DETROIT, Feb. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Police Evidence Tampering in High Profile DUI Vehicle Homicide Case Underscores Danger of Unwarranted Public Hysteria Over Drunk Driving Crashes, According to Prominent Detroit Defense Attorney

The acquittal on February 6, 2004 of Peter Nickel, accused of killing his passenger and long-time employee Gary Rowley while driving drunk, has led to allegations by a prominent Detroit defense lawyer that police in the case tampered with evidence in an attempt to obtain a conviction with the blessing of a local prosecutor, and assertions by the automotive forensic scientist hired by the defense attorney that many prosecutions against drunk drivers are based on unjustified hysteria and junk science.

The jury in the suburban Detroit Monroe County Circuit Court (criminal case #03-32971-FH) was aghast when they heard powerful defense attorney Gary M. Wilson accuse the police of switching a defective tire which allegedly blew out causing Nickel's pickup truck to veer off the road, lose control, roll over and strike a telephone pole. Rowley was ejected from the truck with a broken neck and was pinned under the truck's cargo bed. Both Rowley and Nickel were intoxicated when the crash occurred.

Defense attorney Wilson called on Florida-based automotive forensic scientist Sal Fariello to prove that Mr. Nickel was not driving his own truck and that in fact the deceased Mr. Rowley was the driver, with Mr. Nickel riding in the truck's cargo bed. Fariello also showed the jury that a defective roadway contributed to the loss of control, with the blown tire likely being the major cause of the crash.

Wilson's accusation that a sheriff's deputy switched the tire to conceal evidence brought a dramatic turn to the trial, and neither the police nor the prosecuting attorney William P. Nichols offered any explanation as to why the tire was switched after the crash. Said defense attorney Wilson: "This was a witch hunt by an assistant prosecutor presently running for higher public office and a rush to judgment to convict the wrong man. An attempt was made to shred the Constitution and the police and prosecutor should be held accountable. This sort of thing has been happening far too frequently."

According to forensic scientist Fariello, alcohol cannot be proved to be the principal cause of many DUI crashes because many crashes would have occurred anyway even if the driver were sober. Said Fariello: "Convictions are being obtained with junk science and bad laws that presume a person's guilt. In many cases as in this one, scientific analysis proves the person assumed to be driving was not really the driver, and alcohol was not the actual cause of the crash."

Attorney Gary M. Wilson is one of Detroit's leading defense lawyers and is routinely called on by other attorneys to handle difficult cases. Sal Fariello served as a forensic expert in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case and achieved some notoriety in connection with his criticisms of the auto industry in his books "Mugged By Mr. Badwrench" and "The People's Car Book."


WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN, Dec. 23, 2002- Judge convicts on 0.02 blood-alcohol level Driver had three prior convictions, was arrested after drinking one beer
By LISA SINK, [email protected]
Dismissing arguments that state machines are unreliable when testing for low blood-alcohol levels, a judge has convicted a woman of violating the 0.02 limit for certain repeat drunken drivers. During a bench trial, a defense attorney was unable to convince Waukesha County Circuit Judge Patrick Snyder that the state's breath testing machines are unreliable.

As a result, Martha Moquin, 30, of Milwaukee will face a maximum one-year jail term when she is sentenced in January for her conviction of driving with a prohibited alcohol concentration.

Moquin registered a 0.03 blood-alcohol level after she was stopped in December 2001 by Brookfield police on suspicion of making an illegal turn. She told police she had had just one beer an hour earlier, the criminal complaint says.

But under a state law that took effect Jan. 1, 2001, all drivers in Wisconsin who have three or more drunken driving convictions since 1989 cannot drive with a blood-alcohol level above 0.02. That affects about 21,000 motorists, many of whom don't realize they fall under the stricter rules.

That included Moquin, said her attorney, Gregory Rothstein, who noted his client "had no idea that the legal limit is 0.02." He said that she was stopped not for erratic driving but for an improper turn.

"At 0.03, it's hard to say she was acting irresponsibly," Rothstein said. Nonetheless, prosecutors say the intent of the new law is to prevent people with a history of drunken driving from getting behind the wheel after consuming even a small amount of alcohol. State lawmakers picked 0.02 instead of zero as its definition of "absolute sobriety" to avoid arrests of drivers who register trace levels of alcohol from mouthwash or cough medicines.

Motorists now fall under four blood-alcohol categories:

The Legislature is debating whether to lower the 0.10 limit to 0.08 to save millions of dollars in federal money. The government has said states have until Sept. 30, 2003, to adopt the lower level for traffic safety reasons or be penalized with the loss of federal highway construction funds. Rothstein said that whatever limits it sets, the state must ensure that its breath-testing machines are scientifically reliable.

While he said he respected Snyder's decision, Rothstein criticized the state for failing to run tests on its machines at levels between zero and 0.04. At a one-day bench trial before Snyder on Friday, a state chemist who performs maintenance on the Intoximeter EC/IR machines in the Waukesha County area testified that she has never run tests to see if the machine can detect a blood-alcohol level below 0.04.

The chemist also said that once a year she checks to see if the machines can detect a 0.04 level. More frequent tests are done at higher blood-alcohol levels, which led to the state certifying the machine as scientifically reliable in 1999.

"Is there legitimate testing at 0.10? Yes, absolutely," Rothstein said Monday. "If there legitimate testing for 0.08? I don't think so. And no machine has ever been tested to see if it can calibrate at 0.02." Rothstein said that state witnesses testified that the testing at lower levels is not done "because they don't think it's needed and it would be inconvenient

STATE OF GEORGIA, February 2001- In a desperate effort to increase the abysmally low DUI arrest rate being obtained in Georgia’s massive, year long DUI roadblock campaign known as "OPERATION YOU DRINK YOU DRIVE YOU LOSE" THE Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has issued a statewide memo offering prizes and awards to those law enforcement agencies that arrest the most Georgia citizens for DUI during the weekend of February 24-25. The Prizes and Awards are being used as incentives to create a rash of arrests in order to have an impact on debate in the Georgia General Assembly regarding the federal mandate to lower Georgia’s per se BAC level to .08%.

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE, February 2001- More Americans were sentenced to serve time in prison or jail during the Clinton administration than during any past administration. During Clinton’s administration over 673,000 Americans were sent to state and federal prisons and jails. Between 1977 and 1995 the cost of incarcerating people in this country increased 823% while the cost of providing higher education in our country only increased 374%. The question is, how long can we afford to continue making every human activity a crime?

STATE OF TEXAS, September 9, 2000- The Houston Chronicle reports that during the first nine months following the reduction of Texas’ per se BAC level from .10% to .08% DUI arrests in that state increased 14%. Texas troopers made 22,032 arrests from September 1, 1999 through May 2000. The problem is, the increase in the number of Texas citizens being arrested had no noticeable impact on the motor vehicle accident and fatality rate in that state. Just a lot of citizens arrested and criminalized for committing a crime they didn’t really commit.

ANNALS OF INTERNAL MEDICINE, March 2000 -reports the results of a scientific study which compared the effects of over-the-counter sedating antihistamines with alcohol and placebos on driving performance. 40 licensed drivers with seasonal allergic rhinitis were subjected to a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, four-treatment, four-period crossover trial on the Iowa Driving Simulator. The drivers were either given standard recommended doses of allergy remedies, a placebo, or drank alcohol to achieve a BAC level of .10%.

Results: Drivers who registered .10% BAC (way over limits urged by MADD and the NHTSA ) were found to be less impaired than drivers taking first generation antihistamines and only slightly more impaired than drivers taking second generation antihistamines or placebos.

Tens of millions of Americans suffer from seasonal rhinitis and treat themselves with over-the-counter antihistamines. Then they drive motor vehicles without violating the law.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA- May 2000, a Federal Express driver has been suspended without pay for over nine months while awaiting trial on charges that were brought after he was arrested for DUI. The driver, Tauful Piutau is accused of driving a motor vehicle after having drunk KAVA tea at his local church. Police stopped Piutau for, “driving slowly” about 55 mph and (that famous standby of all cowboy cops), “failing to maintain lane”. Mr. Piutau is reported to have failed (duhh!) the standard field sobriety tests. He subsequently was given a urine test which detected no alcohol, drugs or KAVA.. The case is apparently the first time a citizen has been arrested for DUI in California for drinking tea. Prosecutors contend that KAVA tea suppresses the central nervous system and have intentionally dragged the case out for most of a year while trying to build their case against Piutal. Meanwhile Piutal has reportedly lost $20,000.00-$35,000.00 in lost wages during the suspension from his job at Federal Express. Jury trial is scheduled for June 26, 2000. Let us hope that this courageous man is acquitted of all charges and that he sues sues every government official who has participated in this outrage against American Liberties.


WASHINGTON DC, - November 1999,The National Institutes of Health reports that each year 84,000 people are killed in the U.S. as a direct result of medical malpractice. That number is roughly 28 times the number of people who die each year in so-called “alcohol related” motor vehicle accidents where someone in the accident had a BAC of less than 0 .10% . Should we start locking up negligent doctors?

NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, 1999, - During a game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets a commercial appeared on TV that depicted glasses of beer on the left side of the screen and lines of cocaine on the right side of the screen. The announcer stated that underage drinkers are 50% more likely to use cocaine than non-drinkers. Then the MADD name and logo appeared in big red letters across the screen. The commercial implied that alcohol is a gateway "drug" to hard drugs. Not a word was mentioned during the commercial about driving motor vehicles.

GWINNETT COUNTY , GEORGIA- September 1999, The mother of a young man who was killed in a collision with an automobile while riding his bicycle at 2:00 am on a winding road without any lights, bright clothing or a helmet testified as a witness for the defense at the re-trial of the manslaughter/dui case that was brought against the driver of the automobile. The driver of the automobile had been convicted at a previous trial of the case but the conviction had been overturned on appeal because the judge had given improper jury instructions to jurors at the previous trial. The mother of the deceased man stated that she had forgiven the defendant for the loss of her son and that she believed that the defendant had been framed by the prosecution in order to set an example because of pressure from MADD. At the trial, on cross-examination, the mother indicated that the prosecutor had repeatedly lied to her about the facts of the case. The defendant was convicted again before a courtroom full of MADD observers. The judge who presided over the case has been depicted in a local newspaper photographs receiving an award from MADD (for what?) . In january 1999, the Gwinnett County Police Department received an award from MADD for arresting more citizens for DUI than any other jurisdiction in Georgia. Although the State of Georgia still maintains a .10% BAC per se law, Gwinnett County police are aggressively arresting citizens for DUI at BAC levels as low as .06% in non-accident situations. Gwinnett County police vehicles display MADD logo license plates and Gwinnett officers wear MADD medallions on their uniforms.

STANFORD UNIVERSITY- September 1999, A study released by Stanford University’s Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Center has found that people known to have Apnea did as poorly on reaction time tests as did people who were deemed, "too drunk to drive" under California law. Does this call for the founding of a tax exempt political action group called Mothers Against Drowsy Drivers? Or does the study lend further proof that 0.08% BAC per se laws espoused by MADD and the NHTSA are based on a cynical anti-alcohol political agenda that has no public safety benefits? Test yourself. Next time you feel drowsy while driving, think about whether or not it would serve the interests of public safety if you were arrested, had your vehicle towed, charged a $1,000.00 fine, lost your drivers license, sent to a re-education camp and humiliated by having your picture published in the local newspaper. All because you are driving after not having had a good night’s sleep!

CHARLOTTESVILLE- August 1999, A study released by the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center and published in the AMA Journal suggests that if all things were fair and rational, people with Type I diabetes should have their driving privileges restricted due to the fact that sufferers of that type of diabetes are subject to suffering unexpected blackouts or disorientation due to low blood sugar levels. The article did not suggest that diabetics caught driving with low blood sugar levels should have to pay $1,000.00 fines, loose their drivers’ licenses, serve jail time, attend “risk reduction” classes and have their picture published in the newspaper.

LITTLE ROCK- July 1999, The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional in Arkansas for police officers to enter a citizen’s home without a warrant and administer field sobriety tests and arrest a citizen for DUI in his own bedroom. Imagine that!

WASHINGTON- June 1999, Congress’ watchdog agency, the General Accounting Office has issued a review of the validity of a number of studies that were commissioned by the NHTSA in order to support NHTSA policy and propaganda in regards to the latter agency’s attempts to force every state to implement a legal BAC per se standard of 0.08%. The GAO review was highly critical of the studies and implied that a lot of federal taxpayer money has been wasted in preparing the studies. Not to mention the fact that hundreds of thousands of citizens are being arrested under the lower standard which apparently has little or no public safety benefit. The review very diplomatically states that the NHTSA has ”overstated” the effectiveness of lowering the legal BAC standard as a means of avoiding highway traffic accidents and fatalities. The GAO found little statistical evidence to confirm that lowering the permissible blood alcohol concentration to 0.08% significantly reduces alcohol related motor vehicle crashes.

It didn’t require GAO investigators to figure this one out. An intelligent third grader could read the studies in question and determine that there are problems with the data and methodology in most of the NHTSA reports. You may order a copy of the GAO review from the GAO website. Order # GAO/RCED-99-179

ATLANTA- May 1999, The Georgia Supreme Court has handed MADD and NHTSA a major defeat by throwing out Georgia’s DUI/marijuana law. Under that law a person could be arrested and convicted of DUI if, "any measurable amount " of marijuana was detected in the arrested person’s blood or urine. Since tiny amounts of marijuana residue remain in the body for as long as a month, persons who use marijuana were subject to being arrested, convicted, punished and criminalized for DUI, even though they may not have used marijuana for weeks prior to their arrest. In throwing out the DUI/marijuana law, the Court reasoned that since another Georgia law allows persons who legally use marijuana for medical purposes to drive without fear of getting arrested for DUI, the DUI/marijuana law violated the illegal users’ right to Equal Protection under the law. Watch for the Georgia legislature to take action to reinstate this criminally insane and irrational piece of legislation.

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