Archive for the ‘arrest’ Category

Marines Corps Working to Curb Excessive Drinking

January 27, 2011
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23 year Lance Cpl. Sean Conley drank himself to death

 

The booze was flowing Halloween night in the Camp Pendleton barracks, but the party ended early for one young Marine overcome by potent cocktail “bombs” made of liquor and caffeinated energy drinks. Lance Cpl. Sean Conley, a 23-year-old helicopter mechanic, had been helped to his room by friends after he started feeling ill, his father said. But the Marine was later found on a bench on the barracks veranda, unconscious.  Results of toxicology tests revealed that Conley drank himself to death that night.

His family back in Green, Ohio, had been worried about the Marine’s impending deployment to Afghanistan. “The fighting going on, that was the biggest concern for us — that he would get his foot blown off,” his father Steven Conley said.  “We prayed for him a lot,” but when it came to his safety and welfare, “we never thought of alcohol,” Conley said.

Despite efforts in recent years to redefine a long-standing culture of heavy drinking and to force alcohol-dependent Marines into treatment, the Corps continues to struggle with alcohol abuse in its ranks. In the first half of 2010 and most of the three previous years, the Marine Corps had the highest rate of new cases of alcohol dependence or chronic alcoholism among all branches of the armed forces, according to a report by the Pentagon’s Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Last year, nine Marines died in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, including seven who were at the wheel and two who were passengers, the Marine Corps reported.  One of the latest accidents this year claimed Lance Cpl. Andrew T. Tjhung, a 19-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine riding passenger with another Marine who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The last two fiscal years saw the highest numbers of alcohol-related injuries among Marines since 2005 — 114 incidents in 2010 and 118 in 2009, according to the Naval Safety Center. The good news is that the number of Marines killed or totally disabled in alcohol-related vehicular accidents peaked in 2007 at 22 and declined into the low teens in recent years, even as the size of the Corps swelled by 22,000 Marines.

Conley was a member of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469. The air wing’s commanding general, Maj. Gen. Thomas Conant said through a spokesman that he views every alcohol-related incident as preventable.  The air wing uses a mentoring program and incentives to help units reduce alcohol-related incidents, as well as disciplinary actions against those who break the rules.

Even as binge drinking has become more prevalent among civilian youth, the Corps has tried to temper its long history of alcohol-soaked revelry. The days when commanders kept beer on ice for Marines to imbibe after long marches are over.  John Veneziano, a retired Marine and director of Camp Pendleton’s Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center, said the staff saw about 2,100 clients last year for alcohol and substance abuse screenings, including about 36 a week who entered treatment.  That is a couple hundred more than their annual average before the war era began in 2001.

When the Corps flew the Conley family to San Diego County this winter, the helicopter mechanic’s buddies wanted to toast his passing with beers at a restaurant. Steven Conley raised his brew in the memory of his son. But he shook his head in disgust when he heard about the party that was to follow.“My son just died from alcohol poisoning, and they’re having a party afterwards to go out and get drunk?” he said. “That’s when it hit me. … They don’t even see it.”

And he is SO right.  They don’t see it which is why family members should insist that a Cleared2Drive unit be installed in their vehicle.

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30 Year Veteran Metro Boston Transit Authority Bus Drunk Fired After He Crashed Bus While Driving Drunk

January 25, 2011
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Metro Boston Transit Authority Bus Driver McCarthy Drove his Bus Drunk

A 30year veteran bus driver for the Metro Boston Transit Authority (MBTA) who was accused of being drunk after he hit a car with his bus has been fired.  After he allegedly drove his bus into a car stopped at a traffic light in Somerville, John McCarthy, 61, was charged with drunken driving Friday , Transit Police said. The only passenger on the bus and the driver of the car were not injured.

In a letter dated Jan. 23, MBTA General Manager Richard Davey wrote that McCarthy was in violation of the authority’s drug and alcohol policy and had been immediately discharged from his position.  McCarthy was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol.  He was released on personal recognizance at his arraignment Monday.

Police said that after the crash, McCarthy could not stand up straight, had trouble speaking and smelled of alcohol which is understandable given that court documents revealed he had a blood alcohol concentration of .155 percent — almost twice the Massachusetts legal limit of .08 percent.  Even though a bottle of vodka was found in his jacket pocket, McCarthy told police he had not been drinking.  “There was nothing in his employee record to suggest a problem,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

Does anyone believe that this was the first time he drove the bus drunk?  If you do, I have some ocean front property in Oklahoma I would like to sell you.  When are the transit authorities going to wake up and smell the alcohol (literally)?  More than 10% of all Americans have a substance abuse problem.  Do they really think that bus drivers, taxi cab drivers, semi drivers, are all exempt?  For less than the price of a set of tires, they could install a Cleared2Drive system on each bus and be assured that ALL their drivers are driving sober ALL the time.

Cost of a DUI or DWI Arrest – Cleared2Drive Prevents Impaired Driving

January 6, 2011

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If you are arrested for DUI, the fees start racking up the second the handcuffs get slapped on.

  1. While you’re being hauled off to jail; your car is being towed off to the impound lot and which police say costs a minimum of $150 and the clock starts ticking.  Everyday your vehicle is there the more your bill will be.
  2. Mostly likely you don’t want to stay in jail, so you will require the services of a bail bondsman which will cost you a minimum of $200.
  3. Now you will need a good attorney whose fees start at $2,500.   So by now you have racked up charges of at least $2,850 and you haven’t been convicted of any criminal offense, yet.

What most states require is after the first driving under the influence (DUI), offenders will pay a fine  up to a $2,000 or spend up to 6 months in jail or both.  Second offenders most likely will have to pay up to $4,000 and a third driving while impaired (DWI) could cost up to $10,000, not to mention a strong possibility that you will spend substantial time in jail.  If you are fortunate enough to get probation, it will cost you an enormous amount of time and money and it is extremely unlikely that probation will be granted.

First time offenders usually spend a year on probation and are required to take hours and hours of classes which cost between $50 -75 per class for first timers and around $300 for repeat offenders.  In addition more states are requiring that even first time offenders install embarrassing and humiliating to use ignition interlock devices (IID), better known as a breathalyzers.  If this is a repeat DUI or DWI arrest conviction, it is a given that you will have to install an IID in every vehicle you own/drive and it must remain there for multiple years which will run you a minimum of $70 dollars a month plus installation not to mention the monthly trips back to the installation facility to have your vehicle report downloaded and forwarded to your probation officer so they can track your progress. So now you are on probation for at least one year, which will cost you at least $840.

Next up on the list, DWI offenders have to give money to the state.  Every state has a surcharge that person is going to pay and that surcharge typically is a $1,000 for the next three years.  And then there’s your insurance, you can expect to watch your auto insurance jump up dramatically – most likely doubling – only if it is your first offense.  Multiple DUI or DWI convictions and the price becomes out of sight.  The national average for auto insurance this year is $1,566, so if your insurance is doubled you can expect to pay at least $3,132 per year. Plus, most states now require DWI offenders to register for a form which proves to the court they do have insurance. The average cost: an initial payment of $141 plus 5 monthly payments of $42.83.

And now just for good measure, there are a few more fees we must add in, like court costs which are usually at least $100. Don’t forget the cost for re-instating your license after a DWI, another $100, bringing the grand total for a first time offender to around $7,000, and for a repeat offender anywhere between $10,000 to $15,000 or more.  Keep in mind this is only if there is an arrest without involving an accident, injury, or fatality.  We won’t delve into what a lawsuit by anyone hurt by your actions will cost as that is a topic for another day.

And then after all this, let’s hope that you don’t lose your job, scholarship, or future job offer due your DUI arrest record.  Suddenly those cocktails or beers got extremely expensive.  For about 10% of the cost of a DWI, you can have a Cleared2Drive installed on your vehicle which will provide peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones knowing that you never be able to drive impaired.

Treatment vs Jail: Portugal’s Success

January 5, 2011

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The United States has been fighting the war on drugs for decades now and there seems to be no end in sight which bring to mind the old proverb about the definition of insanity – “Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result.’  Well I think it is time we start doing things differently and here is a good example of where we should start.

Big Risk, Big Reward

Ten years ago, Portugal had a big drug problem. 100,000 people, or about 1% of the population, were addicted to drugs. Portugal found itself in the never-ending cycle of arresting drug criminals, prosecuting them, and then after their sentence was complete finding them back on the streets again. It’s one of the main problems countries face when trying to end drug addiction and the crimes that so often are associated with it.

In 2000, Portugal passed a law that decriminalized the use of all illegal drugs. Drugs are still illegal in Portugal, but instead of throwing someone in possession of drugs to jail, it sends them to treatment or counseling. Portugal wrote it into law that anyone caught with illegal drugs instead of being charged with a criminal offense will go directly to a “Dissuasion Committee” for counseling and further treatment if necessary.

It’s not a new concept, but it is one that is difficult to carry out. How does a government take the first step and say that citizens aren’t going to get in trouble if they are caught with illegal drugs? Fears in Portugal were that everyone would go out and try drugs, and that the country would become full of addicts who were getting away with their drug abuse. But that hasn’t happened. In the last 10 years, Portugal has seen drug-related court cases drop 66%, the number of drug abusers has remained the same, and the number of people receiving treatment rose 20%. Most importantly, some of the country’s worst neighborhoods, once plagued with drug addicts and crime, have become safe.

Opponents

Some argue that policies like these are too soft on drug addicts, and without pressure and the threat of jail some people will never change, and for some people that is true. But only in countries that become lax when it comes to carrying out the law do they see an increase in drug users, but in countries like Portugal who have followed through with the treatment part of the plan, they have seen success. It works because they have changed the drug problem from a law enforcement issue to a public health issue which can be more openly managed.

Throwing a drug addict in jail does little good. We can expect 48% of substance abusing criminals to get caught using drugs again. However, if we can get these people the help they need to live a life without drugs, we can change their lives for good and we would encourage these countries to implement a mandatory ignition interlock device like Cleared2Drive program, which can prevent drugged or impaired driving as they too have proven very successful in keeping people from relapsing.