Those that are bound and determined to drink and drive can almost always find a way. Though most people think of trips to the local liquor store as a place to pick up supplies, the reality is that even a quick trip to the grocery outlet will suffice, if the intention is to find something with enough alcohol to get wasted.
As proof that there are lots of surprising things that can get a person drunk, a 46-year-old woman from Seneca Falls, New York was arrested last week and has since been charged with drunk driving after consuming, of all things, vanilla extract. According to police reports, the woman was spotted by officers driving erratically in a Walmart parking lot.
An officer then approached the car and began questioning the woman who admitted, almost immediately, that she had been drinking vanilla prior to getting behind the wheel. Officers say the woman explained how she had consumed two regular-sized bottles of pure vanilla extract not long before getting in her car. She soon became disoriented and was unable to navigate her way out of the Walmart parking lot. Read more
It was recently revealed that Reese Witherspoon was arrested last weekend in Atlanta after her husband was pulled over for driving in the wrong lane. The incident proved to be an embarrassment for the actress, prompting her to issue an apology for her actions that night. More than embarrassing, her aggressive behavior also led to her arrest and being charged with disorderly conduct.
I have little doubt that Ms. Witherspoon is a nice person and truly regrets this ordeal, but the whole incident serves as an example of how people should not behave when pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving or any other traffic stop. Now, there may be certain legal issues to the validity of a traffic stop, but that should be addressed later through counsel not litigated between you and the officer on the side of the highway. This generally never ends well for the driver or passenger.
Just a few months ago I brought you a story about how one Minnesota man had his drunk driving charges dismissed after the Minnesota Court of Appeals found that a Segway was not considered a motor vehicle under state law. Though a Segway may not qualify, a new case is testing the limits of that definition.
The case involves a man who was arrested in Lakeville, MN earlier this month. The man stands accused of driving drunk on an electric scooter. Police say that they received a call late at night from someone who wanted to report that a man on a scooter had hit a parked car. Police have not released details about the specifications of the scooter, other than that the scooter was powered by gasoline.
A recent case working its way through the court system in Tennessee got some national attention given the important impact the decision might have. The highest court in Tennessee has agreed to hear a case, State of Tennessee v. David Dwayne Bell, concerning the weight that should be given to the performance on field sobriety tests by a driver, especially those that indicate sobriety.
The roots of the important decision go back to 2009 when David Bell was arrested for drunk driving in East Tennessee despite having passed a battery of field sobriety tests with flying colors.
Bell was spotted late one night driving on the wrong side of the road, something he said he did because of nearby road construction which caused him to miss his turn. The officer pulled Bell over and administered a series of six standard field sobriety tests. Bell passed each one. Despite this, Bell’s admission that he had indeed consumed a beer that evening was enough to have the officer arrest him and take him to have a blood test done to officially determine his BAC. The test results showed that Bell was indeed legally intoxicated, with a BAC of 0.15. The issue that has been successfully raised by Bell was whether the officer had the necessary probable cause to place Bell under arrest in the first place.
Public intoxication is not exactly related to Rochester DWI offenses. However, it is possible for someone charged with a DWI, or even a passenger in their vehicle, to be charged with public intoxication.
Public intoxication laws are often quite broad. There have been a number of cases where protocol and specific provisions were questioned because law enforcement entered into establishments which served alcohol and arrested patrons on the spot. Most attorneys would agree that, in such cases, a fine line is crossed.
Public intoxication laws should, and typically do, apply to the aftermath of imbibing, including actions and events occurring once the person has left the establishment in which alcohol was served. In some states, the laws can become complicated here because of social host liability, etc. However, public intoxication is a matter of being and acting intoxicated and impaired in public, typically by causing a public disturbance of some sort.