Entries in DUI (20)


Judge Defies Victim's Family by Sending DUI Driver to Prison

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Calif.) -- The judge who sentenced a Fresno, Calif., man to jail for his role in a deadly drunk driving accident, defied the wishes of the victim’s family who had asked that the driver not receive jail time.

Judge Alan Simpson sentenced 25-year-old Brian Cappelluti to a year in jail after Cappelluti pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges on Thursday.

In 2011, Cappelluti was arrested after driving drunk with a blood alcohol level of .21 and crashing into a traffic light. The accident took the life of passenger 23-year-old J.W. Pardini, a close friend of Cappelluti’s.

Before Cappelluti’s sentencing, the Pardini family wrote a letter to the judge asking that Cappelluti not be given jail time.

“JW is gone forever. Brian has to live with the thought of this accident every day for the rest of his life,” the family wrote in a statement. “We suggest that probation for Brian is the proper corrective action.”

Another passenger in the car, Marion Walker, was severely injured during the crash. But she also spoke out for Cappelluti and asked the judge for leniency in his sentencing.

“All of us will pay for this accident for the rest of our lives,” Walker said. “We all understood what could happen and it did. I ask you not to take away my surviving support.”

While Simpson’s sentence of one year in jail is more than the defense wanted, it is far less than the five years in prison the prosecutors had asked for.

“I think the outcome was fair and just and everybody can feel that justice was done,” defense attorney Rick Berman told ABC News affiliate KFSN-TV in Fresno after the sentencing.

An earlier plea bargain fell apart in February after Cappelluti refused a deal that could have resulted in his spending six years in prison. During that hearing, Judge Houry Sanderson chided Cappelluti for relying on the kindness of Pardini’s family.

“If he was not related at all to these victims at all, total strangers, I am very sure that the position of these families would have been very different,” Sanderson said.

Cappelluti could be released from jail after eight months.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Miami ‘Party Princess’ Faces DUI Manslaughter Charge

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Karlie Tomica is a college student who’s known as the Miami Beach "party princess," but police say her blood alcohol content was three times over the legal limit when she drove her boyfriend’s car, hit a well-known chef and fled the scene.

The chef, 49-year-old Stefano Riccioletti, was killed in the Jan. 28 accident, which happened in the early morning on Collins Avenue, a popular Miami Beach thoroughfare.  Riccioletti, who was married with three children, was the executive chef at Terraza at Shore Club, an upscale restaurant.

Police initially charged Tomica, 20, with leaving the scene of an accident, but added the DUI manslaughter charge when they got the results of her blood alcohol test.  She faces up to 30 years in prison if she’s convicted.

Tomica was apparently leaving her bartending job at the popular Nikki Beach nightclub when she allegedly hit Riccioletti.  He was reportedly thrown by the impact.  A witness called 911 and followed Tomica, and police arrested her.

Riccioletti’s family members have filed lawsuits against Tomica and Nikki Beach, arguing the club is responsible for allowing Tomica to leave intoxicated.

Riccoletti’s wife, Patrizia Pesce, said her first thought upon learning of her husband’s death was her children.

“How am I going to tell them that they have lost their Dad?” she said.

The family’s attorney, Jose Baez, added: “Stefano is not here, and it doesn’t matter if it is a car or a gun, he was killed.  And the persons or person responsible for that need to be held accountable.”

Tomica’s attorney, Mark Shapiro, said his client is a young girl who made a tragic mistake.

“She’s just a regular person who finds herself in this horrible situation,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court to Hear Case on Warrantless DUI Blood Tests

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court will hear a case on Wednesday about a Missouri man who says his constitutional rights were violated when he was pulled over after drinking beer at a bar called Slinger's and forced to take a blood test without a warrant.

The man, Tyler G. McNeely, was stopped in October 2010 by Cpl. Mark Winder of the Missouri State Highway Patrol for speeding. Winder immediately noticed signs of intoxication including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol.

McNeely admitted that he had consumed beer, but he would not consent to an alcohol breath test or a blood test after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Winder, without getting a warrant, decided to take McNeely to the hospital for a blood test to secure evidence of intoxication.

That nonconsensual blood test -- considered a "search" in legalese -- is at issue in front of the Supreme Court, which is expected to clarify when and under what circumstances a warrantless search can occur in such cases.

In court papers, lawyers for Missouri say that Winder didn't attempt to obtain a search warrant prior to the blood test in part because, "Obtaining a search warrant in the middle of the night in Cape Girardeau County involves a delay, on average, of approximately two hours."

Winder was concerned about the rate of elimination of alcohol in the bloodstream, which diminishes over time.

It turns out McNeely's blood alcohol level was 0.154 percent, well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.  In court, McNeely moved to suppress the evidence against him, saying his constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure were violated.

A trial court ruled in favor of McNeely, finding that while there are exceptions to obtaining a warrant in such circumstances, including endangerment of life, and the destruction of evidence, McNeely's case fell outside of those exceptions.  The court said that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream alone was not a sufficient factor to justify a warrantless blood draw in a routine stop.

The case eventually landed at the Missouri Supreme Court, which affirmed the trial court's judgment.

Now, the Supreme Court will hear an appeal to the Missouri ruling.  At issue is a 1966 Supreme Court case, Schmerber v. California.  In that case -- involving an alcohol related arrest -- the Court provided some exceptions to the warrant requirement for the taking of a blood sample.

The holding was limited to certain "special facts" that might have led the officer in that case to believe he was faced with an emergency situation in which the delay in obtaining a warrant could be interpreted as the destruction of evidence.  Lower courts have interpreted Schmerber differently.

Attorneys for Cape Girardeau County, Mo., argue in court papers that "allowing a police officer to obtain a warrantless blood test from a drunk driver strikes a favorable balance between legitimate law enforcement interests and the privacy interests of the individual."

They say: "Although the dissipation rate will vary from person to person, one simple fact cannot be refuted -- during a drunk driving investigation the best and most probative evidence of the crime is being lost at a significant rate."

They say motorists have a diminished expectation of privacy, the officer had probable cause to arrest McNeely, and the "search" was conducted in a reasonable manner.

Thirty-two states have filed a brief supporting Missouri and urging the Supreme Court to adopt a rule allowing warrantless blood draws in every drunk-driving investigation.

"The States' interest in fairly and accurately determining guilt or innocence for this serious crime outweighs an individuals' interest in avoiding the slight intrusion involved in halting that evidence destruction by obtaining a blood sample," they write in a friend-of-the-court brief.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing McNeely in the case and it argues that the Supreme Court should not adopt a general rule without consideration for specific circumstances in every case.

"The issue in this case is whether the police can compel a warrantless blood test in every DWI case," writes Steven R. Shapiro of the ACLU in court papers.

Shapiro notes that different states have different procedures for obtaining search warrants and that it has become common for some states to permit telephonic warrant applications.

He argues that whether a warrantless blood test is unreasonable should be determined based on the totality of the circumstances that include: whether there was anything that delayed the officers at the arrest scene, whether there was more than one officer at the scene, how far police have to travel to a hospital, and how long it typically takes to obtain a warrant in that jurisdiction.

Shapiro writes that Missouri "overstates the need for warrantless blood tests, and understates the affront to personal privacy and dignity when the States override an individual's objection and sticks a needle in his arm."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Fired Utah State Trooper Accused of Falsifying DUI Arrests

Thinkstock/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A class-action lawsuit has been filed against a former Utah Highway Patrol trooper and her superiors alleging that she filed false DUI charges during her career.

The department fired Lisa Steed in November for alleged misconduct related to her duties.

Attorney Michael Studebaker, who is one of the lawyers leading the class-action lawsuit, says he has been contacted by at least 40 people claiming Steed wrongfully arrested them on DUI or drug charges.

"Culture of corruption.  The stories are just rampant," said Studebaker, who filed the lawsuit on Dec. 14 in District Court in Salt Lake County.

Lawyers have yet to determine exactly how much the plaintiffs will seek in monetary damages.

One of the alleged victims was Michael Choate, who says Steed pulled him over for speeding with his wife in the car.

"She said she clocked me at 73.  I was going about 50, 52 at most," Choate said.

Choate was arrested and charged with DUI, but the charge was reduced to having an open container of alcohol in the car after a blood test showed he was not drunk.  Choate says he was forced to pay $3,000 in fines to get his car back.

Choate was also upset that his wife was forced to find her own way home after his arrest.

"They dropped her off at a Burger King," he said.  "She didn't have any money, she didn't have her cellphone with her.  She had to borrow a quarter from a lady to make a phone call."

Steed and her attorney have not responded to requests for comment.  Utah Highway Patrol says it cannot comment on pending litigation.

Steed is under investigation by the FBI.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


'Doctor of the Year' Arrested on DUI Charges After Crash

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WELLESLEY, Mass.) -- A prominent emergency room doctor is facing driving under the influence charges after police say she sped through a Whole Foods parking lot and slammed into another car, sending one man to the Wellesley, Mass., emergency room where she works.

Police say Dr. Kristin Howard, 56, was behind the wheel Friday morning when they found class C and E controlled substances in her possession -- prescriptions that she allegedly wrote herself.  On Tuesday, Howard pleaded not guilty to seven charges, including driving under the influence and drug violations.

The man who was hit, 78-year-old Paul McDonald, was taken to Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where Howard works. McDonald suffered two cracked ribs and a hematoma on his leg.

Howard was named Doctor of the Year in 2009, according to her lawyer. 

"I got hammered, and I thought it was the end of the world.  I thought a bomb went off inside the car," McDonald told ABC News affiliate WCVB-TV.  "The next day I thought I was in a street fight."

Video from a traffic light shows Howard's Subaru Outback barrel out of the Whole Foods grocery store parking lot shortly after 8:45 a.m.  The car traveled over the median, going airborne before crashing into the road striking McDonald's Mercury Marquis, which then slammed into a truck in the other lane.

Police say that when they stopped Howard she was still wearing scrubs and told them she was on her way to the hospital.  She then changed her story and told police she was heading home.  That's when police found the prescription drugs.

"Prescribed from Dr. Howard to Kristin Howard, which certainly raises some flags, your honor," prosecutor Matt Friedel said in court.

Massachusetts law forbids doctors from self-prescribing medication.  Howard's attorney told a judge that his client has been struggling with personal issues.

"She has a reputation for trying to save lives.  And was given the award of Doctor of the Year at Newton-Wellesley in 2009," defense attorney Katherine Hatch said.

Howard was released on her own recognizance Tuesday, but has been relieved of hospital duties.  She's been ordered to stay sober and will return to court Jan. 7.

As for McDonald, he's healing from his injuries and holds no grudge against Howard.

"Poor woman's probably got more problems than I'll ever have, so let it go with that," McDonald said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Miss University of Arkansas Fends Off DUI Charge

Fayettville Police Department(FAYETTVILLE, Ark.) -- The newly crowned Miss University of Arkansas is fending off criticism that the DUI charges filed against her before her Sunday victory tarnish her crown.

"It is shocking to me because I did look up to her, and I was hoping that she would be able to not do something like that," student Meredith Sakora told ABC affiliate KHOG-TV.

Sarah Gafvert, a senior, has entered a not guilty plea.

All contestants are required to sign a contract to enter the competition in which they must verify that they have no criminal charges pending against them. Gafvert signed the form before her Sept. 26 arrest, her lawyer, Bo Morton, said.

And she told pageant coordinators about the arrest before Sunday's pageant, Morton said.

The pageant is a student-sponsored event that is not organized by the university, John Diamond, the associate vice chancellor for the university, told ABC News. The competition is a preliminary event to the city and state pageants and, as the new Miss University of Arkansas, Gafvert, 21, is scheduled to compete in the 2013 Miss Arkansas pageant.

The Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant Inc. had "validated that, according to the Miss America Organization, Sarah Gafvert was deemed eligible to compete in the 2013 Miss University of Arkansas pageant," it said in a statement.

But she might also be subject to a student-conduct review, Diamond said.

Gafvert, originally from Wichita, Kan., was pulled over at 1:55 a.m. Sept. 26 for failing to use her turn signal and swerving within her lane, a police report obtained by ABC News states. She had bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech and the smell of intoxicants in her car, according to the report. She was also driving on an expired license, the report notes.

"The allegation is she failed to use her turn signal," attorney Morton said. "There was no bad driving. She was completely cooperative throughout the entire process with the police and she's never had any problem with the law prior to this."

In a police dash cam video of the arrest obtained by ABC affiliate KHOG-TV, Gafvert is seen telling the arresting officer she has Type 1 diabetes. She was diagnosed with the condition shortly before the arrest, Morton said. Gafvert also told police she had two drinks earlier in the evening, according to the police report.

"I have Type 1 diabetes. My blood sugar is really low, and I'm just trying to get home," Gafvert is seen saying in the video.

Gafvert performed a field sobriety test during which she had uneven balance, according to the police report. She blew a 0.13, the report alleges, which is almost twice the legal limit of .08.

"I would do anything to not have a DWI. Is there nothing?" Gafvert is seen saying before being placed in a police car.

"No, m'am. I don't have much discretion with something like this," the officer responded. "I'm not going to sugar coat it. That's just what it is."

A hearing is scheduled for Monday but Gafvert will not appear in court, her lawyer said.

Morton provided a long list of Gafvert's extracurricular activities and achievements including graduating high school as the valedictorian with a 4.0 grade-point average, being in the University of Arkansas' honors college and raising money for a variety of charities. She also received the Overall Community Service Award at the Miss University of Arkansas pageant, he said.

"This really is somebody that everybody should look up to," Morton said. "Her character is, as far as I can tell, just about flawless. She's a serious student and she works very hard for causes for children and underprivileged people."

University of Arkansas students had mixed feelings regarding Gafvert's arrest.

"Nothing against her, but I wouldn't support that," student Susan Moreno told KHOG. "I wouldn't support her having been crowned because it is that role that you're trying to teach others that you should be respectful and you should hold yourself to a higher standard."

Said student Sakora: "But if she's trying to make it better, than maybe we should give her a second chance."

The Miss University of Arkansas pageant awards more than $6,000 in scholarships yearly, according to the official Facebook page for the pageant.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Crocs Co-Founder Accused of DUI, Blames Taylor Swift

Boulder County Sheriff's Office(BOULDER, Colo.) -- When Crocs footwear co-founder George Boedecker Jr. was confronted by Colorado police for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, officers said he became "verbally abusive" and blamed the situation on Taylor Swift, whom he said was his girlfriend.

Police responded to a Boulder, Colo., street Saturday evening when a witness reported that a man was "passed out and slumped over behind the wheel of his running vehicle, parked on roadway and sidewalk," according to a copy of the police report, obtained by ABC News.

When Boulder Police arrived at the scene, according to the report, they found Boedecker, 51, outside of his car, a black Porsche Carrera. The police report also noted that Boedecker was wearing flip-flops, but did not specify whether they were Crocs.

A witness told police that she had been driving by when she noticed Boedecker passed out in his car. The woman told officers she approached the car and knocked on the window, but the driver did not initially respond, according to the report. When the ambulance arrived, Boedecker shut off the car, got out and began to walk away, the witness said.

"[The witness] stated that Boedecker initially told her that he had just pulled over to take a nap," Boulder police officer Patrick Vest wrote in the police report. "She stated that he changed his story to her a few times, later claiming that his girlfriend was driving, and described her as 'bat---t crazy,'" according to the report.

As Vest finished his conversation with the witness, he wrote in the report, he noticed that Boedecker was beginning to get in his vehicle and Vest asked him to come speak to him.

"At this point, I had observed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath and person," Vest wrote. "I also heard him slurring his words. I also observed that Boedecker had unsteady balance. Boedecker appeared to me to be very intoxicated."

Vest asked Boedecker for his driver's license and noted that he fumbled as he removed it from a money clip, according to the report. Vest wrote that Boedecker "admitted to drinking 'cocktails' at a benefit.'"

When Vest asked Boedecker what his address was, Boedecker replied, "I have 17 f---ing homes," according to the police report.

Boedecker told Vest that his girlfriend had driven them to this location and that she got out of the car and ran off after an argument, according to the report.

"He also stated that he had not driven, as he knew that wouldn't be right," Vest wrote.

Boedecker denied the witness' account that he was passed out in the driver's seat with the engine on when she found him, according to the report.

"I also began to ask about his girlfriend, and her [sic] whereabouts," Vest wrote. "Boedecker began to tell me that she was 'really f---ing famous' and a singer. He then asked me if I knew who Taylor Swift was. I asked him where she went. Boedecker gestured casually towards a neighboring yard, and said she was in Nashville."

Swift is dating Conor Kennedy, the grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and the couple were photographed this weekend at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., about 2,000 miles away. There is nothing to indicate any romantic connection between Swift and Boedecker.

Boedecker refused to participate in a voluntary roadside maneuvers test and did not cooperate when officers asked him to turn around, according to the report. They forcibly turned him around and handcuffed him.

"Boedecker began to immediately complain that this was ridiculous, and couldn't believe we were doing this after all he had done for this city," Vest wrote. "Boedecker remained verbally antagonistic."

Boedecker and two friends co-founded the Niwot, Colo.-based company in 2002.

Boedecker was taken to jail where he had blood drawn and was placed in a private holding cell. He was later released on a $500 bond.

The lab results of Boedecker's blood test could take several weeks to get back, according to the Boulder Police Department. The test will determine his blood-alcohol content.

Neither Boedecker nor the Boedecker Foundation responded to requests for comment.

Crocs spokeswoman Katy Lachky wrote in an email statement, "George Boedecker has not been a member of the company's management team since 2005 and resigned from the board of directors in 2006. The company has no further comment on this matter."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kerry Kennedy to Plead Not Guilty to Driving Under the Influence

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Kerry Kennedy will plead not guilty on Tuesday to driving under the influence of drugs after a collision with a tractor-trailer last week, ABC News has learned.

Authorities say Kennedy, a human rights activist and the daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was seen driving erratically in Westchester, N.Y., on Friday when she collided with the truck.  She allegedly continued driving and was later found slumped over the wheel of her car, reportedly unable to remember what had happened.

In the wake of the accident, Kennedy, 52, said to police she might have taken the prescription drug Ambien, sources said.  Kennedy was arrested and charged with driving while impaired.

"We know in my family that this is out of character for Kerry, and we're worried about this as anybody would be when a loved one is in a car accident," her cousin and former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy said.

He said the family is unsure what happened with his cousin last week.

Rocco Scuitello, the driver of the truck that Kerry Kennedy hit, told the New York Post on Tuesday, "My first impression was that she was really, really drunk, half asleep or very, very intoxicated.  She's very lucky she didn't kill somebody."

"When she hit me, my left tire tore up her passenger-side door, and the lug nuts on my truck tore up her tire, just shredded through it and peeled the tire right off," Scuitello said.  "She woke up a little bit, not a lot, not the way you'd wake up if you'd just hit a 6,000-pound truck.  The only thing she wanted to do then was get away, because she floored it and took off."

Patrick Kennedy said he was with his cousin at a wedding last week and that the accusations are completely out of character.

Kerry Kennedy's family said in a statement released to ABC News that there were no drugs involved.

"Kerry Kennedy voluntarily took breathalyzer, blood and urine tests -- all of which showed no drugs or alcohol whatsoever in her system.  The charges were filed before the test results were available," the Kennedy family said in a statement released Friday.

The results of Kennedy's toxicology tests are pending.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man with Zebra, Parrot in Front Seat Charged with DUI

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DUBUQUE, Iowa) -- Police in Dubuque, Iowa, responded to an unusual call this week: reports of a zebra and a parrot in the front seat of a truck parked outside a bar. The striped animal and his fine feathered friend were there to keep their owner company, but weren’t allowed in the bar.

Jerald Reiter, 55, told police the zebra and maccaw parrot enjoy going for rides in his truck, so he brought them to the bar, which he says usually allows animals inside, ABC affiliate KCRG-TV reports.

When the motley crew got to the bar, they were told because food was being served, the animals wouldn’t be allowed inside. Bar owners told KCRG no animals are ever allowed inside.

When officers arrived on the scene, they stopped Reiter in the parking as he was driving his truck away. Field sobriety tests found he had a blood alcohol level of .14, nearly twice the legal limit, according to police.

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His girlfriend, Vickie Teters, told KCRB the animals are like their children, and do everything with them.

“They love going for rides. They’re just a part of the family,” Teters said. “They were not left alone in the car, not even a second.”

Reiter also disputes the drunk driving charge, saying he realized he was too drunk to drive, and was about to let a passenger take the wheel when he was arrested.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Polo Tycoon John Goodman in $46 Million Settlement for DUI Death

Palm Beach Sheriff's Office(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Convicted polo tycoon John Goodman agreed to a $46 million settlement with the parents of 23-year-old Scott Wilson who died in a drunken driving accident perpetrated by Goodman, according to court documents.

Lili and William Wilson, Scott Wilson's parents, will each receive $23 million in the settlement, the same age their son was when he was killed.

All parties involved had previously been tight-lipped about the settlement amount in the civil suit over the crash after Goodman adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend to help protect his estate in the civil suit.

The amount was disclosed in a motion for bond filed Wednesday.

The attorneys filed the motion in hopes of being able to get Goodman out of prison pending his appeal and the outcome of his motion for a new trial. Earlier this week, Goodman's attorneys filed a motion for a new trial based on alleged juror misconduct.

A Florida jury found Goodman guilty of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in March. He could face up to 30 years in prison when sentenced April 30.

Goodman's Bentley slammed into Scott Wilson's Hyundai and sent it into a nearby canal in Wellington, Fla., in February 2010. Wilson, a 23-year-old engineering graduate, was strapped into the driver's seat and drowned.

The multi-millionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach claimed his $200,000 car malfunctioned and lurched forward. He has also denied being drunk at the time of the crash that killed Wilson, although other testimony has contradicted him and his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash.

Attorneys for both Lili and William Wilson did not respond to ABC News requests for comment Friday.

But Christian Searcy, Lili Wilson's attorney, told the Palm Beach Post that the money did not come from Goodman's fortune, but, rather, from insurance companies. He also noted that $6 million of the settlement came from The Player's Club, the restaurant where Goodman had been drinking before the crash.

The motion filed Monday in a Palm Beach County court, asked for a new trial or for Goodman's convictions to be overturned.

In the motion, an alternate juror reported the alleged instances of misconduct to Goodman's lawyers, saying "it was clear" to her the jurors had made up their minds before the end of the trial.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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