Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Illinois Senate Has Snatched Decision Making Authority Away from Judges

 Your Illinois legislators have decided the judges cannot be trusted to make lawful decisions from the bench.  As I indicated here and here and here  many don't think the Illinois judiciary should be followed.  Now the Illinois legislators apparently do not think judges are capable of making decisions that follow Illinois statutes.

 Court supervision for driving under the influence would surely be a one-time-only affair, if legislation from the Illinois House becomes law.

House Bill 1116 amends the Unified Code of Corrections, 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1, to clarify that individuals charged with violating section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, 625 ILCS 5/, could only receive court supervision once for that offense.

Rep. James B. Durkin, a Republican from Lisle, sponsored the bill, saying the current law allows supervision for DUI conviction only once, but was unclear on the matter. According to Durkin, the current law allows two supervisions per year for violations of the Vehicle Code, but has been misinterpreted to include two DUI violations.

''There have been different interpretations in different areas,'' Durkin said. ''This reassures that supervision for a DUI can only be done once in a lifetime.''

So if you, 10 years later, find your life circumstances changed, and you find that you perhaps have another DUI, 10, 15 years later, you're saying they shouldn't be allowed another supervision?'' [Rep. Monique] Davis asked.

''That is correct,'' Durkin replied. ''What we're saying is if someone does 10 or 15 years after the fact, is charged with a DUI, they will not be not be given the benefit of supervision.''

''So we're taking the discretion from the judge?'' Davis asked.

''As we have in the past, and we're saying that we believe that driving in Illinois is a privilege, not a right,'' Durkin said. ''If you drive and you are convicted of a DUI one time, you should not receive supervision any time after that.''

Well there you have it, apparently everyone, from the state supreme court to your state legislators, is clear that the Illinois judiciary cannot be trusted.  I wonder how long it will be before they decide to elimiate the judiciary branch in its entirety.  Folks, now it the time to take action and contact your state legislators. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

A little good news in a Chicago DUI

The other day, I was in court with a client charged with his second, I mean first DUI.  All charges were dismissed against him and he could not have been more pleased.

The reason I mistakenly said it was his second DUI is because he has a really common name.  For purposes of this post, let's say his name is Michael Jackson.  Do you have any idea how many Michael Jacksons there are in Chicago?  The sheer number of folks with the name Michael Jackson and a traffic offense, everything from speeding, to drag racing, from driving while revoked, to DUI will appear.  All of these Michael Jacksons have different birthdates and addresses and other physically distinguishing features.  Some of them have birthdates that are close in year or date and/or their physical characteristics are similar.

That is what happened to my client.  Last year he was charged with a DUI by disgraced Top Chicago DUI cop Joe Parker.  At the time my client was charged, he had a valid Illinois license but when the police ran his name an old DUI popped up in his name.  He was adamant that this was not him, but his nightmare had just begun.

He was arrested based on a warrant for the old DUI and charged with a new one.  He had to post thousands of dollars to be released because of the old DUI in his name, never mind he continued to protest that he had not ever been charged before.  His pleas fell on deaf ears.

Once I was retained, I was able to get the prosecutors to dismiss the old DUI charges against him, because although his name was "Michael Jackson" and the old DUI was also for a "Michael Jackson" they were not the same person.  You see back then, they did not necessarily fingerprint and photograph you when you were charged with a Chicago DUI.  

No sooner had we left court, I kid you not maybe a day later, the client called.  The Cook County Sheriffs had come to his job and arrested him for the new warrant issued to "Michael Jackson" for an old DUI arrest.  Even though my client had documents to prove that he was not that Michael Jackson, he was handcuffed and taken into custody again.  His family again paid a handsome amount of money to have him released.  This time I went before a different judge and the case for the old DUI was heard on the prisoner call at the Cook County Criminal courthouse.  I explained again that my client was not the Michael Jackson wanted for this old DUI.  I again drafted a separate order to be placed in the court file that my client was not the Michael Jackson charged with this old DUI.  Again, my client was given documents to carry so that law enforcement would not arrest him again on this old DUI charge.  Again the judge was kind enough to release the bond that my client's family had posted, since he was not that Michael Jackson.

Finally, just last week, the 2008 DUI charges were dismissed against my client.  I already told him, he should consider changing his name.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Never leave the scene of a DUI accident. Ever.

This terribly unfortunate accident on the southeast side of Chicago, early Saturday morning, has left an elderly pedestrian dead, and the alleged drunk driver facing a felony DUI and several related charges. What can be learned, apart from the obvious "don't drink and drive", from this tragic event?

Well, in the fear and horror of the moment, the alleged drunk driver apparently fled the scene, presumably hoping to escape unobserved or undetected. In doing so, he may have avoided the chance to render aid (unlikely if he was drunk) which may have saved the pedestrian's life; he also committed several crimes which may likely increase the severity of his sentence in the event he is found guilty. 

Let me say it loud and clear: any driver involved in an accident involving property damage or personal injury must NOT leave the scene, no matter how tempting such an ill-advised action may appear. There is a legal (and some may argue moral) obligation to stay. It may well be too much to expect a drunk driver to process his or her thoughts rationally at the time of a DUI-related accident, especially if there is personal injury or fatality involved. For every other driver, there is no excuse.

At a very practical level, policing today is advanced enough to leave little likelihood that any motorist fleeing such an accident will 'get away with it', and when arrested the number of charges will go up significantly.

Flashback: Injustice for all in Chicago DUI cases

I was surprised to hear the news of the judges in Pennsylvania sentencing adolescent offenders, and sometimes holding their parents in contempt of court for not paying fines.  The surprise was rooted in the discovery that the judges were getting kickbacks for sentencing the children.

Things were different in the Luzerne County juvenile courtroom, and everyone knew it. Proceedings on average took less than two minutes. Detention center workers were told in advance how many juveniles to expect at the end of each day — even before hearings to determine their innocence or guilt. Lawyers told families not to bother hiring them. They would not be allowed to speak anyway.

In what authorities are calling the biggest legal scandal in state history, the two judges pleaded guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud in a scheme that involved sending thousands of juveniles to two private detention centers in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks.

Asked last year why he did not make a habit of telling juveniles of their right to a lawyer before hearings, Judge Ciavarella said, “I just don’t believe I have to spoon-feed people to do things in their life.”
This story reminded me of the scandal that rocked Chicago's own traffic court system, Operation Greylord.  25 years ago in Chicago ( I was a kid), it was understood that one could get out of almost any traffic crime, including a DUI, if the right judge was paid.

It was a Friday, and a group of lawyers--some prosecutors, some defense attorneys--had gathered in a Loop hotel on this day for a bachelor party. But the celebrating stopped when the television news broke this stunning story: For three years, the FBI had been running an undercover operation aimed at Cook County's court system. It featured at least one undercover operative and a listening device in a judge's chambers.

The allegations ranged from fixing drunken-driving cases to more serious felony charges. One lawyer was caught on tape bragging that "even a murder case can be fixed if the judge is given something to hang his hat on." By the end of the decade, nearly 100 people had been indicted, and all but a handful were convicted. Of the 17 judges indicted, 15 were convicted. The tally of convictions included 50 lawyers, as well as court clerks, police officers and sheriff's deputies.
It just goes to show that even those who are supposed to be the light of justice are human beings first, and just as apt to be tainted as any other.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Undocumented People, Driver's Licenses, and DUI's

This Chicago DUI lawyer was recently asked the following question:

"Why do I continue to see illegal aliens driving without licenses, get stopped, go to court, pay a small fine, and jump back into their vehicles and drive off? This happens time after time."
The people in question already broke Federal law by coming here illegally, and then remaining here illegally. Many work for U.S. citizens, so employers do need to answer for creating employment demand (generally bigger bottom line by paying less for dangerous/physically challenging work). That said, undocumented people are going to drive unlicensed.

In Illinois, if you are charged with a DUI and you do not have a valid driver's license (U.S. Citizen or not), even if it is your first one and there is not an accident, you are subject to having your DUI charge upgraded to a felony.

(d) Aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereof.
(1) Every person convicted of committing a violation of this Section shall be guilty
of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereof if:
(H) the person committed the violation while he or she did not possess a driver's 
 license or permit or a restricted driving permit or a judicial driving permit or a monitoring device driving permit;
(2)(A) Except as provided otherwise, a person
convicted of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, other drug 
or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination 
thereof is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
Other states are even trying to align their state laws to trigger deportation of undocumented and unlicensed drivers.

Congressman Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., plans to introduce a bill that would make a third drunken driving offense by an illegal immigrant grounds for deportation.

"Right now, a drunken driving offense has no immigration consequences in and of itself," said Flake, "so this legislation would say, 'If you have three drunken driving incidents, then you're out. It's a deportable offense.'"
So the short answer to the question is that when you see unlicensed and undocumented drivers walking out of court and getting back into their vehicles after paying a small fine, there may well be other more serious consequences than just the fine. The consequences can be especially steep for any unlicensed driver charged with a DUI, at least in Chicago, as well as the rest of the State of Illinois, and it looks like Arizona, as well.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I got charged with a Chicago DUI, can I drive?

The short answer is maybe. You are subject to additional conditions in order to be able to drive in Illinois.

If this is your first DUI arrest and you had a valid driver's license, at the time of the arrest, you may be eligbile for a Monitoring Device Driving Program (MDDP).

As a first time DUI offender in Illinois, you may be eligible for driving relief during your Statutory Summary Suspension (SSS) after the 31st day from the effective date. You are eligible to receive a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) from the secretary of state. This permit will allow you to drive to any location at anytime during your suspension with the requirement that you drive a car equipped with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID). You may opt to not participate in the BAIID program, but you will not be eligible for any other driving relief during your SSS. If you opt out of the program and are subsequently caught driving during your SSS, you will be guilty of a class 4 felony.


  • You are ineligible for an MDDP if your driver’s license was otherwise invalid at the time of the DUI arrest

  • You are ineligible for an MDDP if death or great bodily harm resulted from this DUI arrest

  • You are ineligible for an MDDP if you have previously been convicted of reckless homicide or aggravated DUI, which resulted in a death

  • A MDDP will not allow a CDL holder to operate a CMV during the SSS

  • If you failed a chemical test or refused a chemical test for DUI in the past 5 years (not including this arrest)
All of this and much, much more await you just for being charged with a Chicago DUI.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chicago DUI, BAIID, and out of State driving

Yesterday I had a client from out of State with a valid license in his home State. He is a first-time DUI offender and would normally be eligible for the MDDP. However, he does not need to drive in Illinois, he needs to be able to drive in his home State.
I spoke to the Secretary of State's Office and discovered that the device is only valid for driving in Illinois. He would have to confirm that his home State, or any other State he wished to drive in was willing to accept it.

Therein lies the rub. Since Illinois is an Interstate Driver's License Compact participant and reports driving activity to most other states, my client could very well be prohibited from driving in other States, based on Illinois' representation that he has been charged with a DUI.

625 ILCS 5/6‑703) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 6‑703)
Sec. 6‑703. Effect of Conviction.
(a) The licensing authority in the home state, for the purposes of suspension, revocation or limitation of the license to operate a motor vehicle, shall give the same effect to the conduct reported, pursuant to Section 6‑702, as it would if such conduct had occurred in the home state, in the case of convictions for:

2. Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic drug, or under the influence of any other drug to a degree which renders the driver incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle
So what's the best advice I can give my client? No driving while the suspension is in effect.

I wonder what our State legislators are doing to fix this problem. After all, what other criminal charge (not the finding of guilt but just the charge itself) places such onerous burdens on the accused?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The problem with under-aged Chicago DUI's,

This Chicago DUI Lawyer was in and out of court today during a hearing with Top Chicago DUI Cop Richard Fiorito. A young woman was testifying as to how much alcohol she had consumed. It was one glass of wine. The problem for the young woman was she made the fatal error of admitting to consumption of alcohol. She was under the age of 21 at the time of her arrest.

In Illinois, people under the age of 21 can be treated differently when charged with DUI than the rest of us. She may not have been impaired at all. She could very well be under the legal limit of .08 BAC with the consumption of just one glass of wine. The error is misunderstanding Illinois DUI law as it relates to those under the age of 21. In Illinois, there is a zero tolerance policy of alcohol consumption for those under the age of 21. Any amount of alcohol consumption, when under the age of 21, is illegal.
Zero tolerance is a state law that went into effect on January 1, 1995. The law provides for suspension of the driving privileges of any person under the age of 21 who drives after consuming alcohol. Like the name zero tolerance suggests, any trace of alcohol in a young person's system can result in a suspended drivers license. There are exceptions -- minors who consume alcohol as part of a religious service or those who ingest a prescribed or recommended dosage of medicine containing alcohol.
Oh by the way, I understand the young woman lost her hearing today.
She faces a suspension of her driving privileges for a minimum of six months even if she had only one glass of wine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Driving Under the Influence of Weed

This Chicago DUI Lawyer is leaving court, and stops to get gas; while I'm filling up, a young man comes out of the convenience store connected to the gas station. He goes over to the garbage can to cut open a small cigar type cigarette and remove the tobacco.

I think we probably all know what he's about to do...
He's about to start smoking weed in a motor vehicle. Now granted, he's the passenger. But what are the odds that the driver this bright morning is gonna also take a puff of the cigarette.

I come across this all the time. You cannot consume any amount of weed, or have have any amount weed in your system, while driving in Illinois.

Sec. 11‑501. Driving while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds or any combination thereof.
(a) A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State while:
(6) there is any amount of a drug, substance, or compound in the person's breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of cannabis listed in the Cannabis Control Act, a controlled substance listed in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, an intoxicating compound listed in the Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act, or methamphetamine as listed in the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act.
Even if you smoked the drug a long time ago, consumption of weed while driving a motor vehicle in Illinois does subject you to being charged with a DUI, and being found guilty of the DUI. This is likely even if the police recover the drugs, or if you tell them that you smoked a few days ago, but it is no longer in your system.

In fact today I saw the negative impact on one of my clients (unfortunately, I did not represent him on the original DUI). A few years ago he pled guilty to DUI and one of his sentencing conditions was 10 RUD's (Random Urine Drops). He"dropped" positive for weed, lost his court supervision and his driving privileges are now permanently revoked. As I said earlier, I hope the weed was good; he will have a very difficult time, if he is ever successful at all, in getting the Secretary of State to give him back his driving privileges.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Big Brother is Watching You More and More

As I indicated before, we need to start thinking quickly about where we think the line should be drawn into having cameras watch our every move.

Now, in a move to shore up the budget the Chicago City Council that brought you the red light cameras are moving in for more.

In Chicago, blowing a stoplight might get you a letter, complete with a $100 fine, thanks to a red-light camera.

But that might not be the end of your photo-enforcement woes, because aldermen Monday began talking about using the city's ever-growing legion of red-light cameras to check for vehicle liability insurance.

Citing more vehicles—including those driven safely but uninsured—could net the city more than $100 million a year, added Rowland Day, executive vice president of InsureNet, a Michigan-based company that provides instant insurance verification.
Hmm, it does not appear that the city is at all interested in compliance with the state requirement for auto insurance, only with making money for catching someone driving a vehicle without insurance.  Interestingly enough, the state law requires that either the vehicle or the driver be insured. So you could be driving a friend's car and have insurance yourself, even if your friend's vehicle is not covered.  

(625 ILCS 5/3‑707) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 3‑707) 
    Sec. 3‑707. Operation of uninsured motor vehicle ‑ penalty. 
    (a) No person shall operate a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is covered by a liability insurance policy in accordance with Section 7‑601 of this Code. 
    (b) Any person who fails to comply with a request by a law enforcement officer for display of evidence of insurance, as required under Section 7‑602 of this Code, shall be deemed to be operating an uninsured motor vehicle. 

Now the city wants to tax, I mean fine, the owner even if the vehicle was operated in full compliance with the State law.

The Transportation Committee took no action on a proposal by Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) to use red-light cameras at 132 Chicago intersections to track down uninsured motorists.

But, aldermen clearly had dollar signs in their eyes after hearing InsureNet’s pitch to enlist the city’s entire network of surveillance cameras — and install new ones at high-traffic locations — in the hunt for the uninsured.

As I indicated yesterday, who stands to really profit from this intrusion? Either we start asking the difficult questions about who really makes the money off of these cottage industries or we should just prepare to realize that we will soon be taxed for breathing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Surprise, Surprise, the Cottage Industry Around BAIID Devices

Finally, some states, unfortunately not Illinois, are taking a critical view of BAIID. For all of the talk that BAIID may be a panacea to drunk driving, the state legislators in Kentucky and Indiana appear not so certain the devices should be used as broadly as the law in Illinois permits (which I previously discussed here and here).

Senate President David Williams said last week that he has questions about the cost of the so-called ignition interlock devices and who would supply them.

"Any time you make something mandatory, you need to make sure you aren't creating a cottage industry with one cottage," Williams, R-Burkesville, said recently.

Sen. Gary Tapp, a Shelbyville Republican who was on the conference committee that approved the compromise version of the bill, said Senate leaders want "to make sure that we weren't creating a situation where there are only one or two providers" of the devices. He said he didn't have further details.

Keene's original bill would have required ignition-locking devices for vehicles of all first-time offenders. But the conference committee bill now before the Senate requires the devices for vehicles of first-time offenders who have an aggravating circumstance involved in their conviction.

The bill also would change the definition of aggravating circumstances. Current law makes it an aggravating circumstance to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.18 percent; the conference report lowers that to 0.15 percent.

The Indiana legislators apparently that think that perhaps the decision should remain in the realm of the judge, fancy that, not taking away judicial discretion.

The Indiana House has approved a bill that would mandate the ignition interlock devices for any driver convicted for the first time of drunken driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit.

The Judiciary Committee's chairman, Richard Bray, R-Martinsville, said he does not support legislation that takes away a judge's discretion to decide punishment and he remained unsure whether he would hear the bill.

Perhaps Illinois should take a closer look at the legislators in our neighboring states of Kentucky and Indiana.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Caution: Don't try this at home... or in Court

Yesterday I was in the courthouse and ran into a former client. I was concerned the moment I saw him because I could not imagine why he would be there unless he was in trouble. When I recently represented this young man, he had finally obtained a valid Illinois Driver's License and avoided any jail time.

We greeted each other and I asked him why he was there. He told me he had decided to represent himself on an old case and that the case I had with him was attached. I asked him what happened and he said that he decided to go to jail for a few days to finish all of the obligations of the cases. I asked him why he did not contact me when the cases were consolidated and he was sheepish. I will admit that I read him the riot act because he had watched too much People's Court and Law and Order and figured he could get as good a result for himself as I was able to get for him. Much to his dismay, he was about to lose his driving privileges. I explained to him that once he negotiated with the judge to let him meet all his obligations by going to jail he had jeopardized his driving privileges.

Folks, I know from time-to-time experienced lawyers make it look easy, that does not mean you should try it yourself. You are held to the same standard when you represent yourself , pro se, and that is not usually a wise thing to do. I have had the displeasure of even watching a lawyer represent himself and plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor. This will jeopardize his law license. I tried to stop him, but he thought he knew better because he was a lawyer, there is good reason for a judge to always remind a lawyer in these circumstances of the old saying, "S/He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client." So if that is true for those licensed and trained in the practice of law, what do you think that really means for you?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Judge's Orders Still Being Denied

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned the fight between Cook County Judges and the Illinois State Police regarding the sealing and/or expunging arrests and convictions for certain crimes. Today, I was shocked to find additional coverage by the Sun-Time's Mary Mitchell on the subject:

Four years ago, Illinois lawmakers who represent districts with large African-American and Latino populations were celebrating legislation that was designed to make it easier for ex-offenders to re-integrate into society.

It was a hard-fought victory.

Expungements and the sealing of criminal records of people with low-level felony or misdemeanor arrests or convictions were viewed as critical to urban communities where unemployment figures were double-digits long before the country sank into a steep recession.

The in-depth investigatory piece by the Chicago Reporter got the ball rolling. They discovered thousands of expungements were being denied by the Illinois State Police, after Cook County Judges had granted them. Here are a few of the appalling statistics:

• Statewide, about 1,800 of the 21,000 sealing and expungement orders issued after the amendment, between 2006 and 2008, went unenforced.
• An additional 900 or so orders went unenforced before the amendment, starting in 1991, when some ex-offender advocates believe the practice began.
• Statewide, 5 percent of the 412 court orders issued in 2008 went unenforced.
• Orders issued by Paul P. Biebel Jr., presiding judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Criminal Division, got ignored about 13 percent of the time in 2007.

The statistics differ from the numbers released by the Reporter on March 13, because the police retracted the data they issued on March 5. Lt. Scott Compton, the chief public information officer for the police, said his department miscalculated the earlier figures. Rather than counting the total number of court orders they received and denied, it tallied the number of criminal charges on each order, he said.

Even Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General, is looking for an explanation as to why the Illinois State Police would break the law by defying the orders of judges to seal or expunge these criminal records and/or arrests.

This is an unbelievable defiance of the law,” said Attorney General Madigan. “Ignoring these expungement orders negatively impacts the lives of people who deserve a fair opportunity to get a job, find housing and take care of their families. I have taken immediate action to remedy this problem and to hold ISP and Director Larry Trent accountable.”

Last week, Attorney General Madigan learned of ISP’s failure to comply with years of orders to expunge and seal records entered by circuit court judges in Cook County and in counties across Illinois. The number of orders at issue likely exceeds 6,000 in Cook County alone. Illinois law allows certain criminal and traffic offenses to be expunged or sealed. The expungement and sealing process is critical for people who are seeking employment, job licenses and certificates, or applying for housing or loans.

In these critical economic times, all I can say is well done to the Attorney General, The Chicago Reporter, and the Chicago Sun-Times. It is hard enough to get a job or keep a job, when there are arrests or old crimes you thought were expunged, because the judge told you so, and then you find out the Police refuse to comply. That's a lot of nerve, perhaps we are heading to a police state afterall.

Perhaps, once this mess is straightened out, our legislators will look to increase the number of matters covered under the expungement/sealing legislation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Video Recording of Chicago DUI Arrests

There is an increasing likelihood that a greater number of so-called DUI Cops will soon have video cameras in their vehicles. Over the years this Chicago DUI lawyer has represented more than a few defendants whose DUI arrests SHOULD have been captured on video, but weren't. I know from experience just how easy it can be for the camera's purpose to be frustrated.

The best DUI defense attorney knows how to obtain full and complete Discovery, using all available means to do so. Most attorneys who lack DUI experience (maybe they were doing real estate until last year, and now they've reinvented themselves as a DUI lawyer) will likely miss critical items of Discovery. I have seen countless tricks and other shenanigans pulled by "the other side" as they attempt to limit the Discovery I get when defending my DUI clients. One of these 'tricks' involves the video recording by Top Chicago DUI Cops of their DUI arrests.

Here's what they do. Upon detecting so-called probable cause (off-camera), the officer curbs the suspect's vehicle. On camera, the officer approaches it, gets the suspect's driver's licence and insurance information, and returns to his vehicle. After running the information, he returns to the DUI suspect's vehicle, and asks the suspect a couple of (usually inaudible) questions. Right after that the suspect is asked to exit the vehicle, presumably for Field Sobriety Tests.

Now, wouldn't you think it important that the Field Sobriety Tests are performed on camera? Apparently Top Chicago DUI Cops think otherwise; often the suspect is led off-camera to perform the tests, sabotaging the purpose of installing the cameras in the first place. I'm left looking at a video of the suspect's vehicle, curbed in the police car's headlights, while the Field Sobriety Tests are performed off-camera.

Without changes to Police operating procedures for DUI arrests, and/or to DUI laws in the State of Illinois, I fear that spending $2m of Federal stimulus money to put video cameras in 275 more Chicago Police vehicles may be just another waste of your scarce tax dollars. If we want our roads to be safer, and DUI arrests to be sound, more is needed than just money. Otherwise, we face a continuation of bad DUI Police work - convicting the innocent, and leaving the roads unsafe.

Legislation I Hope Comes to Illinois Soon for False DUI Arrests

As I have discussed in prior posts regarding former Top Chicago DUI Cop John Haleas and disgraced Top Chicago DUI Cop Joe Parker, it should be made as easy as possible  for folks to get relief after a false arrest.  In Illinois  you can have arrests and charges expunged after the charges are either dismissed or where one is found not guilty; it is an arduous process, however, and has led to some true battles in Cook County between Judges and law enforcement

Here's news of a change for better law in Oregon:

A bill to allow people falsely accused of drunken driving to clear their arrest records is making its way through the Oregon Legislature.

The bill is a response to complaints arising in Corvallis in 2007, when a police officer arrested at least four drivers for driving under the influence even though they proved to be sober.

The officer resigned, moved to Idaho and started a private-investigation company, specializing in helping clients defend themselves in DUI cases, the Albany Democrat-Herald reported.

I wonder if the former Top Chicago DUI Cops will reinvent themselves with private-investigation companies as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who Say's The Police Don't Look Out for Their Own When Charged with A DUI

It looks like law enforcement is always tough on DUI, but when one of their own gets charged, it seems like the case against that individual officer is just not that strong. Friday's Chicago Tribune, recounts the outcome of a Mt. Vernon Law Enforcement Officer who had the DUI dismissed in exchange for a plea to a non-jailable offense.

An Illinois State Police trooper initially accused of speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol while operating a state-issued vehicle has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. 

Forty-seven-year-old Lyle Hicks pleaded guilty in Jefferson County Circuit Court to failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident last Oct. 18, when his car was found in a ditch. 
Perhaps the case against Trooper Hicks was weak and so the government ,er, People of the State of Illinois, as represented by the State Prosecutors agreed justice would be best achieved in this matter by prosecuting the offender for a minor traffic matter.  Apparently, the accident involved his vehicle being in a ditch, so I guess he does not even have to worry about being sued.
On a related note, I checked with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and yes, it is true that disgraced Top Chicago DUI Cop Joe Parker was charged with a DUI in Chicago back in 1996.  Yes, it is true, he was already on the police force at that time, but had not yet found his calling to charge citizens in Chicago with a DUI.  The charges against Officer Parker were dismissed back in 1997. I wonder if Trooper Hicks will follow in the footsteps of Officer Joe Parker and become a Top DUI cop now that his DUI charges have been dismissed.  I guess only time will tell.