Latest from The Spokesman-Review
Federal officials are now calling for states to lower their blood-alcohol thresholds for drunken driving to .05 percent, down from the current .08, saying the move would help reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths, the AP reports. That .05 standard would be reached by a 120-pound woman after just one drink; or by a 160-pound man after two drinks. “Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable,” said Deborah Hersman, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. “Alcohol-impaired deaths are not accidents, they are crimes. They can and should be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will.” You can read the full AP story here.
Idaho lowered its threshold for DUI from .10 to .08 in 1997, the 14th state to make that change. Now, all 50 states have the lower .08 level. Idaho’s standard for drivers of commercial vehicles is .04.
OLYMPIA – Efforts to fast-track a crackdown on repeat drunk drivers, announced with bipartisan fanfare Tuesday, hit some go slow warnings Thursday from prosecutors, judges and cops.
They're raising so many questions that a key committee chairman all but acknowledged Thursday the Legislature might not have a final bill ready by the end of its regular session just nine days away.
“The bill has some significant flaws,” Rep. Roger Goodman, R-Kirkland, the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, acknowledged during a hearing on House Bill 2030. “We’re not going to jam this bill through.”
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.
A holiday season crackdown on drunken driving led to 219 arrests across Spokane, Pend Oreille and Ferry counties.
That’s up from 197 arrests during the same period a year earlier, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. The increase is attributed to the first-ever “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement effort from Nov. 21 to Jan. 1 targeting drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Statewide, 3,446 motorists were arrested during the crackdown.
Participating in the Eastern Washington crackdown were the following law enforcement agencies: Cheney, Airway Heights, Eastern Washington University, Republic, Spokane and Spokane Valley police departments; the Spokane, Pend Oreille and Ferry County sheriff’s offices; and the Washington State Patrol, with the support of the Spokane County Target Zero Task Force.
The extra patrols were funded by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
“I'm swearing off alcohol and I am not going to continue to drink,” Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo told reporters today in a conference call after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge in Alexandria, Va. Crapo said he believes public officials should be held to higher standards, the AP reported, and he believes his constituents are disappointed by his conduct. But he said he doesn't think the arrest will derail his political career, and he hopes that by giving a full explanation of the circumstances, he can regain the public trust.
“I fully intend to continue to try to make a contribution in the United States Senate,” Crapo said, adding that he expects to run for the office again in 2016.
He said he'll walk to work, take a taxi or make other transportation arrangements while his license is suspended over the next year, the AP reported. As long as he remains on good behavior, Crapo won't have to serve a 180-day suspended jail sentence. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a charge of failing to obey a traffic signal; click below for a full report from AP reporters Rebecca Boone in Boise and Matthew Barakat in Alexandria, Va.
Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated in Alexandria, Va. today, and apologized for his actions. Crapo was ordered to pay a $250 fine, complete and alcohol safety program and have his driver's license suspended for 12 months. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press. Outside the courtroom, Crapo said he had been drinking vodka and tonic at his Washington home on the night of Dec. 22, became restless, couldn't sleep and went out for a drive. He had been driving for about 30 minutes when he realized he was in no condition to drive and started to return home, he said. It was then that he ran a red light and was pulled over in the D.C. suburb of Alexandria, in the early morning hours of Dec. 23.
“I am grateful, truly grateful, that no one was injured,” Crapo said. He said he has, in the past year or so, been drinking alcohol on occasion, in violation of his LDS religious beliefs; he apologized for that as well, and said he'll “carry through on appropriate measures for forgiveness and repentance in my church.”
Though Idaho's senior senator likely will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his car after his Virginia DUI arrest, that wouldn’t have been the case in his home state of Idaho. Idaho doesn't require the devices for first-time DUI offenders, but there’s a growing chorus of groups saying it should. Seventeen states, including Washington and Virginia, require the devices to prevent even first-time convicted drunken drivers from starting up their cars while under the influence. But Idaho requires the devices only for repeat offenders.
When Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was stopped for suspected drunken driving in Virginia on Dec. 23 after running a red light, he registered a 0.11 blood-alcohol level at the scene, and a higher, 0.14 level in a test taken later at the Alexandria, Va. jail. Crapo, a first-time offender who was known as a teetotaler due to his Mormon faith, has said he doesn’t plan to contest the charges; his court date is Friday. Virginia law likely will require him to get an interlock device to drive, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver’s breath reveals the presence of alcohol.
Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board called for all states to require the devices for first-time drunken driving offenders, and sent letters to states including Idaho asking for their response within 90 days. “It’s time for the other 33 states to step up for safety and require ignition interlocks for all offenders,” said Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairwoman. An ITD spokesman said the NTSB letter is under review; meanwhile, groups including the AAA of Idaho and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have come out for a tougher, all-offenders interlock law. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
The Associated Press reports that a second blood-alcohol test conducted on Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo about an hour after his Dec. 23 drunken driving arrest registered 0.14, well above the original roadside test result of 0.11, and the higher reading is the one that will be used in court. It is 1/100 of a percentage point below the level that would have mandated jail time under Virginia law. Meanwhile, Crapo's office said the senator doesn't plan to contest the charges; click below for the full AP report.
The Washington Post’s “Crime Scene” blog reports that when Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was stopped early Sunday morning for running a red light and arrested for DUI, he told the police officer who pulled him over that he had “consumed several shots of vodka,” according to court documents detailing the arrest. Reporter Allison Klein writes that the documents show Crapo said he drank the vodka hours earlier and hadn’t had anything to drink since. You can read her full report here. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Crapo returned to Washington, D.C. yesterday to participate in negotiations over averting the looming fiscal cliff, and had no comment on the arrest, in which he had a 0.11 blood-alcohol level. The AP reported that the senator’s spokesman said he’ll provide more information about the arrest within the next several days; he has a Jan. 4 court date.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with driving under the influence in a Washington, D.C., suburb, authorities said. Police in Alexandria, Va., said Sunday that the Idaho Republican was pulled over after his vehicle ran a red light; his booking photo is at right. Police spokesman Jody Donaldson said Crapo failed field sobriety tests and was arrested at about 12:45 a.m. He was transported to the Alexandria jail and released on an unsecured $1,000 bond at about 5 a.m. “There was no refusal (to take blood alcohol tests), no accident, no injuries,” Donaldson said. “Just a traffic stop that resulted in a DUI.”
Police said Crapo, who was alone in his vehicle, registered a blood alcohol content of .110. The legal limit in Virginia, which has strict drunken driving laws, is .08. The 61-year-old Crapo has a Jan. 4 court date. “I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance,” Crapo said in a statement Sunday night. “I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter. I will also undertake measures to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated.” Click below for the full AP report.
An alleged drunk driver was arrested early Friday morning after driving the wrong way on Division and speeding away from authorities, according to a Washington State Patrol news release.
The trooper tried to pull over the driver, identified as Ian S. Hill, 26, around midnight, but Hill sped away into a parking lot near Boone Avenue and Washington Street, the news release said. The flight made Hill’s truck spin off the roadway onto Atlantic Street and hit a sign.
Hill reportedly drove through another parking lot and into an alleyway where he crashed into a concrete wall and then a neighboring building, according to the news release.
Hill was not injured during the crash and neither was his passenger. He was arrested and booked into Spokane County Jail driving under the influence and hit and run charges.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) ― A state judge who is facing a drunken driving charge says she will retire effective Jan. 4. The Idaho Press-Tribune reports 3rd District Judge Renae Hoff has announced her retirement. Seven candidates have submitted applications for the vacant position. Applications are being taken until Nov. 9 by the Idaho Judicial Council. Hoff was arrested and charged with misdemeanor DUI on Aug. 25. She was removed from presiding over criminal cases until her DUI charge is resolved. She pleaded not guilty and her trial is set for Dec. 4. The judicial council is scheduled to meet at the Canyon County Courthouse Dec. 6 to interview the candidates.
Update: Huckleberries has been told that Judge Hoff announced resignation shortly after DUI. Nominations to fill her $114,300 position are being accepted through Monday.
Third District Judge Renae Hoff nearly fell as she stepped from her vehicle after an officer stopped her for reportedly weaving on the road Aug. 25, according to a Meridian police report. Hoff’s blood alcohol content on the night of her DUI arrest was .116, the Idaho Press-Tribune has learned. The legal limit in Idaho is .08. Hoff was removed from presiding over criminal cases after her arrest until her DUI is resolved. She pleaded not guilty last month and her jury trial is set for Dec. 4. The Meridian Police Department report on Hoff’s arrest says that she had “glassy bloodshot eyes and the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from her” when she was stopped at about 1:21 a.m. near Ten Mile Road and Acarrera Court in Meridian/Mike Butts, Idaho Press Tribune. More here. (Police mug shot of Judge Hoff courtesy of Idaho Press Tribune)
Question: If Judge Hoff is found guilty of DUI, should she be forced to step down from the bench?
The court hearing was postponed Wednesday for Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, who was charged last month with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.
Crocker did not appear before Spokane County District Judge Sara Derr. But his attorney, Julie Twyford, did appear. She said the judge agreed to move the hearing to Oct. 10 at 1:30 p.m.
Crocker, 63, was charged Aug. 14 following a crash with a semi-truck at a busy Spokane Valley intersection. He reportedly drove away from the crash and was followed by a witness who alerted Washington State Patrol troopers.
The Spokane Valley native retired from the U.S. State Department in July, citing health reasons and left the Afghanistan capital of Kabul at a period of transition as the United States prepares to withdraw most of its troops from the country by the end of 2014. He also oversaw the reconstruction of war-torn Iraq.
Read previous coverage of the crash that resulted in his DUI charges here.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― An Ada County judge has ordered a mental health evaluation for a 55-year-old Boise man who was recently convicted of his 14th DUI. Terry Ash was to be sentenced Wednesday after a June conviction for driving under the influence last September and for being a persistent offender. Prosecutor Shelly Armstrong recommended that Ash be sentenced to 20 years to life, but Ash's attorney asked for a mental evaluation for his client, citing a history of psychological programs, poverty and other extenuating circumstances. The evaluation is set for Oct. 17 at the Ada County jail. Armstrong says Ash's DUI convictions date back to 1971.
SPOKANE, Wash. - Ambassador Ryan Crocker, one of the most decorated State Department diplomats in the last half century, was arrested on August 14 by the Washington State Patrol for hit-and-run, DUI in Spokane Valley.
A Spokane native who lives in Spokane, Crocker, 63, was arrested at the intersection of Sprague Ave. and Pines Road at 2:05 p.m. on August 14 by a WSP trooper after Crocker reportedly hit a car while driving a 2009 Ford Mustang convertible. The driver of the other car was uninjured. More here.
The Spokane Police Department provided this photo of the crash on the SPD Facebook page.
A 21-year-old Spokane man was arrested for vehicular assault after crashing his truck head-on into a semi truck on Thursday and injuring his passenger.
Joseph A. Hussey's blood-alcohol level registered at .224 before he was jailed on a vehicular assault charge for the crash in the 3900 block of East Broadway Avenue, according to the Spokane Police Department.
The legal limit for driving is .08.
Police say he smelled of intoxicants and told them he was going to home to Spokane Valley from the Satellite bar downtown.
Hussey also slurred his speech and failed field sobriety tests, police say.
He was booked into the Spokane County Jail on the felony charge.
A recalcitrant drunken driver must pay $68 to replace pants that a Boise police officer ripped during a foot chase, the AP reports, but the Idaho Court of Appeals ruled the man doesn't have to fork over another $1,089 for damage to a patrol car that hit and killed his dog during the 2010 incident, for which he pleaded guilty and was sent to prison for up to 15 years. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller; you can read the Court of Appeals decision here.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) ― Fifth District Magistrate Judge Nicole Cannon has resigned two months after being charged with excessive driving under the influence in Boise. Cannon's resignation was announced Friday in a statement released by 5th District Trial Court administrator Linda Wright. The resignation was effective immediately. She had served on the bench for 15 months. Cannon's resignation announcement made no mention of the DUI charge filed in April. Court records say her blood-alcohol level tested at 0.239 percent and 0.221 percent. A judge denied requests by Cannon's defense attorney to have the traffic stop deemed unreasonable and to throw out the breath tests. Cannon has pleaded not guilty and her trial is set to start on Aug. 28. Wright says recruitment for Cannon's replacement would start Monday.
A Montana man faces a felony charge of driving under the influence after authorities say a state trooper clocked him driving 134 mph in a 50 mph zone. The Billings Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/KCdsRz ) 32-year-old Shaun Kachina Bell of Billings made an initial appearance in Justice Court Monday on the DUI charge, along with felony criminal endangerment and misdemeanor counts of speeding and driving without a license or proof of insurance. His bail was set at $15,000. Prosecutors allege Bell was speeding in a Dodge Magnum late Sunday on Highway 312 outside Billings/Associated Press. More here.
Question: How fast is the fastest you've ever driven? Where? Why?
A chronic drunken driving suspect who badly injured a sheriff's deputy in a crash about 10 years ago has been sentenced to two years in prison on drug charges.
James Lee Crabtree, 51, is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison after being sentenced to 24 months for possession of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance.
He was sentenced last month to a year in jail and two years probation for a felony DUI charge.
Crabtree was a Spokane County sheriff's deputy in the 1980s. He went to prison for vehicular assault in 2003 and was arrested in November 2011 on suspicion of drunken driving after motorists noticed him passing out at the wheel of his car.
Police found an open can of Four Loko in the car, but his blood-alcohol level was under the legal limit for driving, and he was never charged. His current convictons stems from drunken driving and meth arrests in April and July.
In January, Crabtree was assaulted in a home-invasion robbery in which two assailants demanded “dope and money,” according to court documents.
A commercial pilot was drunk when he landed a plane at the Spokane International Airport in April, federal prosecutors allege.
Paul Robbin Roessler, of Federal Way, is to appear in U.S. District Court in Spokane June 29 for a charge operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
The charge alleges Roessler flew a twin engine PA-34 aircraft for Airpac Airlines, Inc., from Boeing Field in Seattle to the Spokane airport while drunk on April 26.
A federal grand jury indicted him last week. Airport spokesman Todd Woodward directed questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which has not immediately returned a phone call.
Federal aviation records say Roessler was a certified commercial pilot and flight instructor but that his certificates are no longer active.
A man who answered the phone for Airpac Airlines identified himself as Roger and declined comment. The company is described on its website as a a contract cargo operator based out of Boeing Field since 1976.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) ― A trial has been scheduled for a south-central Idaho judge charged with excessive drunken driving in Ada County. The Times-News reports (http://bit.ly/LzR3GJ) Twin Falls County 5th District Magistrate Judge Nicole Cannon has pleaded not guilty to the DUI charge. Her trial is scheduled to being in Idaho's 4th District Court on Aug. 28 in Boise, where she was cited during an April traffic stop. Police say Cannon had a blood alcohol level of nearly three times the legal limit. Fifth Judicial District Court administrator Linda Wright has said Cannon will not hear DUI cases while her own case is pending. In Ada County, several 4th District judges have disqualified themselves from hearing Cannon's case. A judge can choose to seek disqualification if he or she knows the defendant.
A man described by sheriff's deputies as “extremely intoxicated” crashed his Jeep Cherokee into trees near Handy and Hatch roads in Colbert early Saturday.
Warren Anderson, 22, said he couldn't remember how much he had to drink but “it was a lot,” the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said today. Anderson had a pill in a piece of burned foil that he said he was a “Roxi” but also said “that he did not really know what he was smoking,” the sheriff's office said.
Deputy Chad Ruff determined the pill was the narcotic Roxicodone. He and Deputy Scott Kenoyer contacted Anderson after responding to the one-car crash about 4:30 a.m.
A witness told dispatcher he'd seen the Jeep at the intersection of Handy and Hatch about a half an hour earlier, and the driver was sitting in the driver's seat not moving. He saw the Jeep crashed when he drove back through the intersection.
Deputies said they smelled a strong odor of intoxicants as they approached the Jeep. They said Anderson refused to exit the vehicle but “was placed under arrest” for drunken driving and began to cooperate, according to the sheriff's office.
Anderson was booked into jail on charges of driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance.
A retired Spokane firefighter with a history of impaired driving and a conviction for vehicular homicide has been sentenced to 17 months in prison for drunken driving.
A jury convicted David W. Batty, 56, of drunken driving after a short trial in Spokane County Superior Court earlier this month.
He was booked into the Spokane County Jail on Friday, where he's awaiting transport to prison to begin his sentence. He'll be credited for time already spend in jail, which includes the month he was there after his arrest in January.
Batty had a blood-alcohol level of twice the legal limit for driving when he was stopped for speeding about 11:30 a.m. in January 2011 at milepost 310 on U.S. Highway 2. Batty told police that he had two drinks early that morning and had taken four prescription medications, according to court documents.
The charge was a felony because Batty has a previous conviction for a fatal, alcohol-related car crash in 1993.
Batty was rehired by the Spokane Fire Department after serving time in prison for vehicular homicide but was on medical leave when he caused a crash in January 2007 that killed three people. He was not charged in that crash but never returned to the Fire Department.
Then in 2009, he was sentenced to nine months in jail after he was stopped in July 2008 and tests showed he was impaired on prescription drugs and alcohol.
Get a job with a badge and a gun. While catching drug dealers, start smoking pot and snorting coke. Just to fit in. Find yourself going a little further than your undercover duties require. Snort some more cocaine, then smoke it. Then smoke it. Then smoke it. Take paid leave to go to treatment, turn in your badge and gun – and sue the city of Spokane for $2 million, for getting you hooked on crack cocaine. If you thought the Brad Thoma case was something new under the sun, think again. A quarter-century ago, Spokane was rocked by a case with unmistakable similarities: an addicted cop, a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, and a City Hall that doesn’t want to settle … except it also doesn’t want to lose a lot of money in court. We don’t know the end of the Thoma case, yet. The City Council is showing some backbone, Thoma is suing, and the case will doubtlessly drag on for a good long while/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here. (Spokane police photo of Brad Thoma)
Question: Was the city of Spokane right in rejecting a proposed settlement with fired/disgraced former cop Brad Thoma?
When Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney decided to post a daily arrest list and booking photos on the Internet in 2003, it was to provide a public service — and a deterrent for people about to do something really stupid, like drive drunk. The site has become popular, averaging about 200,000 unique visitors a month, and Raney considers it a complete success. “I don’t know how many times I have heard from people that they got a designated driver so they don’t end up on our website,” he said. “The public deterrence factor is pretty high, especially for DUI driving.” But Raney is now considering removing the site (www.adasheriff.org/ArrestsReport) because of what he sees as an abuse of the public information and service it provides/Patrick Orr, Statesman. More here. (Ada County Jail photo of last person arrested for DUI) H/T: SamC
Question: Would you like to see your sheriff's office publish mug shots of people arrested for DUI?
Idaho State senate leadership, Chuck Winder, left, Brent Hill, center, and Bart Davis announce the resignation of Sen. John McGee during a press conference earlier today at the Idaho Statehouse in Boise, Idaho. Faced with sexual harassment allegations, Republican Sen. John McGee was given two choices: Quit or go before a state Senate ethics panel. The 38-year-old four-term lawmaker opted to resign on Wednesday, capping a political free-fall that began last year with a Father’s Day drunken driving and car theft arrest. Roundup of stories about resignation here. (AP Photo/The Idaho Statesman, Chris Butler)
The three remaining Senate GOP leaders — Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, Majority Leader Bart Davis, and Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder — have announced to a packed press conference that Sen. John McGee (pictured) has resigned from the Senate in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment of a Senate attache. Hill said the harassment charges are being investigated by the Idaho Attorney General, and the attache, a woman who is not a minor, is on paid leave. McGee, R-Caldwell, is a fourth term state senator and also is the chairman of the Canyon County Republican Central Committee. A former aide to then-Sen. and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, McGee, 39, is the marketing director for West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, and is married with two young children. He was widely viewed as a rising star in the Idaho GOP before the bizarre incident last June in which he was arrested and convicted of drunken driving/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
- John McGee's letter of resignation/Eye On Boise
- Idaho Statesman version of the story
- Pile on most of Senate leadership but not John McGee/Dennis Mansfield
- Eye On Boise: House emerges from brief caucus on Senate matter
Question: About time?
I've blogged since last summer that John McGee must resign. Today he did so. I've received phone messages from certain Idaho GOP State Senate Leaders who have “politely” called me and left voicemails asking me to “call them”. Really? Summoned by these guys who never had the courage to demand John's resignation? Now, watch what happens. It'll be anti-piling on, in a sense… GOP Senate Leadership (as it is now constructed — other than with Senator Chuck Winder, who is a good man) will today open their ranks and spit out Mr. McGee from its caucus. I refuse to pile on John McGee. His is a journey that now takes him to this distant part of a political desert. I hope he receives help in all areas of his life. The Senate Leadership? Pile on, baby, pile on/Dennis Mansfield. More here.
- In Boise, Mitt says Crapo not fiscal conservative/Adam's Blog
- Maddow highlights Greenwald VanderSloot story/43rd Street Blues
- These guys never made it to presidents day/Many Things Considered
- Trail to the right/Randy Stapilus, Ridenbaugh Press
- Siddoway's live-bait wolf bill passes panel on party-line vote/Rocky Barker
Question: Is Dennis right? Is it time to pile on Senate leadership for not having guts to handle John McGee's bizarre behavior back when?
A deeply divided House State Affairs Committee voted this morning to introduce legislation proposed by Rep. Julie Ellsworth, R-Boise, (pictured) to amend House rules to say that any member of leadership who is convicted of a DUI or drug offense would lose his or her leadership post. “It basically says if you're a member of leadership in your current term, if you're found guilty of a DUI or a drug offense, you're not eligible to complete that current leadership term,” Ellsworth told the committee. “I believe that it creates a standard, it puts it in place so that issues don't come into play when a situation arises. I like the idea of a standard”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Do you support this bill?