Posted March 12, 2012

BARRINGTON — Barrington Police Chief John LaCross remembers the night a drunk driver nearly slammed straight into his car.

It was a few years ago at about 8:30 p.m. and the chief was driving south on County Road. Also inside the car were the chief’s wife and their daughter. They were passing by the Prince’s Hill shopping plaza when a northbound car swerved over the double-yellow lines and rolled directly toward Chief LaCross and his family.

“I laid on the horn,” said the chief. “He was coming right at us.”

Startled by the blaring horn, the other driver swerved back into the northbound lane and then continued into the curb. He motored down County Road while the chief called the department and alerted officers to the other vehicle. A short while later, police charged that motorist with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The police department regularly makes DUI arrests in Barrington but 2011 saw a significant increase — an 89 percent increase. Barrington police made 28 drunk driving arrests in 2010 and 50 in 2011.

Chief LaCross credited the vigilance of his officers for the increased arrest rate. He said two of the department’s younger patrolmen — Officers Walter Larson and Josh Melo — have been very proactive during their late-night shifts.

“Some of it is observation. Some of the newer guys have the training fresh in their minds,” Chief LaCross said, adding that Officer Melo recently completed training as a drug recognition expert.

The Barrington Police Department has also benefited from grant money for increased drunk driving patrols and from coordinated efforts with the Rhode Island State Police and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The trend of increased DUI arrests in Barrington appears to be continuing into 2012. In a typical week in early February, local police made two drunk driving arrests, and during the first weekend in March officers charged another three people with DUI. Those arrests included two individuals from outside of Barrington.

Chief LaCross said most of the arrests are made after stops for speeding motorists or following car accidents.

Conviction rate

Making a DUI arrest is only part of the process for local police; following through with a conviction in court after the arrest is crucial also, said the chief.

“The large majority (of people stopped and later charged with DUI) do not blow into the breathalyzer. You have to base your case on observation,” Chief LaCross said.

“We double-charge (with refusal to submit to a chemical test) like most departments in this state. If they plead out, the other charge is dropped, usually.”

That approach, he said, has led to a 96 percent conviction rate — the suspect is either convicted in district court on the DUI charge or in traffic court on the refusal to submit charge.

Chief LaCross said the “deck is stacked against” local police throughout the drunk driving arrest process.

“It can get frustrating for officers, but at least they’re pulling a drunk driver off the road that night,” he said.

“If you can stop somebody, you don’t know if you just saved a life.”

Three more DUI arrests last week

• At approximately 7:57 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, police were notified of a possibly intoxicated driver traveling south on Wampanoag Trail. Poice caught up with the vehicle, reportedly a green Dodge Ram pick-up truck, on Lincoln Avenue. The vehicle was reportedly observed crossing over the fog line while making a left turn onto Washington Road before making another wide right on Alfred Drowne Road. The driver, identified as Robert W. Collington, 56, of 166 Main St., Cranston, reportedly told police he was going to see his girlfriend on Third Street. He allegedly had slurred speech and said he had consumed a couple of beers. Mr. Collington reportedly consented to a breathalyzer, registering a .176 percent and .188 percent, both more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs first offense .15 or greater.

• At approximately 6:26 p.m. on Friday, March 9, police received a report of an erratic operator driving a white Ford Explorer on Wampanoag Trail. Police stopped the vehicle on County Road near the Barrington Early Learning Center. The driver of the vehicle, Layne C. Savage, 31, of 49 St. Elizabeth St., Apt. 2, Bristol, allegedly had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Ms. Savage reportedly did not perform field sobriety tests or take a breathalyzer. Police reportedly found partially empty wine containers in the vehicle along with partially empty liquor containers. She was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs-first offense, refusal to submit to a chemical test and driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

• Police working a radar post reportedly pulled over a black Honda driven by Timothy E. Smith, 34, of 42 Market St., first floor, Warren, at the intersection of Wampanoag Trail and Primrose Hill Road at about 3:29 a.m. on Sunday, March 11. Mr. Smith allegedly had bloodshot eyes and opened the vehicle’s door instead of its windows when approached by police. A strong smell of alcohol was reportedly detected coming from the vehicle and Mr. Smith allegedly told police he was coming from a bar in Providence and had consumed five beers. He reportedly failed field sobriety tests and was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol-second offense within five years, driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, laned roadway violations and refusal to submit to a chemical test-second offense.


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Posted on 3/12/12

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Rhode Island state police say traffic enforcement efforts from the weekend resulted in multiple arrests and citations.

Col. Steven O’Donnell said Monday that 13 people were charged with driving while intoxicated. He also says 607 traffic tickets were issued, including 126 citations for seatbelt violations.

O’Donnell says the arrests and citations took place between Friday and Sunday. He says motorists should not drive while impaired or intoxicated and that drivers and passengers must wear seatbelts.

Police are asking the public to report dangerous drivers or hazardous road conditions to authorities by dialing 911 or (asterisk)77 on a cell phone.

Full article link:


Posted on 3/2/12

Rhode Island lawmakers are considering tough new drunken driving legislation.

There are two bills at the State House intended to prevent drunken driving deaths.

One would require a bail commissioner, judge or magistrate of the Traffic Tribunal, or a District Court judge to immediately suspend a person’s license once charged with driving under the influence.

The second would allow a bail commissioner to suspend a person’s license immediately if he or she is suspected of driving drunk and refuses a chemical test.

If this were to become law it wouldn’t necessarily take a conviction or a finding to take away someone’s license for suspected drunken driving.

Both bills are scheduled for hearings and possible consideration in front of the House Judiciary Committee on March 7.

Full article and video found at:

While representing a client charged in Massachusetts,  Attorney Murphy appeared and made a bail argument in open court based on the facts of the case, the explanation of the defendant’s criminal record and current circumstances, was successful in reducing bail.

A client of the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy was charged with domestic assault.  During representation, the charges dismissed by the State.

Attorney Murphy represented a client charged with Driving under the Influence.  The DUI charge will be dismissed upon completion of a program for armed service/military members.

If you need assistance or would like a free consultation with Attorney Stefanie A. Murphy, please call 401-316-9423 or email at

For more information on the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy, please visit our website at

Attorney Murphy, represented a client charged with reckless driving and eluding by a local police department.  After several conferences and conversations with police and the prosecutor, the charges were dismissed upon completion of community service.

The Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy represented a defendant served with a temporary restraining order.   After the court date, the restraining order was dismissed.

Client charged with Driving Under the Influence with blood alcohol level of .10 to .15.  After review of discovery, Attorney Murphy found a huge error in the discovery which led to dismissal of the charge of driving under the influence and an admission by the State that client was wrongly charged with driving under the influence.

Client charged with domestic assault and disorderly conduct by local police department after an eyewitness account of an alleged struggle.  Attorney Murphy reviewed discovery and had several pre-trial conferences.  Attorney Murphy set matter down for trial and the charges were dismissed on day one of trial due to the town being unable to prosecute her client.  Charges were dismissed and expunged.

Client of the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy was charged with an assault and disorderly conduct by local police department.  The charges were dismissed after pre-trial conference because the prosecution was unable to prosecute.

Client charged with domestic assault and disorderly conduct in Washington County.  After many telephone conversations and pre-trial conferences, prosecution and Attorney Murphy agreed that the charges would be dismissed after completion of community service and counseling.  All charges were dismissed.

If you need assistance or would like a free consultation with Attorney Stefanie A. Murphy, please call 401-316-9423 or email at

For more information on the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy, please visit our website at

Client charged by a city police department with Driving Under the Influence and Refusal to take Breathalyzer test and facing a three to twelve month loss of license.   The Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy successfully resolved the charges with an amendment to and only a thirty day loss of license.

Client of Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy turned to Attorney Murphy for representation at a domestic protection for abuse hearing against a person stalking the client.  After a full hearing with evidence presented by both sides, the permanent order of protection was granted.

If you need assistance or would like a free consultation with Attorney Stefanie A. Murphy, please call 401-316-9423 or email at

For more information on the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy, please visit our website at


Posted 2/26/2012

Teens using tampons to get drunk

There is a warning to parents about what could be a trend in underage drinking that is making waves on the Internet and among some teens in southern New England.

Some teens are actually inserting vodka-soaked tampons, in order to get drunk.

“The few cases that we have seen here are young females that have been soaking tampons in vodka or another alcohol in an attempt to get intoxicated,” said Christopher Zabbo, an emergency medicine physician at Kent Hospital.

NBC 10 tested to see how much liquid one super tampon soaked up. Each tampon soaked up about the equivalent of two shots of vodka.

Physicians say the danger is in the amount of alcohol absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

“As the alcohol seeps out of the tampon they get much higher levels into their bloodstream than they would by physically consuming that amount,” Zabbo said.

Zabbo has seen the dangers first hand. He has treated some cases of severe intoxication due to vodka-soaked tampons at Kent Hospital.

“The rate that we’ve been seeing it is increasing our concern and our desire to monitor this and look for this,” he said.

And the drinking practice can cause some serious damage.

“We’ve had problems with vaginal bleeding and chemical contact dermatitis,” Zabbo said.

Zabbo said many of the teens using this method range from the ages of 15 to 17 years old. He says most of the teens use vodka-soaked tampons to avoid actually smelling like alcohol.

“It’s still detectable in their bloodstream and on a breathalyzer, even though they are getting the alcohol through the tampons,” he said.

“This behavior is a public health concern,” said Gabrielle Abbate of Rhode Island Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Abbate said the vodka-soaked tampon method is unfortunately gaining popularity thanks to word of mouth and social media. NBC 10 found many videos about the subject were posted on YouTube and other viral sites.

In one video found on YouTube, a teen is instructing others saying, “You guys can get drunk without drinking liquor. Here’s what you do. You take a tampon and soak it in the liquor, whatever liquor it be and then you put it in your vagina and then you get drunk.”

Abbate said it is not just girls abusing the trend.

“Young men at the college level are doing it through the anus,” she said.

And it’s not just vodka soaked tampons making the rounds.

“We have heard of kids getting drunk off of, they soak up Gummi Bears, Gummi Worms and nobody knows it,” Abate said.

NBC 10 approached a group of teenagers to discuss the issue.

“I thought it was gross. I can’t even imagine doing that. It’s so dangerous,” said 17-year-old Jackie Miceh.

URI student Matt Checrallah said he would advise teens who were thinking about doing this to “get a better central focus in your life.”

“If you don’t have something important in your life, something to pour in your efforts toward whether its sports or music or even your friends, and developing those relationships, I think that’s where you get lost and you fall by the way side and you don’t mind spending your time trying to figure out how to do something crazy like this,” he said.

So what can parents do to stop this disturbing trend?

“Parents need to deliver a clear message that drinking is not okay. Parents have a very influential role in terms of the perception of alcohol use,” substance abuse expert Rebecca Boss said.

“Parents need to warn their teens that this is not a way to drink alcohol that is safer than orally, in fact this can be potentially disastrous,” Zabbo said.