[UPDATED with Booking Photo:] Memorial Day Weekend DUI Enforcement Countywide

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UPDATE, MAY 31, 6:39 P.M.: The Irvine Police Department this evening released the booking photo at right of Austin Jeffrey Farley, the alleged drunken driver with a past DUI conviction blamed for causing the crash that killed 14-year-old Ashton Sweet.

The Northwood High School freshman cheerleader and three other girls were being driven home from a birthday party by a passenger's father around 1 a.m. Saturday when their E-Class Mercedes was struck on the left side by a pickup truck in the Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard intersection. Farley, 26, was later identified as the truck driver, arrested and held in lieu of $1 million bail.

UPDATE, MAY 31, 3:45 P.M.: Sad but expected news from the Irvine Police Department:

This afternoon, Irvine Police Traffic Investigators were informed by the Orange County Sheriff /Coroner's Office that Ashton Sweet was declared deceased. As previously reported, Ashton's parents had made the determination to allow for organ donation.
. . .
The arrestee in this case, Austin Farley
, remains in-custody pending his arraignment. Farley's bail has been set at one million dollars.

Thumbnail image for Chris-Norby.jpg
UPDATE, MAY 31, 2:37 P.M.: As more grief counselors were dispatched to Northwood High School in Irvine to help students cope with the loss of a 14-year-old to a driver charged with DUI, word comes that an Orange County state legislator crossed party lines to support a Democrat's bill to regulate sobriety checkpoints.

Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) says he voted for AB1389 because checkpoints are "fishing expeditions" for unlicensed drivers.

Norby also complained that cities often make money from the operations by impounding vehicles that often belong to illegal immigrants who can't get licenses and end up stranded.

The legislation introduced by Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa) passed 51-19 on Friday. If it is ultimately signed by the governor, it would confine checkpoints to streets where drunken driving is a problem.

UPDATE, MAY 31, 9:20 A.M.: The countywide effort to keep drunken drivers off the road Memorial Day weekend resulted in at least 45 arrests by 38 law enforcement agencies. That compares with 41 DUI arrests the previous year--and not all 2011 results are in yet.

But all the DUI enforcement in the world did not spare the life of 14-year-old Ashton Sweet of Irvine.

The Northwood High School freshman cheerleader and three other girls were being driven home from a birthday party by one of the passenger's father around 1 a.m. Saturday when the E-Class Mercedes they were in was struck on the left side by a pickup truck in the Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard intersection.

The father, Michael Ghaemi, 48, and the girls in the Mercedes were all injured. The most seriously injured were Sweet, who suffered an irreversible brain injury that had her on life support, and Krista Merassa, 15, who was listed in critical condition.

Informed by doctors that they would be unable to bring Sweet back, her family decided Sunday night to sustain her on a breathing machine so her organs could be evaluated for donation, according to an Irvine Police Department statement.

Sunday morning, police arrested Austin Jeffrey Farley, the 26-year-old driver of the pickup. He was held in lieu of $1 million bail on charges of suspected driving under the influence. In June 2009, Farley pleaded guilty to DUI, battery on a police officer and driving with a suspended license.

A celebration of Sweet's life is scheduled today at Northwood High.

ORIGINAL POST, MAY 27, 7:42 A.M.: The Anaheim Police Department Traffic Bureau is letting you ring in the long holiday weekend--with a sobriety checkpoint on west Ball Road between Gilbert and Magnolia avenues from 8 tonight to 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD)-administered "Avoid the 38" task force from 6 tonight through midnight Monday have DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols running countywide.

"The Avoid the 38 DUI Task Force will have a zero tolerance policy in effect during the enforcement period," Sgt. Mark Daigle of the OCSD Traffic Bureau says in a statement. "If you are caught driving while impaired, you will be arrested and taken to jail. The impact a DUI arrest can have on a driver, as well as their family, is devastating. Think twice before getting behind the wheel and driving impaired."

Besides Anaheim, checkpoints where officers will look for boozehounds behind the wheel and unlicensed drivers will be held tonight in La Habra and Rancho Santa Margarita. Special DUI saturation patrols blanket Anaheim and La Habra tonight as well.

Buena Park holds a DUI checkpoint Saturday night, while Seal Beach runs one Sunday night.

Saturation patrols are also planned over the long weekend in Brea, Buena Park, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Placentia, Santa Ana, the campus of UC Irvine and OCSD contract cities.

The California Highway Patrol will also make a show of force on freeways and county roads within the agency's jurisdiction.

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Man I knew this girl that guy looks like a fuckin looser and he needs to go to prison for life


A correction to Mr Norbys statement, "Norby also complained that cities often make money from the operations by impounding vehicles that often belong to illegal immigrants who can't get licenses and end up stranded." as I understand, The Police Departments & Towing Companies split the profits from sale of seized vehicles NOT the cities.More interesting trivia, a drunk driver may get the vehicle as soon as released from jail paying tow and impound fees of about $200. A person whos vehicle was seized for no license, or no proof of Insurance cannot retrieve the vehicle for 30 days, even if insurance was in effect... about $6000. not right!


fishing expedition or not, im pretty sure that driving without a license is illegal in this state, so the point is moot. its a tragedy that this girl will never get to do any of the things that this irresponsible asshat has gotten to do. 


I am at a loss for words, A Republican actually did something I agree with!


Norby is such a tool.

Casual Observer
Casual Observer

She was so vibrant and young. That horrible ape caricature of a human being that hit them should pay heavily. No regard for the lives of others. The stupid thing was already convicted of a DUI and then goes out and kills this young lady because he had a need for the piss of the gods. SMHR.I.P. Ashton


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Julia Simmons
Julia Simmons

Checkpoints are beatable.  At http://2nd-dui.com you can learn about how checkpoints are beatable.  Getting a DUI is a very serious crime and you will need to speak to an experienced Orange County DUI Attorney about how to fight the consequences of your Orange County DUI charge.  Please see http://dui-attorney-newport-be... for more information.


Be aware of your surroundings, call a friend or a taxi if you have to.


how is it not right? its still illegal to drive without a license or insurance. what happens if THAT guy hits someone. not only is there injuries but now it has to be paid out of pocket or by the other persons insurance? eff that. and ive never seen tow fees under 300.00, which although not a lot, consider the additional court and class fees of a DUI. 

im NOT condoning drinking and driving, but i think its silly to defend OTHER people that break the law. driving without a license and insurance is against the law for a reason. its dangerous and costly in an accident. 


Classy... on one hand, we have a 14-year old girl murdered by a repeat DUI offender. On the other hand, we have a scummy attorney trolling for business telling people how to avoid the consequences of their actions. May you and your company forever be associated with advertising how to unnecessarily  put other people's lives at risk without paying the consequences. And may God have mercy on your souls (if you have them).


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It is not right as it is an Illegal Search and Seizure. even though seriously weakened by the patriot act we still have rights. As I recall under California Penal Code a "Roadblock" can only be set up for an Emergency. The courts have allowed these "Checkpoints" to be set up following court guidelines. one of the guidelines I previously read, (and I am not going to spend an hour researching again) stated such checkpoints are not to be used to check for drivers licenses or other vehicle code violations otherwise they are Roadblocks. However the Police Agencies do make a lot from the sale of impounded vehicles. Recently a family member was arrested for DUI and When I took her to retrieve her vehicle her fees were $230.

Yes, I agree, it IS illegal to drive without a license or insurance, (which is why we pay for uninsured/underinsured coverages) it is also illegal to drive faster than the posted speed limit or to ro;; through a stop sign. I do not say it is wrong to seize the vehicles of offenders when Legally seized, Not for a license check at a DUI Checkpoint. This is ONE reason I believe such checkpoints should be eliminated and Saturation Patrols increased.


Though I intensely loathe people using a comment to advertise, (yea especially Chinese spinoff websites) I do agree the illegal and ineffective roadblocks need to be fought. I do believe in spending that money on saturation patrols which are much more effective. if Irvine had saturation patrols in that area I believe this girls plight would have been different. But then Athropos can not be beaten. Even the worst mass murderers have the right to the best defense possible, (well that money can buy at least). Too bad no cities care enough to invest in a Designated Driver Program, (I tried to get one set up)

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