Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by IceAlisa, Dec 6, 2013.
I doubt the charges will stick. They aren't in a position where they had a legal obligation to stop her and they aren't even adults. Now if they had plied her with drinks and then encouraged her to drive or were bartenders or had some other job where they had control over parts of the situation, I think it might be different but the law is pretty clear that the general public has no legal responsibility to stop potential crimes. Heck, we often don't even have a legal responsibility to stop actual crimes in progress.
It may also depend on CT law. Some states have "good samaritan" laws (you do have to do something); if so, they may have violated it by failing to call the police.
I've never heard of a good samaritan law requiring you to do something; rather a good samaritan law protects you if you do something.
I suppose calling the police is one way to stop a drunk friend from driving. Otherwise, I don't see how I could stop someone bigger and stronger than me who was intent on driving. I don't know any martial arts.
This. If you perform a Heimlich on someone who is choking, you should be protected under the good Samaritan law. If you are a health care professional, however, you will be held up to the standards of your profession and scope of practice.
I have read articles on the "duty to report crime" laws that exist in a few states that have used the term "good samaritan law". Your reference (to an immunity for those who provide emergency help) is the more common one.
You know, I was thinking about this some more and when I did my training as a daycare worker one of the scenarios that came up was drunk parent picking up a child (thankfully this never happened). By law, we cannot deny a parent their child- no matter what the scenario. We were supposed to suggest they hang out and wait, or call a ride, but if they refused and wanted the kid to leave, we had to let them, and then immediately call the police with a license plate number.
So if the status quo for INFANTS is to have to let the parent drive with them, I can't imagine a law that holds you responsible for stopping a friend. How does one go about doing that? To what degree do you have to act to stop them? I mean, I've taken keys from friends- but if they are going to fight you, you can't really do much.
How are minors responsible for the behavior of other minors? Legally they aren't even responsible for themselves.
I hate to be callous but the girl who was under age and drinking lost her life and it was her own fault. And had she hit more than a tree she could have been responsible for hurting or killing someone else also. If you hold these kids responsible then whoever supplied a minor with liquor is accountable also. And that would include whoever she bought it from with a fake id or if she took it from her parents' unlocked liquor cabinet.
If I knew someone was too drunk to drive... I wouldn't give a fig how big they were, their keys would be mine. Let them call the cops, if they dare. No way would I let a drunk on the road if I could help it.
I agree that it probably depends upon how the law is interpreted.
I also would like to think that I would take someone's keys away from them, but in reality I am not sure I could take them away from a bigger, taller person. Teenagers, especially ones who may have been drinking, can't always determine if their friend is able to drive. Heck, adults with experience aren't always able to tell. If you are underage and been drinking with a group of people, you probably aren't too willing to call the police to report a drunk driver either.
I completely disagree with this. Calling the police, yes, that's sensible. Fighting someone who is drunk to get their keys? Stupid, IMO. That can escalate quickly. Especially with a "I don't give a fig how big they are" attitude. You should care. I would not risk my life, the drunk person's life, or the lives of those around me by physically engaging a drunk person, especially one physically bigger and stronger than I. One wrong move, and someone could die then, too. I've seen it happen.
I would call the cops or yell at someone else do it; but I would do EVERYTHING in my power to stop them. Drunks aren't the smartest people on earth. I've had a family member killed by a drunk driver so yes I will do just about anything to stop it from happening again to me or anyone else. I couldnt live with myself if I let a drunk leave the scene while I watch with an indifferent attitude. Thats just not in my nature to stand by and watch
in any situation.
^^But are you saying this as your adult self or your 17 year old self? My judgment as an adult is completely different now than it was then. Not so much my sense of right and wrong, but my ability to handle this situation.
You would fight the person? Throw punches? Take punches to the face? Because that is what some drunk people would do when you try to grab the keys out of their hand. You are acting as if you can actually control every situation and that is absolutely not reality.
Yes, I was only speaking for myself as an adult; however 17 year olds (and younger) are charged as adults all the time but they were drunk so their judgment was impaired as it was. Her judgment was her own both to drink underage and to drive.
Are you asking me if I would take a punch in the gut/head from someone to prevent them from getting into a car drunk? In a heartbeat. I realize it's not for everyone, but not everyone has had a knock at door from a cop telling them their loved one is dead. How much stuffing am I willing to have knocked out me? I don't know, it's never come to that, I hope it never does and as you said every situation is different and not everything ends in a fist fight. But if I have the opportunity to prevent that knock at the door for happening to somone else, I will certainly give it a try.
That's easy enough to say. Life is more complicated and less black and white than that.
Julieann, I've had a loved one killed, and another permanently paralysed because a friend of theirs (who ended up with a broken neck and nose, but no permanent damage) was fighting another friend (who was the drunk one, but ended up without any major injuries) for the keys. Four lives ruined, one dead, one paralysed, one feeling responsible for the fight because he was so desperate to get those keys and not to let his friend drink and drive, and one jailed. Many more lives devastated by the loss of a loved one, but hey, no one drank and drove, and the friend got those keys. Fighting a drunk person is stupid. Always. This fight, which was recorded on CCTV, took just a few minutes; that's how fast it escalated, and only the one person was drunk.
I've also had a friend die when he was driving drunk, and a loved one die in an accident caused by a drunk driver. In those cases, it was the drunk driver's fault, in the above, it was both the drunk person, and the person who did "everything in his power" to stop his friend driving, which provoked a fight that killed someone and seriously injured another. (Both were charged, the drunk person was jailed, the other plead I think).
Of course there's always the old saying not everything is black and white or that's easier said than done. Some people are the type who will stand by and watch some old lady get mugged or watch some kid get bullied and not get involved because they're afraid of what might happen to them and that's okay. I'm not one of them; its not how I was raised.
Every scenario would be different dealing with a drunk-but not to even try FOR ME would be egregious. If others want to stand aside and sleep safe at night, I don't hold that against anyone one bit. If anyone wants to pass judgement on me, so be it, that's their issue to deal with not mine.
Involvement doesn't need to be physical, and certainly doesn't mean fighting someone, no matter who, how big, no matter what. The police recommend not physically getting involved for good reason; it can mean more than one person gets hurt. I think you saying you'd get physically involved no matter what, and doing whatever is needed, is wrong, far more wrong that not getting physically involved. Saying one might get involved, depending on the circumstances, maybe, but your statements/actions are IMHO is what gets people like my friend killed. You're so determined to get involved, so focused on getting those keys, what about the bystanders? Drunk people don't aim well, but neither do people focused on only one thing, such as getting keys.
I'm not the person to stand by and watch, I'm the person who assesses the situation, and makes a decision that I believe will help the most people without harming anyone. Might that mean trying to restrain someone? Sure. I've actually been trained to do that. But to decide what I'd do in advance of seeing specific circumstances? That's careless, and dangerous, IMO.
You left out "talk is cheap."
"I would stop them from driving no matter what" is a fairy tale and only children believe in fairy tales. Adults believe in "I would do what I could but there's a point where discretion is the better path -- for everyone involved." There are police officers and first responders who are trained in how to handle such situations and there's nothing wrong with using them. I don't have such an inflated opinion of myself that I believe that the fate of the world rests on me and me alone.
I most certainly wouldn't physically challenge someone I didn't know, anyone I did know that I knew owned a gun or I knew I couldn't take down. Challenging someone you know you can't take down is grandstanding. Challenging someone you don't know or you know has a gun (or other weapon) is stupid. Calling the cops when it's a situation you know you can't handle is smart. And it's not even close to "not even trying." IMO calling the cops actually takes way more courage than trying to take someone's keys away because in our culture we have it ingrained from a young age that you don't 'snitch.' I suspect you risk losing friendships over taking that path, in fact.
As a former CT resident, this smells more like an attempt by someone to deflect the dead girl's responsibility fo her own actions. The police are out of line here. The driving during curfew will stick, but I think the rest will get thrown out.
to me it smells of it is Christmas/Winter break time where kids may be drinking and driving and/or aware that friends are driving, with an attempt to hopefully increase kids awareness that they may be held responsible.
Same as a current case in my area that involves a motor vehicle homicide where there were more than allowable passengers in the car on a provisional license and reckless driving, obstinately because of distraction of the driver and kids in the vehicle. The mother of the teen who was killed questions why the information on charges was released now before the holidays. I don't know the county attorney's thought process on this, but it would be a time that teens are out of school and driving each other around. To me that would drive home a point that I might make to my kids if they were teens and had restrictions on licenses.
They're 17. They're not kids. Now if they were 12, they might fall below the criminal age of responsibility, but at 17...quite a lot of kids are tried as adults. In the US, some states have minimums and other states rely on common law, which generally is interpreted to mean that anyone over 14 IS criminally responsible for their own actions. In some places, kids as young as 12 have been tried for murder. Just because they go to juvie and not prison doesn't mean they're not legally responsible.
In this case, I have to wonder how much detail is in the press and how much has been left out. It's not entirely unprecedented though. Some countries would call it negligent manslaughter, others negligent homicide.
I agree with whoever said that you should absolutely try to stop your friend driving drunk and do everything in your power...but I don't think it should necessarily be criminal if you fail to do so. If you fail to even try...well...you have to live with the consequences.
I don't think the charges will stick, but I also wonder if the police expect them to, or if they're just trying to teach young people in general a lesson about looking out for your friends.
It varies so much from country to country. In Australia, there are speed cameras everywhere, HUGE penalties for speeding, the blood alcohol limit in every state is lower than in every state of the US (0.00-0.05 in Australia, 0.08 in the US), including a limit of 0.00 for young people on provisional licences in some states. Police are able to pull over vehicles and randomly breath test the drivers at their discretion, and if you're done for drunk driving, you can pretty much kiss your licence goodbye.
There's no positive obligation to stop someone from drunk driving, but there is a totally different approach in general to driving offences which is why I think there have been such different reactions in this thread.
The positive obligation thing is a bit of a slippery slope. IIRC, there was a test case in the UK involving a drowning when the family of a victim tried to sue passers-by for not saving someone drowning in a pond. I'll have to go back through my old law school notes and see if I can find the outcome...but I think the case failed. It's difficult to predict how anyone will react in that situation and I'm pretty sure those kids, or anyone who didn't prevent a crime for whatever reason (Fear? Froze? Didn't know what to do?) will never forget it without the threat of criminal charges.
This is similar to our policy at the casino--we have to stop serving (and allowing you to gamble) if we decide you're intoxicated or close to it, w can have you escorted off the floor if you refuse to stop drinking or gambling once you've been red-lighted, we can strongly recommend you eat something and if you're at the location with a hotel that you get a room or go to one if you have it and sleep it off (cutoffs are usually four hours), but unless we have to actually have you arrested for trespass (when you keep coming back on the floor before your 'time out' ends) we can't physically stop you from leaving. We're all explicitly forbidden from physically grabbing someone's keys or restraining them. Generally if a guest who's been cut off insists on leaving, we'll call Tribal and they'll be waiting by the end of the drive to pull the guest over as soon as they hit the public road, but we can't actually stop them from going.
Au contraire. New York State, where I've lived all of my life, starts measuring at .05. .05-.07 gets you charged with DWAI - Driving While Under the Influence. .08-.17 is DWI - Driving While Intoxicated. .18 and over is Aggravated DWI. We also have Leandra's Law, which makes driving drunk with a child in the car subject to being charged with a Class E felony for a first offence. There is also a separate charge, DWAI-Drug, for drug-related offences. We also have a very strict graduated license program for under-18 drivers. Actually, under-21 drivers can have their license revoked if they are convicted of DWI or DWAI anywhere in the US or Canada, or if they refuse a chemical test in NYS.
What about a person who gets into a car with someone who is driving drunk? They clearly are allowing the person to drive. Should they be held responsible? What if there is an accident and the passenger is injured? Do they face charges because they got into a car driven by someone under the influence? This could be very, very dangerous legally.
Huh, interesting. I didn't know there was a difference between DWI and DUI. Thanks for the info
DWI may just be the term that NY uses. I'd be more interested in how our drunk driving laws compare to other states'. Not that they stop some people, unfortunately. We just had a sentencing for a 23-year-old who drove drink and stoned 80 MPH on the Northway (I-87 north from Albany up to the Canadian border) and also texting - he cut across two lanes and slammed his car into the back of another car with 4 17-year-olds in it, killing 2 & critically injuring the other 2. This POS has been involved in 5 accidents in 6 years, all of them his fault. He is also a Momma's boy whose mommy was able to pay for a good defense attorney for him. In spite of pkeading guilty to **58** charges he only got 5-15 years.
In Australia, there is only one offence (drink driving), but the penalty varies depending on the severity of the offence. In the situation you describe, the guy would go to jail also, but I couldn't say for how long.
There is a lot of random breath testing, especially around holidays, but people still do it They're actually installing breathalysers in the cars of recidivists...they'll need to blow not just to turn the car on, but they'll have to blow every couple of minutes to keep the car on for the journey home (to prevent friends blowing into it).
Some people are just so stupid and reckless. It's a shame they hurt others, and not just themselves