Accident Cases: The EDR is Crucial

March 16th, 2014 Allen Trapp Posted in Current Events, Defense Experts, Hiring a Lawyer No Comments »

An item that should be obtained as quickly as possible in an accident case – especially one involving death or serious injury – is the event data recorder (EDR). These devices can store data including engine speed, vehicle speed, airbag deployment, seatbelt use, and the state of the brakes before and during a crash. While these devices have aided insurance adjusters and researchers, they have also served as electronic witnesses that have sent drivers to jail. By the mid-1990’s when all automobiles had an airbag, microprocessors, solid state memory, and in-car networks gave designers all the tools they needed for capturing system performance and driver reaction data during a crash. One of GM’s early data recorders was responsible for the recall of more than 850,000 Chevrolet Cavaliers and Pontiac Sunfires for inadvertent airbag deployment. The early EDR’s captured data for approximately five seconds before a collision. However, the newer models record data for forty to fifty seconds before impact.

To read this information special equipment is needed, and manufacturers have not adopted the same stance vis-?-vis the ease with which the data from their automobiles may be downloaded. GM, for example, will not share information about a crash event except: (1) With the consent of the vehicle owner or lessee; (2) In response to an official request of police or similar government office; (3) As part of GM’s defense of litigation through the discovery process; (4) As otherwise required by law. Mercedes and BMW have designed their EDR’s so they cannot be deciphered unless the manufacturers cooperate in a particular case.

Documenting driver digressions is the most controversial application of the crash data recorders. A recorder can, for example, reveal if a driver was speeding or braking before an accident. Although it is generally agreed that the recorded information belongs to the vehicle owner, that does not mean it can always be easily concealed. Many motorists do not even know that their vehicles have the recorders and that disclosure of information from the recorder may be an invasion of privacy. Nevertheless, insurance companies and lawyers have frequently been successful in their attempts to obtain court orders to extract data after an accident. One of the most popular pieces of information is the crash pulse information from the onboard accelerometers that activate airbags. Information about this change in velocity and direction of force may indicate the cause of the crash or the severity of injuries.

Vetronix Corporation was one of the first vendors to offer a CDR (crash data retrieval) system that downloaded pre-crash and crash data from the air bag module of most GM and Ford models to a laptop computer. This CDR system included hardware and Windows based software to present crash data in graphs and tables. Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, the CDR program retrieved vehicle speed, engine speed, brake status, throttle position, seatbelt usage, whether the passenger side airbag was enabled, and other data. Bosch offered a competitive product and acquired Vetronix several years ago.

The attorney should exert every effort to ensure that the client’s vehicle is secure. The data may be lost due to an inadvertent police “error” such as starting the car, connecting it to a power source, or improperly downloading the data. Any of these events can “erase” the EDR’s memory, and with that erasure may go your  chances for an acquittal. The data may be downloaded from one of three points on a large number of models, including the DLC (data link connector or direct link connector) plug under the dash, the airbag control module, or the PCM (primary control module). Although the “black box” can be removed without necessarily damaging the instrument, most engineers see no need for removal and perform their downloads with the EDR still in the automobile.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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Braves Star Arrested for DUI

April 30th, 2011 Allen Trapp Posted in Current Events, DUI Arrests That Made the News, Top 50 DUI Arrests of All-Time, Uncategorized No Comments »

      Braves pitcher Derek Lowe was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol within days after pitching coach Roger McDowell was accused of making anti-homosexual comments before a game in San Francisco last weekend.  Gordy Wright, a spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol, said a trooper stopped Lowe’s vehicle about 10 p.m. on Thursday, April 28th, on an Atlanta street. The trooper detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage and administered a “field sobriety test,” which resulted in Lowe’s arrest.  Initial reports failed to identify the nature of this test, but additional information should be forthcoming. 

     The 37-year-old right-hander was charged with DUI, reckless driving and improper lane change, according to the Georgia State Patrol.  Lowe declined to take a breath test before he was released, and the officer did not attempt to obtain a search warrant for a blood best, although he could have done so under state law.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that Lowe was allegedly racing another vehicle when he was pulled over.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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Flawed Breath Tests in California

April 21st, 2011 Allen Trapp Posted in Breath Tests, Current Events No Comments »

     Hundreds of drunk driving convictions in Ventura County could be tossed out because a defect in some of the handheld Breathalyzer machines purchased earlier this year is causing inaccurate blood-alcohol readings. The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office has sent memos to local attorneys saying that eight Intoximeter Alco-Sensor V breathalyzers have shown “erratic results” in blood-alcohol tests taken between January 20th and March 31st, according to Kevin Drescher, the supervising attorney with the felony unit.

     The county purchased 128 of the devices, paying about $4,800 for each one. Drescher said he didn’t know how many people charged with DUI were tested with the Alco-Sensor V during that time. “I don’t have the actual numbers,” he said, adding that the office was still looking into the matter. “Obviously, we are trying to do what’s right in this situation.” He added the information on who used the eight defective devices should be easy to obtain since it is data entered into the machine. Drescher said law enforcement has stopped using all Alco-Sensor V devices.Assistant Sheriff Gary Pentis said Alco-Sensor V had a defective mouthpiece resulting in “irregular readings.” He said the defective machines will be fixed, tested and returned to the county in about three months. The department will use the older model, Alco-Sensor IV in the meantime. He said every law enforcement agency in the county uses the device.

     The District Attorney’s Office sent the memo to the Public Defender’s Office on April 15th, said Chief Deputy Public Defender Monica Cummins. She said about 160 clients who were either convicted of DUI during this time or have cases pending, will be contacted by the office. “Some cases are still open,” she said. Cummins said the defective machines had “no evidentiary value” that could be used in court, but could have resulted in people getting convicted or pleading guilty to drunk driving based on erroneous Breathalyzer tests results.Drescher said his office will check on a “case by case” basis where defective devices were used to determine the appropriate thing to do.

     Attorney Robert Sandbach said a client’s arraignment for drunk driving was postponed because he needs more information about the Alco-Sensor V. He and his client went to the Department of Motor Vehicles Tuesday to request a postponement on a hearing to suspend the client’s license. He said his client was “alarmed and shocked” after finding out the machine was unreliable and possibly inaccurate. Sandbach said he is aware of two other clients who were arrested for DUI and were tested by the Alco-Sensor V. 

     Sandbach said on top of the jail time, fines and fees, and getting a license suspended, there is another toll for the wrongly accused. “The embarrassment of going through the process only to find out that the evidence was not reliable,” said Sandbach.

     During a news conference in January, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said the use of the microphone-sized instrument would improve safety in the community, providing instant reading of a motorist’s blood-alcohol level. The devices were funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Officers were given about four hours of training on the devices before being sent out into the field.

     Attorney Mindy McQueen, who specializes in DUI cases, said Breathalyzer devices have never been infallible. She said the technology to make the devices faster, smaller and more economical has resulted in manufacturer design flaws.”These machines have never been infallible and that’s something that defense attorneys have tried to point out for years,” said McQueen, a member of the California DUI Attorneys Association.

     Pentis said the machines passed stringent testing before they were put to use. He said an officer in the field discovered the problem, reported it immediately, and the machines were pulled out and tested. Apparently temperature played a part in the false readings. Pentis said the only way the sheriff’s crime laboratory could duplicate the flaw in the Alco-Sensor V was to put it into a freezer. Pentis said the Alco-Sensor must be 100 percent accurate before it will be used by law enforcement. He did not explain why it was put into use when it was clearly not 100 percent accurate.

     Cummins said the Public Defender’s Office will move to have the convictions dismissed in cases where there may have been blood-alcohol errors. But some people who were found guilty or pleaded guilty as a result of these false readings have already served jail time, paid thousands of dollars in fines and have done community service as part of the conviction, Cummins noted. Also, harsher penalties are meted out to motorists who blow a .15 percent blood-alcohol level, said Cummins. In California, a blood-alcohol reading of .08 is considered the benchmark for being legally intoxicated.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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Hundreds of Breath Tests Tossed in Philadelphia

March 12th, 2011 Allen Trapp Posted in Breath Tests, Current Events No Comments »

Dozens of DUI cases in Philadelphia will be re-tried because of a bad breathalyzer, officials announced on March 9th.  Prosecutors have conceded that at least one of the breath testing devices used in the city was showing incorrect blood alcohol levels.

The district attorney’s office has agreed that in cases where people were found guilty solely because of the test (sounds like only guilty pleas to us), they will get a new trial.  In cases where other evidence was obtained, such as witness testimony (any case that ever went to trial?) or a blood test, the defendants would not be affected by this development.  The problem could affect about 200 convictions.

As of this date we have not been able to determine the exact nature of the problem with Philadelphia’s breath testing device.  We will update this post if more details come to our attention. 
Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website

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Tiger’s First Baseman Miguel Cabrera Charged in Florida

March 2nd, 2011 Allen Trapp Posted in Current Events, DUI Arrests That Made the News, Top 50 DUI Arrests of All-Time No Comments »

     Miguel Cabrera, the slugging first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, was arrested in Florida on February 16th for driving under the influence of alcohol and two counts of resisting an officer without violence.  According to Mark Weinberg with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, he was booked into the St. Lucie County Jail at 12:20 a.m. and released at 7:45 a.m., after posting $1,350 bond.

     Cabrera had not yet reported to Tigers spring training in Lakeland, Florida, and the arrest complicated matters because there were issues to work through with the office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and the players’ association.  He made one very smart move in the days that followed.  Instead of hiring a “celebrity” lawyer or one with a silk stocking civil background, he retained Michael Kessler, who is perhaps the finest DUI attorney in south Florida.  Kessler is well known nationally and highly regarded by other members of the National College for DUI Defense.  This baseball player chose a formidable DUI defense – not a quick guilty plea. 
Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website

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Cobb County and Kennesaw cracking down on underage drinking

February 11th, 2011 Richard Blevins Posted in Current Events No Comments »

The City of Kennesaw, Georgia and other local law enforcement agencies located in Cobb County are cracking down on underage drinking.   In 2010, 4,197 citations or arrests in Cobb County were reported for DUI and minor in possession of alcohol. As reported in the Marietta Daily Journal.  Our office has experienced this increase through the representation of numerous individuals charged with DUI or minor in possession of alcohol.  In Georgia minor in possession of alcohol carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail and/or a $300.00 fine.  You can be eligible for a diversion program or a conditional discharge.  Our law firm has the experience to assist you with these charges to avoid a conviction and work to get your arrest record expunged.  Written by Richard N. Blevins, Jr., a former Cobb County prosecutor and former police officer, visit my website.

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Intoxilyzer 5000 Breath Tests out in Florida

October 7th, 2009 Allen Trapp Posted in Breath Tests, Current Events No Comments »

For many years the state of Florida used the same breath alcohol testing device currently used in Georgia, and it helped to convict tens of thousands of DUI defendants across the state. Now evidence that the Intoxilyzer 5000 might not have been as reliable as prosecutors portrayed is coming to light.  About 70 times each month in Florida the new Intoxilyzer 8000 rejects a breath test because control tests (calibration checks) are not acceptable.  Therefore, Florida defense attorneys contend that similar problems should have been at least as common with the older model.

Two top experts have said that the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test machines, which Florida used for about two decades before the state changed to the updated machines in 2006, could not meet today’s scientific requirements for ensuring accurate results.  The Intoxilyzer 5000 was only “inspected” once per month to see if the machine was working properly.  The machine now in use, the Intoxilyzer 8000, runs two calibration checks, as recommended by the National Safety Council, during every breath test.  The testimony of those experts now prevents prosecutors from introducing the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath tests in court in the small number of remaining cases where that older machine was used.

Due to the inadmissibility of the Intoxilyzer 5000 test results dozens of DUI defendants in different counties around the state have had charges dropped or reduced to reckless driving.  Unfortunately, it is too late for anyone already convicted with results from the Intoxilyzer 5000 to benefit from the situation.  Many prosecutors continue to claim that the Intoxilyzer 5000 machines were reliable, even if the scientific community now calls for better safeguards to make sure the machine is accurate.  On the other hand, defense attorneys say it is frightening to contemplate how many innocent people were convicted or saw no choice bu to plead guilty, and also lost their driver’s licenses, based on a test whose reliability is now in question.

In depositions in DUI cases this year, two state experts say the currently accepted practice is that a control test must be performed during each actual test to ensure accurate results.  Florida authorities used to say that a calibration check once per month was sufficient, but they have finally conceded that the scientific community has favored a calibration check at the time of each test for decades.  Prosecutors can still proceed with the older DUI cases without breath tests; however, a conviction requires a jury to believe that a driver was intoxicated based on police testimony or video recordings of the traffic stop.

The issue regarding the Intoxilyzer 5000 and whether its results were scientifically valid arose during the battle for access to the computer source code that runs the machines.  Defense attorneys in about 450 DUI cases questioned the reliability of the machines, and judges have ruled that the defendants should have access to the computer code inside the Intoxilyzer 5000 and 8000.  After the manufacturer refused to disclose the code, many judge have ruled that prosecutors would only be able to introduce the results if the established the admissibility of the test via expert testimony in each case.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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NHTSA Reports Increase in DUI Arrests for Women

August 20th, 2009 Allen Trapp Posted in Current Events, Studies No Comments »

A report on DUI arrests was released on August 19th amid fanfare generated by NHTSA for their latest anti-DUI initiative. Speeches by Transportation Secretary LaHood and MADD President Laura Dean-Moody were along the lines you might expect, and there was a press release on the NHTSA website. The study is “Alcohol Impaired Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes, by Gender and State, 2007-2008.” DOT HS 811 095.

The report indicates that between 1998 and 2007, DUI arrests for women increased almost 29%, while arrests for men dropped about 7.5%. The NHTSA study points out that the latest data shows that traffic fatalities involving women who were allegedly impaired by alcohol increased or stayed the same in 15 states, while for numbers remained the same or increased for men in 13 states. The study claims that this is significant in light of the overall 9% drop in alcohol related fatal crashes. What the NHTSA report did not emphasize is that in 40 states fatalities in “alcohol related” accidents involving women drivers actually declined or was unchanged. It only went up in 10 states. That doesn’t sound as threatening, but numbers that alarm justify NHTSA budget increases and larger grants for MADD. The overall numbers reflect a reduction in fatal wrecks involving alcohol impaired women of 1% from 2007 to 2008, so the trend apparent in the FBI data is a reduction in fatal DUI crashes last year..

CNN quoted the MADD president as blaming the increase in DUI’s among women as possibly attributable to increasing economic pressure (more women in the workforce who then drink to reduce the stress of being in the workplace) and television presentations of glamorous women who stay home and drink.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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Government says Driving Under the Influence of Drugs is Up.

July 28th, 2009 Allen Trapp Posted in Current Events, Driving under the Influence of Drugs, Studies No Comments »

     Fewer Americans are driving drunk, but roughly one in six drivers on weekend nights is driving under the influence of drugs, according to a data released Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey.  In a survey conducted in 2007, 2.2 percent of drivers had a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, which would exceed the limit for driving while intoxicated in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the agency said in a news release.

     The first such survey, conducted in 1973, found 7.5 percent of drivers above the 0.08 limit, the release said. Other surveys were conducted in 1986 and 1996.
“I’m pleased to see that our battle against drunk driving is succeeding,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood  said in the news release.  “However, alcohol still kills 13,000 people a year on our roads and we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to prevent drunk driving.”

     The 2007 survey was the first to also check for drug use while driving. It found that 16.3 percent of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for drugs, according to the statement.  What the NHTSA report does not explain is what percentage of these drivers was under the influence of drugs or even impaired to the slightest degree.  The drugs used most commonly by drivers were marijuana (8.6 percent), cocaine (3.9 percent) and over-the-counter and prescription drugs (3.9 percent), it said.  The last group would include such popular medications as Xanax, Lorcet, and Valium.  “This troubling data shows us, for the first time, the scope of drugged driving in America and reinforces the need to reduce drug abuse,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

     The survey involved setting up random sites across the country to question drivers who participated voluntarily and on condition of anonymity.  In total, almost 11,000 eligible drivers entered the survey sites, with 9,413 drivers agreeing to breath-alcohol measurements, 7,719 providing oral fluid samples and 3,276 nighttime drivers submitting blood samples, the news release said.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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Driving While Texting: You Gotta Be Kidding Me!

July 24th, 2009 Allen Trapp Posted in Current Events No Comments »

     What used to be known as typing is now known as “texting” by the young and the technologically savvy not-so young, so long as it is done on an electronic apparatus that transmits the typed message to another electronic apparatus. Driving under the influence has become such a social taboo thanks to nearly three decades of government paid advertising that most people recognize the acronym DUI (driving under the influence). However, according to a growing body of research and empirical observation, “driving while texting” is a potentially worse hazard than DUI, and should be just as socially unacceptable as driving drunk.

     Driving while texting (DWT), which is typing on something much smaller than a bread box, is now afflicting our culture as a consequence of cellphone addiction. Had we asked thirty years ago, which is worse – driving drunk (much worse than today’s “impaired to the slightest degree”) or driving while typing – the nearly universal response would have been the latter. Now it seems that there must be a study of everything.

     Sure enough, the U.K. Transport Research Laboratory study, commissioned by the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, has concluded that motorists sending text messages while driving are “significantly more impaired” than those who drive drunk. The study showed texters’ reaction times deteriorated by 35 per cent with an incredible 91 per cent decrease in steering ability, while similar studies of drunk driving indicate reaction time is reduced by about 12 per cent. By that measure, DWT is three times more dangerous than DUI, and logically ought to be treated as severely, if not more so, under the law and in terms of social disapproval.

     Studies by the U.S. National Highway Safety Administration show that 85 per cent of all motor vehicle crashes are caused by distracted driving- not drunk driving. However, laws banning DWT are still quite rare. After all, who thought about driving down the highway at 65 miles per hour while typing thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago? Maybe some day soon the folks at MADD will become irate about this issue too. Nah, I almost forgot. Outlawing DWT has nothing to do with virtual prohibition – MADD’s real goal.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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Minnesota Supreme Court Source Code Victory

April 30th, 2009 Allen Trapp Posted in Breath Tests, Case Law Update, Current Events No Comments »

     The Minnesota Supreme Court issued a “split decision” in two Intoxilyzer source code cases today. However, the minimal showing required for disclosure of the source code augurs well for future defense efforts.

     In State v. Underdahl the Supreme Court ruled that the district court abused its discretion in finding the source code relevant and related to his guilt or innocence. Underdahl made no threshold evidentiary showing whatsoever; while he argued that challenging the validity of the Intoxilyzer was the only way for him to dispute the charges against him, he failed to demonstrate how the source code would help him do so. He advanced no theories on how the source code “could be related to [his] defense or why the [source code] was reasonably likely to contain information related to the case.”

     State v. Brunner, however, yielded a different result. This defendant submitted source code definitions, written testimony of a computer science professor that explained issues surrounding the source codes and their disclosure, and an example of a breath test machine analysis and its potential defects. Brunner’s submissions showed that an analysis of the source code may reveal deficiencies that could challenge the reliability of the Intoxilyzer and, in turn, would relate to his guilt or innocence. Therefore, the Supreme Court held that the district court in Brunner’s case did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the source code may relate to his guilt or innocence.

     The Court also considered whether the district courts’ findings that the State had possession or control of the source code were clearly erroneous. The Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure require prosecuting attorneys to assist the defendant in seeking access to matters that are within the “possession or control” of the State. Both district courts had found that the State is the owner of the source code for the Minnesota model of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN, relying on the request for proposal (RFP) issued by the State when replacing the previous version of its breath-test instrument. The Supreme Court found that the source code was effectively in the possession or control of the state.

     As the law now stands in Minnesota, the defendant must make a minimal showing in order to obtain an order requiring the State to produce the source code. The remedy in per se cases, including the Minnesota version of “extreme DUI”, will be dismissal, with suppression the likely remedy in “less safe” cases. Will the State comply? Will CMI cooperate? Stay tuned.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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Wisconsin Cops Target Root Beer.

April 21st, 2008 Allen Trapp Posted in Current Events No Comments »

Wausau, WI. Mar 28 (AP) – Cars lining the street. A house full of young people. A keg and drinking games inside. Police thought they had an underage boozing party on their hands.

But though they made dozens of teens take breath tests, none tested positive for alcohol. That’s because the keg contained root beer.

The party was held by a high school student who wanted to show that teens don’t always drink alcohol at their parties.  Dustin Zebro, 18, said he staged the party after friends at D.C. Everest High School got suspended from sports because of pictures showing them drinking from red cups.

Zebro purchased a quarter-barrel of 1919 Classic American Draft Root Beer, and by 10 p.m. Saturday, the scene outside his rural Wausau home had all the makings of a teen drinking party – cars, noise and kids…

Nearly 90 breath tests were done, and officers even searched locked rooms for hiding teens.

Now, there’s a lesson to be learned here, but it’s probably not the lesson the cops wanted to teach these youngsters.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website
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DUI Deputy May Have Wrongly Jailed Dozens

June 16th, 2007 Allen Trapp Posted in Current Events No Comments »

TAMPA – Daniel Brock won high praise for jailing impaired motorists. Mothers Against Drunk Driving honored him. So did his bosses. But one of Hillsborough County’s most aggressive DUI deputies may have wrongly sent dozens of people to jail, the Sheriff’s Office acknowledged on Thursday, June 14, 2007.

The agency fired Brock on May 24th. In one year, Brock arrested 58 people whose blood-alcohol content was below 0.08, the level at which state law presumes a driver is impaired, an internal affairs audit showed. “I don’t prescribe to the theory that somehow you have to be 0.08 to be drunk or impaired, ” Brock, 38, told investigators. (Editor Note: I bet he “prescribes” to the theory that somehow everyone is impaired or too drunk to drive at .08)

A driver may be charged with DUI in Florida if the blood-alcohol level is between 0.05 and 0.08 percent, but there must be other evidence of impairment, such as a swerving vehicle. In 43 of those 58 cases, motorists demonstrated no visible impairment behind the wheel, according to an internal affairs report made public Thursday. In 41 arrests, Brock also failed to make a case with urine samples, the report states.

Repeatedly, investigators found Brock reported failures in field sobriety tests when his patrol car video camera documented the opposite. He wrote, for instance, that a driver on Oct. 25, 2005, lost balance while turning. The video of the encounter showed that wasn’t the case. The driver blew a 0.01 in the breath test but was arrested anyway. He said drivers incorrectly recited the alphabet, used arms for balance and slurred speech – when the video showed correct alphabets, perfect balance and clear speech.

Records show he pulled people over on DUI stops 17 times while his cruiser was occupied with other prisoners. That’s against procedure. He routinely filed arrest reports days, even weeks, after making an arrest. He told internal affairs Detective Bruce Crumpler that he always reported the results of field sobriety tests based on memory. Wouldn’t that leave room for errors, Crumpler asked? “Well, there’s room for error, ” Brock told Crumpler. “I’ve never had a problem.” (Editor’s Note: Until now his job was not on the line, his liberty was not restrained, and his license was not jeopardized. No wonder he had never had a problem.)

His paperwork became the subject of scorn at the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, where prosecutors said the deputy tarnished his reputation by filing inaccurate arrest reports that lacked important details. “He doesn’t have a very good reputation for being a very good DUI officer that we care to work with, ” prosecutor Jennifer Gabbard told Crumpler. “It’s almost like whatever you can do to make it look like you’re arresting people.”

From October 2005 to October 2006, Brock made 313 arrests for driving under the influence. He failed to activate his cruiser’s audio and video equipment in 40 percent of his stops, instead relying on his “wrought memory” to recall important arrest details, the audit showed. Within the Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Brock previously had been praised for his “outstanding professional service” and was consistently recommended for raises. His superiors rated his performance “satisfactory” and called him a credit to the office. He was lauded as a dedicated deputy who spoke to high school students about the perils of impaired driving.

“We always felt he was a good officer, ” said Becky Gage, 55, the victim advocate for Hillsborough’s MADD chapter. “As long as officers are within the scope of the law, then we support their efforts to remove impaired drivers.” (Editors Note: MADDs leadership embraces a “zero tolerance” standard for everyone, so they believe a person who drank one beer at a ball game should be arrested.)

However, the former deputy encountered a few bumps in the road. He was suspended and sent to driving school in 2000 after a string of what the Sheriff’s Office deemed avoidable traffic accidents. In 2006, he was named in a federal lawsuit alleging that he physically attacked the mother of a teenage boy he arrested in 2002. The Hillsborough County woman said Brock forced himself into her home, pushed her into a corner and sprayed her with pepper spray. The lawsuit is unresolved.

During the recent internal affairs investigation, Brock denied trying to boost numbers for personal recognition. It was unclear Thursday whether Brock intends to appeal his firing. He told investigators that given the chance, he would conduct his DUI stops the same way. Said Brock: “I mean, perfect world, we need more deputies and fewer people.”

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MADD MONEY – PRIVATE PIGGY BANK?

January 21st, 2007 Allen Trapp Posted in Current Events No Comments »

TheStar.com – News – MADD’s Outspoken Founder Punished

Kevin Donovan
Staff reporter
 

The founder of MADD Canada, who spoke out against the national organization’s fundraising practices, has been stripped of his role on the charity’s two key committees.”I feel betrayed,” said John Bates, 79, whose quarter-century battle against drinking and driving earned him the Order of Canada.Bates learned Monday evening he was gone from the charity’s finance and policy committees, which monitor the organization’s expenditures and revenues, and set the tone for the charity.The news came to Bates during a brief teleconference involving five of the 17 board members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“This seems to be in response to asking too many questions,” Bates said yesterday. “But I don’t believe in spending donor money the way MADD head office does and I feel I had a responsibility to speak out.”

A recent Star investigation, in which Bates was quoted, revealed that most of the millions MADD raises stays with the paid telemarketers, door knockers and direct mail companies hired by the charity to raise cash.

While MADD insists that 83.6 per cent of donated funds goes to the charity’s programs, the Star found that it was virtually the reverse, with about 81 per cent of MADD money spent on fundraising and administration.

MADD is doing an internal review of its fundraising practices and has hired consultants to survey chapters to see if they are happy with the organization. The results of those initiatives would normally be discussed next month at the two committees from which Bates has been removed.

A MADD lawyer who spoke during the conference call told Bates “it would be inappropriate, perhaps uncomfortable” for him to remain on the committees, but did not elaborate. The lawyer did not return a call from the Star.

The Star received an email from the board’s vice-chair, Al Newton, who said Bates was removed because he is a non-voting member of the board and the board had decided that only voting members should be on committees.

The Star has attempted to ask Newton why only five members of the 17-member board were able to remove Bates but Newton did not respond.

Tony Carvalho, one of the five board members who voted in the Monday night meeting, was helped by Bates in 1990 when Carvalho’s son was killed in a drunk driving accident.

Told later by the Star that Bates felt betrayed by the board members who voted, Carvalho said: “Yes, John was helpful to me. We are friends and he was very supportive when we went through our situation (when his son was killed).”

Carvalho would not discuss his reasoning for voting against Bates. “I think there are always two sides to a story and I would like to leave it at that.”

Long-time MADD volunteer Nancy Codlin, of the Durham chapter, reacted with dismay when she learned what had happened to Bates. “It’s a sad day when the founder of MADD cannot ask questions. John is a dear, dear man who has the organization’s best interests at heart.”

At his home in Etobicoke yesterday, Bates tried to make sense of what happened.

On a wall in his cramped office hangs a series of plaques, including the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour. Bates was awarded the distinction in 1998 for “his tireless dedication over the years to raising awareness of the tragic consequences of impaired driving.”

It notes that his work resulted in a groundswell of support for legislative reform; made roads safer; reduced drunk driving fatalities; and his leadership and voluntary efforts with MADD “led to the development of a nation-wide support network for accident victims.”

Bates, a retired magazine executive, took up the anti-drunk driving crusade in the early 1980s after a friend of his daughter’s was killed by an impaired driver.

Bates was also awarded the title of “Founder of MADD” in 1993 for his “outstanding achievement and dedication” to the cause. This gave him a lifetime seat on the board.

MADD’s top honour “ the John Bates Volunteer of the Year award “ is awarded in his name.

Strewn on his desk yesterday were unused notes for the Monday night call. Unused, because MADD chief executive officer Andrew Murie (who is not a board member) spoke up and called for the vote.

Bates had just told the people on the call: “Even though I am the one being held out as a bad guy (by MADD head office) I am the one trying to save this organization.”

Bates told the Star he had very much wanted to discuss the fundraising issue and also remark on the importance in any organization of speaking out.

He had planned to quote slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, who once said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Bates, who founded MADD in the early 1990s (he was founder of an earlier group started in the 1980s which became MADD), remains on the board but he does not have voting rights.

MADD is Canada’s largest anti-drunk driving charity, with revenues of about $12 million annually.

In its investigation, the Star found that the local, volunteer-driven chapters of the charity do a great deal of good work on a shoestring budget. But the majority of the fundraised millions stay with paid fundraisers.

Murie, MADD’s chief executive officer, has told the Star that the telemarketers and others the charity hires to ask for cash are conducting charitable works because they are spreading the message of the organization.

The federal charity regulator does not condone this type of accounting.

Murie, who has previously said his charity is being criticized by a few “disgruntled” volunteers, did not respond to a request for an interview yesterday

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