Early Morning DUIs A Major Concern

Several instances of early morning drinking and driving have many viewers outraged.

The latest involves a 19-year-old, arrested at seven o'clock in the morning.

Investigators say he was passed out behind the wheel at a busy intersection.

19-year-old Joe Bartlett was charged with driving under the influence, creating a danger to himself and others.

"Yes dangerous," La Vista Police Officer Steve Walter said. "Because he was actually starting to proceed through a red traffic signal onto 84th Street, a busy thoroughfare."

On December 20th La Vista Police Sergeant John York pulls over a car driven by 29-year-old Lance Tolstedt.

"The results of the test were almost four times the legal limit, Sgt. York said. "It is a little stunning to hear that high of a number especially this time of the day at 10:36 in the morning."

In August of 2010, 27-year-old Jason Laware is charged with motor vehicle homicide in another case of alleged early morning drunk driving.

Dr. Adam Smith was killed in the crash.

"One of the discussions that i know has been had among the law enforcement community is this idea that somehow this is acceptable. that there is a culture that says that this is okay that getting a DUI is somehow a rite of passage," Sarpy County Deputy Attorney Tricia Freeman said.

Freeman said it's a constant topic of discussion among law enforcement agencies as they search for solutions.

"Part of our discussion at this point has been alright some of these offenders that we're seeing not only do they need to be monitored during that time that they're out such as through pre-trial services but we need to get them in to see a judge sooner and we need to keep things rolling," she said.

Other talk centers around tougher penalties, impounding drivers licenses as part of the bond process and mandatory ignition locks.

"All of those things are tools and maybe there's a combination of all of these things to get us to where we want to be," she said.

"The lesson does not seem to be getting learned," Sgt York said.

Jason Laware will return to court on February 4th.

Lance Tolstedt's first court appearance is January 26th.

As for Joe Bartlett, he's had four alcohol-related incidents since turning 19 last March. Two minor-in-possession charges in Douglas County and two charges of driving under the influence in Sarpy County within a month of each other.

No court date has been set for either of those most recent cases.


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