Wednesday, November 26, 2014

San Diego DUI program director speaks out about curbing drunk driving, lawyers relate

It is against the law for a San Diego bar or a California restaurant to serve alcohol to someone who is obviously intoxicated, DUI attorneys remind.  Some say this California law gets about as much respect as a stop sign in the desert: No one stops because no one’s paying attention to it.
In San Diego County, according to San Diego counseling programs surveyed over the past four years, it is estimated 41% of drunk drivers reportedly have their last drink at a bar or restaurant, San Diego DUI lawyers are told.
10,000 folks are prosecuted for DUI in San Diego County every year.  So about 4,000 of those people were likely to have come from a San Diego bar or California restaurant, San Diego DUI attorneys are told.
The 10,000 are the ones who were busted for drunk driving. 
First-time DUI offenders typically drive at least 80 times before being arrested, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. So potentially thousands more are being served past the point of intoxication but are not arrested.
Under our current system, many bars and restaurants are serving more alcohol than they should -- and certainly more than is allowed by state law.
We must improve
For years, communities across San Diego County have been asking retailers to do better. To date, nine of the county’s 18 cities have embraced a promising strategy to prevent DUIs and other alcohol related crimes.
It’s called Responsible Beverage Sales and Service training (or RBSS), a mandatory measure intended to improve retail standards to head off problems before they occur. Health experts consider it a best practice to prevent sales to minors and intoxicated patrons, which in turn can reduce a host of alcohol-related problems.
Local workers and managers who have received RBSS training in the county say it’s very useful, and nearly 90 percent say the training was “likely” or “very likely” to change the way they do their jobs. This includes checking IDs more carefully, slowing down service, educating staff, establishing new policies and -- perhaps most importantly -- cutting off intoxicated patrons.
Ninety-nine percent of participants recommend the training to others.
A good start
On the surface, the response from our hospitality industry has been relatively positive.
In 2011, San Diego County hosted 51 percent more ABC-certified trainings than any other county in California, according to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Responsible Hospitality Coalition, a local nonprofit group that helps facilitate the trainings.
Between 2010 and 2014, there were 145 trainings in San Diego County, involving more than 8,300 workers.
Many businesses are voluntarily sending their workers to RBSS training. Most of the bars in Pacific Beach have done so, for example, even though the city of San Diego has no mandatory requirement.
Still, Pacific Beach far outpaces the rest of the city in terms of drunk-driving incidents and alcohol-related crimes. So the question is: If servers say the training is valuable, why are Pacific Beach and other areas experiencing such a high rate of alcohol-related problems?
The answer is simple: RBSS training is a great first step -- but it’s far from sufficient on its own, according to some of the most prominent researchers in the country.
One of these researchers is Jim Fell, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, who has spent more than 40 years studying highway safety. He conducted a review of research studies on RBSS trainings to identify what makes them effective and presented his findings to law enforcement in San Diego earlier this month.
Fell’s conclusion: Follow-up enforcement is a key element for any successful training program. Without it, the trainings are far less effective.
When backed by enforcement and compliance checks, RBSS programs are able to increase the number of employee interventions -- such as cutting off service -- and consequently reduce the amount of patron intoxication, according to two decades worth of research examined by Fell.
For example:
One study in Minnesota found that sales to patrons perceived to be intoxicated dropped 46 percent in participating bars, compared to bars that had no training or enforcement efforts.
A soon-to-be published National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study in Ohio and New York found:
- In Ohio, the rate at which servers cut off service jumped from 3.6 percent to a range of 21 to 27 percent at bars participating in the study.
- In New York, researchers found a significant reduction in DUI arrests among 21- to 34-year-olds, compared to a similar community without an intervention program.
Without compliance and accountability, these programs would not have seen such positive results, Fell said.
“If communities really want to get ahead of this issue, they’ll need to see quarterly or bi-annual inspections and undercover operations with timely feedback given to business owners,” Fell said. “That’s the primary way to get compliance and prevent over-service.”
This is lesson we need to learn in San Diego County.
Our training programs will have limited success until we find a way to fund consistent, sustained compliance operations.
Until we do, we will continue to see more than 40 percent of our DUIs coming from our bars and restaurants -- and that’s a number too large to tolerate.

Stacie Perez is director of housing and clinical services for Episcopal Community Services and is responsible for ECS’ ACCORD DUI Program, one of four state-licensed DUI schools in the region, with referrals coming from San Diego County courts, the probation department and Department of Motor Vehicles. She also serves on the Alcohol Policy Panel of San Diego County.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

11 popped for San Diego DUI at G Street downtown Checkpoint, lawyers announce

Eleven motorists were arrested overnight Saturday for drunk driving at San Diego DUI checkpoint in downtown San Diego, DUI attorneys say.
Twelve vehicles were also impounded during the DUI checkpoint in the 1400 block of G Street that began at 11 p.m. Saturday and ended Sunday at 3 a.m., according to the San Diego County DUI Law Center which provides free drunk driving checkpoint locations here
McCullough said 1,941 vehicles passed through the checkpoint with 675 of those motorists being screened by officers for possible DUI.


If you go home from work and are DUI at time of fatal accident, you can be sued by family of victim, San Diego DUI lawyers say.

The family of a man struck by a drunk driver who drove with the dying victim on her windshield is suing the Southern California drug rehab center where she worked.

The Los Angeles Times says the wrongful death suit filed Thursday alleges Twin Town Treatment Center in Torrance was negligent because it failed to properly monitor Sherri Lynn Wilkins.

At the time of the crash on November 24, 2012, Wilkins told police she was heading home from work. The treatment center denies she was working at the facility that day.

California DUI Prosecutors claim Wilkins’ blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit when she struck 31-year-old Phillip Moreno.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Are bars responsible for San Diego DUI, lawyers ask?

San Diego County DUI Law Center poses this question today:  Are bars to blame for drunk driving?
Drinking drivers are responsible for their own actions.  However, in an article today in the North County Times it was reported that research collected by the County of San Diego shows roughly one-third to one-half of all drunk drivers are coming from bars and restaurants.  These licensed establishments have the potential to play a key role in preventing irresponsible drinking, San Diego DUI attorneys also remind.
Drunk driving is a huge threat to local residents. In 2012, 86 people were killed and more than 2,300 injured in alcohol-involved collisions in San Diego County, according to the California Highway Patrol.
State laws prohibit the sale or service of alcohol to minors or obviously intoxicated customers, and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) offers a free training program for licensees and their employees to help ensure they understand and comply with State laws.
More and more, cities are instituting responsible beverage server training ordinances to drive that message home.
On Nov. 14, the quarterly Alcohol Policy Panel meeting was held in the Vista Civic Center’s Community Room.  Nearly 100 people gathered to hear progressive research on server training, law enforcement support and the necessary steps to reduce public intoxication and drunk driving.
At the municipal level, many cities have passed Responsible Beverage Sales and Service (RBSS) ordinances requiring employees of alcohol-licensed businesses to complete RBSS training, such as the ABC-certified Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) training. The training covers checking various forms of identification, liability laws and strategies to prevent over-service of alcohol, among other topics.
All this benefits alcohol retailers by limiting liability risks and higher insurance costs associated with illegal alcohol sales — to minors or intoxicated patrons who often cause DUIs, injuries, fights, property damage and noise complaints.
Currently, nine of San Diego County’s 18 municipalities require RBSS training.
As of January 2014, the five cities in North San Diego County with RBSS ordinances included Encinitas, Poway, San Marcos, Solana Beach and Vista. The training is not required in Carlsbad, Del Mar, Escondido and Oceanside.
In those five North San Diego County cities with RBSS ordinances, a smaller percentage of on-sale businesses were named as the ‘Place of Last Drink’ by DUI offenders, according to a 2010 analysis done by the Center for Community Research.
Between January 2012 and December 2013, more than 2,600 participants attended ABC LEAD trainings in North San Diego County — with nearly 73 percent from alcohol retail businesses. Many of the participants commented that the training gave them the tools to be confident in cutting off patrons.
But one study shows it’s not just retailer education, but also the threat of a law enforcement citation that helps reduce over-service and prevent impaired driving. Clearly, self-policing is not enough. More enforcement is needed to bring businesses into compliance.
At the Nov. 14 breakfast of the San Diego County Alcohol Policy Panel, James Fell of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation shared the latest research that shows our efforts must go beyond the responsible beverage service training.
When comparing 10 RBSS-trained bars with 10 control bars, the refusal of service rates jumped from 3.6 percent to 27.5 percent in the first post-training period, but fell to 21.3 percent in the second post-training check, the institute’s research shows.
Why the initial post-training spike? The researchers concluded it might have less to do with the recent RBSS training and more to do with to with law enforcement citing a bartender for over-service.
“In order for (training) programs to be effective and sustainable, quarterly or bi-annual undercover inspections by law enforcement with timely feedback to the bar owners is necessary to ensure compliance and create a deterrent effect,” according to Fell.
Ultimately, no one tactic solves the problem of drunk driving; it takes a collaborative approach between retailers, the ABC law enforcement and cities.
Hopefully, the holdout North County cities will consider taking proactive measures in the future to send a clear, unified message that our region is dedicated to making alcohol retailers key partners in reducing public intoxication and making our roadways safer.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

SCRAM goes overseas

The Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring System (SCRAM), built by Colorado-based SCRAM Systems, is already in use throughout 48 states in North America, and is currently being trialled on a voluntary basis in England and Scotland for those convicted of drunk driving or DUI, San Diego lawyers are read here.

"What we've invented in the States is a trans-dermal monitoring device that tests a person's perspiration [for alcohol] once every 30 minutes. It provides 48 tests per day, it goes wherever they go and it provides accountability, visibility [and] traceability to ensure individuals are compliant with a court order," says SCRAM Systems spokesman Matthew Mitchell. "The general philosophy behind it is that if the courts are going to order something and there's no way to enforce it, then there's no need to order it in the first place."
Today, SCRAM is used by 18,000 jurisdictions throughout North America, their central database monitoring the daily alcohol consumption levels of over 400,000 individuals, and around 400 in the UK.

However, like all preventative methods, the people subjected to the technology usually very much enjoy what it is they're being prevented from doing (in this case, drinking). That's led to a wash of online tips on how to beat the bracelets—some of which I've listed here for you to enjoy.

Remember that scene in Beverly Hills Cop II where Axel Foley "completes the circuit" by sliding tinfoil into the alarm system to shut it off, before opening up a window with a flick knife? I don't know a huge amount about rewiring alarm systems, but I'm assuming there was a bit of movie magic at play there.
Mind you, that hasn't stopped people from trialling a similar technique with the booze bracelets—sliding a piece of foil or plastic between their skin and the device, and believing for half an hour that they've outsmarted the system with a method my barely-sentient nephew could draw up.
Only, once that half hour's up, you'll have a police officer knocking at your door to find out why SCRAM's database isn't registering any perspiration readings. No good.

The tag's main anti-tamper mechanism is an infrared beam that calculates the reflective degree of the surface between you and the tag. A few anti-SCRAM die-hards suggest harvesting an old blister and sliding it between your skin and the sensor, covering your sweat glands. But dead skin dries fast, so ensure you're packing a pipette full of moisturizer to spritz it up every time it starts to flake into nothingness.

If blister harvesting sounds like too much work / the most disgusting waste of time imaginable, you could try something that a number of US parole officers have actually caught people doing: wedging a slice of ham under the sensor in an attempt to simulate sweat-free human skin.
"This is much less effective. It more often than not interferes with the hourly readings the device takes, and we'd notice when we get the daily report and would definitely contact you," an unnamed officer  ​told The NY Daily News, adding: "And it must smell pretty bad when you cram baloney in there."
I guess the lesson from that is, if you're going to give this a go, use some of that high-end ham from the deli counter so at least you look mildly classy while you're walking around with meat trimmings stapled to your leg.

You could also try strapping your SCRAM unit to something else, just like the guy in Cheyenne, Wyoming who attached his ankle tag to his cat. Unfortunately, this technique wasn't as foolproof as it sounds; the machine went haywire trying to send the readings back to SCRAM's central database, alerting those monitoring the technology.
"The machine said, 'I ain't buying this: that's not a human heart,'" Bob Moeller, a subcontractor for Polygraphs Etc,  ​told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.
So take it from Bob—attaching a device built for humans to a cat is not an effective route to unhindered boozing.
There is one method that's proved to be pretty effective, but I'm not going to include that here, because—as invasive as they sound—the bracelets have actually helped law enforcement with one very worthy cause: the fight against alcohol-related domestic violence.
"Over the past 12 months, we've had tags on about ten individuals," says Sergeant Nigel Parr of the Cheshire Police. "And that's been on a voluntary basis as part of our 'root cause' problem-solving, where alcohol often plays a major factor in domestic violence."
According to  ​a 2011/12 study by Britain's Institute of Alcohol Studies, there were 917,000 incidents where the victims believed the offender (or offenders) to be under the influence. Of these cases, 280 individuals were killed and 1,290 suffered serious injuries. These stats account for 47 percent of violent offences committed that year.
"Where alcohol is obviously a major contributing factor towards an offence, clearly the concept of where David Cameron wants to take it would be of benefit," says Sergeant Parr. "But it's not just about the police putting a tag on people. Alcohol-dependent individuals have got to be supported and mentored by other agencies as well."
So there it is: while they might be a slightly oppressive form of punishment for people guilty of just getting a bit too pissed on a Friday night out, they could be very useful in curbing more serious alcohol-related crimes, like GBH, criminal damage or drink driving.
So the best course of action, if you do find yourself fitted with an anti-boozing bracelet, is to just keep it on—it'll inevitably help you out in the long run. And if it's the aesthetic value you're worried about, don't fret, ​​Chanel have you covered​.