liable for selling fuel to intoxicated drivers. According to a news release, the court’s majority concluded that the “legal doctrine of negligent entrustment of chattel applied to the sale of gasoline – creating a “duty of care” for vendors to refrain from supplying fuel to drunken drivers because of the risk of harm from driving while intoxicated.”

Chief Justice Michael E. Vigil and Justices C. Shannon Bacon and David K. Thomson formed the Court’s majority. Justice Barbara J. Vigil dissented saying this could have far-reaching consequences for retail businesses and no New Mexico law specifically requires non-alcohol vendors to prevent DWI. Vigil retired from the court at the end of June.

The decision comes in response from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to resolve a question of state law concerning the potential liability of a McKinley County retailer that sold gasoline in 2011 to an intoxicated driver, Andy Denny, near Tohatchi.

There seem to be several problems with this decision. As Justice Vigil wrote in her dissent, New Mexico has never passed a law establishing a burden on non-alcohol vendors in terms of preventing DWI from occurring. And this could create significant burdens on those businesses, particularly the smaller, family-owned gas stations, as opposed to national chains.

The issues don’t end with the legalities, however. This decision makes little sense in the current era given how most gas stations operate. It’s rare to find a station anymore where drivers don’t have the option of paying at the pump with their credit or debit card after filling up their tanks and simply driving away. I can’t recall the last time that we actually walked into a gas station unless one of us needed to use the restroom or wanted to pick up some bottled water or food. (No… gas station sushi does not count as food.)

If you make the station attendant responsible for ensuring the sobriety of customers, they will either have to walk out of the station every time someone pulls up to the pumps or discontinue the self-serve option altogether. That would be even more disruptive to the industry.

Also, just in terms of common sense, the gas station attendant isn’t capable of preventing the DWI, to begin with, in nearly all cases. If a driver pulls up and appears intoxicated and the attendant refuses them service, unless they coasted into the station on fumes they’re just going to pull back out onto the road and look for another station.

While the Marcellino Morris family clearly suffered a terrible loss, it’s not hard to imagine that the family’s attorney is simply looking for a deeper set of pockets to go after if Andy Denny isn’t a person of wealth. That might make a national chain of gas stations look like an appealing target, but they really need to establish some sort of fault and harm created by the gas station. And really, I’m just not seeing it. https://hotair.com/jazz-shaw/2021/07/20/can-gas-stations-be-held-liable-for-selling-to-dwi-drivers-n403440

Sample preparation in forensic toxicological analysis may have huge impacts

blood sample
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

As analytical instrumentation (gas- and liquid-chromatographs coupled with mass spectrometers) increase in sensitivity and speed, forensic scientists may find themselves still hindered by the process of preparing samples (blood, urine, etc.) for analysis and seeking more efficient approaches.

In an article in WIRES Forensic Science, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine’s (BUSM) Biomedical Forensic Sciences program, provide an overview of sample preparation techniques and information on routine sample types that may be encountered in forensic toxicology cases.

Forensic toxicology encompasses a large variety of scenarios including drug-facilitated crimes, understanding the role alcohol or other drugs may have played in an individuals’ deaths, as well as complex polydrug use in driving under the influence cases. As variable as the cases, so too are the composition of biological matrices in addition to how to identify drugs or other compounds in biological samples. This has provided a vast array of sample preparation approaches that scientist have in their toolbox. “Our work highlights the variability in sample types that toxicological analysis encompasses as well as vast array of sample preparation techniques that are currently available,” said corresponding author Sabra R. Botch-Jones, MS, MS, MA, assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology at BUSM.

According to the researchers, the choice of biological matrix is dependent on the anticipated answer the toxicologist is trying to get. Is suspected drug use recent? If so, a blood or oral fluid sample may be best to assess the drugs present and how much is in the sample. In cases of driving while impaired, it is essential to obtain a sample that is appropriate to assess if the drug effected the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. When drugs are used, the human body will break down, or metabolize, the drug and eventually excrete it. Drugs and their metabolites may be excreted or removed from the body over a course of hours and even days. For example, if there has been a delay in obtaining a sample or reporting a crime in which drugs are suspected, a urine sample may be best. If extensive amounts of time have elapsed, a hair sample may be a viable option to determine exposure to a suspected drug or other compound.

As with the instrumentation, sample preparation tools have also advanced over time. Solid phase and, more recently supported liquid extraction, allows the unwanted materials in the biological sample to be retained on a solid surface composed of natural materials such as silica or diatomaceous earth. These extraction tools can provide clean extracts containing the drugs of interest and help to recover a large variety of drugs, which can aid in laboratory efficiency when dealing with poly-drug cases.

“Researchers have a number of biological samples to choose from when trying to identify what substances may be in the human body, however it important that they choose the right one to help answer their research question. As equally important is the choice of how to prepare the sample for analysis. This work provides an overview of the routine biological samples, their components, and ways to process them for downstream analysis,” explains Botch-Jones. https://phys.org/news/2021-07-sample-forensic-toxicological-analysis-huge.html

A renewed push: Technology on all new vehicles to prevent drunken driving

A renewed push: Technology on all new vehicles to prevent drunken driving
A universal ignition interlock used to combat drunken driving. Unlike ignition interlocks in use today, mostly for people charged or convicted of drunken driving, the new technology would be built into the vehicle.Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety

Technology that could reduce drunken driving has evolved faster than the willingness among political and auto industry leaders to put it to use, safety advocates say.

But that could be changing.

On Wednesday, the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety announced that its breath-analyzing interlock, which can detect impaired drivers, will be available for use in commercial vehicles for the first time later this year. A consumer version could be ready by 2024.

The device is among several anti-DUI technologies that could be used to prevent drunken driving and has so far attracted the most attention. For more than a decade, the federal government and the auto industry have been working to develop the device as part of a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS, that can passively detect whether a driver is intoxicated and prevent the vehicle from starting.https://9fab27fdf9332b8995331951b241604e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

But with a new administration in the White House, a new Congress and advances in the technology, momentum appears to be building for new federal auto safety standards that would go beyond DADSS to reduce alcohol-related crashes and save an estimated 9,400 lives.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is pressing the auto industry to take advantage of existing technology, such as driver-monitoring and driver-assist lane controls, to reduce drunken driving now, rather than wait for DADSS or fully autonomous vehicles to hit the market.

While some automakers, such as Volvo, have integrated driver-monitoring cameras and sensors into their safety systems, advocates expressed frustration that the rest of the industry has been slow to do the same.

“We are mad that the automakers are ignoring the potential technologies they have to prevent drunken driving,” said Ken Snyder, whose daughter, Katie Snyder Evans, was killed by a drunk driver in October 2017 in California. He said there are 241 technologies available to combat drunken driving, with some requiring little more than rejiggering the computer code in driver-assist technology. “I can’t sit still until this is done because I don’t want other families to go through the hell we’ve been through,” Snyder said.

The number of drunken driving fatalities has fallen by more than half since 1982, when the federal government began collecting alcohol-related crash data. Yet every 50 minutes, another American dies in an alcohol-related crash. The Insurance Information Institute says 10,142 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2019, accounting for 28 % of all traffic fatalities.

Bipartisan legislation — the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act in the Senate and a similar bill in the House — would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to formulate rules and standards on implementing anti-DUI technology. Backers include Rep. Debbie Dingell and Sen. Gary Peters, both Democrats from Michigan. Several Republicans, including Sen. Rick Scott of Florida and Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia, have also signed on.

The auto industry opposes such mandates. Industry officials warn that existing driver-assist and driver-monitoring technology is not yet up to the task of intervening against a drunk driver, and that ineffective or unreliable measures could backfire. What would happen, they ask, if technology designed to monitor driver behavior inaccurately determined that a driver was impaired and disabled the vehicle or forced the vehicle off the road?

“While these systems may help identify many of the effects of alcohol and drug impairment, we are unaware of existing research demonstrating the robust effectiveness of these systems in detecting alcohol impairment,” Scott Schmidt, vice president for safety policy at the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said in comments submitted to NHTSA in January.

At best, Schmidt said, the current driver-assist technology can only infer that a person is impaired, unlike DADSS, which is intended to make reliable and accurate readings of a driver before the car gets on the road. He said it’s also possible that current technology might fail to intervene with a “high functioning” driver who is relatively able to operate the vehicle while under the influence.https://9fab27fdf9332b8995331951b241604e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“As a result, we believe that DADSS research should be supported and completed as an agency priority,” Schmidt wrote.Get our Daily Headlines newsletter

NHTSA also supports further research and development of DADSS, an ignition interlock device that would prevent the vehicle from starting if it determines that the driver has a blood alcohol level above a certain threshold. Such breathalyzer-like devices have become widespread over the past three decades as states implemented various programs to stop recidivism among drivers who were charged with or convicted of a DUI.

Unlike existing interlocks, however, DADSS technology is intended to become standard equipment in all automobiles and require no effort from the driver to take a reading. The driver would not be required to blow into a tube, for example. Instead, DADSS would analyze the driver’s ambient breath. The nonprofit is also developing a touch-based sensor similar to thermometers and blood-oxygen gauges applied to a finger tip.

Robert Strassburger, president of Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, said the pandemic had set back development of DADSS by at least a year because of limits on research involving human subjects and disruptions to the supply chain for electronic components. He said the coalition is ahead of the usual 20-year timeline for research and development of a major traffic safety component with its breath-analyzing interlock.

“We still need to make the sensor more sensitive to alcohol and further shrink its size so it’s more easily integrated into cars,” Strassburger said. He said the touch-based technology is expected to reach commercial fleets by 2023, followed by a consumer version two years later.

NHTSA has contributed $55 million to developing DADSS, matched by $16 million from the auto industry, an agency spokeswoman said. The federal agency is also exploring other possible technologies to reduce drunken driving, having issued a “request for information” to manufacturers and researchers in November. A report on the findings is expected later this year.

Joan Claybrook, a former president of Public Citizen who headed NHTSA during the Carter administration, likened the push for anti-DUI technology to the resistance to installing air bags in vehicles.

“Fifty thousand lives have been saved by air bags, and the auto industry fought it like mad, even though they invented it,” Claybrook said.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing in April, Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., a Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act co-sponsor and victim of a drunk driver, expressed urgency as he questioned John Bozzella, president of Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

“Mr. Bozzella, have you ever been hit by a drunk driver?” Luján asked.

“No, I have not,” Bozzella answered.

“I have,” Luján said. “I got hit head-on by a drunk driver 29 years ago. And there were many nights that I’d be driving home after that accident, or driving anywhere, and all I would see were headlights coming at me, and it scared me to death.”

Luján, in an interview last week, said he still recalls the feeling of shock and disorientation he felt moments after the crash. He also recalled seeing an empty child carrier in the other car and fearing that perhaps a child had been flung from the wreckage. It turned out that the other car’s only occupant was the drunk driver, and both he and Luján emerged from the crash relatively uninjured.https://9fab27fdf9332b8995331951b241604e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“The point of this, I’m here to tell the story, (but) there are so many people who died,” Luján said. “There’s no good reason why auto manufacturers are not required to include technology in their vehicles which is readily available to prevent drunken driving crashes from happening.” https://www.bendbulletin.com/business/a-renewed-push-technology-on-all-new-vehicles-to-prevent-drunken-driving/article_486d4ea5-a3b8-567e-8cd7-04f891848a75.html

Cleveland Browns News & Rumors 6/10: OTAs, Remorse, and 4PM Early-Bird Buffets

ByBARRY MCBRIDE Jun 10, 7:34 AM

The media was allowed in to see OTAs and talk to a couple of players yesterday, and we accordingly have a flood of content in today’s newswire. Plus, of course, there was fallout from the Callie Brownson OVI arrest, which generated more articles than anything else.

I’m not sure how I feel about a full newswire. On one hand, it takes quite a while to find and then link a flood of articles by hand. On the other, I’m not writing about some player’s kid playing field hockey or whatever keeps me busy most days during the Summer. So, I guess we should accept today’s smorgasbord of Browns articles as a plus.

You know, as a soon-to-be-senior citizen, I should familiarize myself more with the word “smorgasbord”. You rarely see them advertised. It’s like a buffet, I guess, just sort of Swedish, and we seniors like our buffets. My wife recently had an auspicious birthday and I spent most of the day alerting her to the nearest local buffets and their early bird Senior hours. There’s also Golden Corral, another true winner. Either way, I’m sure there’s lukewarm meatloaf at 4PM in our happily married future.

I should probably note at this point that my wife is a patient woman, as 30+ years putting up with me will attest. That patience is good from the perspective of not having to dodge thrown objects when I abuse the fact that she’s two months older than me, but it’s a disadvantage when noting that patient people are really good at plotting revenge. A dish best served lukewarm. At a buffet.

Then again, that’s nothing you have to worry about unless I suddenly get my comeuppance. Which I will. Here’s the Newswire… https://247sports.com/nfl/cleveland-browns/LongFormArticle/cleveland-browns-news-rumors-callie-brownson-greedy-williams-john-johnson-166368204/#166368204_1

Man’s OWI conviction vacated by Supreme Court over warrantless blood draw, sent back to lower court

Gavel

The Iowa Supreme Court reversed the conviction of a Des Moines man who pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated and sent the case back to Polk County Court last week. 

Brian McGee, 20, was charged with operating while intoxicated after allegedly causing a 2018 crash in which he and five others were injured. He pleaded guilty on July 22, 2019, and was sentenced to a year in jail, with all but seven days suspended. McGee was also ordered to pay a $1,250 fine and $10,000 in restitution to the victims before he appealed. 

Around 2 p.m. Dec 8, 2018, investigators said McGee was traveling at a high rate of speed and failed to yield before making a left turn, which caused a two-vehicle crash in the 1500 block of Euclid Avenue. Five occupants of the other vehicle were treated at a local hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening. 

One of the injured children needed 13 stitches, missed two weeks of school and was still scared of traveling in a car months later, Justice Edward Mansfield wrote in last week’s 5-2 decision.

McGee was found unconscious in his vehicle and had to be extricated from the driver’s seat before being transported to a local hospital. Medics at the scene noted a strong smell of marijuana, according to the ruling. 

At the hospital McGee was sedated and remained unconscious and could not consent to having his blood drawn.

An on-call Des Moines police officer did not attempt to get a warrant for the blood draw. The officer could have gotten a warrant, but said that at the time Des Moines Police Department policy only allowed officers to obtain warrants for blood testing non-responsive drivers for their OWI offense or if there were serious injuries or deaths in a crash, according to the decision. Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it

McGee briefly woke up around 4 p.m. a few moments after the officer requested that a nurse draw his blood. But McGee was incoherent  at the time and did not respond to questions, the decision said. 

He fell unconscious again and had his blood drawn without his consent at 4:10 p.m. Results showed traces of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, and non-impairing metabolites.

The Iowa Supreme Court agreed with the district court that the law was followed here. 

“Certifications do not expire in eleven minutes, at least without clearer evidence that the driver has become capable of refusing or consenting in the meantime,” the decision said. 

But the Iowa Supreme Court wanted the district court to consider a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that whenever probable cause exists to believe a driver committed drunk driving, a warrantless blood draw is almost always acceptable.

In that case, Gerald Mitchell was arrested in Wisconsin in May 2013 for operating while intoxicated. At a hospital, Mitchell was unconscious and did not consent to a blood draw, which showed he had a blood alcohol concentration of .222.

“If McGee had smelled of an alcoholic beverage rather than marijuana, there would be no doubt that Mitchell applies to this case,” Mansfield said. 

McGee’s erratic driving and the strong odor of burnt marijuana gave police probable cause to conclude he violated Iowa’s controlled substance laws, the decision said. But there was not enough probable cause to conclude he was driving drunk, Mansfield said. 

Ashland County man accused of driving to mock crash while intoxicated faces charges

ASHLAND, Ohio (WJW)– Ashland County Sheriff’s deputies filed several charges against a man who is accused of driving while intoxicated in the same parking lot as a mock crash Friday morning.

Mark Fulk is being held in the Ashland County Jail and is facing several charges including operating a vehicle under the influence, aggravated menacing, resisting arrest and inducing panic.

Fulk is scheduled to appear in Ashland Municipal Court on Tuesday.

Deputies and the Ohio State Highway Patrol were at the Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center holding the mock crash to teach students the dangers of driving while impaired. That’s when they saw a vehicle enter the parking lot at a high rate of speed, the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release on Monday

“They believed that this vehicle was part of the demonstration,” the news release said. “A school representative advised the deputies that were on scene for the demonstration of this possible impaired driver.”

The deputies quickly went to Fulk’s car. When they started speaking to him, they detected an odor of alcohol.

“While talking to Mr. Fulk, deputies noticed his slurred speech as he spoke incoherently acting in an erratic manner,” the release said. “Deputies reported that Mr. Fulk made statements and gestures toward students in a violent manner.”

Fulk said he was at the school to take the cat he had in the vehicle to the vet, according to deputies.

The news release said Fulk failed a field sobriety tests and had an open container of alcohol in his car. https://fox8.com/news/ashland-county-man-accused-of-driving-to-mock-crash-while-intoxicated-faces-charges/

Tracking one illegal immigrant’s path from Mexico to drunk-driving manslaughter

Even before he took office, President Biden made a big splash with his sweeping immigration reform proposal. While headlines focus on a path to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants, it’s important to note the plan’s lackluster efforts on curbing illegal immigration. And while the proposal doesn’t expand the wall on the southern border, Biden hopes to curb illegal immigration by utilizing better technology and infrastructure on the border. Seemingly lost in the proposal is any change in punishments for illegal immigrants who commit other crimes or any way to crack down on the sanctuary jurisdictions that enable them.

Consider the path of destruction caused by just one man who illegally crossed the border and was not deported despite his serious crimes.

In 2007, 16-year-old Tessa Tranchant’s future was alight with promise. Starting at age five, Tessa earned accolades around the country for her skill in Irish dance. In passing years, she became passionate about riding English horses, enjoyed playing guitar, sang the musical score from Rent with gusto, and was an especially accomplished surfer. The all-American teenager seemed destined to fulfill the dreams of her Hispanic, Irish, and European immigrant forebearers.

Tessa Tranchant 1
Tessa Tranchant
Tessa Tranchant 2
Tessa Tranchant

But on March 30, 2007, as Tessa and her friend, Alison Kunhardt, waited for a traffic light to turn green, a careless drunk driver, who had entered the country illegally years prior, forever snuffed out both girls’ ambitions.

A ticking time bomb

The record of illegal immigrant Alfredo Ramos’s first six years in the United States is full of purposeful omissions.

In a 2017 prison interview, Ramos claimed that he wanted to come clean about his illegal past. He admitted, through a translator, that he breached the U.S. border in a four-day voyage by foot across the desert from the Mexican state of Sonora to Mesa, Arizona.

From the moment his feet touched U.S. soil around 2001, Ramos’s every movement was calculated to evade detection. For years, he succeeded.

In Mesa, he acquired a vehicle. On someone’s advice, possibly from an older brother also residing illegally in the country, Ramos drove to North Carolina, where an organization he has never named sold him the false documents that he would need to work in the U.S.

According to transcripts from Ramos’s manslaughter trial, the illegal immigrant first lived in Florida before moving to Virginia, where a series of police interactions should have put him on federal authorities’ radar.

Between October 2006 and March 30, 2007, the 22-year-old Ramos accumulated three alcohol-related misdemeanor convictions: public drunkenness in Chesapeake, Virginia; a DUI again in Chesapeake, where his blood alcohol concentration level was 0.14%; and public intoxication in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Ramos was also convicted of identity theft and a seat belt violation in early 2007. Additionally, he was charged in Chesapeake for driving without a license and having no insurance, but the charges were withdrawn.

In the first incident, on October 29, 2006, a Chesapeake police officer discovered Ramos passed out in the passenger seat of his vehicle, which was parked in a driving lane in a restaurant parking lot. It took the officer nearly five minutes to rouse Ramos, who stumbled out of the vehicle, unzipped his fly, moved to the rear of his car, and began to urinate. After being called to an emergency, the officer returned and charged Ramos with public intoxication.

Just two weeks later, on Nov. 13, 2006, Ramos veered over a double yellow line on a two-lane road. His car headed straight toward the vehicle of a Chesapeake police officer, who utilized a small section of shoulder to swerve and recover before pursuing Ramos. When Ramos finally stopped, he blew a 0.14% BAC, almost double the legal limit of 0.08%. He was charged with a DUI.

On Jan. 19, 2007, citizens called 911 to report Ramos’s erratic driving as he careened over curbs, heading toward heavily trafficked Virginia Beach Boulevard. After Ramos popped both of his front tires, a citizen stopped his vehicle by pulling the keys from his ignition, though Ramos continued attempting to accelerate. While waiting for officers from the Virginia Beach Police Department to arrive, Ramos told the citizen to let him go because he “would not do it again, and he lived right up the street.” When officers arrived, they charged Ramos with public drunkenness.

Ramos’s record was lengthy and included clear warnings that he was a ticking time bomb. But since his record technically included only misdemeanors, a Virginia Beach Police Department “sanctuary policy” enacted in 2005 prohibited the authorities from even asking Ramos about his immigration status.

In February 2007, when Ramos came before a judge to answer to his DUI charge, he was given a 90-day suspended sentence and a $250 fine, was ordered to participate in an alcohol awareness program, and his fake Florida license was suspended. Not being legally licensed had not stopped Ramos from driving before his trial,and the suspension of his fake license had no effect on his behavior.

Ramos, the ticking time bomb, ticked ever closer to an explosion.

According to court documents, Ramos initially denied having consumed alcohol on March 30, 2007. Later, he admitted he had two beers. Finally, he settled on admitting to having four to five beers. As the translator said in his 2017 jailhouse interview, “At that time, he was aware that he was that drunk, but he was much younger, and he felt invincible.”

Ramos sped down Virginia Beach Boulevard at more than 65 mph, at least 20 mph above the posted speed limit. His BAC level hovered at 0.24% — or three times the legal limit.

Ramos was less than two miles away from his residence when he slammed his 1998 Mitsubishi into a 1994 Plymouth Duster stopped at a traffic light. On hearing the explosive crash, residents nearby thought a bomb had gone off.

Car Crash
The aftermath of the crash

Inside the Plymouth, Tessa Tranchant and Alison were on their way home from the movies. They had just stopped at a convenience store to buy a pack of gum. As Tessa’s father, Ray, said: “They were just sitting at the light, strapped in their seat belts. They were just doing what they were supposed to be doing.”

Neither girl survived. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/tracking-one-illegal-immigrants-path-from-mexico-to-drunk-driving-manslaughter

Texas Woman Took Off Her Pants on Plane & Fought Flight Attendants: Cops

Sierra Nicole McClinton

GettyAn aircraft on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport.

Sierra Nicole McClinton is a 25-year-old Universal City, Texas, woman who caused a United Airlines flight to be diverted after she stripped off her pants and got into an altercation with flight attendants, according to officials. The flight was a CommutAir flight operating as United Express from Jacksonville, Florida, heading to Houston, Texas, on Thursday, according to The New York Post.

One passenger on the flight posted about the incident on Instagram, writing, “Most interesting flight of my life. The lady in handcuffs threw up on herself mid flight, took her pants off, tried to fight another passenger, then swung on the flight attendant. So we had to have an emergency landing.”https://527c1fe161bc5e525f3b891f2cf83917.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The Houston-bound plane was forced to divert to Mobile, Alabama, where it made an emergency landing and law enforcement met the plane and the unruly passenger at the gate.


McClinton Was Intoxicated & Became Belligerent During the Flight & Is Now Facing Charges, Officials Say

Sierra Nicole McClinton

Mobile Airport Authority PoliceSierra Nicole McClinton

The incident appeared to have started when McClinton threw up on herself and proceeded to remove her pants, according to one witness’s Instagram post. At that point, she got into a dispute with another passenger and became belligerent with flight attendants.

The Mobile Airport Authority Police Department met the aircraft at the gate and arrested McClinton, WALA reported. Police told the outlet that the passenger got into an “altercation” with someone else on the plane and flight attendants stepped in to assist. According to the outlet, McClinton was detained by a passenger and a flight attendant while the plane landed in Mobile.

When McClinton disembarked from the plane, she was wearing only her underwear and a t-shirt and “appeared intoxicated,” police told WALA. The outlet wrote that McClinton was swearing and not cooperating with law enforcement. She was charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

A CommutAir spokesperson told Fox News in a statement, “CommutAir flight 4332, operating as United Express from Jacksonville to Houston, diverted to Mobile when a passenger became disruptive. The aircraft landed safely in Mobile where law enforcement officials met the aircraft at the gate. The flight continued on to Houston shortly after.”


Officials Recently Announced That a July Texas-Bound Flight Was Diverted to New Mexico After a Woman Died of COVID-19 Mid-Flight

Recently, officials in Dallas County announced that a woman in her 30s died of COVID-19 on a flight to Texas from Las Vegas. In that case, a woman became unresponsive mid-flight and the pilot diverted the aircraft to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Emergency services responded to the passenger but she was declared dead on the scene.https://527c1fe161bc5e525f3b891f2cf83917.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Dallas County officials stated that the woman had underlying health conditions and was having trouble breathing during the flight, but it’s unclear if the woman knew that she had COVID-19. Although the Garland, Texas, woman died in New Mexico on a flight from Las Vegas, her death was added to Texas’ tally of COVID-19 cases.

The incident itself occurred in July but the information was only shared with officials in October, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told WFAA. https://heavy.com/news/sierra-nicole-mcclinton-plane-pants/