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Baltimore Criminal Law Blog

Study looks at alcohol-related fatal crashes around colleges

Alcohol is part of many young people's college experience. It's been estimated that over 60 percent of students in American colleges and universities drink, even though most of them haven't yet reached the legal drinking age.

Unfortunately, for too many college students, the sudden availability of large amounts of alcohol coupled with peer pressure and lack of supervision can be a deadly combination. More than 1,800 college students die every year from alcohol-related injuries.

What is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test?

If you were pulled over for suspected drunk driving and officers administered the standard roadside field sobriety tests, one of them was the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. This may have just seemed like an officer was shining a light in your eyes and asking you to follow their finger. How could that determine whether you were under the influence, and can it be used in court to convict you?

First, it's important to understand what HGN is. It's an involuntary motion of the eyes when they move sideways that increases when a person is under the influence of alcohol and certain drugs. You can't "fake" your way out of an HGN test because you don't know you're doing it.

Report: Government eyeing changes involving campus sex offenses

Not long after Betsy DeVos became Secretary of Education, she implemented changes in the way sexual misconduct, harassment and assault allegations are handled by colleges and universities.

Critics have lamented her relaxation of changes made by the Department of Education (ED) during the Obama administration. Among those was a "preponderance of evidence" standard, which created a lower burden of proof for holding someone responsible for such misconduct.

DUIs can impact your child's future at college and beyond

For many college students, drinking is part of the college experience. As parents, you hope that your kids don't overdo it. However, if they have even a few drinks on an empty stomach and get behind the wheel, they can find themselves under arrest for DUI. If they're not yet 21, they may face underage drinking charges as well.

Upon learning that your son or daughter has been arrested for DUI, you may be relieved that no one got hurt (assuming that no one did). However, a DUI conviction can have serious consequences for their college education and beyond.

Sexual assault on airplanes carries federal penalties

Sexual assault on a commercial airplane is a federal crime that can carry a two-year prison sentence. It's becoming more common -- or at least more commonly reported. In the past four years, there's been a 30 percent increase in the number of cases of sexual assault aboard airplanes under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Just last month, federal prosecutors announced that they had charged two men in two different instances of alleged assault. One alleged incident occurred on a Norwegian Airlines flight traveling from London to the U.S. in January. A woman says she fought off the advances of a fellow passenger for hours. After dozing off, she says she awoke to find him assaulting her. The man reportedly told authorities that he didn't touch the woman.

How cold weather impacts ignition interlock devices

If you're one of the many Marylanders who's going to be driving this winter with an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your car as the result of a DUI or DWI conviction, it's important to know how the cold weather can impact these devices. Two elements of Maryland's often intense winters can impact whether an IID will work -- and consequently, whether you'll be able to operate your vehicle.

Just as your engine will often take a little extra time to warm up in cold weather, so will your IID. That means that you may have to wait a few minutes after you start your car to successfully blow into your IID.

Why parents need to talk to their sons about sexual assault

Many parents who have daughters going off to college this fall have talked to them about steps they can take to help avoid becoming victims of sexual assault and the importance of reporting it if it happens. However, parents of sons need to discuss the subject as well.

A frank discussion about sexual assault may be uncomfortable. However, it can help keep your son from being accused of a crime that could derail his college career and even his professional and personal life well into the future.

Which college students are most likely to be binge drinkers?

If you're a parent who's talked to your college student about the dangers of binge drinking but find that your words have fallen on deaf ears, you're not alone. A study of 300 college students who admitted to consuming at least 34 alcoholic drinks in the past month that was recently published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association had some interesting -- and somewhat disheartening -- findings.

Many students reported that the only way they could stop drinking or even moderate their alcohol consumption to a couple of drinks a day would be to move out of their current environment. Often, this environment was a fraternity house. Binge drinking appeared to be a socially acceptable -- and even expected -- part of their social lives.

Maryland woman had 2 DUI arrests in same day

Often a DUI arrest shakes a person up enough that it's a long time before they get behind the wheel again after even one drink. That wasn't the case for one Maryland woman. She was arrested twice on the same day for DUI.

Her first run-in on Saturday, Aug. 11 with the Maryland State Police (MSP) occurred just after midnight. A trooper reportedly saw the 33-year-old Baltimore City woman pass a vehicle by driving on the shoulder and also speeding near Berk Lane and Route 40.

How to successfully make it through a Labor Day DUI checkpoint

This Labor Day weekend, Maryland drivers shouldn't be surprised if they encounter a DUI checkpoint. These police encounters can make anyone nervous, even if they haven't had anything to drink. Unfortunately, too many people do foolish things in and near these checkpoints out of nervousness and sometimes guilt.

In some jurisdictions, law enforcement agencies announce when and where they'll be setting up checkpoints. Other times, you may learn about checkpoints on social media or from friends. If possible, you may want to avoid these areas. However, don't assume that you know where all of the checkpoints are.