Late Summer Nights and Drowsy Teenage Drivers

Drowsy Teenage Drivers
Photo by: r. nial bradshaw

During the summer, many teens choose to stay up late every night and may even pull all-nighters often which unfortunately increase the amount of drowsy teenage drivers on the road the next day.

Drowsy teenage drivers

The summer had just barely started when an 18 year old in Provo, Utah made the mistake of driving tired. The teen dozed off, left the road, and hit a parked car as well as three pedestrians on the sidewalk. One six year old girl was killed while her five year old cousin and 64 year old grandfather were both hospitalized.

Lifetime of guilt

Photo by: Hartwig HKD

The family of the little girl killed has chosen not to press charges on the 18 year old driver and no criminal charges from the state have been issued thus far. The teen is not off the hook though. He will likely face a lifetime of guilt for his role in the tragic accident. In an act of compassion on his future struggles, the family of the six year old killed asked the public to be kind and loving to the driver as they knew he would be facing his own trials in the months and years to pass.

Public safety

Photo by: Garrett

The Utah Department of Public Safety has listed the following facts about drowsy driving:

• “Drivers aged 15-24 years and 75-79 had the highest percent of drivers in crashes that were drowsy.

• Male drivers were 1.9 times more likely to be in drowsy driver crashes.

• The highest number of drowsy driver crashes occurred during the hours of 6:00 a.m. – 7:59 a.m., and 2:00 p.m – 5:59 p.m.

• June through August had the most drowsy driving crashes.

• Grand and Millard Counties had the highest percent of crashes involving drowsy drivers.

• Crashes in rural counties in Utah were 2.3 times more likely to involve drowsy driving than crashes in urban counties.”

Beware the signs

Photo by: Becka Spence

In an effort to help prevent drowsy driving, DPS also gives warning signs to watch for:

• “Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking or heavy eyelids;
• Daydreaming or wandering thoughts;
• Trouble remembering the last few miles driven;
• Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes;
• Trouble keeping your head up;
• Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip;
• Feeling restless and irritable.”

Parents should encourage their teenage drivers to get adequate shut-eye during the summer when sleep seems to be scarce. For teenagers who are not getting enough sleep, perhaps limiting driving privileges and encouraging carpooling with well rested teens may help prevent a number of drowsy teenage drivers on the road this summer.

Helping a Friend Commit Suicide Results in First-Degree Murder Charges for Utah Teen

A Utah teen is facing first-degree murder charges after he helped a friend commit suicide then left her body hanging from a tree.

Photo by: Utah County Sheriff's Office
Photo by: Utah County Sheriff’s Office

Helping a friend commit suicide

18 year old Tyerell Przybcien from Spanish Fork, Utah was arrested on murder charges and reckless endangerment after he admitted to helping his friend, 16 year old Jchandra Brown commit suicide by hanging herself from a tree in Payson Canyon. Przybcien helped Brown acquire the supplies needed, drove her out near Maple Lake Campground, and then filmed her while she dangled from the rope.

Suicide pact

Photo: Courtesy of Facebook
Photo: Courtesy of Facebook

Pyzybcien told police that he and Brown had a suicide pact but he hadn’t carried out his own suicide after helping her. He admitted to having a fascination with death and was curious to see someone die so he knew whether or not he could go through with it. Weeks prior to Brown’s death, Pyzybcien had texted a friend about the plan and eluded that he was looking forward to the incident. Shortly after Brown’s suicide however, he texted the same friend again, only this time confessing his feelings of guilt.

First-degree murder for watching?

Helping Friend Commit Suicide
Photo: PixGood

Although Pyzybcien played a large part in helping his friend prepare to commit suicide, even going so far as to tie the noose, he didn’t actually force Brown to take her life or even encourage it. He simply went along and did what she had asked him to do. So why then was he charged with first-degree murder? According to Utah Code 76-5-203 from which his charges are based, “Criminal homicide constitutes murder if:

a) The actor intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another;
b) Intending to cause serious bodily injury to another, the actor commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of another;
c) Acting under circumstances evidencing a depraved indifference to human life, the actor knowingly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another and thereby causes the death of another; ( . . . )”

By purchasing the supplies, tying the rope, and not attempting to talk his friend out of killing herself, Pyzybcien could very well be seen as having “depraved indifference to human life” and acting in a way that would be a “grave risk to another”.

Utah suicide prevention

Photo by: Jared Keener
Photo by: Jared Keener

The rate of depression among Utah teenagers is dangerously high. When those depressive moods or feelings of hopelessness lead a teen to consider suicide, those around should be supportive of the teen, not their choice to end their life. For more information on how to talk to teens about depression and suicide, contact the Utah Department of Health. For those who are having thoughts of suicide, contact the Suicide Hotline at #1-800-273-TALK or speak to a responsible adult for support.

Reminding Utah Teenagers of Their Right to Remain Silent

The right to remain silent is not reserved solely for adults, and it may be wise to remind the youth in Utah that they are also granted this same protection.

Right to Remain Silent
Photo by: Craig Sunter

The Fifth Amendment and the right to remain silent

According to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, “No person ( . . . ) shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself ( . . . )”. The U.S. Supreme court realized back in the late sixties that ALL citizens ought to be reminded of their constitutional right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination in the event that they are ever arrested. Thus was the beginning of the Miranda rights or Miranda warning that must be recited to citizens upon an arrest in order for any statements of the arrestee to be used in court.

Intimidation from adults and law enforcement

When a teen is caught in situations where illegal activity is taking place, they may feel intimated when an adult or law enforcement officer confronts them. This pressure to do whatever is asked of them often skyrockets when the Miranda Warning is recited. Unfortunately, this warning meant to protect those facing charges is usually not portrayed in movies and TV as a benefit to those arrested, but instead as the final act before a person is deemed guilty and whisked away in handcuffs. The fear from being in that situation and having their Miranda Rights read to them may result in a teen saying too much and offering information that is self-incriminating. Although youth should be respectful to those who have authority over them such as teachers and police officers, they can be respectful while still protecting their right to remain silent until represented by counsel.

Silent does not mean guilty

Photo by: Martin Cathrae
Photo by: Martin Cathrae

Utah teenagers may be under the impression that if they choose not to speak when asked questions regarding a crime, they may get it trouble or have their silence seen as a sign of guilt. If not speaking entirely is uncomfortable for the youth, they can politely state that their family’s attorney has advised them to exercise their right to remain silent if they are ever accused of a crime. To further reduce the stress of the situation, the teen and their family should be prepared with the contact number of a trusted attorney that can handle juvenile cases. For more information on constitutional rights or how to prepare a teen should in the event that they are ever faced with criminal charges, contact a reputable juvenile defense attorney.

Blended Sentencing for Utah Juveniles

There is a steady debate on whether or not Utah teenagers charged with serious crimes should face juvenile or adult penalties yet the answer isn’t always black and white; this is where blended sentencing comes in to offer another solution.

Adult crimes committed by kids

Blended Sentencing
Photo by: Rae Allen

With the threat of rising violent crimes among Utah juveniles and the desire for public safety, it may seem easy to sentence teenagers as adults and let them spend years to decades behind bars. This only solves a temporary problem of young violent offenders on the streets, yet it will create even greater problems of overly crowded prisons and kids who finish growing and maturing while behind bars with little to no rehabilitation.

Blended Sentencing

Blended sentencing is a way for the juvenile courts and adult courts to work together to give teens charged with serious offenses a chance for redemption while still under the control of the juvenile court. The teens are given a disposition order or sentencing through the juvenile court that can include treatment such as education and counseling following vital mental health and behavioral evaluations and testing while also dealing punishments such as detention, probation, and/or community service. The teens will also have a sentence for their crimes through the adult court that is temporarily taken off the table while they are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts.

Incentive for good behavior

A Second Chance
Photo by: Alyssa L. Miller

After the juvenile disposition or sentencing, teens who respond favorably to treatment and complete their terms in the juvenile system without any problems will not have to face the adult sentence waiting for them. They will finish their time in the juvenile system and be free, reformed adults. If they fail to resolve their criminal behavior and continue to commit other offenses during their juvenile disposition, the adult sentence is then brought back to the table and the teen may face time in adult jail or prison once they are of legal age and no longer in the juvenile system.

Teenagers deserve another chance

The adolescent years are a crucial time of growing and maturing during which most teens are still searching for their own identity while making plans for the future. Their future life as adults should not include incarceration for stupid mistakes they made as kids. Juveniles who are facing serious charges in which they could be charged as adults are encouraged to speak to a juvenile defense attorney about blended sentencing and rehabilitation versus imprisonment.

Theft and Vandalism of Holiday Lawn Decorations

Throughout the last few weeks, there have been reported cases of vandalism as well as an uptick of theft of holiday lawn decorations throughout Utah. Many who are caught end up being juveniles.

No one is laughing…

Vandalism
Photo by: Allessandro Valli

What often starts as a simple prank can end up going too far. Many Utah kids find it humorous to rearrange holiday lawn decorations such as light-up deer into positions that can be seen as sexually-explicit. While the youth may think it is just a joke that can be undone in a matter of seconds, the decorations are often damaged during the prank which can be considered vandalism.

Intentional vandalism

While some instances of vandalism to decorations are non-intentional, other cases are deliberate such as trashing a holiday display or slashing the inflatable Christmas décor. Not only can those responsible face charges for criminal mischief and trespassing, they risk upsetting homeowners who can then become aggressive and dangerous if they catch the vandals in the act.

Theft

Photo by: Eric Kilby
Photo by: Eric Kilby

Beyond the steady amount of vandalism throughout the holidays, the amount of thefts to Christmas décor and lights are growing. A large majority of the items stolen from Utah residents’ yards this year turned out to be the new LED projection lights. These lights are placed a good distance away from homes in order to illuminate as much as the house as possible, yet this puts them in a place that is at the edge of property and easy to steal.

Misdemeanor charges

With so many projection lights being stolen as well as decorations being vandalized, many homeowners are installing cameras to catch the thieves and vandals. Unfortunately, those who are caught frequently end up being juveniles. It is important that Utah youth understand the repercussions that can come from vandalism and theft, and are encouraged to choose other holiday activities that will not result in criminal charges.