Drunk driving is a serious crime, no matter what state you live in. But when you live in a state as populous as Maryland, chances are good that the price you pay for your actions will be even higher than the national average. In the case of Samuel Ellis, a 19-year-old former high school football star, this was a lesson that had to be learned the hard way. The teenager was recently sentenced to four years in prison after a drunk driving accident that resulted in the deaths of two young Wooten High School students.
A Drunken Teen Party Led to Terrible and Permanent Consequences
A drunken teen party in June 2015 set the stage for tragic and unfortunately permanent consequences. Samuel Ellis and a few other teenage friends were celebrating at a party, along with plenty of underage students. Beer and vodka were flowing freely all through the night. But Ellis was ultimately the one who made the fatal choice to get behind the wheel. After getting into his Acura, he began speeding around roads in the North Potomac region. There was no specific goal in mind except to show off his superior driving skills – or so Ellis maintained.
Two Teens Were Pronounced Dead Following the Fatal Crash
Three fellow teens were in the car with Ellis that night. Two of them were fated never to make it home. According to testimony received by police during questioning of other witnesses at the party, Ellis had taken the step of parking his car away from the party. This was so he would not be questioned about his consumption of alcohol or his decision to drive drunk after he left the party. This reckless determination nearly proved as fatal to himself as it did to his teenage passengers.
A Party Game of Beer Pong Led to a Fatal Crash
According to eyewitness reports, Ellis spent his time at the party indulging heavily in beer and vodka. He also spent considerable time playing multiple rounds of the party drinking game known as “Beer Pong.” It was in this drunken state of mind that Ellis left the party with three of his friends.
Ellis Drove the Vehicle Off an Embankment and Killed His Friends
Ellis was traveling down the back roads of the North Potomac area at a high rate of speed. Three passengers were in the car with him. Two would not make it back from that final trip. The third, who managed to survive the crash, later told police that Ellis was feeling “invincible” that night. The car was traveling at a minimum speed of 60, although the teen witness also maintained that Ellis may have gotten up to as high as 105 mph.
The Vehicle Veered Off the Road and Into an Embankment, Killing Two Teens
At some point, Ellis lost control of the vehicle. The car veered off the road, hit a nearby embankment, and was in the air for more than 100 feet. Finally, the car came to rest after landing on a nearby residential driveway. By the time the car came to rest, the damage was done. Two of Ellis’ passengers were dead. Meanwhile, Ellis and his surviving passenger sustained serious injuries.
DUI Accidents Affect Thousands of Lives in Maryland and Beyond
While tragic, Ellis is far from the only person whose rash and ill considered actions have destroyed lives. DUI statistics all over the country bear this out. Driving drunk is still a major crisis that costs taxpayers millions of dollars in medical care and damages, each and every year. It’s important for you to know that, with the proper care and education, we can work together to reduce the instances of drunk driving so that countless lives can be spared.
Is There a Place on the Web Where You Can Find DUI Facts?
Many people will wonder where they can find all of the latest news, facts, and stats on DUI and DWI related incidents. The best place to do so is on the world wide web. You can access sites, such as DUIwise and others, in order to find all of the info you need to get educated on this extremely important matter. The sooner you do so, the sooner you will be in a position to help others avoid committing this terrible crime. You can use the case histories and other facts that you get from the web in order to convince the people you love never to get behind the wheel of a car while drunk.
Where Can You Go to Find the Latest Info on DUI and DWI?
If you want to know where you can find all of the latest info on DUI and DWI related matters, log on to DUIwise.com for the latest news and facts.
When Peter Anketell was sentenced in 2004 for drunken driving, it was the first time he had been in prison for a significant amount of time. Anketell was sentenced to 12-14 years in jail. His case made headlines because he had a long history of DUI arrests and convictions but had only served short jail sentences. During this time, the law in Massachusetts only permitted police to consider DUI offenses that had taken place within the last 10 years before charging a person for a subsequent offense. His case led the authorities to change DUI laws in Massachusetts. You can read more on DUI events and news on DUIwise.
Circumstances That Led to Anketell’s Arrest
13 years later, Anketell is now facing his 12th DUI charge. According to reports by Salem police, the accident occurred after Anketell crashed into a curb outside a gas station in Derby Street. This incident took place a few moments after his girlfriend had called the police reporting him for drunken driving. Anketell, who is 55 years of age, pleaded not guilty to; his fifth subsequent DUI charge, driving after his license was revoked, and to the unlawful possession of Xanax, a prescription drug.
The the first report about Anketell was made by his girlfriend, Renee Gubitosi, who claimed that he had been taking Xanax and drinking, and had now taken her car. Sgt. Harry Rocheville of Salem Police was aware of Anketell’s history and knew his license had been revoked permanently. Officers were informed to watch out for Renee’s blue Dodge. One hour later, Anketell is reported to have sped into the Speedway gas station situated at Derby Street. He eventually struck a curb that damaged the front part of the car and blew a tire.
Rocheville was flagged down by a woman who witnessed the whole incident. She directed Rocheville to Anketell who lay in an adjacent parking lot and reported how he had almost killed innocent civilians. Anketell was still in possession of a can of Ice beer when Rocheville arrested him. It is unclear whether he had opened the can.
Another a witness told the police how Anketell stopped in front of the building and attempted to fill his ruined tire, then fled after he saw the police approaching. Anketell appeared to have sustained a bump and cut on his head after the crash. He was taken to police headquarters to undergo a field sobriety test which he failed miserably. He is also reported to have refused to take a breathalyzer test.
Gubitosi informed police that her boyfriend had an electric starter that he used to start her car. But she reiterated that she never permitted him to drive.
The prosecutor in the case, Stefanie Stanbro, requested the court to detain Anketell considering his history of DUIs in Massachusetts, Florida, and New Hampshire. His record includes a 2002 car accident in Marblehead which resulted in the death of Cynthia Wilson, 40, his girlfriend during that time. Anketell is reported to have lost control on Tedesco Street. He hit a curb, pole, and finally crashed into a tree. Although Anketell tried to claim that Wilson was to blame for the accident, the jury turned down that defense.
In 2014, Anketell got out on parole which he completed last year. While Anketell was imprisoned, the law changed allowing law enforcement officers and prosecutors to count all a defendant’s DUI convictions when charging them. This is despite the fact that Michigan’s DUI law is limited to the fifth or subsequent offense which carries a maximum of five years in prison.
When Anketell was arraigned, his new lawyer, Patrick Regan, requested the judge to commit Anketell to a detox program. However, Judge Joseph Jennings said that it was not his decision to make but that of the sheriff’s department.
Massachusetts DUI Laws
When determining whether you are driving under the influence of alcohol, Massachusetts reviews your blood alcohol content. The BAC limits correspond with one’s age or certain conditions.
For drivers who are 21 years old and above, the BAC limit is 0.08% or above</p>
· For drivers of commercial vehicles, the BAC limit is 0.04% or above
· For drivers who are under 21 years old, the BAC limit is 0.02%
Additional DUI Laws
Open Container Laws
Massachusetts open container law states that it is unlawful to drive a vehicle with an open bottle or container of alcohol in the vehicle. This means you should not drive with an empty beer bottle in your car, or have a passenger consuming alcohol. A violation of this law will subject you to a fine of between $100 and $500.
Other Drugs and Medications
An officer can pull you over in cases where a prescription, illegal, or over the counter drug is impeding your ability to operate a vehicle. Based on the circumstances of your case, you are likely to face a DUI conviction like you would in a case of drunk driving. The state will also revoke your driver’s license or learner’s permit. Revocation periods range between 1 and 5 years.
Penalties for a DUI in Massachusetts
The penalties for a DUI conviction are classified as either administrative or criminal penalties. They are further classified into first, second, third, fourth, and fifth offenses.
· For a first DUI offense, you stand to face a driver’s license suspension of between 45-90 years and an imprisonment of up to 2 ½ years.
· For a second DUI offense, you stand to face a driver’s license suspension of up to 2 years, and an imprisonment of 2 ½ years.
· For a third DUI offense, you stand to face a driver’s license suspension of up to 8 years, and an imprisonment of between 2 ½ years and 5 years.
· For a fourth DUI offense, you stand to face a driver’s license suspension of up to 10 years and an imprisonment of between 2 ½ years and 5 years.
· For a fifth DUI offense, you stand to face a driver’s license revocation and an imprisonment of between 2 ½ years and 5 years.
If you want to learn more about DUIs in Massachusetts, DUIwise.com is the site to visit. This is your trusted source for news and events regarding DUIs in Massachusetts.
In Michigan, the risk of being ticketed for drunk driving does not end when you pull up in your driveway. In fact, it doesn’t end even if you haven’t pulled out of your driveway. Contrary to what some might think, drunk driving in Michigan doesn’t even require the use of a publicly available road. No sir.
The Michigan Supreme Court reversed two lower court rulings that a man couldn’t be prosecuted for driving drunk in his own driveway. The Michigan Supreme Court says a driveway is no refuge for a drunken driver. The state Supreme Court has expanded the definition of “driving” to include moving operating your vehicle in your own private driveway.
Gino Rea of Northville, Michigan was arrested in 2014 after police went to his home in response to a neighbor’s complaints about loud music. According to court documents, while there, the arresting officer watched Rea back his vehicle out of, and then back into his garage, bumping into some loose items inside the garage in the process. Police said he smelled of alcohol and his speech was slurred.
Rea refused a field sobriety test and was taken into custody. At that point, he probably should have sought counsel from a service like DUIwise. He didn’t, and when his blood alcohol level came in at three times the legal limit, he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol [without ever leaving his driveway].
He was clearly drunk. But was he guilty of drunk driving? In court, police acknowledged that the car never traveled beyond the front of the house.
Michigan’s law against drunken driving states: “A person, whether licensed or not, shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles, within this state if the person is operating while intoxicated.”
During his original trial, an Oakland County Circuit judge dismissed the case, troubled by prosecutor’s assertion that a private driveway was “open to the general public.” The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal in 2016, reiterating the lower court’s ruling that Rea “was not operating his vehicle in an area generally accessible to motor vehicles.”
In a 5-2 ruling, the state Supreme Court, however, disagreed with the lower courts’ definition of “generally accessible.” In issuing its ruling, the court said a driveway is “generally accessible to motor vehicles” under state law, even if it’s on private property.
Writing for the majority Justice Richard Bernstein said, “In light of the dictionary definitions of these words, ‘generally accessible’ means usually or ordinarily capable of being reached,” He noted that the phrase “generally assessable” did not mean the same thing as open to the general public. It pertains only to who may have access to the driveway. Absent something on the defendant’s driveway that would have prevented motor vehicles on the public street from turning into it, the driveway was, in effect “generally accessible to motor vehicles.”
There are many who believe the Oakland Circuit and state Appeals courts, rightly concerned about a violation of civil, property rights, balked when hearing their private property was generally available to the public.
In dissent, justices Bridget McCormack and David Viviano said the court should be “hesitant to assume” that lawmakers wanted to extend their reach to the private property of homeowners.
“Private property rights are, of course, central to our legal system—every person has ‘exclusive dominion over his own soil,’” McCormick wrote. “If a private citizen chooses to have a few beers while washing his car (or to wash his car while having a few beers), on a patch of his own land covered by a driveway, that is his right.”
Michigan Supreme Court Justices are nominated to run by political parties. The composition of the current court is four justices who were nominated by the Republicans and three who were nominated by the Democrats. As a rule, it tends to lean right in its rulings. This decision came as a surprise to many on the right who advocate for personal property rights.
Nolan Finley of the Detroit News opined most of us think our driveways are private property, and not accessible by the public, at least not unless they’re trespassing. But the Supreme Court majority disagreed, and in doing so “did a bit of trampling on the state’s respect for private property.”
In Michigan, if you’ve had one too many beers while washing your car in your driveway, and you get behind the wheel of your car to drive into your garage, you might find yourself under arrest. Finley says “this is yet one more intrusion into space the constitution carves out for individuals to stand free of government meddling, and another example of the law being twisted to control rather than to protect.”
Perhaps DUIwise.com might have provided different counsel to the defendant had it been contacted quickly after his arrest. It’s still not too late for Rea to get the expert advice he needs. The Supreme Court sent the case back to Oakland County for prosecution, where it is currently pending.