Tag Archive for driving under the influence

Morning Links: Higher crash rates in states with legal cannabis, and driver gets life for killing LAPD officer

This is who we share the roads with.

A new study shows that crash rates are up six percent in the four states where cannabis is legal, compared to neighboring states.

Which is a good reminder that it can take a full 24 hours or more to metabolize marijuana. And driving under the influence of cannabis is just as illegal as alcohol, if harder to quantify.

Meanwhile, Wednesday marked the first day cannabis was legal in Canada.

And it only took one hour before the first ticket was issued for toking behind the wheel.

Photo by Michael Fisher from Pexels.com.

………

A 25-year old driver got life behind bars for intentionally ramming an LAPD patrol car and killing the officer inside, in an attempt to help his friend in another car escape a police chase.

Which couldn’t be more deserved.

But remember that the next time a driver gets a slap on the wrist for deliberately running down someone on a bicycle.

………

And combining the last two themes, Jeffrey Fylling forwards a press release from the Orange County DA’s office announcing that a 24-year old woman will face up to 10 years in prison for killing an 81-year old man while allegedly driving high on cannabis.

Which gives a whole new meaning to the term weed killer.

It would be nice to see prosecutors take it that seriously the next time a California driver kills someone on foot or on a bicycle.

………

CD6 Councilmember Nury Martinez is asking for your input in designing a Safe Routes to School program to improve walking and bicycling to Van Nuys Elementary and Panorama City Elementary schools.

A public meeting will be held at each school next Thursday to discuss a Walking Safety Assessment.

………

Local

Curbed talks with East Side Rider’s founder John Jones III about the club’s efforts to inspire change in the local South LA community through bicycling. Although I had no idea they had chapters in other cities across the US. And thanks to whoever sent this to me; my apologies for losing track of it. 

CiclaValley previews Monday’s Donut Ride on Reseda Blvd.

Forget the candy this Halloween. Metro Bike is offering a bulk discount on single ride bikeshare passes. Although that doesn’t guarantee you won’t get egged or TPed by kids who’d rather have a sugar high than a free ride.

Helen’s Cycles is hiring a part-time cashier for their Santa Monica store.

 

State

Over 1,000 bicyclists are expected to turn out for the annual Tour of Upland next month.

About 40 veterans and first responders are making their way down the California coast as part of the eleventh annual Project Hero United Healthcare California Coastal Challenge to highlight the health issues they face, including PTSD.

Chico is updating its bike plan after just five years. So naturally, the local TV station quotes a driver complaining about scofflaw bicyclists. I wonder if they also bring up lawbreaking drivers whenever someone wants to build a new overpass.

 

National

They get it. AARP suggests ten ways bicycle friendly streets are good for people who don’t ride bikes, while offering a reminder that people of all ages like to ride bicycles. Print this one out before your next public meeting, and leave a copy on every seat. Especially since older people tend to be more resistant to bike-friendly changes.

A writer for a travel site says you can participate in adventure travel, even with a hidden disability.

Forbes suggests what you can do in your own neighborhood to slow climate change. Hint: It has pedals and two wheels, and maybe a battery.

Motherboard says e-scooters reveal America’s urban transportation crisis, adding they’re fun, but nobody knows what to do with them yet.

Portland experiments with raised, floating bus platforms to reduce crashes with bike riders. For once, Los Angeles got there first with raised platforms on Los Angeles and Figueroa.

Nebraska tourism officials are told they can bicycle their way to prosperity by hitching a ride on the bike tourism boom.

No bias here. A Chicago writer complains about an “abundance of rude (maybe even psychotic) bicyclists” who ride on the sidewalk, instead of in the “bike lanes that have disrupted and uglified” downtown streets, while adding that police should ticket downtown bike riders instead of sidewalk riders in black neighborhoods. Nothing opposing bike lanes, as well as people who don’t feel safe using them.

Chicago’s Bike Lane Uprising is a crowdsourced civic tech platform designed to make it easier to report drivers blocking bike lanes or other obstructions.

St. Paul MN discovers they can trick drivers into stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks.

New Orleans bike riders will no longer face a $150 fine for failing to failing to register their bikes; the city revoked its mandatory registration after one rider received nearly $1,000 in tickets for a single traffic stop, including one for failing to register his bike.

The police chief in Tampa FL says his cops stop bike riders mostly because they don’t have lights, run stop signs or ride salmon. It’s just a total coincidence that 80% of the bike riders they stop are black.

A Tampa TV station says a three-foot wide curb bike lane is dangerous by design, putting bicyclists too close to passing cars. Especially since that three feet appears to include the gutter.

 

International

Treehugger says it’s time to face the dangers cement trucks pose to the people around them, and put safer trucks on the roads.

Road.cc lists 18 things they “reckon” every bike rider hates. I hate the word reckon, but I reckon that’s my problem.

A new urban bike promises to be weatherproof and maintenance-free, with airless, puncture-proof tires, a carbon belt drive, and seven speed internal hub. Although the nearly $2,000 price tag could put a dent in your wallet.

Your next bike helmet could be printed, not made.

Drivers in the UK could be required to give bicyclists and pedestrians the right-of-way in every situation under a proposed revision to the country’s Highway Code.

A trio of bighearted British kids raised the equivalent of over $6,500 for a hospice for terminally-ill children and adults; two rode 300 miles across England, while the third, who suffers from Cardio Facio Cutaneous Syndrome, rode 30 miles on his adaptive bike.

It’s official. Scottish cyclist Jenny Graham has shattered the women’s record for bicycling around the world in just 124 days, beating the existing record by 20 days.

France considers a mandatory bicycle registration program to fight bike theft as part of a 25-point, $401 million plan to boost bicycling — including a proposal to pay people up to $458 a year to bike to work.

Volkswagen’s new smart headlights promise to recognize and highlight people walking or riding bikes in low light. Which the drivers probably won’t notice because they’ll be too busy with their phones.

An Israeli soccer player is expected to be charged with hit-and-run and DUI for a crash that killed a teenage boy illegally sharing a friend’s ebike; the other boy could also face charges for carrying a passenger, swerving into the driver’s path and riding without a helmet.

A legendary Aussie firefighter wants to thank the stranger who tossed his bicycle in the back of his SUV and drove him home after he took a bad fall in traffic, injuring his shoulder.

A Manilla legislator proposes a nearly five-foot passing distance to improve safety for people on bicycles.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews looks at the complicated case of newly crowned women’s masters champ Dr. Rachel McKinnon, saying the debate over the first transgender world champ can’t be solved, but it can be better understood.

Former Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins says like it or not, Lance is iconic, and was singled out for doping when he wasn’t the only one doing it.

Surprisingly, the winner of last year’s Zwift indoor cycling competition has thrived in the pro peloton, signing with pro team Canyon-SRAM for a second season.

 

Finally…

When you really want to go retro with your water bottle. If you don’t think drivers hear your warnings, get a grip.

And when your marriage goes downhill as soon as you say your vows.

 

Update: Fallbrook bike rider killed by alleged drugged teenage driver

Once again, a Southern California bike rider has been killed by an intoxicated driver.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, a 59-year old Fallbrook man, whose name has been withheld, was riding on the shoulder of northbound Old Highway 395 south of Pala Mesa Drive when he was hit from behind around 3 pm Tuesday.

The driver, 19-year old Sulem Areli Garcia, also of Fallbrook, reportedly veered off the road to strike the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

She was booked on suspicion of manslaughter and driving under the influence of drugs; however, there’s no word on what she’s suspected of being on. Presumably, police will also get a warrant to determine whether she was using her mobile phone at the time of the crash.

A street view shows an unobstructed two lane highway with a wide paved shoulder on each side.

This is the 23rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in San Diego County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 59-year old Fallbrook resident Paul Burke; a GoFundMe account has been set up to benefit his family. 

Meanwhile, the woman accused of killing him pled not guilty at her arraignment.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Paul Burke and his loved ones.

Former OC lawyer gets max sentence in drug-fueled death of bike rider

Four years.

That was the sentence a judge finally issued Friday, after repeated delays, for the death of bike rider Eric Billings in Mission Viejo 27 months earlier.

Former immigration attorney Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti, who goes by the name of Hayley, had unexpectedly pleaded guilty to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in March of this year.

According to the OC DA’s office, she had a near-lethal dose of Xanax and Suboxone in her system when she ran down Billings’ bike from behind on March 15, 2013, as he rode in a marked bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway.

My News LA reports that investigators found a bottle of Xanax in her car following the collision; despite being filled just two days earlier, there were already 75 pills missing.

She reportedly ignored several text messages prior to the wreck from friends who begged her to stop driving and sober up. Yet despite claims that she was screaming and “pulling her hair out” following the crash, her first call was to her pharmacist, not 911.

She had faced a possible sentence of 16 months to four years for the conviction. She was also sentenced to an additional three years, to be served concurrently, after being caught with Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, while she was behind bars.

In addition, Fahkrai-Bayrooti’s license to practice law has been suspended by the California Bar, and stands to be permanently revoked after her sentencing.

My News LA reports that her defense attorney — at least the third one she has had in this case — claimed she had been dependent on prescription drugs since an “early, early age,” and may have early onset dementia as a result.

She expressed remorse at the hearing while pleading for mercy, saying she is no longer in denial about the damage she has caused. Although that denial appeared to be in full force in comments she left on this site just one day after pleading guilty.

A press release from the DA’s office quotes Billing’s wife from the victim’s statements given at an earlier hearing, offering just a hint of the loss her family has suffered.

The victim’s wife said in part, “The void that is left by this tragic and senseless accident is overwhelming. The fact that it isn’t just an accident, but rather an accident committed by one under the influence, is ironic in that Eric never had a drink in his life, would not even take a Tylenol, and would barely take a pain killer after surgery.” She went on to say, “Although I have chosen not to be bitter and have forgiven this woman, I would like her to have consequences for her actions.”

Fahkrai-Bayrooti now faces a long stay in state prison because she didn’t get the help she so clearly needed before she took an innocent man’s life.

Let’s hope she finally gets it while she’s behind bars.

And is never, ever allowed to drive again.

 

Breaking news: no sentencing in Eric Billings case today; driver found with narcotic drug behind bars

So much for that.

Word broke yesterday that the driver convicted in the death of cyclist Eric Billings in Mission Viejo two years ago was found with a prescription narcotic in her jail cell.

According to the Orange County DA’s office, former OC lawyer Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti was found in possession of Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, on May 13th as she was being held awaiting sentencing.

Something that was supposed to happen today.

However, a source reports from the courtroom that her sentencing has been delayed yet again, much to the distress of the victim’s family.

Apparently, her extremely savvy criminal defense team doesn’t work weekends. Robert Weinberg told Judge Jones that Hasti’s psychiatric evaluation only reached his office last Friday afternoon, and he hasn’t had time to review it. SINCE FRIDAY. In his defense (cough), it’s an extremely lengthy report.

The judge is unwilling to allow for any technicality that would give Hasti any possibility of appeal whatsoever, so he granted the motion to allow the delay. The defense will naturally try to incorporate any pertinent information from the psych eval into his sentencing brief. (Note: The Deputy DA managed to create a very persuasive 25-page brief on the People’s behalf just fine, without any report from the probation department.)

One of Eric Billings’ daughters who’d been unable to speak at the first attempt at sentencing was allowed to speak this morning. She vented, and clearly the judge agrees that she is absolutely right that victims have a right to a fair and speedy trial.

In the hallway prior to the hearing, she was demanding to know who Hasti’s “pharmacist” is, because she wants him investigated, and his license revoked. (When the first witness to approach Hasti after the collision asked if there was anybody she could call, she mumbled something about her pharmacist, and tried to place a call on her cell. Also, her blood drawn more than four hours after the collision indicated Alprazolam [Ed. note: the generic form of Xanax] in an amount that is usually fatal.)

At one point, Hasti attempted, in her meek voice, to speak to the judge, but her lawyer instantly spun around in alarm and shushed her.

The next attempt at sentencing will be June 19th. The DA had a prelim set for that same morning, but rescheduled it because the Billings family has suffered enough during this delay.

Oh yeah, and naturally Hasti pleaded not guilty to the new charge. And she’s not retaining her extremely savvy criminal defense team this time; instead, she has a public defender.

Fakhrai-Bayrooti had entered an unexpected guilty plea last March to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for running Billings down from behind as he rode his beach cruiser in the bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway two years earlier. Billings, described by friends as a loving father and devout Mormon, died at the scene.

She faces up to four years in prison once she’s finally sentenced

In addition to all the other breaking news in this case, the California State Bar suspended the immigration attorney’s license to practice law earlier this week. Chances are that suspension will become permanent following her sentencing, especially in light of the additional drug charge.

Let’s hope the Billings family gets the justice they deserve. And that Fakhrai-Bayrooti gets the help she so desperately seems to need while she’s behind bars.

And that she’s never allowed behind the wheel again.

 

More details on Sunday’s DUI bike collision in Torrance; driver had numerous moving violations

More details are trickling in on Sunday’s early morning DUI collision that left cyclist Adam Rybicki in critical condition.

According to the Daily Breeze, a car driven by 19-year old Jaclyn Andrea Garcia veered towards the group of cyclists, who were riding two-abreast on the right hand side of the street, as the car approached from about 75 yards away.

The members of the Doctor’s Ride — so called because of the number of physicians, lawyers and other professionals who regularly take part — swerved to get out of the way and braced for impact.

An email that was been forwarded to me, written by one of the participants on the ride, describes the car, a Kia mini SUV, swerving back to the right at the at the last second. The writer reports locking up his back wheel, screaming and somehow getting by, while the rider to his left, identified only as John, clipped the driver’s fender and fell into the street.

The rider to John’s left, identified as 49-year old Adam Rybicki of Rancho Palos Verdes, was hit head-on after he had swerved in a failed attempt to avoid the car; by swerving to the left, he had inadvertently put himself directly into the path of the Kia when it veered back to the right.

The writer reports that the car stopped, but the engine was still running, so he walked around to the driver’s side and screamed at her to turn off the engine. He reports that a man named Dick, identified in the Daily Breeze as a surgeon participating on the ride, tended to Rybicki until the paramedics arrived; his actions may have saved Rybicki’s life until he could be rushed to Harbor UCLA Medical Center.

He also notes the driver was breathalyzed and arrested, and everyone on the ride was interviewed. And that the police are doing a thorough investigation — despite the impression left by the comments made by a police spokesperson in the initial Daily Breeze report.

The Daily Breeze reports that Garcia has had multiple moving violations in just the last two years — yet was still allowed to keep her license.

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia, 19, has a valid driver’s license, but has had four convictions for driving offenses since 2009, including three for speeding, state Department of Motor Vehicles records show.

The records showed Garcia was convicted Jan. 14, 2009, of driving at a speed unsafe for the prevailing conditions.

On May 13, 2009, she was convicted of failing to obey signs. On Dec. 4, 2009, she received a ticket for speeding at more than 70 mph, then received another ticket for driving at a speed unsafe for the conditions on Jan. 25, 2011.

Despite that, she was allowed to keep driving, and nearly took the life of another person on Sunday.

One of the commenters on today’s post questioned why the passengers in her car weren’t subjected to a blood alcohol test, since they were also reputed to be drunk and underage — and he describes them, not unfairly, as accomplices rather than mere passengers.

Several reports have described the driver as emotionless, and told of one passenger who, rather than show any concern or compassion for the victim, attempted to walk away, saying she had to get to work and didn’t have time “for this shit.”

As I understand it, it is also an established legal principal that whoever supplied them with the alcohol — whether a business or individual — can be held accountable for the actions that resulted. We can only hope that the police follow the investigation as far as it goes, and the DA pursues all the charges that are warranted, whether against Garcia or anyone else who may have contributed to the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Garcia has been released on $100,000 bail, while Rybicki, who has a wife and son, remains in a coma with a broken leg and ankle, several broken ribs, a broken shoulder, cracked vertebrae, multiple skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.

Maybe you can tell me what’s wrong with this picture.

My prayers go out to Adam, his family and loved ones, with my best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

.………

Another comment received Monday evening from a couple who describe themselves as regular participant in the same ride confirms many of the details from other sources.

More details on Sunday’s DUI bike collision in Torrance; driver had numerous moving violations

More details are trickling in on Sunday’s early morning DUI collision that left cyclist Adam Rybicki in critical condition.

According to the Daily Breeze, a car driven by 19-year old Jaclyn Andrea Garcia veered towards the group of cyclists, who were riding two-abreast on the right hand side of the street, as the car approached from about 75 yards away.

The members of the Doctor’s Ride — so called because of the number of physicians, lawyers and other professionals who regularly take part — swerved to get out of the way and braced for impact.

An email that was been forwarded to me, written by one of the participants on the ride, describes the car, a Kia mini SUV, swerving back to the right at the at the last second. The writer reports locking up his back wheel, screaming and somehow getting by, while the rider to his left, identified only as John, clipped the driver’s fender and fell into the street.

The rider to John’s left, identified as 49-year old Adam Rybicki of Rancho Palos Verdes, was hit head-on after he had swerved in a failed attempt to avoid the car; by swerving to the left, he had inadvertently put himself directly into the path of the Kia when it veered back to the right.

The writer reports that the car stopped, but the engine was still running, so he walked around to the driver’s side and screamed at her to turn off the engine. He reports that a man named Dick, identified in the Daily Breeze as a surgeon participating on the ride, tended to Rybicki until the paramedics arrived; his actions may have saved Rybicki’s life until he could be rushed to Harbor UCLA Medical Center.

He also notes the driver was breathalyzed and arrested, and everyone on the ride was interviewed. And that the police are doing a thorough investigation — despite the impression left by the comments made by a police spokesperson in the initial Daily Breeze report.

The Daily Breeze reports that Garcia has had multiple moving violations in just the last two years — yet was still allowed to keep her license.

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia, 19, has a valid driver’s license, but has had four convictions for driving offenses since 2009, including three for speeding, state Department of Motor Vehicles records show.

The records showed Garcia was convicted Jan. 14, 2009, of driving at a speed unsafe for the prevailing conditions.

On May 13, 2009, she was convicted of failing to obey signs. On Dec. 4, 2009, she received a ticket for speeding at more than 70 mph, then received another ticket for driving at a speed unsafe for the conditions on Jan. 25, 2011.

Despite that, she was allowed to keep driving, and nearly took the life of another person on Sunday.

One of the commenters on today’s post questioned why the passengers in her car weren’t subjected to a blood alcohol test, since they were also reputed to be drunk and underage — and he describes them, not unfairly, as accomplices rather than mere passengers.

Several reports have described the driver as emotionless, and told of one passenger who, rather than show any concern or compassion for the victim, attempted to walk away, saying she had to get to work and didn’t have time “for this shit.”

As I understand it, it is also an established legal principal that whoever supplied them with the alcohol — whether a business or individual — can be held accountable for the actions that resulted. We can only hope that the police follow the investigation as far as it goes, and the DA pursues all the charges that are warranted, whether against Garcia or anyone else who may have contributed to the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Garcia has been released on $100,000 bail, while Rybicki, who has a wife and son, remains in a coma with a broken leg and ankle, several broken ribs, a broken shoulder, cracked vertebrae, multiple skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.

Maybe you can tell me what’s wrong with this picture.

My prayers go out to Adam, his family and loved ones, with my best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

.………

Another comment received Monday evening from a couple who describe themselves as regular participant in the same ride confirms many of the details from other sources.

%d bloggers like this: