While it (obvioiusly) happened in Florida, it was apparently a Wisconsin man that was arrested after leading officers on a low-speed chase on the seven mile bridge driving a backhoe. Poorly. 59-year old Carl Blahnik was carrying a Wisconsin ID when he was arrested, but authorities believe he had decamped to Florida, and was homeless in the Keys. Deputies pursued and ultimately arrested him for multiple charges after deploying stop sticks to deflate the tires of the backhoe. And the Monroe County Sheriff was nice enough to post the video online!
He drove around on the bridge for an hour and a half, doing all sorts of damage, and effectively shutting the only roadway to the southern keys. Alas, no DUI charges for the backhoe… no indication from the story why; other than to suggest a bizarre joyride.
Camaro ZL1, photo courtesy Chevrolet.com
No, he didn’t steal the tester… he just drove like he stole it. Patrick George, a writer for car-enthusiast website Jalopnik.com, recently got charged with reckless driving for speeding during his test drive. No doubt, his speed was excessive, but so was the sentence: which entailed three days in jail on a first offense. His eye opening experience led him to write a great first-person account of his brief, yet eye-opening, time in jail: “Never Speed in Virginia: Lessons From My Three Days in Jail“. Go read it now.
Yasiel Puig Arrest
The legal issue that stood out for me was that Virginia automatically considers high speed to be reckless driving, and therefore a criminal offense. In Florida, speed alone cannot constitute reckless driving. That’s why when baseball all-star Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers got pulled over flying across the Alligator Alley a few months back, the state ultimately dropped the charges. That didn’t keep an overzealous Trooper from throwing him in jail instead of issuing a citation in the first place, but that’s an argument for another post. But speed alone can be a crime in Virginia, subjecting drivers to up to a year in jail.
I suspect that not many first time reckless drivers actually end up in jail… frankly I hope not. Not only does it cost taxpayers money, it goes against well established principles of recognizance for first time offenders. Sheesh, make a guy pay a fine or do some community service if you have to: something to benefit the community instead of taxing it. I don’t practice in Virginia, but this reeks of small town justice. The national media writer from DC gets popped in a small town, and they hammer him to teach a lesson. This kind of abuse of power also carries the risk of discriminatory sentencing. Think of the cliche little town with an all-powerful judicial figure; Boss Hogg still lives. I keep thinking of “Nothing But Trouble“, an unfortunate Chevy Chase/Dan Akyroyd vehicle from 1991. And in that movie, Chevy Chase actually fled, in this case, Mr. George was immediately contrite. They say speed kills, but random jailings don’t really work as effective deterrents.
Dane Eagle Mugshot
State Legistlator Dane Eagle pled out to a reduced charge of reckless driving from his DUI arrest in Tallahassee. That’s not an unusual result on this type of first-time offense, that did not have any egregiously bad facts. Tune in to NBC-2 this evening, as they may run some of my comments on the case. Generally, when a DUI is reduced, there are similar sanctions to a DUI charge, just with a different conviction.