Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No one is immune

Over the weekend (Friday night from 5:00 PM until Monday morning at 5:00 AM) we arrested 40 drunk drivers. That’s a big number, and I suspect it is a single-weekend record, or close to it. Our Friday night-Saturday morning checkpoint was responsible for three of the total, and produced lots of evidence of partiers using designated drivers. Looks like plenty of people missed the message, though.

Halloween has become a popular drinking holiday, and since it fell on a Saturday, the Stars the the Moon had aligned for a big night. We had extra personnel focusing on DWI—of all violent crimes the one that is most preventable by law enforcement. Hats off to all the officers who snagged a drunk driver. You are preventing property damage, injury, and even death by doing so.

Unfortunately, not all drunk drivers were caught before the had victimized others. Drunk drivers were involved in three weekend traffic crashes. No one is immune from the risk posed by drunks behind the wheel. At about 1:40 AM on Saturday morning, a Honda Civic blew through the stop light at S. 13th and Washington Streets and plowed into a Lincoln police patrol car. Officer Jennifer Witzel was treated at the hospital and released, but will be a sore puppy as a result. The damage to the police car was over $5,000, and the Honda was totaled. The driver, 22 years of age, tested over twice the legal limit. Too bad we didn’t get her before she got us.

34 comments:

Trevor Brass said...

Is the police department required to publish the locations of the checkpoints like speed traps?

Anonymous said...

Chief - I would LOVE to see one of your famous charts or graphs analyzing the average BAC of a DWI arrest in Lincoln - or something analysis.

In the years that I was in LE - I rarely arrested someone for DWI that was under .15 and frequently they were above .20.

Really makes me crazy when these cocktail party "experts" announce that after 2 glasses of wine you are in danger of a DWI - yada yada.

I think the public needs to understand that the people that are arrested for DWI frequently are so intoxicated they have voided on themselves, are unsure of where they actually are, have trouble standing, pass out at stop lights....and the list goes on and on.

Drunk drivers are not tipsy drivers, who had 1 too many, and got pulled over because the failed to signal a lane change.

They are frequently severely intoxicated drivers who had 6 too many, and are death on wheels.

JIM J said...

Two police cars cam flying out of 1521 at about the time the Suh accident occured. The first police car activated his red lights, and bolted onto 27th street. The police car following it, was much more cautious. Being the respectful driver I am I slowed to a stop and waited a moment for it to go in front of me. It took no chances and waited for me to proceed. LPD does have some smart drivers too.

Tom Casady said...

Trevor Brass-

Nope.

9:16-

My favorite online BAC calculator is this one. You are right: most people don't realize how much it really takes for someone to get to a BAC like .19%. We're not talking a "couple of beers" here--unless you weigh 21 pounds or your beers come in half-gallon bottles.

Anonymous said...

How many of those other 33 DUI citations resulted from citizen tips via cell phone (drivers and passengers calling in possibly-impaired drivers they had just observed)?

In any case, that's one important thing to remember: Just because you don't see a cruiser, doesn't mean that LPD/LSO isn't being made aware of your curb-bouncing, weaving, etc.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I'm glad there are no pirates that advertise alcohol and encourage people to do stupid things.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad Officer Jenn W. is ok!


Jenn

Anonymous said...

Me too.

Anonymous said...

Chief-Thanks for the link to Intoximeters. I teach a motorcycle safety class and we spend a good amount of time talking about drinking and riding and the consequences of doing so. I think I'll incorporate the wheel into the class as an activity.

By the way, I love beer, but would have to drink 13 beers in an hour to hit .19 BAC. Maybe thirty years ago in my prime. No way today. Best wishes to your injured officer.

256

Steve said...

I'll try to keep this short, but there are several things I'd like to mention here. I was reading this post after having commented on the previous one, when my phone rang. It was a call from LPD. The gentleman who called wanted to ask me a few questions regarding my most recent contact with LPD, which was following a traffic accident on Friday night. The questions all revolved around my evaluation of the officer's conduct and performance of his duties at the scene of the crash. I was somewhat surprised, but pleased, that LPD was doing surveys of this type, and I indicated that I felt the officer performed very well, and very professionally.

In my case, a 16-year-old was driving well over the speed limit and blew through a yield sign in a residential intersection just as I was approaching. Had he been going the speed limit, I would have been able to stop. As it was, I didn't have enough time and broadsided his 2009 Sonata. I'm not sure what his attention was focused on, but it certainly wasn't his driving. I don't think he was drinking or doing drugs, but he may have been on his cell phone.

The officer ticketed him, I assume for failing to yield (perhaps also for speeding). The officer's last name was Witzel, and I can't help but think he was related to the J. Witzel of your post. I hope everything turns out all right for both of them, regardless.

Once again, I congratulate LPD for its commitment to public service and professionalism.

Drunk driving or not, an automobile collision can be a traumatic experience. I think people who have been in, or witnessed a serious crash, have a lot more respect for the consequences of failing to pay attention to what they are doing. It's too bad we can't somehow impress everyone with the importance of keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

Anonymous said...

Say Arrrrg isn't that pose shown in the Captain Morgan ads a part of the field sobriety tests? Hold it for five seconds and you pass.

Gun Nuts

This just in said...

Man dressed as breathalyzer for Halloween gets arrested for DWI

Tom Casady said...

Steve-

That was Ryan, Jennifer's spouse. Sorry about the crash--that's a lot of damage to both vehicles. Hope the Tundra recovers. And yes, the citation was for failure to yeild the right of way.

The phone call was our Quality Service Audit. I'm glad you found our performance acceptable, and I'll pass along the compliment.

Anonymous said...

Chief, what is the legal difference between DUI and DWI?

Tom Casady said...

7:43 -

None, they're synonymous.

The cheese stands alone said...

Any idea who coined the word 'speed traps'? Seems like a term a speeder came up with to imply the police 'trapped' him into an area s/he had no choice but to speed. Isn't the posted speed limit pubic enough to notify the public?

Anonymous said...

Speed traps? Well, there are actual speed traps, but generally only in states where the local government profits from fines, and, thankfully, Nebraska isn't one of those states. A speed trap would be (for example) putting a 35mph zone in the middle of a 55mph stretch of road, placing the 35mph sign right around a sharp curve. Cars would come around the curve at 55 or 60, see the sign and hit the brakes, but still be well above 35 by the time they get radar or laser-clocked at the moment that pass the 35 mph sign.

Tom Casady said...

Standing Cheese-

Bellyaching about "speed traps" has always perplexed me, because it implies that there is something "unfair" about catching speeders.

I think that a small part of our job is to enforce speed laws, and if we can do so by finding a place where people chronically speed, then set up a "trap" so we can catch them before they see the radar, that's exactly what we should be doing.

If folks don't want us to enforce speed laws, they should be rescinded. Otherwise, it just makes no sense to me to criticize the police for doing their job somewhat efficiently.

Anonymous said...

LPD (or other NE LE agencies) doing selective enforcement of speed limits isn't the same thing as a speed trap (one type of which I described in my 12:39 comment). They enforce the speed limit here, but they don't "speed trap" anyone. They have no financial incentive to cause the engineering of speed traps, which would be areas designed to cause drivers to violate a rapidly changing speed limit. I've lived where the state constitution doesn't prohibit local govts from sharing in traffic fines (and thus speed traps were in abundance), and believe me, there aren't any speed traps here. The limit signs give a driver plenty of warning and allow them to slow down to the new limit without stabbing the brake pedal.

Steve said...

I don't know all the details of it, but I'm pretty sure the federal government passed a law to prevent "speed traps" some time ago. Basically, as I understand it, it limits the amount of money a municipality can "make" from speeding fines. I think there are also some standards that must be followed regarding the signage and such to try and prevent this type of "trap" that was common in small towns years ago.

Steve said...

Thanks for the info on the ticket. The estimate from the body shop came in this morning. I'm not sure what figure you thought was a lot of damage, but I assume it was the $3,000 officer Witzel put on the accident report. The actual damages to my Tundra came to $6600. Apparently, given what was damaged, it costs a heck of a lot more to fix a car than to build it in the first place.

FYI, nearly all of my adult contacts with LPD would have been rated very highly. When I was a kid, things were either different, or I just saw them differently, as there were a few times when I thought the police were not behaving as they should. Even then, most were professional and courteous.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I'll bet some lawyer came up with the term 'speed trap.'

citizen said...

Chief, I am a firm believer that a person should be able to protect themselves, and I firmly believe the officer did the right and appropriate thing. What I cant stomach is that in the State of Nebraska-- if a non-law enforcement person would have done the same thing they'd go to jail. In Omaha, One does not even have the right to protect themselves in their own home (at least 3 examples in Omaha in the last 2 years). Bottom line, if a civilian cannot defend him/herself with a fire arm, even in their own home, why should a police officer? And I know you know it but Nebraska is the ONLY state that requires a home owner leave their home if invaded by a criminal-- unless you are a cop.

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