On July 17, a judge in Fairfax County Circuit Court threw out a breathalyzer certificate in a DUI case based on a precedent set by a June Supreme court ruling that says that prosecutors must make the officer who performed the breath test available for cross-examination.
Judge Jane Marum Roush determined that Diego Machado allegedly had a blood-alcohol content of 0.11, which exceeds the legal limit of 0.08. However, he performed well on the field sobriety tests. She then dismissed the charge against him.
Roush’s ruling seems to be the first such dismissal by a Circuit Court judge in Northern Virginia. It was not a written opinion and is not binding on the lower traffic courts. However, a phalanx of defense attorneys who watched the trial exited the courtroom quietly jubilant and congratulated their colleague, who first tried to use the new ruling on the same morning it was issued. In response, Roush quipped, “You’re going to make me read Justice Scalia before lunch?”
The opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia in the recently reviewed Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts case. In that case, the court ruled that the Sixth Amendment right for a defendant “to be confronted with the witnesses against him” was not satisfied just by a lab sheet. Scalia said that the lab analyst who determined the white powder in the Melendez case to be cocaine had to testify too.
The ruling also extends to breathalyzer certificates, DNA analyses, and all manner of documents previously used by prosecutors to aid in proving a case against a defendant.
In December, Machado, 29, was charged with his second offense of DUI within the past five years and among his 10 traffic convictions in Virginia since 2001, he has three convictions for reckless driving. In April, he was convicted in Fairfax General District Court and filed an appeal to Circuit Court.
The trial was held in June, but Roush’s ruling was not issued until July 17. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kathryn A. Pavluchuk noted that the Fairfax officer who performed the breath test was present and available for testimony in June. However, Pavluchuk did not call him and the defense objected to the breathalyzer certificate being admitted after being handed the Melendez-Diaz case, merely two hours after it was issued.
Legal experts and prosecutors have expressed concerns over the results of a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court requiring that lab analysts appear in court to testify about their tests. The court’s ruling says that lab sheets identifying a substance as a narcotic or breath-test printouts describing someone’s blood-alcohol level are not sufficient evidence and require someone in court to talk about the results.
While prosecutors and judges may not be satisfied with the opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, defense attorneys are happy that the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, which grants defendants the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him” is not satisfied by a piece of paper.
Since the ruling, four DUI cases in Fairfax and at least one in Prince William County have been thrown out by judges after defense attorneys used the new ruling to challenge the prosecution’s evidence.
States and counties each handle evidence differently, so potential issues created by the ruling vary widely. However, one of the major complaints about the ruling is similar in many jurisdictions: Crime labs face huge backlogs, which many believe will grow with workers being taken out of labs to appear in court.
Each year, more than 1.5 million samples are analyzed by state and local labs in drug cases, resulting in more than 350,000 felony convictions, according to national statistics.
The percentage of cases going to trial each year could increase if defense attorneys believe bringing lab analysts to court will aid their cases. If the analyst is unable to be there, attorneys could also go to trial in hopes of a dismissal.
The court has agreed to hear a case in Alexandria that could give prosecutors an “escape hatch” from being required to bring lab analysts to court. The court will rule on whether or not Virginia law requires defendants to provide advance notice when they wish for lab analysts to testify is constitutional. However, that ruling will likely not come until 2010, and many attorneys believe Virginia’s law is deficient.
The Supreme Court ruling came about because of a case in which Luis E. Melendez-Diaz allegedly hid cocaine in a Boston police car while he was under arrest. The certificate of analysis, which determined the substance found in the vehicle was cocaine, was entered without the testimony of a technician and with only minor objection.
The ruling was 5-4, and the dissent written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy predicted disaster. He said that it will disrupt forensic investigations across the U.S. and result in guilty defendants going free.
In the majority of DUI cases in Fairfax, breath-test technicians stationed in the jail are used to perform blood-alcohol tests rather than the arresting officers so that the entire force, made up of more than 1,300 officers, does not have to be trained on the machines. However, there are only a few dozen technicians in Fairfax processing about 4,000 cases each year.
On July 10, comedian and radio personality Artie Lange was arrested in New Jersey on charges of driving under the influence and careless driving after he was involved in a minor accident.
According to police in Toms River, New Jersey, at approximately 1:30 p.m., the 2009 Nissan Lange was driving rear-ended another vehicle. Police say no injuries were sustained in the collision and both vehicles only suffered minor damage.
Police say that the observations the responding officers made at the scene led to the charges against the 41-year-old comedian. Police took him to their headquarters to be processed.
Lange was issued summonses and released pending a municipal court appearance on July 16.
Lange is a regular on the “Howard Stern Show” and recently authored the best-seller Too Fat to Fish.
According to police in Phoenix, Diana Taurasi, leading scorer for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and former Connecticut Huskies star, was cited for driving under the influence only a few hours after her team’s win over the Seattle Storm on July 2.
At approximately 2:30 a.m., Taurasi was stopped for allegedly speeding, according to police spokesman Luis Samudio. The officer said that he detected the odor of alcohol on her and administered several field sobriety tests.
Taurasi was then taken to a mobile DUI van where she gave a blood sample, received a citation, and was released. Authorities did not know the results of the blood test.
The 27-year-old guard scored 22 points and blocked four shots in the July 1 game against Seattle, which the Mercury won 93-81. She is the leading fan vote-getter for the WNBA’s All-Star game, which will be held July 25.
In college, Taurasi led the Connecticut Huskies to three consecutive national championships. She was the 2003 and 2004 Naismith College Player of the Year and the 2003 Associated Press Player of the Year.
The California Supreme Court has joined with several other U.S. courts who say that Breathalyzer results mean different things for different people and will allow the test results to be attacked in court by persons suspected of driving under the influence.
The July 9 ruling was lauded by defense attorneys for deferring for science, which has shown for several years that test results can highly vary. But prosecutors argue that the move will undermine DUI cases in the state.
The center of the issue is how booze breath is used by authorities to determine the amount of alcohol in the blood stream.
Upon consumption, alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried through the brain to the liver and heart before diffusing in the lungs, where it is exhaled in breath.
A nationally accepted scientific formula called “Henry’s law” is currently used by authorities to convert the amount of alcohol vapor in the lungs to a blood-alcohol level.
However, the scientific issue with this method is that throughout the population, breath-to-blood ratios vary greatly and fluctuate individually, influence by factors such as body temperature, atmospheric pressure, medical conditions, and the precision of the measuring device.
Essentially what that means is that the same breath-test result for one person’s breath could mean intoxication, while for another person, it could simply mean one glass of wine with dinner.
The matter is complicated by California’s two distinct laws for DUI.
Under the first law, which has been on the books for decades, proof that a driver is intoxicated, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, etc., is required. Jurors are informed that they can presume a person is drunk if blood tests reveal the blood-alcohol content to be at least 0.08 percent.
Under the second law, which the Legislature passed in 1981 and updated in 1989, a drunken driver is defined simply as a person whose blood-alcohol content is 0.08 percent, regardless of that person’s behavior. In 1994, the state’s Supreme Court extended that definition to include Breathalyzer results, which barred drivers charged with the second law from attacking the tests’ variability.
Since that time, the majority of DUI attorneys saw disputing Henry’s law as a dead end for challenging breath-test machines.
Person’s accused of DUI are typically charged by prosecutors with both versions of the law to increase the chance of conviction.
Similar rulings to the July 9 decision have been made in Arizona and Vermont.
On July 9, former Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith was convicted on a drunken driving (DUI) charge, after claims that he failed a sobriety test because of old football injuries.
On May 15, Smith was pulled over in Virginia Beach and refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. He was sentenced to a 90-day suspended jail term, issued a fine of $440, and had his license suspended for a year.
Smith claims that he performed poorly on the sobriety test the arresting officer issued because of old football injuries. The tests included walking a straight line and standing on one leg for 30 seconds.
Smith’s attorney is planning to file an appeal of the decision at an additional hearing set for August 27.
Smith has two prior DUI charges, but the charges were dropped in the other two cases.
On July 8, authorities said that a woman who had a long history of driving violations registered a blood-alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit (meaning she was driving under the influence) when she rear-ended a pickup truck on the Capital Beltway, causing the truck to go over a guardrail and plummet down a 60-foot embankment, ending up on its roof in Montgomery County, Maryland. The two men traveling in the truck, who were returning home to Virginia from a construction job site, both died in the crash.
Court records say that 33-year-old Kelli R. Loos, who recently has resided in Bethesda, Maryland and Chesapeake, Virginia, was charged with DUI and fleeing the scene of an accident. She recently sent a letter to a judge in a different case citing family issues in an attempt to explain failing to appear in court in June to face charges of driving with a suspended license.
Maryland and Virginia State Police praised a Beltway motorist who witnessed the crash and pursued the Jeep Cherokee Loos was driving into Virginia while contacting the authorities on his cell phone. Virginia State Police say he also witnessed her crash in Virginia as well.
At approximately 11 p.m. on July 7, 39-year-old Gradys Mendoza and Franklin Manzanares were southbound on the Beltway, approaching Virginia.
At the same time, Loos was also southbound on the Beltway. She later informed authorities that she had been at a bar in Maryland, according to 1st Sgt. Neil Johnson of the Virginia State Police.
According to 1st Sgt. Kimberly Smith of the Maryland State Police, Loos’ vehicle veered to the right and collided with the rear of the Nissan pickup truck as they neared Virginia.
Authorities say the collision caused the truck to spin out of control and go airborne over a guardrail. A trail of sheared trees could be followed to the bottom of the embankment where the truck ended up.
Manzanares, the passenger, was trapped inside the truck and pronounced dead at the scene. Smith said Mendoza died in the ambulance en route to the hospital.
Loos did not stop and continued traveling south. The motorist who followed her called the authorities at approximately 10:56 p.m. to report the crash and inform them that the driver was heading into Virginia. According to a Virginia State Police spokeswoman, a Virginia State trooper was scrambled to try and intercept her, but by 11:03 p.m. she had crashed again.
Authorities say the second crash occurred when Loos struck a Virginia highway sign while was trying to exit the Beltway onto Georgetown Pike. Johnson said she was taken into custody at the scene.
Johnson said Loos was taken to Fairfax County jail, where she registered 0.20 on a breath test. She was charged with driving under the influence by the Virginia State Police.
Police in Maryland charged Loos with failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury. As of July 8, she was being held in Fairfax jail, pending extradition to Maryland.
In March, police in Montgomery County, Maryland issued Loos multiple citations after a collision. In that crash she was charged with failure to furnish a written ID, driving on a suspended Virginia license, and failure to insure the Jeep.
On June 15, she failed to appear in court on those charges and a warrant was issued for her arrest. She blamed the accident and failure to appear on family issues and having to go out of town for a funeral. She claims she didn’t know her license had been suspended.
Loos was cited in Virginia Beach in November for driving with a suspended license and failure to obey a traffic signal. Additionally, court records show that she has at least six prior speeding and traffic violations in Virginia and North Carolina dating back to 1994.
Joyce DeWitt, one of the stars of the classic television series “Three’s Company,” was recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence. According to police, DeWitt, who played the role of Janet Wood on the hit show, was pulled over after driving past a barricade near a park in El Segundo, California on July 4.
According to Sgt. Danny Kim, the officer that pulled the 60-year-old actress over said he observed signs that she had been drinking and administered field sobriety tests. He then placed her under arrest for DUI.
Kim said that DeWitt had been booked at the Police Department, cited, and released on her own recognizance.
On the morning of June 29, Kansas State senior defensive lineman and former Virginia Cavalier Jeffrey Fitzgerald was arrested by the Riley County, Kansas Police Department on charges of driving under the influence.
Lt. Herb Crosby of the Riley County police said that “it was a simple DUI.” He said that Fitzgerald was arrested on the DUI charge after he had been observed driving erratically by an officer, who then pulled him over.
The 21-year-old lineman was released on $750 bail. Kenny Lannou, sports information director for Kansas State, said that the matter would be handled internally.
In 2008, the 6-foot-4 280-pound defensive tackle sat out the year because he had just transferred from the University of Virginia. Fitzgerald started all 13 games for the Cavaliers as a sophomore in 2007. He finished the season tied for third on the team in tackles (73) and sacks (7).
On June 20, Seattle Seahawks fullback Owen Schmitt, a Virginia native, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to court records.
The 24-year-old football player has been charged with DUI after his arrest on June 20 by Black Diamond, Washington police. No further details were immediately made available.
Schmitt played for the West Virginia Mountaineers from 2005-2008 was featured on the cover of the Playstation Portable version of the 2009 entry of EA Sports’ popular NCAA Football video game series. He was drafted in the fifth round by Seattle in 2008 and is currently listed as the team’s starting fullback.
Seattle released a statement from Schmitt apologizing to the team, the NFL, the fans, his family, and friends for the incident.
Police say that a police officer from Virginia Beach has been arrested on charges of driving under the influence.
According to a police spokesperson, Officer Bryan Womble was arrested for DUI after his involvement in a two car crash at 20th Street and Pacific Avenue at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on June 20. No injuries were reported from the crash.
Ironically, Womble is part of the Virginia Beach Police Department’s Selective Enforcement Team, which mainly focuses on removing drunk drivers from the streets.
On the morning of June 18, it was decided that the trial of 46-year-old former NFL star Bruce Smith, who was arrested in Virginia Beach for DUI in May, would be postponed until July 9.
On May 15, Smith was pulled over on Interstate 264. He was charged by a Virginia Beach police officer with DUI and refusal to submit to a DUI test.
The charge is the third within the past 12 years for Smith. The first charge was dismissed and he was acquitted on the second.
Court records say that Smith, who is a native of Virginia Beach, was also charged with driving 73 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Smith was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January and is set to be inducted in August.
Smith, a graduate of Virginia Tech, is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and was the first player selected in the 1985 NFL draft.
Smith was a Pro Bowl defensive end who spent 15 seasons as a Buffalo Bill and four as a Washington Redskin. He helped lead the Bills to four consecutive AFC titles and is the all-time NFL sack leader. He retired in 2003.
City leaders said that plans to honor Smith’s Hall of Fame induction were placed on hold because of the pending charges.
In the DUI manslaughter case of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth, some believe there was more than one crime involved. The first was when Stallworth hit a construction crane worker who was walking to the bus stop to go home from work while driving at one and a half times the legal blood-alcohol level.
Some believe a second crime was committed by the judicial system when Stallworth essentially received a slap on the wrist for the death of Mario Reyes. He was sentenced to 30-days in prison, two years of house arrest, and eight years of probation.
Nicole Brochu, writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, called the sentence “a joke…not just on the family of the poor man killed by Stallworth's recklessness, it's on all of us.”
Stallworth’s light sentence seems even more so considering Michael Vick just recently completed a nearly two year sentence for dog fighting. Brochu asks, “Are we saying an animal’s life is worth more than a 59-year-old man’s?”
One can only wonder if things would be different if the tables were turned. If it had been Stallworth who had been killed and Reyes who had been driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.126, would Reyes have gotten merely 30 days in jail?Since the sentencing, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has placed Stallworth on unpaid, indefinite suspension. Experts believe the suspension could last for a year or more.
Two of the five people injured in a recent multi-vehicle crash near Deerfield in which one driver was charged with driving under the influence remained in the University of Virginia Medical Center as of May 31.
According to hospital spokesman Peter Jump, 50-year-old Verona resident Marti Krupinski and 43-year-old Christine Hinkle, the passenger on the 2009 Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by Krupinski, were both listed in fair condition.
Three others injured in the crash were released from Augusta Medical Center in Fishersville after undergoing treatment.
According to Virginia State Police Trooper Timothy Simmons, 33-year-old Sean Stanton was westbound in a 1997 Toyota Tacoma on Route 250 on May 30, when he ran off the right side of the road in a curve, overcorrected, and collided with three eastbound motorcycles.
Simmons said police charged Stanton with second-offense DUI.
According to Doug Morris, fire chief of the Deerfield Valley Volunteer Fire Department, which responded to the incident along with state police, the collision occurred approximately 1.5 miles past the intersection of Route 629, not far from Shenandoah Mountain near the Highland County-Augusta County line.
Simmons said that Krupinski was driving the lead motorcycle in the group and two motorcycles driven by females followed. He said all of them were injured, some of which were serious.
Krupinski and Hinkle required air transport to U.Va. Medical Center in Charlottesville, two people received air transport to Augusta Medical Center in Fishersville, and another received ambulance transport to AMC.
Simmons said that it was very rare for two helicopters to be required for one wreck.
Simmons said Stanton suffered the least-serious injuries in the crash.
According to Simmons, the motorcycle riders were part of a large contingent on a ride to raise money for children.
Culpeper Town Councilman Bobby Ryan has filed an appeal of his own guilty plea in a DUI case.
On May 21, Ryan pleaded guilty to DUI in Culpeper District Court as part of a plea arrangement. The charge is his second offense in five years.
The terms of the agreement worked out between Ryan’s attorney and special prosecutor Amy Harper were accepted by substitute Judge Steve Helvin. Ryan was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 60 of those suspended.
Ryan was also fined $500, his license was suspended for three years, and he was ordered to enter a substance-abuse program.
Ryan’s jail sentence, which was restricted to weekends, was scheduled to begin on June 19.
Those who plead guilty in Circuit Court automatically forfeit their right to appeal, but in District Court, a person who pleads guilty has 10 days in which to appeal. Ryan’s appeal was filed on May 29.
On February 26, Ryan was stopped shortly after midnight by off-duty Virginia State Police Special Agent N.R. White, who spotted him driving erratically on Sunset Lane. White charged Ryan with DUI.
White said he saw Ryan’s vehicle “cross the center line 12 times,” before pulling him over.
The 64-year-old’s blood-alcohol content was measured to by 0.17, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.Ryan was a member of the Culpeper Town Council between 1994-2002 and was elected again in 2008.
Say you’re out on a Friday night and having a few drinks with your buddies. As the evening comes to a close, you and your responsible group, who have only had a couple of drinks during the lively conversation at the local bar, get into your cars to drive home.
It’s now 1:30 a.m. and you’re 10 minutes away from your home, but traffic on the major street you’re traveling on comes to a stop. Then you see the flashing lights, the police officers, the makeshift holding stations, and the two trucks. You’ve been caught in a state-sponsored DUI checkpoint.
Ontario, California police Officer Craig Ansman says that some of the people who come through the checkpoints are frustrated because they’re in a hurry. However, the fear, frustration, and anxiety associated with DUI checkpoints seems small in comparison to the amount of damage caused by impaired drivers. Each year, there are thousands of deaths in alcohol-related crashes.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, there were 12,998 deaths due to drunken driving in 2007, the most recent year for which totals have been available.
Law enforcement officials and citizens both agree that drunken driving is a problem, but the formalities end there, as the groups can’t seem to agree on an effective countermeasure.
Police support DUI checkpoints, saying that having them in highly concentrated areas help catch a number of drunken drivers.
However, with checkpoints costing approximately $10,000 and roving patrols merely $300, many advocates question how effective DUI checkpoints really are.
In Ontario, for example, 85 DUI arrests and 57 other arrests were made during state-funded checkpoints and DUI saturation patrols. However, those numbers made up only a small part of the 777 drunken drivers across the city, which was a slight increase from 744 the year before.
Ansman, who has been with the Police Department’s traffic unit for two years, says the success is due to DUI checkpoints. He says the “fear of the unknown” from not knowing when or where they will be makes them effective.
However, Pomona, California, on the other hand, has had a history of controversy with DUI checkpoints.
Officials from the American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association based out of Washington, D.C., says that checkpoints are an ineffective countermeasure for DUI fatalities.
ABI managing director Sarah Longwell said, “Cops are pulled off the street and stand in one spot in hopes the drunken drivers come to them.”
Longwell says that only the “dumbest” drunken drivers get caught in checkpoints and the majority will find ways to avoid them.Longwell says that roving patrols and education are far more effective ways to stop drunken drivers. She says putting officers on the streets in their patrol cars to search for dangerous activities such as reckless driving and drunken driving makes her far more comfortable, saying, “If they are out, they’ll catch them.”
An Ohio man convicted in February of causing an October 11 head-on collision that caused the death of a police officer from Rocky Mount while driving under the influence was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
In February, Brooks Ryan Leisure was convicted on charges of aggravated involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor DUI in the death of Jason William Maxey. On May 28, he was sentenced in Roanoke Circuit Court to 10 years in prison, with another 10 years suspended, on the manslaughter charge and another 12 months in prison on the DUI charge.
According to court testimony, on the night of the incident, Leisure consumed liquor and beer at All Sports Café on Grandin Road before moving to Awful Arthur’s at Towers Shopping Center to continue drinking. He then left the bar to go to the home of a friend.
Witnesses say that shortly before 2 a.m., the Isuzu Rodeo Leisure was driving turned off Colonial Avenue. He tried to enter an exit ramp from southbound U.S. 220, where he collided head-on with the Chevrolet Malibu driven by Maxey. Both vehicles were estimated to have been traveling at more than 60 mph.
Accordingly to the toxicology reports, Leisure’s blood-alcohol content at the time of the collision was 0.19 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08. He also had marijuana present in his system. Tests showed Maxey to have been drinking that night, as he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.09 percent.
On May 21, Cleveland Browns wide receiver was supposed to have his arraignment on charges of DUI manslaughter, but the arraignment was delayed for the second time.
Prosecutors requested that the arraignment be delayed until June 4. The request was granted by a judge. Prosecutors did not give reason for the delay request and Stallworth’s attorney did not oppose it.
The 28-year-old NFL star has been accused of driving under the influence in a March 14 collision that took the life of 59-year-old Mario Reyes. He has not yet entered a plea.
An arrest warrant affidavit said that Stallworth’s blood-alcohol content was measured to be 0.126, more than the legal limit of 0.08. According to the affidavit, an officer at the scene detected the odor of alcohol on Stallworth’s breath and noted that his eyes were “bloodshot” and “watery.”
The affidavit says that prior to the accident, Reyes had just left his job as a crane operator and was not in a crosswalk when he was struck by the black 2005 Bentley GT driven by Stallworth.
Stallworth told an officer at the scene that he was the driver of the vehicle that struck Reyes. According to the affidavit, he told police that he had time to honk his horn and flash his headlights to alert Reyes prior to impact. Police say he was driving at approximately 50 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone.
Stallworth was released on $200 thousand bail and is required to submit to random drug and alcohol testing as part of his bail requirements.
If convicted, Stallworth could face up to 15 years in prison.
A Culpeper town councilman has been sentenced to 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol on May 21.
The conviction in Culpeper District Court marks the second one for 64-year-old Robert “Bobby” Ryan within the past five years.
As part of a plea deal with special prosecutor Amy Harper, Ryan received 90 days in jail, all but the Virginia minimum of 30 suspended, and a fine of $500.
Ryan’s driver’s license was suspended for three years, he was placed on probation for two years, and substitute Judge Steve Helvin ordered him to take part in the state’s Vehicle Alcohol Safety Action Program.
On February 26, Ryan was stopped shortly after midnight by Virginia State Police Special Agent Virginia N.R. White, who spotted him driving erratically. He was charged with DUI.
Judge Roger Morton and Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Close recused themselves from the case. Special prosecutor Harper is from Spotsylvania County and Helvin is a retired Charlottesville judge.Ryan served on the Culpeper Town Council between 1994 and 2002 and was elected again in 2008. His 30-day sentence will be served on weekends beginning June 20.
On Thursday, May 21, a 41-year-old man who pleaded guilty to two counts of driving under the influence resulting in the death of a Virginia man and woman in August 2008 received a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
On February 17, Troy S. Bean was indicted on two counts of DUI resulting in death, one count of DUI resulting in injury, one count of second offense DUI, and one count of driving on a revoked license from a prior DUI.
Bean pleaded guilty to all five counts with an Alford plea, meaning he pleaded guilty despite not remembering all the circumstances surrounding the incidents. According to 23rd Judicial Circuit Court Judge Gina Groh, he admitted to the crimes because he believed the state had enough evidence to prove he committed them.
Bean said that when he awoke in the hospital three days after the incident, he was unable to recall any of the incidents surrounding the deaths and was unaware of what had happened.
On August 14, 2008, the Ford pickup truck Bean was driving collided head-on with the station wagon of 80-year-old Howard Diamond and 70-year-old Nancy Diamond on Interstate 81. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
After a police investigation, it was determined that Bean’s truck and a Nissan Altima were both northbound on I-81 when the Ford sideswiped the Nissan, sending both into the southbound lanes.
The Nissan came to rest in a lane that had been closed for construction, but Bean’s truck struck the station wagon head-on.
Bean was taken to the hospital and treated for several severe injuries, including a collapsed lung. It was reported that his blood-alcohol content was 0.214, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08.
Lonn Stevenson, the driver of the Nissan, received hospital transport and was treated for back pain.
Bean addressed the nearly 15 members of the Diamonds’ family at the sentencing, saying “I’d like to apologize to the family. I wish it would have been me, but it certainly wasn’t.”
Groh said that Bean appeared remorseful and visibly moved by the family’s comments. She added that during her time as a prosecutor, she only saw one defendant in her cases take full responsibility for every count of the indictment as Bean had.
However, Groh said that Bean chose to drive a vehicle without a license after consuming alcohol.
Bean was sentenced to no less than two and no more than 10 years in prison and a $1,000 fine for each count of DUI resulting in death, one year in prison and a $1,000 fine for second offense DUI, one year in prison and a $200 fine for DUI with injury, and six months in prison and a $100 fine for driving on a revoked license. Each sentence is to be served consecutively. He is also required to pay $16,106.50 in restitution.
A Hampton woman has been charged with driving under the influence after sideswiping a Virginia state trooper, according to police.
According to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle Cotten, the collision occurred shortly after 6 a.m. at the intersection of the Hampton Roads Center Parkway and Magruder Boulevard.
Cotten said that 23-year-old Ciara Shavon Palmer was on a ramp from the parkway onto northbound Magruder Boulevard when she made an unsafe lane change and sideswiped the patrol vehicle of Trooper Steven Bethea. He suffered minor injuries and went to a hospital to be checked.
Palmer was uninjured in the crash. Cotten said that police arrested her on charges of DUI, making an unsafe lane change and carrying a concealed weapon, as she had a knife in her purse.
Former NFL star Bruce Smith, a Norfolk native, has been arrested in Virginia Beach on charges of driving under the influence.
According to city police spokesman Jimmy Barnes, police stopped the 45-year-old football star at about 1:42 a.m. on Friday, May 15 on Interstate 264. He said that Smith had been charged with speeding, DUI, and refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer test. He was released on bond a few hours later.
After playing in college at Virginia Tech, Smith played in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins and is the league’s all-time leader in sacks. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year and is to be inducted in August.
Smith has two prior DUI arrests on his record, but the first, in 1997, was dismissed and he was acquitted on the second charge in 2003.
A man led police on a chase through both Virginias and damaged a police vehicle on May 2 before finally being arrested in Tazewell County, Virginia and Mercer County, West Virginia on charges of DUI and attempting to elude police.
Police pursued 34-year-old Bluefield, West Virginia resident Larry S. Patrick Jr. in a chase that began in Bluewell, West Virginia and ended with his apprehension in Bluefield, Virginia, according to Mercer County Sheriff’s Deputy D.A. Furches.
Mercer County Sheriff’s Deputy A.M. Ballard attempted to pull Patrick over, but Patrick struck Ballard’s cruiser with his Chevy S-10 pickup truck, knocking off a mirror and part of the front end of the vehicle, according to Furches. Furches said that Ballard was uninjured.
Tazewell County police arrested Patrick on charges of first offense DUI and attempting to elude police. He posted bail, but was re-arrested in Mercer County on charges of second offense DUI, second offense driving on a suspended license, and felony fleeing while driving under the influence.
On May 5 man pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and involuntary manslaughter in connection to a fatal crash in Norfolk this past August.
In the incident, a red Ford Explorer driven by 21-year-old Fredy Alvarado Gonzales rolled several times after he lost control of it, causing his brother, 22-year-old Selim A. Alvarado-Gonzales to be ejected from the vehicle. The SUV eventually came to a stop after crashing against a house on Hemlock Avenue.
Witnesses say that upon the police’s arrival, Alvarado-Gonzales was crying and yelling, “I killed my baby. Please help my baby,” referring to his brother, whom the Explorer had landed on top of and crushed.
Police say Alvarado-Gonzales initially denied being the driver at the time of the August 2 crash, but admitted to having been behind the wheel the following morning. He told police he had lied because his brother died and he was scared. He admitted to having consumed two beers about two hours before the crash and three beers at a cookout earlier in the day. According to a witness, the brothers also purchased beer from a convenience store about 10 minutes prior to the crash.
According to hospital records, Alvarado-Gonzales had a blood-alcohol content of approximately 0.18 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.
Alvarado-Gonzales received a sentence of six months in jail with an additional four years and six months suspended as part of his plea agreement. He served that time while awaiting trial, but according to Commonwealth’s Attorney’s spokeswoman Amanda Howie, he will remain incarcerated pending federal action on immigration issues.
Smithfield Police Sergeant James Tragessor has been charged with driving under the influence.
The sergeant is scheduled to appear on at Isle of Wight General District Court on May 21, and according to police captain Alonzo Howell, he has been placed on administrative leave.
According to reports, Tragessor was driving his own vehicle on U.S. Highway 32 when he ran off the road and collided with a road sign. He refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test and it was determined that he was driving under the influence.
In 2003, Tragessor was honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Southeastern branch for his significant number of DUI arrests that year.