Monday, March 9, 2009

Finally, The Law Will Protect You

As I posted last spring, the thought of taking blood, against someone's will, in order to charge them with a DUI is just outrageous. Every day that the courthouses are open defendants are found guilty of, and/or plead guilty to, DUI without any evidence of blood, urine, or drugs.

Still, I am glad to know the judges in Kane County, Illinois have done the right thing.

Prosecutors Scramble After Loosing Their Ability to Leap-frog Over the Law

March 6- Kane County, Illinois

Kane County's next "no-refusal" DUI crackdown may be called off after a judge ruled today that a suspected drunk driver who defied a search warrant to provide a blood sample was not guilty of contempt of court.

Prosecutors had sought jail time on contempt charges against Bradford Stehlik, a Montgomery resident who was arrested Memorial Day weekend in a drunk driving crackdown, the county's first so-called "no refusal weekend."

As part of the crackdown, prosecutors drafted search warrants to be executed on suspected drunk drivers who refused to provide a blood sample. The warrants were taken to an on-call judge to be signed.

Authorities aimed the actions at repeat offenders, who, police say, would rather risk the automatic license suspension that comes with a refusal than provide the potentially incriminating evidence of a blood sample -- and the risk of an mandatory license revocation that comes with a second DUI conviction.

The judge said refusing a search warrant is not the same as refusing a court order, according to Barsanti.

"I don't know what else we'd do," Barsanti said.

In other states that have done "no refusal" actions, police are authorized to take a sample by force. However, Barsanti said he does not believe Illinois law allows force.

I don't know what Illinois statutes that prosecutor is looking at, but there are plenty of penalties just for being charged with a DUI. They include the installation of a BAIID device for a first time offender to be able to drive while the case is pending, and a mandatory suspension that is one year for first-time offenders who refuse to submit to chemical testing, e.g. blood, breath, or urine, and the consequences are far more significant for a second-time offender. I have had clients, second time offenders, who did not submit to chemical testing, or provide blood, breath, or urine, and while I prevailed on their criminal cases, they did not hire me in time to fight their Statutory Summary Suspension (driver's license suspension simply based on the DUI arrest, not a finding of guilty).

Under the old law, I successfully defended one of my clients, who was found not guilty of the criminal charge of DUI; he did not hire me quickly enough, however, and received a 3 year driver's license suspension. Who says that's not a stiff penalty?

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