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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: driving

Crew paints yellow line over dead raccoon

This photo provided by Sean McAfee from Aug. 2 shows a dead raccoon that McAfee saw with the road dividing line painted over it before he stopped his motorcycle to take the picture on Franklin Rd. in Johnstown, Pa

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The “squirrelly” configuration of a western Pennsylvania road helped cause a state road crew to paint a double-yellow line over a dead raccoon.

Motorcyclist Sean McAfee snapped a photo of the mistake before it could be cleaned up and submitted it to the Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown (http://bit.ly/MkHa1K).

He says he almost crashed, he was laughing so hard.

PennDOT spokesman John Ambrosini says paint crews usually have a foreman on the job who clears away any dead animals before the paint-spraying truck equipment passes by. This crew didn't have a foreman and the equipment was too big to turn around in traffic, remove the animal and repair the paint. He says the “the squirrelly geometry” of the narrow road didn't help.

But the crew did try to stop the paint gun.

When are you too stoned to drive?

The vehicular homicide trial of Jonathon Bales raised an interesting legal question that a defense attorney made his focus during opening arguments: At what point does a driver become impaired after smoking marijuana?

Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady argued to the jury Monday that marijuana contributed to Bales’ turning some 47 feet prior to his intended intersection on Wandermere Road, causing the collision that killed 54-year-old Rene Blaume on July 16, 2010.

The lead investigator determined “the cause of the collision was because (Bales) had active THC in his blood at the time of the collision,” Brady said.

Blaume was driving 45 mph in the northbound lane and investigators estimated that Bales, 22, was driving a 1985 Pontiac Firebird 9 to 10 mph in the southbound lane when he crossed the centerline, causing the crash that severed Baume’s leg and killing her.

But defense attorney Sean Downs pointed out that none of the investigating deputies – who were trained to look for DUIs — reported that Bales appeared to be impaired when they spoke to him after the crash. A blood was negative for alcohol but showed 3.9 nano-grams of active THC per milliliter. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.

“That doesn’t mean anything unless there are signs of impairment,” Downs told the jury.  Bales “may have misjudged how far away Ms. Blaume’s scooter was … but that is a simple infraction.

“This was an incredibly tragic case to be sure. But the evidence will show it was nothing more than a terribly tragic accident.”

Brady called Rebecca Flaherty, a forensic toxicologist, who said the American Medical Association has yet to come to agreement – as they have with alcohol – which level drivers become impaired after smoking marijuana.

Downs asked Flaherty whether a blood test or the officers at the scene would be the best judge at determining impairment. She replied: “The officers are the scene.”

On re-direct, Brady asked Flaherty whether marijuana could have caused Bales to drive in the wrong lane and attempt to make a turn 47 feet before the intended intersection. “It could be an explanation for why he made those errors,” Flaherty responded.

The same issues caused a jury to become deadlocked last September.

Naked unicyclist arrested in Texas

KEMAH, Texas (AP) — Police say a man arrested in a Southeast Texas city for riding his unicycle in the nude was distracting drivers and creating a hazard.

Kemah police Chief Greg Rikard says 45-year-old Joseph Glynn Farley was not intoxicated or impaired when he was arrested Wednesday on a bridge in the city 20 miles southeast of Houston.

Rikard says Farley had been falling off the unicycle and into traffic.

Farley told officers that he liked the feeling of riding without his clothes, which were found at the base of the bridge.

Police charged Farley, of Clear Lake, with misdemeanor indecent exposure. Bond is set at $1,500.

Online jail records did not list an attorney for Farley.

Driver gets 3 speeding tickets in hour

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Traffic officers along Interstate 84 in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge say a lead-footed driver was in such a hurry to make a court date on a meth possession charge that he racked up $2,000 worth of speeding tickets in an hour.

Police say 34-year-old Jose Romero-Valenzuela of Las Vegas, Nev., was zooming west Wednesday morning and got pulled over three times — first at 105 mph, then at 98 mph and finally at 92 mph.

Police say the last ticket appeared to have an effect. Down the road a bit, a trooper set up watch and clocked him at the limit, 65 mph.

Besides fines and penalties, police say his license could be suspended for up to 90 days if he's found guilty on the citation alleging driving in excess of 100 mph.

Police confirm he was indeed scheduled for a court appearance later Wednesday in Oregon City, south of Portland.

Dozing driver arrested after near collision

A dozing driver nearly crashed into an off-duty Spokane police officer Tuesday evening, the Spokane Valley Police Department said today.

Clarence R. Keesler, 49, of Coeur d'Alene, was arrested for misdemeanor reckless driving and making false statements after allegedly telling Spokane Valley police he was asleep in the passenger side of his Ford Bronco when it drove over a sidewalk and crashed into a chain link fence.

Off-duty Spokane police Officer Nathan Donaldson was westbound on Broadway Avenue about 5:40 p.m. when he swerved to avoid the eastbound Bronco when it crossed the center line, police said.

Keesler said a vehicle “had cut him off and forced him to drive into the yard,” according to a news release. A jail deputy found a small baggie of meth on Keesler during booking, leading to a felony charge.
  

Chocolate milk buy leads to meth arrest

An apparent trip to buy chocolate milk led to a felony drug arrest Tuesday night in Spokane Valley.

Officers Ryan Walter and Jason Karnitz followed a 1992 Eagle Talon after it pulled out of a convenience store parking lot at Park and Broadway about 9 p.m.

The driver made three quick turns, the pulled behind a closed business and turned off his headlights,  police said. Curious, Walter and Karnitz pulled behind the Talon as the driver, Christopher Neal Kinyon, 39, exited the car.

The officers say Kinyon didn't follow their commands and reached inside the car as if he were reaching for a weapon. They ordered him away from the car, then spotted a small bag of methamphetamine in the center console where Kinyon had reached.

Beside the meth was recently purchased chocolate milk, police said. Kinyon had a suspended driver's license and was booked into jail for that and the drug charge. Officers impounded the Talon after being unable to determine who owned it, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Kinyon was convicted in 2006 of three counts of delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

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