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Fatal collision may bring additional charges to suspect who fled scene

  • Published in Crime

Montgomery County Police are considering additional charges for a 24-year-old Bethesda man who was arrested for driving under the influence Saturday evening after the man fled on foot from an accident that left a 56-year-old man dead.

Police responded to a vehicular collision Saturday at 11:14 p.m. at the intersection of Rockville Pike and Congressional Lane in Rockville. Mark Steven Andrade, of the 7500 block of Democracy Blvd., was turning left onto Congressional Lane from northbound Rockville Pike when he collided with Ross Stanley Redler, of the 5900 block of Halpine Road. Redler was traveling southbound on Rockville Pike operating a 2014 Tao Tao scooter.

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Rockville officer injured in crash

  • Published in Local

IMG 009A Rockville police officer suffered minor injuries this week after a car accident. PHOTO BY JIM DAVIS  

A Rockville city police officer was released from the hospital with minor injuries after an automobile accident in his cruiser Saturday night.

Duglan Renan Claros Cruz, 22, was charged with driving under the influence after he hit Rockville City Police Officer Seth Creel, who was traveling southbound near the 1000 block of Rockville Pike. Police say Claros Cruz’s while driving his 1997 Honda struck Creel’s cruiser as he was attempting to make a left turn.

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Another reason not to drink and drive

Driving a vehicle after consuming alcohol is not only illegal and very dangerous, but puts the driver at risk of arrest and serious legal consequences. This may include a search of the driver’s vehicle following an arrest, as explained in a recent opinion from Maryland’s highest Court called Taylor v. State.

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Local man charged with killing police officer

  • Published in Crime

 

ROCKVILLE – A local man charged with vehicular manslaughter for killing a local police officer is in jail under a $250,000 bond.

Maryland State’s Attorney John McCarthy announced the indictment of Luis Gustavo Reluzco on Feb. 12 after police charged Reluzco with vehicular manslaughter in the death of Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta.

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Putting the Driver Behind the Wheel

Policelights 1It is all too common for police officers to pull over vehicles they see weaving down the road, to find that the operator of the vehicle is intoxicated. A necessary component of obtaining a conviction for DUI or DWI is putting the operator behind the wheel. What kind of evidence can be used to accomplish that was explored recently by Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in a case called Todd Harding v. State.

 

The Court’s opinion indicates that Baltimore City firefighters responded in the early morning hours to a call indicated that an accident had just happened and there were persons trapped in a vehicle. When they arrived, they found an old pickup truck which had clearly just jumped a curb, gone over a sidewalk and had its front end nudged into some bushes. Smoke was coming from the vehicle and the engine was still running. When they approached, they found Mr. Harding seated partly in the driver’s seat but slumped over onto the bench seat in the truck. They described him as initially unresponsive or sleeping, but he awoke when they touched him.

 

Thereafter, Mr. Harding got out of the truck, and was observed by police staggering up the sidewalk towards his nearby home. An officer testified that he would not admit to driving the vehicle, and his demeanor alternated between laughing and swearing. The officer smelled alcohol on him and arrested him after he refused to perform field sobriety tests, and later refused a breath test for alcohol. A jury ultimately convicted him of driving while under the influence, refusing the breath test, and driving on a suspended license.

 

The sole issue on appeal was whether there was sufficient evidence that he was the driver to take the case to the jury. The Court noted that “drive” for purposes of the DUI statute means “to drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of a vehicle,” and that this can be proven either by direct observation of a witness such as a police officer or by a permitted inference from the facts that the person had driven under the influence. In addition, the Court noted, under current law the fact that the driver refused to take a breath test is admissible evidence and supports finding consciousness of guilt.

 

The opinion goes on to add that the State did not even need evidence of refusal of the test, for the “physical evidence supporting a conclusion that they appellant had been driving the disabled truck was so bounteously sufficient that the permitted inference of the appellant’s consciousness of guilt was completely redundant.” This illustrates that there is more than one way to put the drunk driver behind the wheel. 

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