Arizona Makes Advances in Finding Missing Elderly with New Silver Alert

Arizona issued its first Silver Alert last month to aid in the recovery of a missing 79-year-old Surprise woman.

Similar to an Amber Alert or a Blue Alert, as of July 2014, Arizona now issues Silver Alerts on Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) emergency-alert message boards around the state to report information on missing persons 65 or older.

Read more on Blue Alerts here.

Arizona issued its first Silver Alert Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2014, for Ethel Crescenzo who went missing on her way to the Talking Stick Casino in Scottsdale.

Crescenzo became disoriented and lost when she left for the casino that morning. She was found by police Sunday night in a West Valley desert area after a man alerted police of a suspicious car in the embankment near his home. Crescenzo was found within four hours of the report, ABC 15 said.

If a missing persons report has been issued by police, and all other resources to find the missing man or woman have been exhausted, The Arizona Republic reports that a Silver Alert may be activated.

The alert will also be issued if the missing person could be in imminent danger due to health concerns or any other pressing issues.

There are 193 ADOT message boards in the state, with 108 located across the Valley. Law requires that the location of the missing person incident will dictate how many signs flash the alert message information. Only the region where the disappearance took place will display the Silver Alert.

Most recent information about a missing elderly person will appear on the boards in hopes of enlisting the help of drivers to find him or her.

Jodi Arias Murder Trial Testimony Delayed

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens tried to close courtroom doors during part of the retrial of Jodi Arias to accommodate a secret witness testimony, but the testimony has been delayed, and the court remains open to the public, court officials said.

The trial is in the penalty phase with a new jury impaneled last month due to a deadlock in May 2013. The original jury determined that Arias was eligible for the death penalty, but no conclusion was made on which punishment she would receive, The Huffington Post said.

Now, the second jury will determine once again whether Arias will face the death penalty.

At the request of the defense attorneys to Arias, Judge Stephens closed the court Thursday, Oct. 30, for a new testimonial from a witness who wished to remain unidentified in this highly publicized case.

The following Monday, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that the public should be allowed to view courtroom testimony during such an important, high-profile case that has garnered attention across the nation, Reuters reports.

As a result of this decision, Stephens is temporarily restricted from taking any further testimony from witnesses while closing doors to the the media and the public.

The Jodi Arias case has been unpredictable from the start, but Stephens taking legal matters into her own hands and causing a media block-out is the latest twist to the story, keeping Arizona, and the rest of the country, on its toes.

Arias, 34, was convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, 30, after he decided to end their relationship. Prosecutors accused her of acting in a jealous rage, but Arias said she acted in self-defense.

Alexander was stabbed more than 30 times, nearly beheaded from a slash to the throat and shot in the forehead. Friends found his body days later in the shower of his Mesa home.

If the new jury deadlocks again, it will be up to a judge to determine whether Arias will be sentenced to life in prison or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years, The Arizona Republic said.

Thanksgiving Weekend the Most Deadly Weekend of the Year, According to Arizona DUI Lawyers Corso Law Group

Thanksgiving weekend outranks New Year’s Eve and Halloween as the most deadly weekend of the year for holiday travelers across the country according to The National Safety Council and DUI arrest data.

For many, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season and a joyous carefree time with family and friends. However, the annual tradition often involves long commutes to visit relatives, celebratory drinking, and extended time off work. What at first glance appears to be a harmless holiday tradition can make for a dangerous combination for everyone.

Arizona DUI attorneys and former prosecutors Christopher Corso want Valley residents to keep safety in mind as they begin to travel this busy holiday season.

“Thanksgiving is an important time for travel, reconnecting with family, and enjoying holiday tradition,” Corso said. “However, few people realize that Thanksgiving is the deadliest holiday of the year when it comes to drunk driving.”

A national study conducted by The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that traffic deaths around Thanksgiving accounted for nearly 15% of all vehicle-related fatalities in November. In 2013, the NSC estimated 436 traffic-related Thanksgiving fatalities occurred through the four day holiday weekend.

Rhude believes many people let their guard down on Thanksgiving, with the day-long festivities encouraging them to not only drink more, but to assume that they haven’t had as much to drink.

“And then, of course, they get in their car and drive home,” Rhude said.

Busy roads in combination with many holiday drinking traditions make these major accidents far more common around the holidays, particularly Thanksgiving eve or “Black Wednesday.”

“Black Wednesday isn’t a day that pops up on most people’s radar, but the mixture of relatives in town, students home from school and no work the following day makes for a busy day on the roads,” Tricia Griffith, claims group president at Progressive, told USA Today.

Unfortunately the dangerous trend doesn’t stop after Thanksgiving weekend, and Corso said drivers should continue to keep these dangers in mind as they travel throughout the holiday season.

During the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, nearly 4,400 people in Arizona were arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in 2013, according to The Arizona Republic. Equating to, on average, more than 730 DUI arrests each week beginning on Thanksgiving Day.

The Arizona Governor’s Office team of officers participating in the holiday crackdown found that of the 4,371 arrests, 1,098 were extreme DUIs, 450 were aggravated DUIs, 934 were drug-related DUIs, and the average blood-alcohol content was 0.15 percent.

Corso Law Group know from experience the DUI problems that arise during the Thanksgiving weekend in Arizona. Both attorneys previously prosecuted DUIs, DWIs and OUIs for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, and have handled more than 15,000 DUI cases as prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Arizona law requires that any person found guilty of drinking and driving (even a first offense) serve jail time. And DUI convictions can also include extensive fines up to $2,500, suspension of driving privileges and the installation of an ignition interlock device – even for first offenders.

“DUI is a serious offense and something that no person should take lightly,” Corso said. “When you’re armed with the facts, the importance of a designated driver if you plan on drinking becomes even more apparent.”

To schedule a free consultation, please visit www.corsolawgroup.com or call (480) 471- 4616. Corso Law Group, PLLC is located at 14500 N. Northsight Blvd., Suite 116 in Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260.

How a DUI Impacts Auto Insurance

A DUI or DWI charge may indicate a high risk of possible accidents, enabling insurance companies to inflate auto-insurance rates tremendously for approximately three years for anyone facing intoxicated or drunk driving charges.

High-risk driving is associated with DUI charges, as driving while impaired is an extremely dangerous situation to the driver and everyone else in the vicinity. People driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.09 percent are 11 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those with a 0.0 BAC, Esurance reports.

That type of high-risk driving is a red flag for insurance companies to exert higher premiums. Having a DUI on their driving history shows greater risk of being involved in or causing an accident.

How much will insurance rates increase with a DUI charge?

Insurance rates depend on a variety of factors including age, gender and driving records. For example, someone with only one DUI charge where no one was injured and no property was damaged, insurance premiums alone – not including the other costs of a DUI like treatment program, court and attorney fees – can increase to $2,700, making insurance hundreds of dollars more expensive each month.

Premiums will remain high for years depending on the state and it’s individual laws. In Arizona and Texas for example, DUI charges affect insurance rates for three years after the date of the incident, Progressive said.

During that three year period, high-risk drivers will most likely not be able to switch insurance policies, qualify to use insurance promotion deals or change companies because of extra fees and added challenges starting the evaluation process once a DUI is on his or her record.

A conservative cost estimate for the total amount of money spent on a DUI charge is just under $9,000. Thousands of dollars, possible injuries, property damage, emotional distress and other threats of a DUI are not worth it, call a cab or designate a driver before getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

No Refusal DUIs Make Headlines in Arizona and Texas During Holidays

Texas and Arizona are two of nine states currently implementing “No-Refusal” initiatives for DUI stops.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sponsors special DUI efforts called “No-Refusal” DUI Weekend Initiatives that enforce blood alcohol content testing for those who are arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Currently, nine states including Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas and Utah conduct.

The “No-Refusal” program is an enforcement strategy that allows police to more easily obtain search warrants for blood samples from suspected impaired drivers who have refused to consent to breath tests, the NHTSA said.

During these “No-Refusal” weekends, officers are allowed to request warrants via phone from on-call judges or magistrates.

This enables law enforcement to legally acquire proper blood samples from drivers who refuse to give a breath sample. During these specified enforcement efforts, prosecutors and judges make themselves available to streamline the warrant acquisition process and help build solid cases that can lead to impaired driving convictions.

Under normal DUI checkpoint and arrests circumstances in general, the driver is taken to a hospital for blood to be drawn if a judge issues a warrant for the test. During “No Refusal” initiatives, a registered nurse is at a jail to draw blood onsite.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticizes “No-Refusal” policies because they violate the driver’s rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Some judges agree, and refuse to participate in these efforts because of legal uncertainties regarding the mass warrant issuing process.

Others say that “No-Refusal” weekends are like any other day for law enforcement.

“That officer has a legal avenue (of seeking a warrant from a judge) that they can take regardless of the ‘No Refusal’ weekend,” Johnny Poulos, director of public affairs for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, said in USA Today about a recently conducted “No-Refusal” initiative.

The chance of being caught driving drunk, arrested and convicted increase when “No-Refusal” checkpoints are taking place, so efforts are often highly publicized. The public is made aware of the consequences, and judges are notified of the initiatives as well because of the increased amount of calls they will receive from officers for warrants.