Tree Campaign Fails to Slow City’s Impaired Driving Trend

Police in Anchorage, Alaska, tried to highlight the danger of impaired driving with a December campaign.

The Associated Press

A tree adorned with colored ribbons representing December arrests for impaired driving stands on the third floor of the Anchorage Police Department on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. Police erected the tree in hopes of raising awareness of impaired driving. However, officers made so many arrests, the department ran out of blue ribbons and had to switch to plaid.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (AP) — Police in Anchorage, Alaska, issued a December challenge to community members to not drive while intoxicated.

To highlight the campaign, they erected a Christmas tree and said they would tie on a blue ribbon for every arrest for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.

The challenge was not heeded, Anchorage television station KTVA reported. The tree was quickly adorned, and police ran out of blue ribbon.

Through Dec. 14, Anchorage police placed 59 ribbons on the tree. Numbers continued to trend the wrong way after that. The department made 36 arrests for operating under the influence from Dec. 15 to Dec. 21.

“That’s 36 more ribbons on the tree,” the department said in a statement. “We ran out of blue ribbon (so did Costco) so we switched to plaid and had to start tying bows on the side because the front is full. This is no good. Don’t drive drunk or high. It just isn’t worth it.”

Final arrest numbers for December will be available next week, said Kendra Doshier, a department spokeswoman.

The department made 130 OUI arrests in December 2016. That climbed to 139 in 2017 and 150 in December 2018. The upward trend is frustrating for police.

“There’s just so many other things you can do other than get behind the wheel of that car and potentially end your life or the life of someone else,” said Renee Oistad, police department spokeswoman.

Local bar owners agreed.

“We don’t want over-consumption,” said Matt Tomter, owner of Matanuska Brewing Co. At the company’s three locations, he said, employees are instructed to look out for the safety of customers.

“We want everyone to have a good time, get everybody home safe, encourage people to take an Uber or Lyft if they’ve been drinking at all,” he said. All designated drivers receive free non-alcoholic drinks, he said. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/alaska/articles/2020-01-02/tree-campaign-fails-to-slow-citys-impaired-driving-trend

Instagram model, 24, who was caught driving home drunk and claimed police were tipped off by a man she had accused of sexual assault is banned from the roads for 17 months

  • Jordi Leigh was almost twice the alcohol limit when officers stopped her
  • She said she was trying to get away from a man she’d accused of sexual assault
  • Leigh pleaded guilty to the charge and was banned from the roads for 17 months 

An Instagram model who was caught driving home drunk has been banned from the roads for 17 months. 

Jordi Leigh, 24, was almost twice the alcohol limit after officers stopped her at 11:45 p.m. on May 23. whilst she was at the wheel of her white Audi A1 sports car near her home in Sale, near Altrincham. 

The student nurse, who has 30,000 followers on her social media page, claimed police who arrested her were tipped off by a man she had accused of sexual assault and that she was the victim of a revenge sting after police refused to charge her suspected attacker. 

Jordi Leigh (full name Jordania Leigh Williamson-Blessing leaving Manchester magistrates where she pleaded not guilty to drink driving. Leigh an Instagram model was caught driving home drunk but claimed police who arrested her were tipped off by a man she had accused of sexual assault

Jordi Leigh (full name Jordania Leigh Williamson-Blessing leaving Manchester magistrates where she pleaded not guilty to drink driving. Leigh an Instagram model was caught driving home drunk but claimed police who arrested her were tipped off by a man she had accused of sexual assault

She said on the night of her arrest she had bumped into the suspect during an evening out at a cocktail bar and she decided to drive home to get away from him as she felt ‘threatened.’ADVERTISING

Leigh, who dated Reality TV star Sean Pratt and who regularly models swimwear and other designer items on Instagram, said she was only arrested as the unnamed man called police to give the details of her car – and to say she had been drinking. Police confirmed officers had received prior ‘intelligence’ the Audi driver might be drunk before they stopped her.

At Manchester magistrates court Leigh, who appeared in court under her full name  Jordania Leigh Williamson-Blessing initially denied driving with excess alcohol. 

Leigh, 24, was almost twice the alcohol limit after officers stopped her at 11:45 p.m. on May 23 whilst she was at the wheel of her white Audi A1 sports car near her home in Sale, near Altrincham (pictured with her Audi car)

Leigh, 24, was almost twice the alcohol limit after officers stopped her at 11:45 p.m. on May 23 whilst she was at the wheel of her white Audi A1 sports car near her home in Sale, near Altrincham (pictured with her Audi car) 

The student nurse, who has 30,000 followers on her social media page, claimed police who arrested her were tipped off by a man she had accused of sexual assault. Prosecutor Eileen Rodgers said: 'She was seen by an officer in the area and at the particular time she was stopped there was a presence of alcohol in system. The reason why the officer stopped her was that he had received intelligence that the driver of the vehicle possibly had consumed alcohol'

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The student nurse, who has 30,000 followers on her social media page, claimed police who arrested her were tipped off by a man she had accused of sexual assault. Prosecutor Eileen Rodgers said: ‘She was seen by an officer in the area and at the particular time she was stopped there was a presence of alcohol in system. The reason why the officer stopped her was that he had received intelligence that the driver of the vehicle possibly had consumed alcohol’

However, on the day of her trial she pleaded guilty to the charge and was banned from the roads for 17 months. She was also fined £120 plus £115 in costs and surcharges but was allowed to pay it back at just £40 a month. 

Prosecutor Eileen Rodgers said: ‘She was seen by an officer in the area and at the particular time she was stopped there was a presence of alcohol in system. The reason why the officer stopped her was that he had received intelligence that the driver of the vehicle possibly had consumed alcohol.

‘He stopped the vehicle and spoke to Miss Williamson-Blessing. She admitted to consuming alcohol and she did smell of intoxicants. She gave the explanation that she had seen a male out in the Altrincham area whom she had previously accused of a sexual offence against her. She has no recorded convictions and is a young lady of previous good character.’

Tests showed Leigh who has been working at Salford Royal Hospital whilst studying for her Salford University nursing degree had 66 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

In mitigation her lawyer David Campbell said: ‘This is an unusual set of circumstances and there was an issue as to whether special reasons could be argued but on the evidence available she realises she can’t advance an argument for special reasons.

At Manchester magistrates court Leigh, who appeared in court under her full name Jordania Leigh Williamson-Blessing initially denied driving with excess alcohol. However, on the day of her trial she pleaded guilty to the charge and was banned from the roads for 17 months

‘The situation is the defendant had been in the Altrincham area and gone for a night out. She driven there with the intention of leaving her car and picking it up the next day.

‘But unfortunately while out in one of the bars she encountered a male person whom she previously made a complaint to police as regards his behaviour…As regards to her complaint of a sexual nature, police had decided they would not authorise charges and unfortunately when she saw that gentleman that evening she felt threatened and therefore left the premises.

‘She then drove home and someone was in the car with her. The person who reported her to police must have been the person she previously had made a complaint against.’

Leigh, who dated Reality TV star Sean Pratt, and who regularly models swimwear and other designer items on Instagram. The court heard how the student nurse, who has 30,000 followers on her social media page, has not been in university this term after suffering from anxiety, according to her lawyer David Campbell, relating to the man who she has accused of sexual assault

Leigh, who dated Reality TV star Sean Pratt, and who regularly models swimwear and other designer items on Instagram. The court heard how the student nurse, who has 30,000 followers on her social media page, has not been in university this term after suffering from anxiety, according to her lawyer David Campbell, relating to the man who she has accused of sexual assault

Mr Campbell added: ‘She has not been in university this term and has been signed off suffering from anxiety and an anxiety disorder and this comes from the incident with regard to the gentleman.

‘She has not got any income and has not claimed a bursary she is entitled to or student grant. She’s going to start again in January.

‘References speak very highly of her and she clearly is a person who’s found herself in a difficult situation.

‘She thought she was doing the right thing but it was clearly wrong and she now has to face the consequences. She regrets what’s occurred and her family will assist her with her costs.’

Leigh was then offered the chance of drink drive awareness course which could reduce her ban to a year. She began dating Ex On The Beach star Pratt last year after he broke up with Geordie Shore’s Zahida Allen. It is thought the couple split up in August.

Judge tosses a blood test taken without a warrant in manslaughter case

The Food and Drug Administration approved a first-ever blood test to detect the telltale signs of serious brain injury, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Dreamstime/TNS)

A judge in Hancock County has thrown out the results of a blood test taken from a driver in a fatal crash, saying that police failed to get a warrant for the test and were not justified in getting a blood sample without one.

Darlene Haslam, 54, of Eastbrook faces charges of manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants and driving to endanger in connection with a November 2017 crash in Eastbrook. Trudy Pickard, 54, a passenger in the pickup truck Haslam was driving, died when the truck spun around in the Eastbrook Community Center parking lot off Route 200, struck a guide wire for a utility pole, and then accelerated across the road and struck a tree head-on, police have said.

Not long after the crash, police took Haslam to a hospital and told her she was required to take a blood test, but did not obtain a warrant allowing them to get the sample. According to court documents, Haslam’s blood-alcohol content tested above 0.08 percent, which is the minimum at which someone is legally considered to be intoxicated. Haslam’s precise test results are not included in the public court documents.

Haslam’s defense attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, filed a motion to suppress the evidence in court, arguing that the blood sample was obtained improperly and should not be used as evidence against his client. Justice Bruce Mallonee agreed and granted the motion Nov. 1.

At issue was whether police were allowed to get a blood sample without a warrant. Mallonee ruled that Haslam, though agreeable in her dealings with police, did not consent to having her blood drawn but acquiesced after she asked a police officer if she could refuse and was told she had no choice. The officer, Deputy Travis Frost of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, “never told her she could refuse and never gave her the opportunity to decline,” the judge wrote, despite her legal right to insist that he first obtain a warrant.

In his decision, Mallonee wrote that in some situations there are “exigent” circumstances — those that require immediate aid or action — in which police can legally obtain a blood sample without a warrant. However, prosecutors never argued such circumstances applied following the crash and records of the investigation do not suggest such urgency was a concern, the judge added.

The circumstances under which police officers are permitted to take blood samples from drivers without first getting a warrant have prompted recent appeals of similar cases at both the state and federal court levels.

This summer the Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments concerning the admissibility of a blood sample obtained from a trucker from Tennessee who was convicted of causing a 2016 crash that killed two people on Route 17 in the Knox County town of Washington. The court has yet to issue a decision.

Also this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police can obtain a blood sample without a warrant from drivers who are unconscious and who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, or if exigent circumstances require that police obtain a sample quickly.

In his decision, Mallonee cited an earlier U.S. Supreme Court decision, in 2013, in which the court determined that “exigencies must be determined case by case based on the totality of the circumstances.” Under that ruling, the judge noted, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not amount to an exigent circumstance that would allow police to obtain a blood sample without a warrant.

Matthew Foster, district attorney for Hancock County, said Friday that despite Mallonee’s ruling, he still intends to prosecute the case, which has yet to be scheduled for trial.

“We would obviously have liked to have this evidence available to the jury, but there is plenty of other evidence of intoxication and reckless actions by the driver,” Foster said. He did not detail the other evidence.

Tzovarras did not return a message Friday afternoon seeking comment on Mallonee’s decision. https://bangordailynews.com/2019/11/09/news/hancock/judge-tosses-a-blood-test-taken-without-a-warrant-in-hancock-county-manslaughter-case/