Friday, June 18, 2010

Fourteen and counting

Sgt. Shannon Karl left me a note earlier this week, about a traffic crash last weekend that one of the officers on her squad, Tony Gratz, investigated.  The westbound driver ran the red light, colliding with a northbound vehicle.  Fortunately, there were no injuries.  The eastbound driver was drunk, testing .117%. 

Nothing particularly unusual about this, except for one thing.  The drunk driver has a few priors. Thirteen, to be exact. This was his 14th arrest for DWI.  His first one was in 1975 at age 19.  With that many arrests stretching back to the Gerald Ford administration, I thought for sure that one of them would be mine, but alas, his early career was spent in other Nebraska counties. 

This isn't a record, but it sure puts him in an elite group.  Remarkably, he was not driving on a suspended license.  His license had been reinstated in February of 2008, following it's most recent revocation a year earlier.  Don't ask me how a guy with 13 prior drunk driving convictions is ever able to get a driver's license again, because I have no clue.

32 comments:

Watchful said...

Since technology is advancing daily, here is an enhanced device similar to what is being used now. It could help catch these repeat offenders more quickly.

Would you support something like this or would it be more of a burden on officers, too busy corraling 4 year olds in a temper tantrum?

Anonymous said...

You might still pinch him for DUI in the future, maybe while driving to and from your work. If you saw him curb-bouncing in front of you, would you be credited for an assist if you vectored in a cruiser to do the stop?

Dave said...

Oddly, I believe I know the person you are talking about. We were discussing it in the bar the other day over a few beers.

I too was stunned to hear of his priors. How is it that Judges don't deal with these people like they should?

It makes me angry when I see a person who has multiple DUI convictions, yet never lost their license.

Tom Casady said...

Watchful-

Very interesting merger of interlock, GPS, and cell technology. I like it. Why didn't I think of that?

7:28-

Nah, you can't claim credit for an arrest if you're above the rank of sergeant unless you've actually done the reports personally! Anyone out there remember this famous LPD radio transmission:

"What's the matter, your leg broke?"

Dave said...

I don't remember that transmission Chief, but I did hear this gem the other day...

Dispatch: All units, cruiser 1xx has declared an emergency.

Ofc K9 yeah, my partition was open and Jake struck the distress button.

Dispatch: Well, since it was Jake, all is forgiven.

Made me laugh, and I chuckle about it now just thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

Chief,

Is 14 the DUI record for any person currently alive and residing in Lancaster County?

Tom Casady said...

8:37-

Can't tell you for sure, but I highly doubt it.

Former Deputy Duensing said...

Urkevich, LOL! Maybe Jake was in distress.

It's been over 20 years since I woke up from acoma after being hit by a drunk driver only to find out my girlfriend was killed in the crash. Chief, back in the early 90's, you and I spent countless hours educating the future of our city on the perils of drinking and driving by talking to students at our local schools, etc. It is still so hard to hear of these repeat offenders that are out there every night, just setting their course on changing peoples lives by running into them. I commend all the officers in our state (Great Job)for their attempt to curtail those that drink and drive and know that they will continue to do so. We as society can only hope that with strong messages sent by judges in their sentencing, interlock ignition devices and police presence that someday it will stop.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the 17th & O t-bone, middle of the afternoon. I'm stunned that not only did he have a license again, but also had valid reg and insurance! I'd hate to see that premium amount.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I remember the famous transmission. Probably a former Assistant Chief remembers it too! I don't think they ever determined who made the comment. Something you want to confess Tom?

Tom Casady said...

12:43-

No, not me. Most of the people on the command staff know the source--who left LPD long ago.

Anonymous said...

Chief:

Why wasn't his license revoked? Don't the additional DUI lead to a greater penalty?

Anonymous said...

Was that transmission made by someone otherwise known as "Topper?"

Tom Casady said...

4:33-

Not a chance. Topper could not possibly transmit without everyone knowing exactly who he was.

Anonymous said...

Tom-I thought it was Topper too, but if not could it be Satterthwaite? I'll keep guessing but give me a clue.

256

Anonymous said...

In case some readers didn't know, a DUI conviction "scrolls off" after 12 years. Because of this, if (to oversimplify) you keep your DUIs slightly over 6 years apart, you'll never have 3rd offense, just a 1st and a bunch of 2nd offenses. For instance if you got your 1st DUI in 1970, then others in 1976, 1983, 1989, 1996, 2002, and 2009, you'd really have 7 DUIs, but because of the 12-year thing, never have a 3rd offense. You could actually have more DUIs in there, some of which would be originally charged as 3rd offenses, but if they were plea-bargained down to 2nd by a lazy prosecutor, or dropped entirely due to legal technicalities, well, you see how it works.

Anonymous said...

M.O. ring a bell?

Tom Casady said...

3:45-

Indeed!

Angela Streeter said...

I'm the girl that he hit. I was actually east-bound, turning south-bound. He blew a lot higher when Tony Gratz put him in the back of the car; he said 209.

And it wasn't really about him even hitting me, and although I am very upset that he still had a licence (and insurance), I was more upset that he was not cooperating at all, and then tried to drive away from the scene of the accident several times, and then tried to back his car up into my person, intentionally.

Angela Streeter said...

Actually, now I don't know if it was even the same guy. I got hit on 27th and N St on the 14th of this month, but I don't know of any other person that has exactly that many DUIs, or how that could've occurred in the same week. And I didn't get t-boned, I just got rear ended.

Angela Streeter said...

Now I'm even more confused. I ran a check on the Stephen Corman, the man who hit me, and with this last one he has six DUIs. But the officer at the scene said he had 13? So maybe he was referring to the accident on the 12th and I/we misunderstood him.

Tom Casady said...

Angela,

Different guy.

Your's claimed he had 13 priors, but he only had 5 in Nebraska. It's possible he has more in other states.

9:29,

Good explanation, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Chief,

I didn't know if that's just Nebraska, or all states. Now then, I'm not sure when and how the 12-year scroll-off thing came about. My guess is that, way back when, a state legislator, or their spouse, child, relative, favorite back-alley mistress, etc, had a habit of driving drunk, so they slipped that legislation through as a favor to whichever habitual drunk it was.

Here's something DUI-ish to ponder:

While one can't be ticketed for operating a human-powered vehicle (like a bicycle) in Nebraska, or a non-human-powered transport (like a horse), they can get a DUI for operating a fully-motorized bicycle or a moped, even though they can be legally operated without a license and don't require registration.

Here's the big question: What about hybrid (power-assisted) electric bicycles? They are semi-powered, in that you do have to pedal them, and the motor just assists your pedaling. Thy will not move on solely electric power alone, like an electric scooter does. I don't know if it's been specifically decided if riding an electric hybrid bike while over the BAC limit is legally DUI in Nebraska or not. It is in California, for example, but many states haven't yet weighed in one way or the other.

An example of a hybrid e-bike. Here is another. Just the thing for the thick-walleted ultra-greenie. Needless to say, secure parking would be a must at both ends of your commute.

Anonymous said...

Here's a timely drunk driving incident from just up the road. I believe the suspect just got paroled in April - "good-timed" after serving only half his sentence. What was he in for? Take a look. Surprise, surprise. I wonder if the entire parole board will sleep well tonight. Of course they will.

Steve said...

As far as I'm concerned, the second DUI should be the last. Jail, or some other alternative that guarantees the person won't drive again (drunk or sober) is what we should be doing.

Anonymous said...

Lee Collins of 931 Oak has 15 DUI convictions. He didn't go to prison for DUI, though, but for driving during suspension. 5-10 years.

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me how "Topper" got that nick name?

Anonymous said...

10:51
Although Sad, this individual received Mandatory Discharge. Not parol. November 2007 Sentenced to 4 years 7 month minimum and 5 years max and got released April 2010. Justice? He served 2 years and 5 months, didn't learn and know will go back behind bars where he belongs. I am a little surprised he had to serve that much time taking into account that the actual time served is usually about 1/3 of minimum sentence, he must not have been a "Model" inmate.

Anonymous said...

Anon June 20, 9:11

Well, it most likely wouldn't have been the legislator themselves since they can't be ticketed as long as they are in a legislative session. (Doesn't that make you sick?)

Shouldn't we start confiscating assets when you have over 2 DUIs? Seriously, take the vehicle no matter who the owner is! Make people RESPONSIBLE! Jail doesn't deter maybe losing your car will?Having an addiction is no excuse to drive while drunk and endanger others.

HuskEric said...

Saw this story today and thought of this post.

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/06/17/report-serial-drunk-driver-hits-judge-who-let-him-off-11-years/

Perhaps if this story was sent to all the judges in town, they would just lock 'em up for good. :)

Anonymous said...

9:11

So if I'm driving my electric car downhill, and the motor isn't controlling my speed, in essence I'm coasting, and I'm drunk, is it still a DUI?

I believe it's DUI, just like the greenie on his hybrid bike, that has a motor whether under power or not.

How about the guy passed out in a running vehicle on a city street with the transmission in Park? DUI as far as I'm concerned.

I guess there could be gray areas in all examples but the officer's job would be to process all of them and let the court decide (or have it plea-bargained down to public-intox), however the chips fall.

256

Tom Casady said...

8:58-

I'm stumped. I have no idea how the inimitable Lt. Robert Lattimer became Topper, but he and most everyone else of any seniority seemed to have a nickname. Except for Chief Carroll. Boo-Boo, Dreams, The Flans, Beach Ball, Pack Rat, Clean Gene, Pig-Pen, The Brain, Hubcap, Too-Tall, The Great Tomato, Barks, Furb, Din-Din, Danko, Skinny, Stinky, and so forth.