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In 2010, California began a limited pilot project in driving under the influence cases to test whether ignition interlocks should be used in sentencing for a DUI conviction. The pilot project is being conducted in four counties, and is expected to run through 2016. Sources say that many states are testing the devices in a variety of ways, and roughly 15 states require ignition interlocks in all DUI cases, even for first-time offenders.

Now lawmakers in the nation's capitol are seeking to force states to mandate the use of ignition interlocks in all DUI cases. Ignition interlocks generally are small devices that attach inside the car. The devices act as a portable Breathalyzer-like machine that drivers must use to start the car. The machines come with steep installation fees and monthly charges. If a driver fails the breath test, the car will not start.

Representatives in the U.S. House introduced a measure that would encourage states to require interlocks in all DUI cases. The measure was unveiled Tuesday as part of a transportation spending bill. The federal government cannot tell states directly what criminal laws to pass in individual states, but Congress can dangle money as a carrot to get their way.

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Tagged in: ignition interlocks

Posted on in DUI

Speculation that Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman James Loney may have been driving under the influence is making its rounds in the media. The California Highway Patrol says the baseball player was involved in a series of accidents on the 101 freeway in Sherman Oaks Nov. 14.

Three drivers say that Loney sideswiped their cars in his Maserati and then came to an abrupt stop in the fast lane. The drivers say "he appeared to be unconscious" in his vehicle. The witnesses claim that Loney then woke up and "attempted to flee the scene," according to the Los Angeles Times. News reports say Loney crossed over all the lanes of traffic before hitting another car and eventually ran into the sound wall along the right shoulder.

A CHP officer claims that Loney displayed "objective symptoms of being intoxicated or being under the influence of something," after being involved in the freeway accident. The CHP officer reportedly arrested Loney on suspicion of DUI. However, law enforcement did not transport the ball player to the police station. Emergency medical personnel reportedly were concerned about the baseball player's behavior after the accident. Loney was released to a hospital to undergo testing to determine whether he was suffering from a severe medical condition.

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Prosecutors are now seeking murder charges against a Northern California woman whose son died last November due to "methamphetamine toxicity," according to a report in the Times-Standard. In July, the woman appeared in court for a preliminary hearing to defend against an involuntary manslaughter charge.

The judge reportedly ruled that the state had sufficient evidence to support the manslaughter charge. However, prosecutors recently refiled the case charging the woman with murder, claiming that the evidence presented during the preliminary hearing showed the mother acted with "implied malice" when she breast-fed her child after allegedly smoking methamphetamine.

The woman is now vigorously defending against the murder charge arguing that there is no evidence that she acted with a conscious disregard of a danger to human life. Implied malice murder charges are complicated animals under California law.

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Three Gavilan College basketball players were injured in a tragic accident Sunday. Reports indicate that the driver of the car filled with the ball players and two female passengers swerved to avoid a tire in the road just prior to the crash. The car spun out and came to a stop facing the wrong direction on Highway 101. A Nissan then slammed head-on into the student's car.

Reports indicate that the group of students was at a San Francisco nightclub before the 1:30 a.m. traffic accident. Police reportedly arrested the 22-year-old student who was driving the car that initially spun out on suspicion of driving under the influence before he was released to San Francisco General Hospital, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP suggests that the young man could face felony DUI charges related to the traffic accident, apparently based upon the injuries involved. California law allows prosecutors to pursue felony DUI charges, even on a first-time offense, based upon allegations that a drunk driver was involved in an accident causing injuries. The driver and two of his teammates suffered serious injuries when the car they were in was struck by the Nissan. Two women, who were passengers in the Nissan, reportedly sustained minor injuries.

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A multi-agency police chase took place on Oct. 2 when a man allegedly stole a police cruiser from the annual "Tour de Poway" cycling event and drove it -- possibly while under the influence -- to the Carmel Valley area of northwest San Diego. Law enforcement booked the 30-year-old man into the San Diego County Jail after the 38-minute chase on suspicion of felony theft and felony evading, drunk driving, and driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

Authorities claim the man stole a police cruiser that was being used by volunteer officers assisting with traffic control during the annual cycling event. Police claim the man took the vehicle while two volunteer officers were standing nearby. A Sheriff's deputy spotted the vehicle moments later and began the police chase. The SDPD and the California Highway Patrol also joined in the ground pursuit.

A Sheriff's helicopter was called in to assist in tracking the vehicle, allowing law enforcement on the ground to back-off in their pursuit. Authorities say that after roughly 38 minutes, the man found himself blocked into a cul de sac in the Carmel Valley area and attempted to drive through a fence in order to reach an adjacent street.

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Tagged in: DUI felonies
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