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.
Jayson Werth, of the Washington Nationals, apparently does not read my blog. If he had read my earlier article, he would have known that Virginia does not take kindly to speeders. If they’ll lock up a car writer on a test drive, you know they will be happy to send a message to a rich ballplayer driving his Porsche 50 miles over: 105 in a 55. It also may not have helped that he told the cop he was “pressing his luck”, according to the officer’s testimony.
Now, I have major reservations about the court’s findings in this case. Apparently the testimony alleged that the cop accelerated to 105 MPH, and that Werth was still pulling away. “Still pulling away” are frequently used by cops to bolster their case when they don’t actually pace someone for an appreciable amount of time. Apparently this all happened within six tenths of a mile. It’s strains credulity that the cop gunned it up to 105, and that Werth was still pulling away, yet still saw the officer’s lights and pulled over, in that short of a period of time. Theoretically possible, but I doubt the cop was also driving a Porsche. Werth admitted going way to fast, but testified he could’ve been doing 90, but not much more.
That kind of speed is considered reckless driving in Virginia, and it’s not unusual for judges there to give out jail time for first time offenders. Werth was sentenced to 10 days in jail, with another 170 suspended. He will probably serve only 5 days, and only if he is unsuccessful on his appeal. It’s not a good idea to speed anywhere, but for the love of dog, don’t speed in Virginia!
Bengals Defensive Lineman Sam Montgomery was arrested a couple months back in South Carolina; his only offense speeding. As we’ve discussed before on Crimcourts, that’s not enough for a criminal charge in Florida, as when Dodger Yasiel Puig was arrested for high speed on Alligator Alley. However, speeding alone can bring a reckless driving charge in Virginia, and that will land you in a jail for a few days, if you get popped in a town that’s far enough away from civilization. Apparently, arrest for speed is within an officer’s discretion in South Carolina… and that’s not what got the trooper in hot water.
Sam Montgomery Arrest Video
The trooper ended up losing his job for unprofessionalism. The video is jarring. He asked Montgomery if he was military, and when Montgomery responded that he was in the NFL. As soon as Madison told him that he played football, he put him under arrest, apparently the fact that he plays in the NFL made him more arrestable. It actually goes down from there, as the trooper pulls out his taser and threatens to use it on Montgomery. Montgomery, to his credit, is nothing but polite with the trooper.
I don’t think Montgomery got arrested for being in the NFL; I think the cop just had a personal policy for arresting people, as he says, “25 over, you get arrested.” I don’t think he needed to threaten a Taser: Madison was as compliant as anyone I’ve ever seen stopped. And while the officer has the discretion to arrest, it should only be reserved for special circumstances, not mere speed (perhaps extreme speed, or someone who doesn’t have their license or ID on them). An arrest escalates the tension of the encounter. It is substantially more taxing on resources, as it involves jail personnel, booking, and it takes the trooper off of his patrol probably at least a few hours each arrest. All over a $300 ticket. It’s not necessary to arrest someone for a misdemeanor more of the time, much less for a simple ticket.
Also, I’m biased. I’m a Bengals fan… though Montgomery is not projected to end up making the team.
The State Attorney’s Office in Collier County has announced they are not proceeding on the criminal Reckless Driving Charge. He still faces a speeding ticket, which is a civil infraction, for allegedly going 110 in a 70 mph zone on the Alligator Alley. Crimcourts previously declared that charges would not hold up in court, as the state must prove more than speeding to show the willful and wanton element of reckless driving. There is a link to the video of the incident on our earlier post.
LA Dodger star Yasiel Puig was arrested in Collier county a few weeks ago, and media outlets have obtained the dash cam video from his stop and arrest. As we pointed out on Crimcourts before seeing the video, unless there was something else reckless about the driving pattern, it is not sufficient to legally establish reckless driving. It’s been settled under Florida law since 1953 that speed is not enough, but that doesn’t stop an uninformed trooper from throwing a guy in jail. Florida specifically has a statute for especially high speeds, enhancements at 30 over and 50 over, but these are civil infractions. Ironically, the fine is HIGHER for those excessive speeds than for reckless driving, but they are not criminal offenses.
Ironically, the trooper is probably feeling proud of himself, as Puig’s companions cry for him in the car. You really feel for them when you know that the trooper is breaking the law. #badcops
For those who are interested in the law, see Miller v. State, 636 So.2d 144 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994)
Full video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0287_valJU#t=261