Online DUI Education Can Help Save Lives

This is the fourth in our week-long blog series here at looking at the horrific possible consequences of drinking and driving. Each day we are looking at a different incident where someone lost their life because another person chose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. This incident took place in El Cajon, California.

Mario Alberto Carranza was allegedly drunk when he lost control of his car, sending it off the freeway and killing two passengers. He hopes to get away with it. Carranza, whose arm was in a sling as he made his court appearance via video, was ordered held on $1 million bail, pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges. As reported in

The 26-year-old Carranza was driving on the interstate at 7:30 a.m. when his vehicle drifted into the center divider. He then overcorrected, and the car smashed through a chain-link fence before ending up in a concrete culvert. That sounds like a drunken driver or one who had fallen asleep.

Carranza obviously is seriously guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol as the San Diego resident’s blood-alcohol level was measured above .30 -- nearly four times higher than the legal limit.

Two passengers, Monica Lupercio and Carlos Vargas, both 20 years old, were killed and Carranza was seriously injured.

Carranza has a history of DUI behavior having been convicted back in 2007. He now faces 30 years to life in state prison if convicted of two counts each of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing injury, along with one count of possession of cocaine.

Again we see that drinking and driving are a deadly combination. Why do people think that they are safe in their huge chunk of metal? I’ll tell you why – because alcohol makes people believe do stupid things.

Another Life Lost to a Multiple DUI Offender

As we finish up Alcohol Awareness Month (April, 2014) we here at are seeking to highlight the need to stay out of the car if you have been drinking. Each day we are highlighting yet another fatal incident involving the combination of drinking and driving.

The family of Ben Woodruff knew Thursday morning would be the plea hearing for Scott Spangler, the man who caused the fatal 2013 head on collision, killing the father of two. As reported in

"I want to make it clear that I do not hate this man -- although I hate what he did," Joy Woodruff, his sister, said sobbing at Spangler, shortly after he pled guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault. The Sevierville man's license was already revoked, after he had five prior DUIs.

"There will never be justice, because you can't bring Ben back," his mother said.

The family is not only upset for what happened to Ben, and his 8-year-old son, Ethan, who's still undergoing constant rehabilitation, but because of his sentence: 20 years in jail, with parole eligibility after serving 30-percent, or six years.

"There's no opportunity to adjust that in any way right now that gives the judge the ability to say 'no.' Six years is not enough," Woodruff's widow, Beth, added.

In August 2013, 50-year-old Spangler drove is car on John Sevier Highway, crossed the center line, and struck the Woodruffs' car. The Woodruffs' car ricocheted toward a third vehicle, critically injuring two other people.

Prosecuting attorney Sarah Keith said Spangler was found urinating on the road and there was drug paraphernalia in his car. He'd been high on crack cocaine and Xanax.

"Are you entering this agreement voluntarily today?" Judge Steven Sword asked Spangler.

"Yes," he responded.

Family Wants Change

After learning of Spangler's parole eligibility, the Woodruffs say 30-percent of the sentence it's not enough.

"There's no opportunity to adjust that in any way right now that gives the judge the ability to say 'no'," Beth Woodruff said. "Six years is not enough."

Even though Spangler had 5 prior DUIs, they're not on the same punishment scale as aggravated vehicular homicide. That means he's eligible for parole after serving that minimum 30-percent of the sentence.

That means, with time already served, his first parole hearing is in 2019.

The family is working with attorney Darren Berg to change the guideline, through new proposed legislation.

"We want to give the option for the trial judge to be able to determine what the release eligibility date would be," Berg said.

It could be introduced next general session that would give that parole determination up to judge.

After five DUIs, and Spangler's already revoked license, the family wants to make sure he learns his lesson.

Avoid Tragedy by Learning the Dangers of DUI

As we are currently finishing up Alcohol Awareness Month, we here at are attempting to reiterate the extreme danger associated with driving under the influence of alcohol – most notably – that it kills!

They say everyone deserves a second chance. Does this include those who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI)? As reported in

A repeat drunken driver fled a California Highway Patrol officer while racing, before eventually crashing in Oceanside and killing his brother-in-law.

The driver was 23-year-old Jorge Luis Lopez, who also admitted to charges of drunken driving with injury, reckless evasion causing injury, participating in a speed contest causing death, assault with a deadly weapon and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.

Now the 23-year-old will be in prison until well-after his 40th birthday. His brother in-law, Marco Gutierrez, 21, of Oceanside, died at the scene of the wreck, and did not live to see another birthday!

Lopez was speeding in a 1991 Honda Civic– apparently racing the other motorist – when an officer spotted him on shortly before 1 a.m. back in November, 2012 in Oceanside, California.

The other driver slowed down, but Lopez refused to yield and fled at speeds up to about 100 mph, soon merging onto Interstate 5.

Yet another tragedy where alcohol and an automobile are involved. Alcohol makes us do dumb things. How can we wire our brains to keep us from getting behind the wheel after drinking?

DUI Prevention Too Late for Cop who Killed Someone Driving Drunk

Could taking a simple 8-hour online alcohol class have saved a couple of lives and not completely ruined the life and career of a police officer? Unfortunately we will never know the answer to that question.

A former North Chicago police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison for causing a fatal crash while driving drunk the wrong way. As reported in

To his credit Terrell Garrett pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated DUI and the judge imposed the 10-year prison term as a part of a plea deal between defense lawyers and prosecutors.

Two friends, Joaquin Garcia, 25, and Fabian Torres, 27, were killed in the crash.

Garrett was driving his SUV north in the southbound lanes by Belmont Harbor when he slammed into a Jeep containing Torres and Garcia as well as a car driven by Eve Yeaton, fracturing her wrist in three places and leaving her with a concussion and chronic pain in her shoulders, back and legs. Garrett shattered his hip and fractured a leg.

Prosecutors charged Garrett with six counts of aggravated DUI and two counts of reckless homicide, saying he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.184.

The consequences are almost never considered.

The family will never be able to celebrate a birthday, Father's Day, Mother's Day, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas with Garcia or Torres again. They will never be able to go to the beach together, have dinner together or talk about new phones together.

Eve Yeaton, who was in a third car driving to work and was badly injured, struggled to the front of the courtroom. She said she continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, but she forgave Garrett, who wept as he listened from the defense table.

When it came his turn to talk, Garrett hesitated for a long time as he appeared to be trying to keep his composure. He said if he could he would trade places with Garcia and Torres.

Again, if he had to do it over again he never would have gotten behind the wheel. Would an alcohol class have kept him from making that fatal mistake? Again, we will never know.

10 Hour Alcohol Awareness Class May Have Saved Army Career

Sometimes a simple action can change your life. This is a simple truth of being a citizen of the planet Earth. Each decision we make has the potential to impact our lives on ways we never imagine. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that deciding to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol can have a life-changing impact.

If you do not believe me, just ask Lisa Maldonado. She has first-hand knowledge of how driving under the influence of alcohol can permanently affect a life. To her credit, she is acting to try and influence teenagers so it does not happen to them. Most recently she spoke to a group of high school students. As reported in

A county sheriff's deputy stood by and an audience of hundreds of teenagers watched Maldonado be sentenced for drinking and driving and witnessed her goal of joining the military slip away.

"Don't drink and drive" is a message drilled into teens over and over, but in an effort to make it stick, local attorneys a Superior Court judge decided to take the court to schools and conduct DUI hearings in the county Superior Court system's "Choices and Consequences" program.

What might have appeared to be staged was a genuine court hearing set up at Linden High School.

The 20-year-old Maldonado agreed to have her case unfold in front of students in hopes they heed her warning.

Maldonado was looking forward to becoming part of the U.S. Army before she made a crucial mistake one night that changed her future. After drinking with friends, she got hungry in the middle of the night and decided to drive to McDonald's intoxicated.

The high schoolers fixed their eyes on Maldonado as a deputy handcuffed her and escorted her out of the building after the sentencing.

She was sentenced her to three years' probation and one day in jail and ordered her to pay a $2,825 fine.

I think this a strong program and should be implemented more often in high schools across the country. I have long espoused the need for mandatory alcohol awareness classes. The alcohol classes, combined with real life experiences like Maldonado’s, may not only save futures but lives.

Could Alcohol Course Have Saved a Teen’s Life?

If you are a reader of the daily blog here at you are subjected to constant reminders to the dangers of drinking and driving. Every day, hundreds of people lose their lives because someone chose to get behind the wheel intoxicated.

Following is yet another example of why I encourage everyone to take an alcohol class and never get behind the wheel of a car if they have been drinking. As reported in

This story involves a man who fatally struck a high school girl on her 17th birthday in San Francisco. She lost her life. He will spend the next six months behind bars. Many lives will never be the same.

The driver was 29-year-old Kieren Brewer. The San Francisco native killed 17-year-old Hanren Chang, a junior at San Francisco's Lowell High School.

Hanren was struck while crossing a street around 11 p.m. after celebrating her birthday that day.

Brewer pleaded guilty to three felony charges of vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing injury.

In addition to jail time, Brewer was sentenced to five years' probation and six months under home detention with an ankle monitor as well as being forced to undergo a nine-month DUI program, serve 300 hours of community service and pay thousands of dollars in court and restitution fees.

To his credit, Brewer was quite contrite, but that will never bring back the beautiful 17-year-old life that was so tragically taken. Could an alcohol class have saved a life? The answer to this question cannot be answered. I am hopeful Brewer will not only decide to remain sober for life, but dedicate part of his life to helping others not become victims to horrors of drinking and driving.

Teenagers Need Mandatory 8 Hour Online Alcohol Classes

Perhaps I am overly sensitive to the topic because I am the educational director for an online alcohol class, but the rate of teens drinking and driving is downright terrifying.

Do you have a teenage child? If so, you should be concerned about drinking and driving. How about this – if you are naïve enough to believe your teen is immune to the perils of drinking and driving ask yourself a pair of questions. First, did you ever drink and drive as a teenager? Did you know anyone who drank and drove in high school? I am certain the answer to at least one of those questions will be a definitive yes! As reported in

Here are some frightening statistics.

This one is not a huge surprise. In 2006, the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was 36% versus 9% or four times higher at night than during the day.

How surprising is this? In 2007, 64% of young drivers in passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes who had been drinking were not wearing a seat belt. Obviously, drunken drivers are less likely to use restraints.

In 2008, an estimated 12.4% of persons ages 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once during the last 12 months.

In 2009, 16- to 20-year-old age drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher were involved in 19 percent of all fatal crashes.

In 2010, Statistics suggest that an underage male with BAC levels of 0.05 percent is 18 times more vulnerable to crash his vehicle than an underage male who hasn’t consumed alcohol. In underage females, this vulnerability increases to 54 times over her non-drinking counterpart.

In 2011, 10.3 percent of high school students 16 and older reported drinking and driving in the past 30 days.

You know from personal experience and knowledge that drinking and driving is hazardous. Please, I encourage all of you to take a good online alcohol class with your teenager. If you don’t have a teenager, take an online alcohol class yourself.

People in Dire Need of DUI Prevention

We all know people who drink and drive. The sad fact is there are thousands of impaired drivers on the roads all around us every single day. It is no wonder there are not many more traffic fatalities caused by drinking and driving

Think about your friends and family? How many do you know that drink and drive? Odds are, if you are reading the blog, you know more than one. Perhaps you drink and drive on occasion – perhaps even more than just occasionally. As reported in

Please note, neither you, nor your family or friends, are immune from this coming back to bite you. It will happen. Please stop this behavior it could cost you or someone else the rest of a possible happy lifetime.

Here is a story about a person who will kill someone if they do not stop their DUI behavior. There is no doubt no doubt he needs more than just an educational alcohol and DUI prevention class. Of course, as the educational director for an online alcohol class I try to keep up with driving under the influence (DUI) stories around the world.

A Florida man stopped for DUI had a unique excuse, telling police he was trying to "drive it off."

Michael Moore, 61, told police he had left his home after an argument with his wife, during which she accused him of drinking too much.

He said he had been driving to a bar to get some more drinks and "drive it off," according to an arrest affidavit. Real smart, right? I hope Moore takes a good alcohol class and makes smarter decisions in the future.

Could DUI Education have Helped this Serial Drunk Driver?

Recently at the blog we looked at a serial offender of driving under the influence (DUI of alcohol who had been arrested 19 times. It has been estimated that for each time caught, a DUI offender has driven while intoxicated 400 times. That means that 68-year-old offender drove in a drunken state almost 8,000 times.

Here is another story of a senior citizen that drives intoxicated quite often and refuses to stay off the road. Jacqueline Luzzani is a serious danger to both herself and the public. The 58-year-old sat in court and could only sit and listen as the judge listed off her long list of drunken driving offenses which include driving under the influence, hit-and-run unattended, driving under the influence and negligent driving. As reported in

This time she was pulled over by a Washington state trooper for not wearing her seatbelt. When the officer approached her window she said “I'm going to tell you right now, I'm drunker than a skunk."

Luzzani’s condition was easy to verify as her speech was slurred, her eyes were bloodshot and she reeked of alcohol.

Her driving record showed four prior DUI charges and another six DUI cases still pending.

Luzzani was supposed to have an ignition interlock device, which is like a Breathalyzer for a car. It won’t start if the driver has been drinking. This was the third time she was caught in a car without one.

According to state law, a DUI is a felony is someone is convicted of four in 10 years. It looks like that in addition to alcohol classes she is going to spend some time behind bars.

Obviously she has serious addiction issues where alcohol is concerned. I mean how many times are you going to roll the dice and hope a pedestrian doesn't walk out in front of you, or you don't take out someone in a crosswalk before seeking help for your alcohol problem?

Hit a Cop Car in Drunken State, Take a Level 3 Alcohol Course

The scary part of people driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is that they usually do not get caught. It has been estimated that for every DUI arrest, a driver has operated his vehicle 400 times under the influence.

One sure-fire way to get caught is to run into a police cruiser! As reported in

A man who police say has a history of DUI arrests was taken into custody after he smashed into a police officer's patrol car. Of course the incident occurred in the middle of the night- about 2 a.m.

The police officer had just pulled over to help another driver when he looked in his side mirror and saw a pickup truck in his lane was about to hit him. The truck smashed into the driver's side of the police vehicle, causing extensive damage to the door and front end, and kept driving.

The officer was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for a shoulder injury and later released. Terril James Reeves then tried to flee, but his truck broke down about a mile later. The driver tried to get out and run but was arrested a short time later.

The arresting officer detected a strong odor of alcohol on the driver's breath, and Reeves also failed field sobriety tests. He was arrested for investigation of DUI, leaving the scene of an injury accident, and driving with no insurance and on revoked registration.

This is not his first run-in with the law. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to DUI in Salt Lake Justice Court, and in 2007, Reeves was convicted in West Valley City Justice Court of failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

There is no doubt Reeves is in dire need of alcohol treatment. The first intervention could be a 24 hour online alcohol class and some counseling.