Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer has good news: Chicago DUI arrests are down

The word is getting out.  Chicago DUI's have become more punitive and more expensive in the last few years.  It looks like Chicago drivers have decided they will not be charged with a Chicago DUI after all. 

According to the latest numbers from AAIM, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, The 2008 Chicago DUI arrests are the lowest since 2001:

Since 1990, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM) has conducted an annual survey of Illinois police departments to determine how many DUI arrests they make and to give recognition to the most productive departments and police officers. Through a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation, nearly 700 police agencies were surveyed with 60% responding. The most important deterrent to drunk driving is law enforcement. AAIM not only praises these departments and individual officers, but we also want to encourage them to keep up the fight against drunk driving and it’s paid off.

Chicago police made less arrests in 2008 (5,262) than in 2007 (6,257), while Illinois State Police increased arrests by 13% in 2008 (9,702) compared to 2007 (8,587). The sheriff’s department reporting the most DUI arrests was in Cook County (490), while Lake (401), Winnebago (394), DeKalb (369) and McHenry (328) Counties round out the top five sheriff departments.

Chicago police made more arrests in 2007 (6,257) than in 2006 (5,970), while Illinois State Police increased arrests by 6% in 2007 (8,587) compared to 2006 (8,079). The sheriff’s department reporting the most DUI arrests was in Cook County (498), while DeKalb (417), Lake (379), DuPage (360), and Will (338) Counties round out the top five sheriff departments.

The best way to avoid a Chicago DUI in my opinion, is to avoid the consumption of any alcohol, not even 1 drink, before driving.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer notices that Chicago Police aren't the only one's being charged with DUI

I have already blogged about the rash of off-duty Chicago Police Officers charged with Chicago DUI's and fatalities, here, here, and here.   DUI arrests continue to be made of law enforcement officers nearby as well: 

An Elkhart police officer has resigned and pleaded guilty to drunken driving and criminal recklessness for crashing his police car while carrying four other people. 

The 38-year-old Kruszynski was arrested late Sunday after he crashed his squad car into two fences and a tree while he was off duty. Authorities allege he was driving faster than 100 mph with four passengers in the car. No injuries were reported. 
If law enforcement officers can't manage to avoid DUI accidents, is the solution really going to be zero tolerance for everyone when it comes to drinking and driving?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer updates on the 1st Chicago DUI fatality of the year involving a Chicago Police Officer

I have written previously about pending Chicago DUI cases, with fatalities, where Chicago Police Officers are the defendants.  You may recall that Chicago Police Officer Joseph Frugalli, was involved in a 2 person fatal car accident last month on the Dan Ryan.  His BAC results were .223, almost three times over the legal limit.  Today he entered a plea of not guilty to all charges.  He was charged with leaving the scene of the accident and Aggravated DUI.

Chicago Police detective Joseph Frugoli pleaded not guilty today on charges related to the fatal drunken-driving accident that claimed the lives of two young men last month.

Frugoli, who has been relieved of his police powers, is out on $500,000 bail.

His next court date before Cook County Judge Lawrence Fox is scheduled for July 20.

If you look at the comments, you will see that there is already fallout regarding the bail set in these Chicago Police Officer Chicago DUI cases.  Frugoli is charged in the death of 2 young men and is out on bail of $500,000.   Bolling is still in custody , while charged in the death of a tennager after Judge Brown denied a bond reduction.  His bail is currently set at $2,000,000.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer saw a couple of crimes committed today

I guess the gentlemen I saw today  aren't reading my blog.  Today I was stopped at a traffic light. It was pretty nice out.  There were two cars ahead of me.  The cars were parallel to each other and the driver in the outside lane was talking to the passenger in the other car.

All of a sudden the passenger's hand is out of the window and the driver of the other vehicle is out of his car taking what appears to be a small cigarette.  The driver inhales on the "cigarette" and attempts to pass it back to the passenger in the other vehicle, who waves him off.  The light changes and the two cars take off.

I earnestly believe that both parties don't understand that what they did was illegal. The driver in particular would most likely be surprised to learn that if he was caught by CPD  engaging in those behaviors, he could be charged with both possession of drugs and a Chicago DUI.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on Chicago Police Superintendent's statement

Yesterday Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis issued a statement regarding the tragic death of a child based on an alleged Chicago DUI by an off-duty Chicago Police Officer.  I believe changes will be made to Chicago Police DUI policy, internal to incidents involving Chicago Police Officers (not private citizens), based on this particular event as well as the other alleged fatal Chicago DUI by a different Chicago Police Officer last month.  Unfortunately, despite Superintendent Weis' desire to have those changes made with all due speed committee work takes time.  I certainly suspect that those organizations that represent Chicago Police Officers will not want to see their members held to a different, and probably more stringent, standard than any other citizen charged with a Chicago DUI. 

While the investigation into Chicago Police Officer Bolling's recent DUI fatality is pending, the media seems to suggest there was favoritism.  Specifically, the delay in Officer Bolling's submission to a breathalyzer test and his bond hearing being held earlier than the media and the child's family had anticipated.  I have already commented here, that I do not believe that  breathalyzer test delay is uncommon.  In fact, had he been a private citizen, instead of a Chicago Police Officer, I believe any competent Chicago DUI defense attorney would have told him to refuse all testing.  This would have meant that the results of any testing would have been far more likely not to occur until closer to the twelve hour maximum permitted by law when there is a death or serious personal injury and the person charged is under arrest.  As Superintendent Weis said last month:

"The residents of Chicago rightfully expect the police to protect them from drunk drivers, not to become part of the problem," Weis said in the e-mail. "While they are held to a higher standard, police officers are human beings, too, susceptible to the pressures of life and the job, and are not always perfect. When this occurs, it is our responsibility to take appropriate measures to address the problem."
There is a tension between holding the Chicago Police to a higher standard and recognizing their susceptibility to the stresses related to their profession.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer explains when you can drive after winning your driving privileges in a Chicago DUI

Last week, I posted an update indicating that Alderman Sharon Dixon won her petition to rescind statutory summary suspension.  I have read a few news articles that suggest Alderman Dixon was free to drive that same day.  Unfortunately, she is not, and neither are you if you win your driving privileges back based on a DUI arrest.

Ald. Sharon Dixon (24th) was back behind the wheel Thursday evening after a judge ruled her license was improperly suspended when she was arrested for drunken driving in January.

Dixon allegedly smelled of alcohol and failed sobriety tests after arguing for half an hour with four Chicago police officers on the Far North Side. Her license was suspended when she refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

But at the end of a four-hour hearing at the Daley Center on Thursday, Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke said one officer's claim that Dixon appeared drunk was undermined by his own testimony that he told her to drive home moments before arresting her.

Three other officers told Dixon either to move her car or go home before the arrest, evidence showed.

It "wasn't reasonable" to believe that "four seasoned officers" would have used "their full authority to order her to drive her car" if they believed she was drunk, Burke said.

Pay close attention to the first sentence, the one that says Ald. Dixon was back behind the wheel last Thursday.  Assuming that is true, although she won her hearing to have her driving privileges restored, it is not an automatic event.  First the lawyer must draft an order for the judge to sign indicating that the Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension is granted.  Then that order has to be submitted to the Secretary of State.  It is not until the Secretary of State receives that court order, and then lifts the suspension, is the petitioner free to drive.  If Alderman Dixon was driving that night, as the article suggests, and she was stopped by a Chicago Police Officer she would be facing another criminal misdemeanor charge.  After running her license in the system it would show up suspended.  The officer then can arrest her for driving while her license is suspended based on a DUI arrest.  Hopefully, the charge would be subsequently dismissed, but that would be up to the judge.

Bottom line, if you win your Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension you cannot drive until the Secretary of State removes the suspension from your license.  Unfortunately, that usually takes at least a few days, if not a week.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chicago DUI Lawyer provides an update on the most recent Chicago Police Officer fatal DUI

I have explained how you can be charged, and found guilty, with a Chicago DUI even if you do not blow into the machine here, here, and here.  Now it appears that a Chicago Police Officer did not refuse to blow and his results are just under the legal limit of .08:

About four hours lapsed between Chicago police arresting a fellow officer in a deadly weekend crash and the administration of a Breathalyzer test to determine whether the officer had been drinking, authorities said.

The tests on Chicago police officer Richard Bolling, 39, revealed a blood-alcohol level of .079, just shy of the .08 legal limit, according to the Cook County state's attorney's office.

A police spokesman said the allegations against Bolling are part of an internal investigation and that the department wouldn't be commenting on the blood alcohol test.

In Illinois you do have a right to refuse to take the breathalyzer tests( or any other chemical tests) if you are facing a possible DUI charge, however, if there is a fatal accident or serious personal injury ,and you leave the scene of the accident,  you do not have that right.  The time lapse from the arrest to the time the officer submitted to the breatalyzer was well within the twelve hour timeframe required by the law.

625 ILCS 5/11-401

 Sec. 11‑401. Motor vehicle accidents involving death or personal injuries. 
    (a) The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident, or as close thereto as possible and shall then forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until the requirements of Section 11‑403 have been fulfilled. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. 

(b‑1) Any person arrested for violating this Section is subject to chemical testing of his or her blood, breath, or urine for the presence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereof, as provided in Section 11‑501.1, if the testing occurs within 12 hours of the time of the occurrence of the accident that led to his or her arrest. The person's driving privileges are subject to statutory summary suspension under Section 11‑501.1 if he or she fails or refuses to undergo the testing. 

Remember, just because the officer blew under the legal limit of .08, that does not mean these aggravated Chicago DUI charges will be dismissed or that he would ultimately be found not guilty of this tragic Chicago DUI.

Chicago DUI lawyer believes sometimes you really should listen to the police

Sometimes you should listen to the police: they might prevent you from being charged with a DUI:

Northbrook man who was warned not to drive after he called police to a tavern to help two sick women was arrested on a DUI charge, authorities said.

John Knox, 38, of the 2400 block of Maple Avenue made the call to police about 1 a.m. Sunday. Emergency vehicles responded to the scene near Walters and Western Avenues and a police officer, who warned Knox not to drive, helped direct traffic, police said. 

The officer then saw Knox driving away from the bar in the wrong lane with no lights on, police said. He was cited for DUI and having no taillights.

Hmmm, do you think the officer had a duty to prevent the crime from occurring in the first place?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer is surprised that another Chicago cop is charged with a fatal Chicago DUI

Unfortunately, a little boy has died after being hit by a car.  Even worse, that car was driven by a Chicago Police Officer who has been charged with a aggravated DUI as well as leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death.  This is the second Chicago Police Officer charged with a DUI involving a fatality this year.

May 24, Chicago, Il

Bail was set at $2 million today for a 17-year-veteran Chicago Police officer accused of being drunk behind the wheel while causing a fatal hit-and-run accident that killed a 13-year-old boy on the South Side Friday.

Richard Bolling, 39, was charged with aggravated driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident where a death or injury occurred and reckless homicide. Bolling allegedly had been at a bar not long before the crash, said Sally Daly, a Cook County sheriff’s office spokeswoman said.

I will say what I said before, "Let's be careful out there".

Chicago DUI laywer comments on flying the dry skies

American Airline pilot due to fly to Chicago from London was grounded for alleged intoxication.  All domestic ariline flight crews are subject to strict minimums of alcohol consumptions several hours prior to taking flight.

The pilot, whom the airline declined to name, was supposed to operate a flight with 204 passengers to Chicago. The flight was delayed while a replacement was found and the plane eventually took off.

"The company has strict policies on alcohol and substance abuse and holds its employees to the highest standards," the airline's London office said. "Employees at all levels of the company are not allowed to be on duty whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol and regular screening is carried out."

 Apparently, he was charged with failing the breathalyzer test.  He still gets a trial where a determination of guilt will be made.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer provides update on Alderman Sharon Dixon's Chicago DUI case

Wow! The cliffhanger has ended with a win for Alderman Sharon Dixon.  You may recall, I posted about the peculiar hearing she had regarding her right to keep her driver's license from being suspended based on her arrest for a Chicago DUI.  Ultimately, the Alderman did testify, as permitted by law, after she initially declined based on the advice of her attorney.

Ald. Sharon Dixon (24th) was back behind the wheel Thursday evening after a judge ruled her license was improperly suspended when she was arrested for drunken driving in January.

Dixon allegedly smelled of alcohol and failed sobriety tests after arguing for half an hour with four Chicago police officers on the Far North Side. Her license was suspended when she refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

But at the end of a four-hour hearing at the Daley Center on Thursday, Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke said one officer's claim that Dixon appeared drunk was undermined by his own testimony that he told her to drive home moments before arresting her.

Three other officers told Dixon either to move her car or go home before the arrest, evidence showed.

It "wasn't reasonable" to believe that "four seasoned officers" would have used "their full authority to order her to drive her car" if they believed she was drunk, Burke said.

I think Judge Burke said it all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer does the math: Holiday Weekend + Warm Weather + Chicago Police= DUI Roadside Block

Here we go again.  By now you should expect that if it is a big holiday weekend there will probably be roadside safety checks as I posted here and here.  That means there will be a surplus of arrests for DUI's, no driver's license, no insurance, and let's not forget the catchall offense, seatbelt infractions (either the driver or the passenger will do).

There was a press release, not that it means it got published anywhere for you to see it, from the Chicago Police Department announcing a roadside.  So, there will be at least one roadside safety check in the City of Chicago tomorrow evening.  Hint:  There tends to be more than one, and they tend to be in more than one location.  I will admit, I don't tend to ever see any press releases or arrests for roadsides on the north side of the city, but that doesn't mean it can't happen.

Well as a beloved TV sergeant, Phil Esterhaus, from Hill Street Blues used to say: "Let's be careful out there."  Have a safe holiday weekend!

Chicago DUI laywer comments on the IL Senate's passing of the ban on texting and driving bill

Today, I went from my home to the Maywood Courthouse, from the Maywood Courthouse to a nearby destination in Oak Park, from Oak Park to a far flung Logan Square sandwich shop, and from that Logan Square sandwich shop (on the western border of the city) back downtown.  How did I do this? I relied exclusively on the GPS available on my phone.  I did not make a single bad turn or false start. Curious readers may wonder if I was distracted while reading right turns and left turns from off of my phone while I drove?

Yesterday, the Illinois Senate voted overwhelmingly to band texting while driving, but they specifically carved out an exception for getting directions via GPS on the phone:

 Texting behind the wheel could mean a $75 ticket, and three of those in a year could cost motorists their driver's licenses under legislation passed by the state Senate Tuesday.

That plan was the centerpiece of a safe-driving push at the Statehouse, where senators also approved a measure to bar cell-phone use while driving in school and construction zones.

Passed 45-6, the anti-texting plan pushed by Secretary of State Jesse White is aimed at reducing distracted driving, particularly among young motorists.

Meanwhile, the Senate killed legislation that would compel motorists to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks at all times and a measure to expand use of speed cameras in school, hospital and park zones.
So we single out texting, but no mandatory stop by motorists  for pedestrians in crosswalks. What on earth were they thinking about in Springfield? 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer on criminalizing accidents

I never thought I would start a post this way but, according to the dictionary an accident is "an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance."  That's it, and yet here we are today on the threshold of criminalizing accidents.

Last week Secretary of State Jesse White wrote a piece that appeared in the local paper:

Distracted driving I am writing in response to your May 6 editorial "Reckless on the Road," in which you outline the need for state's attorneys to aggressively pursue reckless homicide charges in certain serious traffic crashes. Let me first say we must seriously address distracted driving offenses, especially those that lead to grave injury or death. Whether the driver's conduct entails downloading ring-tones or painting one's fingernails, if the state's attorney believes the evidence warrants a charge of reckless homicide, then I would encourage him or her to pursue such a charge. I also support House Bill 73, which would establish negligent vehicular homicide, as this would give state's attorneys a middle ground between either charging the offender with a petty offense -- such as illegal lane usage -- or reckless homicide. 

The gap between a petty offense and reckless homicide is very large. Establishing a charge of negligent vehicular homicide bridges that yawning gap. The Distracted Driving Task Force recommended legislation proposing negligent vehicular homicide, which later became HB 73, for the same reason: the added flexibility it gives state's attorneys on a case-by-case basis. 

 While I believe his letter was written in response to the fatal accident involving a driver who was painting her nails, it could be applied to so many cases going forward, including Sister Marie Marot.

A circuit court jury handed down a not guilty verdict late Tuesday afternoon in the trial of an area nun accused of causing a 2007 fatal crash in Elgin.

Testimony in the trial, which began Monday in 16th Judicial Circuit Court, has offered conflicting versions of what happened in the Oct. 7 accident in which a van driven by Sister Marie Myriam Marot collided with a car at Randall Road and Route 72. Marot, 24, a member of Fraternite de Notre Dame order in Marengo, was charged with disobeying a traffic control signal .
The defendant ran the red light. That's the evidence you've heard from every single witness in this case," Assistant Kane County State's Attorney Jonathon McKey told the jury in his closing arguments today.
Defense attorney Donald Brewer countered in his closing arguments that "there is a presumption of innocence. The state just didn't do their job."
If convicted, Marot could face a maximum fine of $1,000, but that could have impact on the outcome of a pending civil lawsuit filed by the Forbes family, according to Brewer.

As a prosecutor for the City, I handled many cases where someone died.  They were all accidents. One of them involved an older man who thought his car was in reverse and instead it was in drive.  He crashed through the plate glass of a restaurant, and a young man inside died.  It was an accident.  

What will be the standard for negligent homicide?  If we can agree that an accident, at least as defined by Webster, includes carelessness, does that mean we should now charge all accidents with fatalities as negligent homicide? When the defendant is sympathetic, like a nun in her habit, will we let existing laws prevail so that she is charged with an illegal turn instead of negligent homicide? I suspect that the use of negligent homicide will subject the defendant to the whim of the prosecutor and/or public outcry. 
Is that the kind of justice system that you want?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer agrees with Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez

Recently one of the Assistant State's Attorneys (ASA's) took me to task about a blog post.  She thought I meant that the job of a 1st District, City of Chicago, State's Attorney in  traffic court was a cakewalk. I guess if one read just the title, and not the post itself, that could have been the takeaway .  Those ASA's certainly have one of the highest court call volumes around, even now as the numbers decrease dramatically. We talked about the post and I did not change it.

A few weeks ago, a different ASA advocated on behalf of one of my clients, who had received court supervision on a DUI a long time ago.  My client complied with all of the terms and conditions of court supervision but one; he forgot to come back and pay approximately $200.00 to the court in fines. His oversight caused his license to be revoked; he was subsequently charged, about fifteen years after that court date, with driving while his license was revoked.  He was now facing jail. 

I ordered that old file and placed it back onto the court's docket for my client, now no longer a young man, to pay his fine and ask the judge to terminate his case satisfactorily.  You would think this would be easy but it is not because there is a time limit on these requests and my client's time had probably expired.  The judge said as much and the ASA said she had no objection.  I could not believe this young ASA and I really was touched.  She didn't know my client and didn't have to help him at all.  She did and the judge agreed.  My client paid his long overdue court fees and fines. Subsequently, all of the jailable offenses were dismissed.

When I asked the ASA why she did what she did, she told me truthfully, that she thought she could explain herself to her boss, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, if it ever became necessary.  Then I saw the following story in the Chicago Sun Times:

When Thaddeus "T.J." Jimenez walked out of prison a free man last week, the 30-year-old held a cell phone for the first time.

"He was talking into a BlackBerry and someone said, 'Why don't you just send a text?' He had no clue what a text was," said Steve Drizin, Jimenez's attorney. "Slowly but surely, he's trying to stick his toe into the real world."

Jimenez, described by his lawyers as the youngest person in U.S. history to be wrongly convicted and exonerated, was cleared of the gang-related shooting of Eric Morro, 19.

His release came after witnesses to the 1993 slaying recanted their statements and investigators analyzed a recording of a man admitting to the shooting.

Jimenez was only 13 when he was arrested. He spent more than 16 years in prison.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said at a news conference Monday. "Our job is not just about racking up convictions," she said. "It is ultimately about seeking and obtaining justice."

The young ASA was right, so is her boss.

Chicago DUI lawyer surveys the 2008 Top DUI Cop list from Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM)

The 2008 AAIM Top Cop list is out, and look who's missing...both Officer Richard Fiorito and Officer Joe Parker. Doesn't that seem more than just a little odd? 

Previously, I wrote about Officer Fiorito making a DUI arrest on virtually every day of the work year in 2007.  Now we're expected to believe that his arrest rate dropped by over 2/3 in 2008. An independently-minded skeptic might wonder if AAIM is worried about having their name associated with Police Officers who are facing investigation into the very arrests AAIM honored them for.

This year's list gives a rank for the Top 25 Cops throughout Illinois.  The number one cop made just under 250 arrests.  The number 25 cop made 99 arrests.  Anyone from AAIM care to comment?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer provides an update on Angel Arce Torres' suspect now in custody

On Friday, I posted about Angel Arce Torres death and what it meant for us as a society that no one rushed to his aid after he was hit by two cars. 

 I had a very interesting conversation later that day about the obligations we have as human beings to care for each other in such times. Surprisingly, that conversation started with a focus on the heinous behavior of David Cash, who was dubbed the "Bad Samaritan" for his failure to prevent the molestation and subsequent murder of a little girl in the "Casino Child Murder" trial.

Now the police in Hartford, Connecticut have charged a man with the death of Angel Arce Torres:

Nearly a year after Angel Arce Torres was hit by a car on Park Street, a 33-year-old Hartford man was charged Friday with driving the car that hit him, leaving him lying helpless in the middle of the street while bystanders looked on.

Luis Negron, 33, of 461 New Britain Ave., was charged with first-degree manslaughter, reckless driving, evading and several other motor vehicle charges.

Citing Negron's history of driving with a suspended license and convictions for skipping court dates, Judge Carl Taylor set his bail at more than $700,000.

Torres, 79, died Monday at 
Hartford Hospital after his family removed him from life support. The medical examiner ruled that he died of bronchial pneumonia due to a spinal injury.

Negron's attorney, Carmine Giuliano, said that the state's case was weak. There is no witness and no forensic evidence.

"There is no real evidence, there is no circumstantial evidence — there is only a hearsay statement" that Negron's girlfriend made to police, Giuliano said.

Negron had been in custody all day and night Thursday, wasn't fed and was told that if he "signed some papers he could leave," Giuliano said outside court Friday.

Negron was interviewed by police early in the investigation, but there was not enough evidence to charge him with the crime, according to an arrest warrant released after the arraignment. His name came up again on Tuesday, a day after Torres died, when police received a tip naming Negron as the driver who hit Torres, the warrant says.

Perhaps, Mr. Torres would still be alive if the people who hit him and the people who say him laying in the street had rushed to give him some help.  As I have said before, good men don't need laws and bad men will always find a way around them

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer: No Way to a Norway DUI

I posted here on the high economic price of a DUI arrest, but here in the U.S.A. we have nothing on Norway.

A rich Norwegian has been ordered to pay a 700,000 kroner ($109,000) fine after driving his car 400 yards (meters) while drunk.

Police stopped the 49-year-old man in October near the airport for southern Norway’s Kristiansand.

Tests showed he had a blood alcohol content of .188 percent. Norway’s maximum is .02 percent.

Yes, you did read that correctly, 700,000 kroner is the equivalent of $109,000 USD.  Additionally, did you noice how low Norway's maximum B.A.C. is?  Unfortunately, there is research that suggests even with these high fines and very low B.A.C.'s, there is a very high rate of recidivism for DUI arrests in Sweden (they have a similar very low B.A.C. as does Norway).

Now about that Zero tolerance to alcohol and driving policy, did you think I was kidding?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Angel Arce Torres, the man who made us ask ourselves what would we have done, has died

Yesterday, Angel Arce Torres died.  His family removed him from life support.  He was seventy-eight years old.  You think you don't know who Mr. Torres is?  You likely do know him, it's just his name that's unfamiliar.  Do you remember that video footage you watched a while back of a man struck down in the middle of the street, where both passing cars didn't stop and onlookers made no attempt to help him? It's all coming back to you now, isn't it?  

Mr. Torres made all of us question ourselves.  "Would I have stopped if I hit him?  Would I have run after the driver and gotten his license plate number?  Oh my goodness, there were two separate cars that hit Mr. Torres and neither stopped!  What about the people in the video watching it happen?  Why isn't anyone slowing down? Where are the police? Where is the ambulance? What should I do?"

Today, Mr. Torres is no longer here. His last thought on that fateful day may well have been "Please God, will someone help me? 

The authorities still don't know who hit Mr. Torres, neither the first nor the second time. Please drive safely, have a valid drivers license, and keep your insurance current. If you cause or see an accident where aid to another human should be rendered, make your mother proud and be the good Samaritan. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chicago DUI Lawyer comments on MADD CEO getting one for the road: Cheers!

It's official; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) White House nominee Chuck Hurley has withdrawn.  You may recall that Chuck Hurley was the CEO of MADD.

The White House says a top official with Mothers Against Drunk Driving who was selected to oversee a highway safety agency has withdrawn.

The Obama administration said in April it intended to nominate Chuck Hurley to become the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Three weeks ago I was wondering about Hurley's nomination after I read this piece from the Washington Times:

April 24, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Hurley has promoted a mania of overregulation at MADD. Absent from his advocacies is the principle that a punishment should fit the crime, or that a crime even needs to be committed to incur a penalty. Under this influence, MADD has been lobbying to lower the allowable blood-alcohol content (BAC) for drivers to .04 – which means one glass of Pinot can land anyone behind bars. We do not condone drinking and driving, but the constant lowering of BAC limits has separated what is punishable from what is actually dangerous.

As a result of MADD-fueled binges for tougher laws, extreme drunken driving punishments – such as loss of driving privileges, jail time, fines and legal fees beyond $10,000 – often apply to individuals who were not drunk and in some cases were not even driving. Last month, the Connecticut Supreme Court unanimously upheld a driving-under-the-influence conviction against a man who was sleeping off his bender in his car even though the keys were not in the ignition. In 2005, the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a DUI sentence for a tipsy man riding a motorized skateboard. The Georgia State Police charged a woman with drunken driving for riding a horse.

Such absurd cases will continue to proliferate as long as the breathalyzer machine is the sole determinant of guilt rather than evidence of unsafe conduct. Machines are prone to error, and basing guilt on a digital reading leaves little room for the specific facts of an individual situation…

The position of NHTSA chief requires an administrator of sound judgment, not a zealot beholden to special interests. Mr. Hurley’s associations and background raise the specter that he could use NHTSA regulations and safety grants to benefit his friends and coerce states into adopting his overbearing pet policies. Mr. Hurley should be offered one (but only one) for the road and sent on his way.

Onward and upward, Mr. Hurley has definitely had his one for the road. Send me your thoughts about the qualities you'd like to see in the next NHTSA administrator, and any names you think should be up for consideration.