Putting the Brakes on Texas DWI Checkpoints

Texas DWI checkpointTexas DWI checkpoints were established to help increase safety on the roads. The events serve to weed out drunk or intoxicated drivers, with the additional benefit of discovering people with outstanding warrants or other problems. However, DWI checkpoints in Texas and across the U.S. all have one big problem: the danger posed to the law enforcement officers trying to keep the rest of us safe.

How to navigate a Texas DWI checkpoint safely:

  • If you see a checkpoint ahead in the distance, do not try to make a U-turn or otherwise turn your vehicle around. Other officers are watching and will take measures to ensure you are sober behind the wheel and not being evasive by driving away.
  • Politely answer questions and hand over your driver’s license, insurance card and other car documents upon request.
  • If you are asked to submit to a breathalyzer test, remember that if you refuse, you could be charged with an implied consent violation.
  • Keep your speed to a minimum until you are given the signal that you can drive away, and then do not speed or make any other actions beyond carefully driving away.

Many states with sobriety checkpoints have had issues with law enforcement officers injured or killed during the events. Maryland’s “Noah’s Law” (all-offender ignition interlock law) was named after an officer who was killed during a DUI checkpoint by a repeat drunk driver.

When you have not had a drop to drink and are still forced into a Texas DWI checkpoint, the additional time and effort can be a frustrating experience. However, with a little bit of understanding and patience, you will be well on your way before you know it. The safety of others on the road and that of the law enforcement officers providing the safety service are priorities. Let’s all give these officers and events a break and support sober driving in Texas, and across the U.S.

Weird DUI: Paper and Cakes Won’t Cut It

weird dui paper cakesBeating a police breathalyzer or ignition interlock device seems pretty counterintuitive unless you’re drinking, we imagine. There are all sorts of myths about how to tweak our blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when stopped by police, like peanut butter or chewing gum. However, the guy who ate toilet paper may be one of the most unique ways attempted, especially since it still landed him in jail.

The funny part is that most of the myths to beat a police breathalyzer have a little bit of logic. With peanut butter, people think the sugar can affect a BAC reading, rendering it inadmissible in court. Chewing gum is often mint flavored, and mint is present in some mouthwashes that do contain alcohol, so that conclusion is pretty clear. Paper, however… is just paper. There’s nothing there to connect the dots.

Paper isn’t the only thing that has made it into the headlines, either. People will eat just about anything they can think of, probably in a moment of intoxicated panic, in order to stay out of trouble. One woman may have just wanted to have her cake and eat it too… at least before she was taken down to jail for her DUI. Keep in mind that like paper, the cake won’t really prevent a breathalyzer from accurately measuring BAC.

Being impaired by alcohol can lead to some funny situations, but there is nothing funny about drinking and driving. Instead of competing for worst way to beat a breathalyzer, there’s one way to use that time wisely and to keep yourself out of trouble at the same time. Before heading out for the night, have a plan to get home safely. You will thank yourself the next day when you wake up and don’t have to face the intoxicated things you really thought were good ideas.

You Can’t Deny His Florida DUI

Florida DUI driver slams the lawThere are buzzed drivers, drunk drivers and then this Florida DUI driver, who made no mistake about his level of intoxication. In fact, he was all too happy to show law enforcement just how drunk he was. Not only did the man blow into a parked police cruiser that had its lights flashing, but that cruiser then hit another police car. That particular car had a strong warning: Don’t Drink and Drive.

It may seem like a normal Florida DUI headline, but you have to admit, that’s a bit much… even for Florida.

Florida DUI laws may need to take into consideration how dangerous this situation is. Maryland expanded ignition interlock access because a drunk driver killed a law enforcement officer who was on duty. Given that Florida recently passed on ignition interlock expansion for the second year in a row maybe the state needs to take a closer look at ways to prevent more of these incidents… again.

Just for the record, Florida ignition interlock devices could help prevent more drunk driving incidents for those who have already been convicted of a crime, or for those who opt to install one in their vehicle. Even with an all-offender ignition interlock expansion, the state would need to look at other options to prevent those first-time DUI offenses from happening.

Before becoming a Florida headline, remember you can prevent a DUI by having a safe ride home planned before you head out for a night of drinking. The risks of becoming a funny Florida DUI headline are nothing to the damage that can actually happen when we drink and drive. You can also have a voice in the Florida DUI laws. Contact your lawmakers and let them know where you stand on Florida ignition interlock expansion and the state’s drunk driving laws.

Real Talk: Don’t DUI or You’ll Face the Music

DUI is bad. It’s really bad. It causes a lot of financial damage, mental and emotional anguish and it can kill people. DUI does kill people, so don’t drink and drive.

That’s a pretty simple message. We know it’s dangerous to run around with scissors, so we don’t do it. If running with scissors killed a person at the rate of one per hour, we’d see a lot more anti-running-with-scissors awareness campaigns and Mannequin challenges, for that matter. Somehow, not running with scissors is common knowledge, while the danger of a DUI isn’t. That’s exactly why law enforcement is upping the anti-DUI game, bringing in some hard hitters… like Nickelback and One Direction.

In Minnesota, law enforcement tweeted its dastardly plan for DUI drivers:

DUI danger: bad music and law enforcement

Unfortunately, we don’t have the actual statistics on that weekend’s DUI numbers. We can only assume that as a result of the crackdown, there wasn’t a drunk driver on the roads throughout the Thanksgiving weekend in Wyoming, MN. That’s probably why Canada’s Kensington Police Service followed up with this similar pledge on Facebook:

“When we catch you, and we will catch you… on top of a hefty fine, a criminal charge and a years driving suspension we will also provide you with a bonus gift of playing the offices copy of Nickelback in the cruiser on the way to jail.”

Somehow, the ominous threat of court costs, jail time and an ignition interlock requirement aren’t enough to scare common sense into would-be drunk drivers. Facing the music, it seems, is the newest law enforcement technique being used to grab the attention of a person who thinks they could be okay to drive. It may be silly, but playing covers of “Photograph,” or “What Makes You Beautiful” could trigger a response in an intoxicated driver, sending them straight to a phone for a safe ride home.

Well, probably not, but at least we know that law enforcement is using social media and popular music to connect with those who aren’t literally running with scissors, but who are much more dangerous to others on the road. DUI is bad, worse than any overplayed song on the radio, and the consequences last long after the final note has played.

Are Tipsy Toddlers a New DWI Risk?

Toddler DWI riskIt is a tough job hunting down DWI drivers and law enforcement officers are often unfairly portrayed as the bad guys. We have seen too many conflicting representations of police officers in the news lately, so we share the joy of this toddler who was “pulled over” by law enforcement and tested for a high blood milk concentration by an officer. We assume the toddler’s speech may have been slurred or that she may have forgotten her license at home – very similar reasoning behind why we might be tested for a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under similar situations.

Toddlers pulled over in streets nationwide are developing an understanding that law enforcement officers exist to keep ourselves and the roads safe. All in good fun, these police officers are concerned about demonstrating the lighter side of their job, while remaining a present force in the community.

It’s all good in the ‘hood – the toddler learned a powerful lesson about DWI, one that will last a lifetime.

We all know that feeling of dread as the flashing blue lights behind us signal we’ve done something wrong. Toddlers see the flashing lights of  law enforcement differently than grownups. If we got as excited as a toddler does when seeing those lights… well, we might be questioned about posing a DWI risk on the roads. Being pulled over by law enforcement means that we’re in trouble for driving in such a way that is worthy of a “time out”. That feeling, combined with stomach-churning anxiety, is only the beginning of a traffic stop… especially if we’ve been drinking. Then we can look forward to court, community service and even an ignition interlock device. Take a tip from a toddler and only drink non-alcoholic beverages if you’ll be driving, and reward yourself with a nap once you get home.

We love our police officers, but we’ll just leave the hand clapping to the toddlers and let law enforcement enjoy the unconditional love of our littlest motorists.  It’s never too late to teach our toddlers the rules of the road, especially when a DWI is a concern. If you see a tipsy toddler in your neighborhood, call your local law enforcement immediately. She might need a time out from the road!

Here’s To Our DUI Heroes

DUI HeroesLet’s all take a moment to thank our DUI heroes and realize the sacrifices they make each day on the roads. We may not realize the efforts that are put into those sobriety checkpoints that can be so frustrating, but there’s an entire process that leads up to even establishing the how, when and where those will occur. Then there are the men and women who provide the hands-on law enforcement presence needed to remove drunk drivers from the road.

Hands-on also means they’re DUI heroes in every sense.

Maryland recently adopted an all-offender ignition interlock policy, called “Noah’s Law.” Noah Leotta was struck and killed by a drunk driver while working at a sobriety checkpoint in Montgomery County, Maryland in 2015. Noah’s tragic death is not uncommon, many other law enforcement officers have been killed or injured while working at sobriety checkpoints across the U.S., including Melissa Foster of Columbus, Ohio, Trooper Bobby Smith of Louisiana and these L.A.P.D officers.

Despite the dangers to law enforcement, our DUI heroes continue to risk their lives to ensure the streets are safe from drunk drivers. The statistics say that DUI checkpoints work and they are endorsed and advocated by MADD as a strong safety measure to prevent further drunk driving incidents.

When it comes to the ultimate sacrifice made by law enforcement to ensure our safety, DUI checkpoints are right at the top of the list. The presence of police during those events is necessary, and the danger posed to their own health and safety is obvious. Instead of bad attitudes and an air of inconvenience, remember that our DUI heroes are only doing their job, and fulfilling their personal commitment to keep drunk drivers from harming you, your loved ones and your community. They put their lives in the direct path of potential drunk drivers, showing the same dedication to sober driving that we should all share.

New York Knows You’re Tampering with Your Ignition Interlock

New York ignition interlock tampering and violationsWith New York’s all-offender ignition interlock policy, it’s easy to think that all DWI offenders follow through with their interlock commitment. That’s unfortunately not the case, not in New York or in any other state in the U.S. One of the biggest complaints about ignition interlock requirements is that not all offenders are using the device, even when ordered by the court. If compliance is down, then you can bet that there are more drunk drivers on the road too.

There’s a disconnect between the court that orders the device, the offender and ignition interlock service provider who install the device and the police who need to enforce the use of the device. If they don’t know what to look for, either with the ignition interlock designation on a driver’s license or signs of a device that has been tampered with, they cannot cite an offender for their part in circumventing the requirement or not installing the device at all.

That’s why New York is putting in some time and money to educate its officers about ignition interlock devices. Three counties in New York just schooled law enforcement, probation officers and prosecuting attorneys on what ignition interlock tampering looks like. Since New York has admitted to a problem with interlock compliance, this is a big step toward reducing the numbers of drivers on the road illegally, while keeping those roads safe from potential drunk drivers who are already in the system. If an offender is caught without an interlock or otherwise misusing it,

Despite a few problems, the all-offender ignition interlock policy in New York is a stellar example of how well the devices work to keep repeat DWI offenses down. Now with the additional training, the disconnect between the courtroom and the car can be reduced, keeping tampering to a minimum and safety a top priority.

A Salute to Maryland’s DUI King

Maryland DUI KingThere is only on reason to celebrate a “DUI King” in our opinion – for keeping the streets safe from drunk drivers, of course. Maryland’s DUI King, John Romack, is an officer who continues to provide a high level of safety for those who live in, or drive through, Montgomery County, Maryland. With an estimated 5,000 DUI arrests, Officer Romack has not only earned his crown, but continues to maintain his presence in the fight against drunk driving. He is true hero in Maryland, and an example for the entire country.

Maryland is currently looking into strengthening its DUI laws, including the possibility of an all-offender ignition interlock requirement. That debate hits home, especially as Officer Romack is credited for plenty of repeat DUI offender arrests. One thing that would definitely make his job (and the job of all other police officers in the state) is an ignition interlock requirement after any DUI conviction. Not only would a drunk driver be stopped from driving, but then officers like Romack can focus on other crimes that are occurring – crimes that cannot be stopped with a small piece of technology.

In a recent WUSA article, Romack says, “You gotta remember, the key starts the car. Not a driver’s license.” With an ignition interlock device, that situation can turn around.

Until Maryland decides its path in strengthening DUI laws, it is a relief to see the dedication of the state’s “DUI King” in removing drunk drivers from the roads. More states like Maryland are considering implementing all-offender ignition interlock laws, and with the recent report from M.A.D.D. that shows 1.77 million drunk drivers were stopped by their ignition interlock devices, there is hope on the horizon for ending drunk driving across the country.

The “DUI King” that we celebrate is the one who continues to remove danger from our roads. In Maryland, John Romack has earned that title, and continues to do so. Proving how one person can change lives… one traffic stop at a time.

Safety Tips at Sobriety Checkpoints

DUI and sobriety checkpointLaw enforcement is not an easy job, yet there are men and women who commit to keeping us all safe each day, despite the risks. When it comes to sobriety checkpoints, the dangers to our police officers is pretty clear – they’re standing on the road, looking for people in cars who are too intoxicated to drive. At best, those drivers are caught, convicted and face consequences like an ignition interlock requirement. Unfortunately, there are situations where tragedy does strike, like the loss of an officer in New Jersey in 2010. Because a sobriety checkpoint is a potential disaster waiting to happen, please take the time to be safe when you are rolling through.

Take it easy. Slow down, don’t try to go around the checkpoint or turn around. If you are sober, your time during your screening will be minimal and you’ll be on your way. If you are possibly intoxicated, well, you don’t need to be driving, anyway.

Have your ID and insurance information ready. This is important because of the time factor. When people get antsy or frustrated during a wait, they’re more likely to do something rash. At a sobriety checkpoint, that rash behavior could very well result in the injury or death of a law enforcement officer or a civilian.

Cooperate with the officers. Even if you know you haven’t been drinking and are asked to pull over for further testing, you need to go ahead and do it. A sobriety checkpoint actually has a formula built into it that determines who is given additional screening (outside of probable cause). Again, you’re in the clear as long as you’re sober, and the extra tests really don’t take much time when you’re not under the influence of alcohol.

A sobriety checkpoint is an effective way to remove potentially dangerous, intoxicated drivers from the roads. It also finds those with other traffic violations and even outstanding warrants for arrest. Considering all of the good that the checkpoints do, the law enforcement officers who are running the show deserve respect and above all, your consideration for their safety.

New York’s “No Refusal” DWI Problem

DWI No refusal loophole in New YorkDespite having some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the U.S., New York state has a problem with actually getting those offenders into court to face their crime. There are very few defenses a person has when faced with a DWI, especially when there is documentation of the offender’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, if a person is stopped under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated and refuses a breathalyzer or blood test in New York state, they may never be convicted of the crime.

That’s the problem with the state’s “no refusal” policy, and how it is impacting an otherwise strict stance against DWIs in the state.

Everyone has a constitutional right to refuse a breathalyzer test, despite its being part of the agreement signed when applying for a driver’s license. In most states and the majority of counties in New York, refusing a chemical test will trigger an immediate response, including license suspension and consequences that are similar to an actual DWI. However, in some counties in New York, refusing the test can lead to a plea bargain once the offender gets into court, as there is no proof of the BAC at the time of arrest. Without that BAC proof, the “DNA” of drunk driving, the accused may be cleared of his or her crime, avoid consequences like an ignition interlock device, and eventually be free to drink and drive again.

Most states look to New York as an example of strict DWI consequences that still allowing offenders the freedom to rebuild their lives through rehabilitation programs and ignition interlock requirements. But, until the loophole is closed with the “no refusal” problem in the various counties, the example being set is not one of criminal punishment, but, more about how to get away with a crime, just by saying,”no.” It is a shame that anyone is given the chance to risk injury to others just by refusing a breathalyzer, and we hope those counties step up to eliminate that possibility all together.