Posted On: February 26, 2009

Carroll County Alcohol-Related Collision Yields DWI/DUI Charges

The Baltimore Sun reported in an article on January 11, 2009, that alcohol may have been a factor in a fatal January 10 car accident in Carroll County. According to the Sun, 21-year-old Timothy Mahoney of Sykesville lost control of his vehicle early on the morning of January 10. Mahoney crossed over into the opposite lane of Route 32 and struck a truck driven by Richard Dixon, also of Sykesville.

Mahoney was pronounced dead at the scene and Dixon was treated for injuries at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Officers found an opened case of beer in Mahoney’s vehicle.

The Sun also reported that one of the witnesses to the crash, Brian Noyes of Eldersburg, had also been drinking. When deputies administered an alcohol test at the scene, Noyes’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.06, lower than the legal limit for intoxication.

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Posted On: February 24, 2009

Maryland and Washington, DC, DUI/DWI

Washington, DC, and Maryland share the distinction of having zero-tolerance for drunk driving. Although every state in the nation aggressively punishes driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, Maryland and the nation’s capitol have taken the battle a step further by creating laws that undermine the national legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit.

In most states, a driver can be charged with drunk driving if he or she is found to have a BAC of at least 0.08, the federally mandated limit. If a driver has a BAC of less than 0.08, no charges can be made. A few states—including Maryland and the District of Columbia—have weakened the BAC limit in the pursuit of a zero-tolerance policy and allowed police to charge drivers with drunken driving.

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Posted On: February 19, 2009

Maryland Fatal Auto Accidents Involving Teen Drivers Decreasing

The Baltimore Examiner reports that the number of auto accidents in Maryland caused by teen drivers is declining.

Citing data from the State Highway Administration, the Examiner notes that from 2003 to 2007 the total number of fatal car crashes caused by drivers between the ages of 16-20 has decreased by 41. This decrease is a 66 percent decline in the total number of fatal crashes in which a teen driver was at fault.

The good news carries over to injury crashes caused by teenagers. State traffic statistics for the four-year period show a decline in injury accidents of over 50 percent. State officials point to the state’s driver’s license program, which allows young drivers to gradually get more experience behind the wheel. This results in more confident drivers able to handle the sometimes rapidly changing conditions behind the wheel.

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Posted On: February 17, 2009

Baltimore County Man Sought in Shooting Death of Middle River Woman

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Baltimore County police are searching for 26-year-old Warren Jerome Yates of Dundalk in connection with a fatal shooting.

Police allege that on January 7, 2009, Yates sold another man $4000 worth of marijuana. The other man passed Yates a roll of bills to pay for the drugs, but only one of the bills was real.

The purchaser fled when Yates discovered the ruse, then Yates drew a gun and fired two shots at the man.

One of the shots struck 58-year-old Shirley Worcester, a Middle River resident who was standing outside of her home. The bullet hit Worcester in the chest, fatally wounding her.

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Posted On: February 12, 2009

Maryland DNA Testing Expanded

As of the beginning of the New Year, mandatory DNA collection will be expanded in Maryland criminal cases, according to an Associated Press story released on wtop.com. Until January 1, 2009, Maryland officials routinely collected DNA samples from convicted felons. The new law dispenses with the conviction requirement and expands the types of crimes that will be subject to DNA collection. Now, Maryland officials will be able to obtain DNA samples from those merely facing violent crime charges or being charged with attempting to commit a violent crime.

The expanded Maryland DNA policy is legally troubling for many reasons. Both the ACLU and the NAACP strongly oppose the new regulations. These organizations highlighted their concerns in a letter to Terri Wilkin, DNA Relations Coordinator with the State Police. In their joint letter, the ACLU and NAACP underline concerns that the new laws will violate Fourth Amendment rights and could be used to discriminate against minorities. Also at issue is the potential for police officers to collect DNA samples at arrest before charging a person with a Maryland violent crime.

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Posted On: February 10, 2009

Teen Weapon Charges

It is an unfortunate reality of today’s world that teenagers are more often involved in weapons charges. From the Washington Post, we see the story of 17-year-old Patrick S. Yevsukov, who pleaded guilty on January 9, 2009, to charges stemming from the discovery last summer of firearms and explosives at the home of a friend, Collin McKenzie-Gude of Bethesda.

Given the highly-charged political climate calling for increased criminal penalties, teenagers in weapons cases are often charged as adults. In Yevsukov’s case, he was charged as a juvenile and eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of manufacture or possession of an explosive device, along with unauthorized access to a computer and theft.

McKenzie-Gude’s case is still pending. An earlier Post story details the efforts of the defense attorney for McKenzie-Gude, who asked that he be charged as a juvenile since the events associated with the crime took place while he was seventeen.

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Posted On: February 5, 2009

From Reckless Driving to Forging Public Records

A recent story from the Washington Post illustrates the need for persons charged with crimes to get good legal counsel and work within the system.

On January 11, 2009, the Post reported that Nathan Devine, a Manassas Park resident charged with reckless driving, decided to change his court date so he could raise money for fines. Unfortunately, instead of working within the legal system with the help of his attorney, Devine chose a more direct method.

He called up Maria Merlos, a friend who worked in the Prince William County District Court offices, and asked her to change the court date for him. When the ruse was discovered, Merlos and Devine were each charged with forging public records, and Merlos was also charged with conspiracy to forge public records. All of these offenses are felonies and are far more serious crimes than reckless driving.

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Posted On: February 3, 2009

Maryland Police Program of Surveillance is More Like Spying

A story in the January 4th issue of the Washington Post reveals the unlikely targets of police surveillance—civil rights groups and peace advocates.

In 2005, the Maryland State Police began a program of surveillance as a “threat assessment of protests,” which the police anticipated at the executions of two convicted criminals. According to the Post article, the Maryland State Police initially treated the surveillance as a “low-risk training exercise.” However, the original purpose of the investigation grew blurred as more organizations were targeted by surveillance efforts.

By the time the surveillance activities were curtailed in 2007, the roster of organizations of interest to the Maryland Police included well-known activist groups such as Amnesty International and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Local protest groups—such as the Maryland Campaign to End the Death Penalty and anti-war groups at universities and colleges—were also investigated by the police.

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