Archive for the ‘ DUI News and Information ’ Category

Q: Is it possible to beat a Breathalyzer by sucking on a penny?

A: No, State Patrol trooper Keith Trowbridge said.

Other techniques to bust the Breathalyzer, such as sucking a battery and eating loads of protein, also are urban legends, authorities say.

Created in 1954, Breathalyzers estimate blood-alcohol content by measuring the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath.

A common version of the penny rumor works on the premise that the copper mixes with alcohol in the drunken drivers’ mouth and causes the Breathalyzer to malfunction, showing a ridiculously high reading.

Here’s the catch: Since 1982, United States pennies have been made with a zinc core. Only the plating – 2.5 percent of the penny – is copper.

Previously, pennies were made primarily with copper. But Trowbridge said the trick still doesn’t work with the old coins.

Before giving a drunken driver a Breathalyzer, troopers check the mouth to make sure there’s nothing that could skew the results. “Then,” Trowbridge said, “we start a 15- minute observation before administering the test.”

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Personal alcohol breathalyzers have become extremely popular over the past few years. But there is an ongoing hidden cost and aggravation associated with maintaining breathalyzer accuracy. Now the problem is solved with this state-of-the-art breathalyzer.

Nine months ago you went on-line and forked over a pretty good buck for a new breathalyzer. Now, less than a year later, when you test yourself it’s giving you wildly inaccurate readings.

Guess what. When you bought your new breathalyzer no one told you that you’d have to send it back to the manufacturer every 6 to 12 months to have it re-calibrated. But that’s the case with almost every breathalyzer on the market.

All breathalyzers have a sensor module (the part of the breathalyzer that determines your blood-alcohol-content) that degrades over time. Eventually it becomes clogged with residue making it less and less accurate. In order to correct this problem you must ship almost all other breathalyzers back to the manufacturer.

That’s right, you have to pack it up and ship it back to them. Pay the shipping cost. Pay their breathalyzer re-calibration fee (usually between $20 and $40). And then wait till they ship it back to you. That’s cost and aggravation you can do without.

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Nova Scotia is launching a program to fight drunk driving by requiring addiction counselling and the purchase of an expensive breathalyzer device.

The province unveiled its breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BIID) program Tuesday, saying it will make communities safer by keeping impaired drivers off the road.

The program is for people who have lost their driver’s licence because of an alcohol-related conviction or have an alcohol-related incident on their driving record.

Participants will have to pay between $1,700 and $2,000 for the first year to have a breathalyzer device installed and maintained in their vehicles.

Before starting the vehicle, the driver has to blow into the small, hand-held device. The car won’t start if the driver’s blood alcohol level is above a preset limit.

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Pinal County sheriff’s officials say they are now keeping quality assurance tests on a breathalyzer machine that helps prosecute drunken driving cases in northeastern Pinal County.

Records issues spur dismissal of Pinal DUI cases

Sheriff officials announced an internal audit into a problem with missing breathalyzer records on July 29.

A Tribune story published that day reported that county prosecutors were forced to drop at least four recent drunken driving cases in the Apache Junction Justice Court because the records for the Intoxilyzer 8000, the breathalyzer used at the sheriff’s Santan station, were not available.

Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Minter said the quality tests now are the responsibility of Cpl. Paul Compton.

Deputy Cardest James was pulled from the duty after it was discovered that the Intoxilyzer records were missing from April 2007 to June 2008, a period of 14 months.

“The internal investigation is still on-going. Should finish it in the next few weeks,” wrote Lt. Scott Elliott in an e-mail Friday. Elliott serves in the patrol support division.

It’s unclear if many of the dismissed cases would have proceeded as far as they did in the court system if the prosecutor knew there were no records for the breathalyzer. But public records provided to the Tribune offer insight into the investigation, which began June 4.

Pinal County prosecutor Michael Larsen wrote June 5 to Richard Platt, chief criminal deputy for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, that he was frustrated in tracking down the records. Larsen disputed James’ assertion that he didn’t know Larsen needed records for 2008.

“I have e-mailed him once every two weeks for the past three months requesting the 2008 materials and he still hasn’t given me anything,” Larsen wrote. “His comment that he did not know that I still needed the 2008 documentation is inaccurate. There is no way he did not know I still needed all the 2008 documentation.”

A day earlier, Larsen wrote to Platt in an e-mail that James had changed his story since Larsen originally asked for the documents in January, according to county e-mails.

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A bold new plan by Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo could have officers packing hypodermic needles.  Now it’s pitting a civil rights group against him.

Acevedo wants trained officers to draw blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test. 

“How many people have to die before we realize that we have to be aggressive?  We need to hold people accountable and we need to stop the bloodshed on our highways,” said Acevedo.  “If you’re going to drink and drive, we want to make sure we give our officers the tools to hold that suspect accountable.”

Acevedo wants to train DWI officers to draw blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer. 

It’s a proposal similar to what already exists in Williamson County, the difference being a nurse draws the blood in Williamson County, not the police officer. 

“Some folk think we’re going to go on the side of the road and arrest somebody and whip out a needle.  That’s not how it works,” said Acevedo.

Acevedo says trained DWI officers would take the suspect to a secure, clean place, get a search warrant, and only then, draw your blood.

But the Texas Civil Rights Project denounces the chief’s plan, saying it violates civil liberties.

“You’re basically violating somebody’s constitutional rights by going into their body and taking blood,” said Jim Harrington, Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project.  “People who haven’t been to nursing school (or) medical school could cause a lot of problems to the person they’re sticking the needle in to.”

Acevedo says the program would be paid for with a federal grant.  He hopes to have it in place before the end of the year.

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The Columbus Division of Police is following in the footsteps of the successful “No Refusal Weekend” that the Delaware County Sheriff’s office participated in Memorial weekend. This is a first for Columbus Police and it will make this holiday weekend quite different from years past.Starting Thursday, July 3, if you are pulled over by The Columbus Division of Police and suspected of being impaired, you only have two choices, take the breathalyzer test or have a nurse take your blood. Traditionally if someone is pulled over, suspected of driving under the influence, they could refuse the breathalyzer. This holiday weekend, anyone that refuses to take the breathalyzer will be taken to a local hospital. Hospital officials will then draw their blood after the arresting officer has a signed search warrant from an awaiting judge.

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Man gets two DWI charges in 14 hours

A Fayetteville man was charged with driving while impaired last week — twice about 14 hours apart, police say.

Anthony Mangum, 34, of Lake Avenue, was stopped by Fayetteville police at 11:55 p.m. June 25 after Mangum drove his 1993 Mitsubishi onto the curb of Swain Street, near Skibo Road, said Sgt. John Somerindyke.

A breathalyzer test showed his blood-alcohol level was .23 percent. The state’s threshold for being impaired is .08 percent.

Mangum was charged with DWI, and his license was revoked for 30 days, Somerindyke said. Mangum was released after posting a $1,000 bail.

About 2 p.m. Thursday, police received a report about a reckless driver on Santa Fe Drive near the All America Freeway, Somerindyke said.

The driver was Mangum, operating his Mitsubishi, Somerindyke said.

Officers tried to stop the car, but Mangum, not realizing that police were behind him, kept driving, nearly hitting another car head-on, Somerindyke said.

Mangum was stopped at 2:11p.m., Somerindyke said, and officers found an open pint of gin in the car.

He was given a breathalyzer test — again — and registered a blood-alcohol level of .27 percent, Somerindyke said.

Mangum also was driving on a revoked license, Somerindyke said, so police seized his vehicle in accordance with state law.

Mangum was released from the second charge after posting a $500 bail.

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Serial car crasher charged

 A nasty crash surprised Barrie’s Cumming Drive residents just before 11 p.m. Friday night.

Witnesses in the Ferndale Drive-Essa Road-area neighbourhood saw a vehicle hit  cars parked along the street, until it finally stopped between two homes. A fire burst out on the vehicle, so the fire department was called to put it out.

The driver was arrested and charged with impaired operation of a vehicle. Police said the driver was taken back to the station for a Breathalyzer, which read twice the legal limit of alcohol; he was held in custody until he sobered up.

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Dallas County ADA Resigns After DWI Charge

A Dallas County assistant district attorney has resigned following his weekend arrest for DWI. 43-year-old Thomas Gatlin resigned as a county prosecutor Monday.

On Saturday evening, police say he lost control of his car in Far North Dallas and struck a house.

Neighbor Rob Stanley was among the first to find Gatlin’s car smashed into his neighbor’s brick home on Misthaven Place. He claims Gatlin was passed out at the wheel, with his foot still on the accelerator.

Stanley says he had to break a window to get to the driver and turn off the car.

He also says Gatlin was in a drunken stupor.

“He did not know where he was,” said Stanley. “He did not know where he lived. He did not know what day it was, didn’t know his name. Then I saw the bottle of Smirnoff on the floor and I thought, ‘Okay, you know, that explains a lot.'”

Police confirm an open bottle of liquor was found in the car.

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price says Gatlin should be treated like any other suspect.

“Whether they’re a U.S. Attorney, whether they’re a district attorney, whether they’re a police officer. I mean, the law doesn’t exempt anybody,” Price told FOX 4.

The Dallas County district attorney’s office won’t comment on any of Gatlin’s pending cases.

“I can confirm his resignation which was effective yesterday,” said spokesman Jamille Bradfield, “but beyond that, as a matter of policy, we do not comment on personnel matters.”

Gatlin was freed on a $500 bond early Sunday.

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AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — A Central Texas man thought he had found a way around blowing into his car ignition’s Breathalyzer.

Witnesses reported seeing James Rethi, 55, make his 13-year-old son blow into the device to get the car started outside of a restaurant.

Police caught up with Rethi turning into his subdivision in Hutto.

Rethi failed the field sobriety test and was arrested.

His son admitted to police that his father had asked him to blow into the device.

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