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Posts Tagged ‘Drunk Driving’

Belen, New Mexico

Belen, New Mexico

An un-American fact about America today is that for some groups, much more than others, upward mobility and the American dream are alive and well. It may be taboo to say it, but certain ethnic, religious and national-origin groups are doing strikingly better than Americans overall.

Which brings me to Belen, New Mexico (30 miles south of Albuquerque) and Jacob Williams.

Mr. Williams is a 27 year old who back in 2008 went to prison for killing a motorcyclist and crippling the motorcycles passenger while driving drunk.  Williams pleaded guilty to felony charges of vehicular homicide, great bodily harm by vehicle and aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Jacob Williams Arraignment - Pleads Not Guilty

Jacob Williams Arraignment – Pleads Not Guilty

District Court Judge William Sanchez, presided over the case and sentenced Williams to the maximum six years in prison allowed under the plea agreement.  He was released from prison in 2012.

Jump ahead to last Saturday where a witness told KOB-TV that she called 911 twice to report seeing Williams driving erratically around her neighborhood.  She then called again three hours later to report seeing him getting into a fight with a neighbor.  More details HERE, HERE and HERE.

However, deputies failed to quickly respond before the pickup that Williams was driving veered over a center line, killing Daniel Sanchez, 51, and seriously injuring his 11-year-old daughter, Magen who were riding on a motorcycle.  In an  unbelievable ironic twist, it turns out that Daniel Sanchez is the brother of the District Court Judge William Sanchez who sentenced Williams back in 2008.  Breath tests found Mr. Williams’ blood-alcohol level at 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit of 0.08.

The death of the judge’s brother appeared to be coincidental and a Valencia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman made a statement about the failure to quickly respond by saying that only five deputies were working that day, and they were tied up with other felony crimes and another fatal crash.  No one should have to bear the burdens caused by someone else’s negligence on the road!

How did we get to this place?  Where taking a life is worth 0-6 years?  Really?!

It would seem that for years New Mexico has had a willful blindness to the facts as one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the nation.

Maybe it’s time for all motorcyclists to boycott New Mexico?  Along with boycotting the popular rally’s (i.e. Red River Run), which draws tens of thousands of motorcyclists to Red River and nearby Angel Fire and pumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into the area economy.

And with Super Bowl taking place this Sunday and having developed a reputation as one of the more dangerous days of the year for drunk driving… please be careful out there.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps and KOAT.

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Mike Zupan (left) and John Zupan (right)

I was on a Southwest flight heading to Sacramento last week reading the in-flight magazine.

There was an article called “Bourbon Barrels” which stated that in Kentucky the number of Bourbon-aging barrels outnumber the state’s residents by more than 360,000.  There are 4.7M aging barrels in use among the commercial distillers.  And that in recent years, the popularity of premium small-batch and single barrel products has skyrocketed to the point where the bourbon industry in Kentucky is in its biggest expansion phase since Prohibition.

While reading this it reminded me of an online article I had read earlier in the week where company executives for Brown-Forman (Jack Daniels) stated that they’ve seen improvements in liquor consumption at U.S. bars and restaurants.  The so-called “out-on-the-town” drinking, a key segment for the spirits companies, had been hurt in recent years by the economy, but with renewed brand development and wider distribution, Brown-Forman stated they are seeing improved net sales growth.

Northeast Marine Drive -Portland, OR.

It was a quick flight, but I had time to read all two-pages of the Oregonian Business section to learn that John Zupan, 66, died.

John who?

John was like many of you who read this blog.  A person who enjoyed classic cars and motorcycles.  He also was the founder of Zupan’s Markets which makes him a grocery store pioneer.  According to my sources he had recently purchased a 2009 BMW motorcycle and was riding it on Northeast Marine Drive when his motorcycle was hit head-on by a motorist.  According to Portland Police reports the car was driven by Edy Porfirio Reynoso-Ramirez, age 32.  Reynoso-Ramirez was driving a 1998 Honda Civic and was speeding in the eastbound lane of Northeast Marine Drive, driving erratically and passing other vehicles.  After the accident Reynoso-Ramirez fled the scene and tracking dogs were used to locate him hiding in an industrial area.  Reynoso-Ramirez was booked into Multnomah County jail with allegations of assault in the second degree, failure to perform the duties of a driver, DUII and reckless driving.  In addition, U.S. Immigration and Customs placed a hold on him.

Edy Porfirio Reynoso-Ramirez (L)

This is a very sad story.  One that occurs to often (drunk drivers (some being undocumented)) and is not easy to get use too.

For some topics, particularly on public health and immigration, summaries are dangerous because they can create the idea that a single or simple solution exists when it’s always more complex.  However, for those who say that the status of the driver is irrelevant, I beg to differ.  If Reynoso-Ramirez were not here illegally, Mr. Zupan might well still be with us.  In Oregon like most all other states acceptable PROOF of residence is a requirement for a drivers license.  It’s unclear if Reynoso-Ramirez has ever been checked to see if he even knows how to drive or if he can even read the road signs? Lastly, by the nature of his illegal status, there is an implied disregard of U.S. laws so, why not drink and drive?  It’s a third world corrupt behavior and one that is problematic.

I’m sure there is a lot of blame to pass around for this accident.  The DMV is at fault for lax documentation measures.  The spirits industry for its continual drive of seeing improved sales or the retail outlet for selling the spirits.  It’s the governments fault because they are lax on immigration.  Geez, even President Barack Obama’s family is embroiled in a similar matter.  His uncle, Onyango Obama, an illegal immigrant was charged with drunken driving in Framingham, MA.  He was ordered by an immigration judge back in 1992 to leave the country, but for some reason just hasn’t gotten around to it. Onyango, who’s from Kenya, is the half brother of the president’s late father and has pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence of alcohol and is being held on an immigration detainer.

Sadly, drunk drivers come in all shapes, sizes and citizenship status’.

I anticipate that this accident will be placed on the back burner by the Oregon media or law makers as to avoid having any debate over illegal immigration and any associated issues.  What’s worse is that many people out there – especially insurance companies- consider motorcycle accidents, even when the motorcycle rider is NOT at fault, the “cost of doing business” and that motorcycle riders have essentially assumed the risk of getting hurt.   Many non-motorcycle riding members of the pubic, in fact, assume that anyone who rides a motorcycle is asking for trouble and if they do get hurt, well then that is the riders fault even if the rider did nothing improper.

Unfortunately the real issue (drunk and reckless driving) will get buried in the media as questions about who will or will not participate in the Ducks next football practice take center stage…

My sincere condolences to the Zupan family.

Photos courtesy of Zupan.com and Fox 12 News

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It was the slogan of American Honda’s safety awareness campaign back in 1998.

The “Stupid Hurts” (.pdf) campaign was intended to create a lasting impression on parents and youngsters as the company was under a lot of pressure with respect to marketing and promotion of ATVs.  It was a multi-million dollar program to deliver straightforward, no-nonsense messages encouraging rider training about helmet use, operator-only use, drug and alcohol-free operation, appropriate age/vehicle size, and youth supervision.

But, beginning Jan. 1, 2010  “stupid is as stupid does”…the Oregon legislature has passed a number of new laws to protect YOU as well as increase the fines because in case you haven’t heard the state has a “revenue challenge.”  Many would debate that it’s a SPENDING problem, but what do we know?  For example, the fine for riding a motorcycle without a motorcycle endorsement jumps from $360 to $720. However, the law also requires the court to suspend the fine if the rider completes training and receives an endorsement within 120 days of sentencing.  Of course if you’re under 21 years of age you are required to complete a TEAM Oregon Basic Rider Training (BRT) course which historically has had long lead times.

But, wait there’s more:

  1. Oregon’s “Move Over” law in 2010 now means that you’ll have to move over for tow trucks and other roadside assistance vehicles. Under current law, drivers have to pull over from police cars, fire engines and ambulances rendering assistance on a highway having two or more lanes of traffic going in the same direction. The change also clarifies that if a motorist can’t pull over because there is a vehicle in the other lane, the driver must slow his or her vehicle to at least 5 miles an hour under the posted speed.
  2. There was also an amendment to House Bill 2040 to add roadside assistance vehicles and tow vehicles to the list of vehicles that require motorist to “maintain a safe distance.”  Failure to maintain a safe distance (ORS 811.147) is a class B traffic violation.
  3. For drunk drivers who are convicted with a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or higher — they will now pay a minimum fine of $2,000. Previously, the fine structure called for a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first offense, $1,500 for a second conviction and $2,000 for a third or subsequent conviction, without regard for level of drunkenness.
  4. And what about protecting the children?  Any under 16 years of age will have to wear a safety belt or harness when operating a Class I or Class II all-terrain vehicle used for off-road use or a Class II ATV legal for street use. The safety belt or safety harness must be used when the vehicles are used both on public roads and premises open to the public. The law holds the parent, legal guardian or person responsible for the child responsible for compliance.
  5. Operators and passengers of Class II ATVs who are younger than 18 must wear motorcycle helmets. There is an exception for vehicles that have a roof or roll bar and that are registered through the Department of Transportation.

Clearly these new rules will create a lasting impression and stop stupid!

Photo courtesy of Honda.

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