Monday, August 31, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on Toyota's anti-drunk driving prototype

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about ignition interlock devices. Now Toyota announces that it has moved forward on a prototype.

Toyota Motor said Monday it was developing anti-drunk driving equipment that would lock the ignition of a vehicle if high levels of alcohol are detected in the driver.

The system features a hand-held breathalyser, equipped with a digital camera, that detects alcohol consumption and photographs the driver's face for identification, a company statement said.

If the driver tests positive, the system either warns him or her, or locks the vehicle's ignition depending on the level of alcohol detected, Toyota said.

The carmaker is conducting tests with affiliate truck maker Hino Motors, and will install the equipment in selected trucks and other vehicles of fleet customers that include companies and government organisations.

The device will alert fleet administrators if the driver is detected with excessive alcohol levels, Toyota said.

Do you think this is because their primary concern is avoiding accidents? I wonder if you will be able to sleep it off in the car if the device has locked the vehicle?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on texting while driving in a multi-tasking world

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about texting and driving. She readily admits she no longer sends text messages, except via voice transcription programs, while driving. Now Utah has lowered the boom on texting while driving.

In most states, if somebody is texting behind the wheel and causes a crash that injures or kills someone, the penalty can be as light as a fine.

Utah is much tougher.

After a crash here that killed two scientists — and prompted a dogged investigation by a police officer and local victim’s advocate — Utah passed the nation’s toughest law to crack down on texting behind the wheel. Offenders now face up to 15 years in prison.

The new law, which took effect in May, penalizes a texting driver who causes a fatality as harshly as a drunken driver who kills someone. In effect, a crash caused by such a multitasking motorist is no longer considered an “accident” like one caused by a driver who, say, runs into another car because he nodded off at the wheel. Instead, such a crash would now be considered inherently reckless.

Okay folks, the gloves are off. It's time to talk about where this behavior comes from. We are a nation that values multi-tasking. Folks that get the job done. We eat on the run. We drink on the run. We listen to books on tape. We have teleconferences from our cars. We think sleep is for losers. Why are we surprised that accidents occur when we are doing more than one thing at a time (seriously, please let me know what you think of the simulation)?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on another prosecutor being charged with a DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer agrees that most days, like the song says, "nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina" but as she enjoys the hot and sunny days of her home state she's still shocked. I've already posted here, here, and here about the DUI prosecutor who beat his DUI and now there's another one. My home state is already roiling in scandal as hot as the days are and this prosecutor just got the job!

August 28, Greenwood, S.C.
Less than 2 weeks ago, on August 17th, it was announced at the Greenwood City
Council meeting that Matthew Pinckney was named Lead Prosecutor for The City
of Greenwood. Last night, Attorney Pinckney was arrested and charged with DUI (Driving under the influence) by the SC Highway Patrol. GwdToday left messages for Mayor Welborn Adams seeking comment about the incident, but as of this posting those calls have not been returned. GwdToday however, did speak to City Manager Steve Brown who was in the process of contacting all council members about the issue. Mayor Adams, according to Brown, will be investigating this

I wonder if he submitted to Field Sobriety Tests or Breath Alcohol testing?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chicago DUI Lawyer is dismayed by another DUI exception to the law

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about the erosion of Constitutional rights. You see the way it works is we rally around something distasteful, say DUI or terrorism, and the next thing you know the government is both judge and jury No I have no interest in hearing anything along the lines of well if you have nothing to hide what's wrong with it? Seriously, it's time to wake up and realize that the purpose of the Constitution is to provide you with protection from law enforcement and over-reaching government.

Public Act 096-0694

Section 5. The Illinois Vehicle Code is amended by adding
16-106.3 as follows:
(625 ILCS 5/16-106.3
Sec. 16-106.3. Erroneous appearance date. In any
alleging a violation of this Code or similar local ordinance
would be chargeable as a misdemeanor, a case shall not be
dismissed due to
an error by the arresting officer or the clerk
of the court, or both, in
setting a person's first appearance
date, subject to the right of speedy
trial provided under
Section 103-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of

Now, DUI's and all other traffic misdemeanors are cut out of dismissal based on errors made by law enforcement or the clerk's office-- oh both of those would be government representatives.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer agrees with Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump,"ignorance of the law isn't innocence"

This Chicago DUI lawyer is about to change her tune. I used to tell clients all the time that they have to take their cases serious. Missing court or even showing up late could land them in handcuffs. I've posted here , here, and here about this issue as well. Now maybe they should sing the same song that Patrick Stump is singing and just show up for court.

Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump says he just wanted to hang onto his Illinois driver's license.

In a post-arrest interview early Wednesday morning in Hollywood, Calif., Stump — leader of the suburban Chicago rock band — told MTV News he wasn't arrested for driving without a license, just driving without a valid one.

"I didn't want to give up my Illinois driver's license and was unaware that was a crime. It is, by the way, in the state of California. Lesson learned. I technically broke a law, so technically I deserve whatever I get.

"But man, is my mom gonna be pissed."

If convicted of the misdemeanor, Stump could face up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

If you move, even in the same city, in Illinois, you must notify the Secretary of State of your change of address within 10 days of your move for your driver's license.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says some jurisdictions are managing to generate revenue under the guise of DUI checkpoints

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about roadblocks. Now they are taking your federal tax dollars to help local governments raise revenue. Did I mention this money making enterprise uses the DUI exception to your Constitutional rights at roadblocks?

Nearly 5,000 tickets were issued by the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol in the first three days of a national campaign aimed at cracking down on drunken drivers.

The push will extend through Labor Day.

Among the 4,967 tickets were 200 seat-belt violations, 69 child-restraint violations and 86 DUI arrests.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded MHP a $200,000 grant, allowing an additional 45 troopers on state roads through Sept. 7.

From Southaven to Brookhaven, "these are guys (troopers) who are able to come back on their days off and help us with checkpoints and roadblocks," Walker said.

Okay, now let's do the math on the use of your federal tax dollars to generate revenue for the local governments. Let's say each ticket is $75. At this rate, more than a week before Labor Day, that's $372,525 going to local and state government. Are you ready for another math lesson? There were 86 DUI arrests. The purpose of the road blocks was to "crack down" on drunk drivers. Thus far, a whopping 1.73% of all tickets issued were for the stated purpose of the roadblocks. Are you sure this is the best use of your tax dollars?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer wonders

This Chicago DUI lawyer is surprised that a police officer gets to plead guilty to a DUI and continue to be a police officer. Well I guess he's learned his lesson, right?

Dirk Piggott has returned to work as an Aurora police officer after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

Piggott, 52, of Ravenna, pleaded guilty May 16 in Morrow County Municipal Court to being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, just north of Columbus, where a trooper arrested him March 13. The "physical control" violation is a lesser charge in the state's DUI law.

Huh, and to think I've posted that loss of job is one of the problems with a DUI arrest or finding of guilty.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the Illinois Dept.of Transportation's Impaired Driver Crack Down

This Chicago DUI lawyer has advised folks here, here, and here for example to avoid drinking and driving, especially during the holidays. There is an increased presence of law enforcement on the road and it's far better to avoid a DUI arrest than to defend against a DUI charge. Now comes news that late night patrols will be greater in response to NHTSA's study of fatal accidents involving alcohol impaired drivers.

The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety today released data showing the marked difference in motor vehicle fatalities occurring late at night compared to other times of the day. The date underscores the fact that the nighttime fatalities have the highest involvement of alcohol and the lowest safety belt usage as compared to all fatalities occurring on Illinois roadways.

This deadly combination of alcohol and low safety belt use has caught the attention of transportation and law enforcement leaders in Illinois. Illinois law enforcement will be out in full force now through Labor Day in an effort to crackdown on this dangerous trend. For the next two weeks, over 300 local law enforcement agencies will join the Illinois State Police in conducting nearly 200 roadside safety checks, impaired driving saturation patrols and nighttime safety belt patrols. Motorists are being warned that nighttime impaired driving or failure to buckle up will get you arrested or ticketed.

“We are working closely with Illinois State Police and local agencies to make sure that all motorists behind the wheel are driving sober,” said IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig. “One of our top priorities is to save lives and the data revealed shows that we need to focus our efforts on impaired driving at night.”

“Drinking and driving is inappropriate regardless of the time of day," said Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken. "Data tells us the likelihood of being involved in a crash or fatal crash where alcohol is involved increases dramatically at night. Therefore, the Illinois State Police will focus our efforts on DUI and seat belt enforcement during night time details throughout the Labor Day weekend."

There you have it, the Illinois State Police Director saying that drinking and driving is inappropriate regardless of the time of day. He doesn't say drinking too much or drunk driving. It is a distinct change in language. That sounds like a zero tolerance on having a romantic dinner with your spouse and a glass of champagne before driving home for the night.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer wonders how the prosecutor can suggest the breath tests, in these cases, should be used

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about the role of the prosecutor in judicial proceedings. I just don't see how a prosecutor can knowingly support using faulty evidence. This goes beyond the pale.

Because a state inspector was fired for interfering with inspections of breath-test machines, a Broward judge ruled Friday that results from one of the devices cannot be used in a drunk-driving case before him.

Defense attorneys said Broward County Judge Lee Jay Seidman's ruling is a bellwether that will likely be followed in 500 to 1,000 other pending cases in Broward County. That could mean reduced charges, and possible acquittals, in many instances.

A spokesman for the Broward State Attorney's Office said the office would appeal Seidman's ruling.

The breath-machine issue came to light when Florida Department of Law Enforcement fired Sandra Veiga last October.

Local law enforcement agencies perform their own monthly inspections of the devices, and the FDLE does annual inspections to certify their accuracy.

For about two years, Veiga was the FDLE employee in charge of annual inspections for all Broward County breath-testing machines. She also tested machines for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.


She admitted that she turned off power to machines that looked like they were going to fail inspection. A failure could have indicated a malfunction.

Veiga's actions, defense attorneys say, cast grave doubt on the reliability of the machines -- and mean any reading indicating a driver had consumed too much alcohol -- is worthless as evidence.

At a Tuesday hearing before Seidman, defense attorney Carlos Canet led the charge to throw out breath-alcohol tests performed on drivers in Broward County during Veiga's tenure with FDLE. He acted on behalf of his client, Richard Medina, and 32 other attorneys representing more than 150 clients facing prosecution for drunk driving.

In Seidman's ruling, the judge ruled that the integrity of the machines under Veiga's care and control had been ``fatally compromised'' and ``evidence gathered under such troubling circumstances'' could not be presented to a jury.


Ron Ishoy, spokesman for the Broward State Attorney's Office, said the machines are "extremely accurate,'' have never been proven to be otherwise, and that the office would file an appeal.

Why does Mr. Ishoy fail to understand that Ms. Veiga was fired for interfering with machines she believed would fail inspection?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says maybe you won't get your driver's license suspended after all

This Chicago DUI lawyer knows these are dire economic times. It comes as no surprise to me that a number of people can't pay off their parking tickets. One of the problems with this is that racking up parking tickets not only subjects the owner of the vehicle to the boot but also to a suspension of their driving privileges. I've posted here , here, and here on suspended licenses and how being charged with a DUI while having a suspended license is grounds for a felony charge. Now there is a challenge to the City's ability to suspend driver's licenses based on unpaid parking tickets.

A citizens' advocacy group sued Chicago on Wednesday in an attempt to have a court declare the city's deal to lease parking meters to a private company "illegal and void."

The suit, filed by the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization, claims the city did not have authority to lease its streets for an "excessive period" and that the city can't pay police to enforce parking violations for a private company. It also says the city can't ask the Illinois secretary of state to suspend driving privileges for failure to pay tickets issued at private meters.
I guess they have point. Your tax dollars being used, through City parking enforcement employees, to fill the coffers of a private company. Then asking the government to suspend your driving privleges if you don't pay the money to the private company. Some how I don't think this came up before the alderman voted on the parking meter lease.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on a married couple being charged with DUI's

This Chicago DUI lawyer believes you should help your family, just don't get arrested in the process. I've posted here and here about family members getting charged with DUI when called to the scene by police. Could this be a new trend?

A Santa Rosa husband and wife were arrested Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of drunken driving.

Eric Stockstad, 56, was arrested after CHP and fire authorities were called to a vehicle collision on Mountain View Road, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.

Stockstad was driving a Plymouth Voyager van when he lost control, ran off the roadway and overturned in a ditch, Sloat said.

Stockstad was not injured. Emergency crews suspected him of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and transported him to the CHP office in Rohnert Park for sobriety tests.

While emergency crews were at the scene Stockstad's wife arrived, apparently to assist her husband, Sloat said.

When Virginia Stockstad, 52, contacted emergency crews she appeared also to be under the influence of alcohol, Sloat said. She was taken to Sonoma County Jail, where her husband later joined her, Sloat said.

Both husband and wife told CHP authorities they had been drinking at home.

Eric Stockstad said he was driving "around" without a clear destination when he crashed, Sloat said. Virginia Stockstad appeared to be looking for her husband when she got behind the wheel of her car, Sloat said.

Looks like it's time to take a different tactic in situation like these. Especially since it is clear from these examples that law enforcement is not inclined to give family members any special dispensations in these situations.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says watch out for the pre-Labor Day roadblocks

This Chicago DUI lawyer isn't surprised to see MADD and NHTSA teaming up with law enforcement. I've posted here, here, and here about the MADD CEO being a nominee for NHTSA under the current administration. I guess he could turn down the job knowing he wouldn't be subject to scrutiny that comes with the nominee while still getting all of the benefits of having MADD's long arm hooked into the federal government.

These drivers are really "a common threat," as Captain Culin said today--to drivers, to passengers, to bystanders, and to the loving survivors left behind by the nearly 12,000 fatalities each year caused by impaired drivers.

Now, impaired driving is an issue that cuts across all segments of society but, sadly, as Laura Dean-Mooney and I noted today, the number of arrests of women driving under the influence is on the rise.

As we head into the last weeks of summer and Labor Day weekend, millions of American families will hop in their cars and head off to the beach, the lake, the mountains, the park, and elsewhere for some
late-summer fun. Wherever your vacation plans take you, we want you to arrive safely.

agencies will redouble their efforts to ensure that impaired drivers are detected and arrested during this high-risk travel season.

Hmmm, anyone else think that impaired driving sounds markedly different from drunk driving? I wonder what they mean? Could it be impaired driving based on fatigue or texting? What do you think?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer wonders what MADD thinks about Mad Men's DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer has a confession. I don't have a television. Like many, I've been catching up on the hit TV show Mad Men on DVD. The other night, I was watching past episodes from Season 2 of the award winning show when Don Draper, the protagonist on Mad Men, was charged with a DUI. Back in 1962 the legal BAC was .15. Yes you read that right, almost twice the legal limit of BAC today which is .08. So when did we go from .15 to .08? I've posted here and here about the MADD march to make alcohol consumption illegal.

Effective Jan. 1, 1958

  • Established a .15 percent BAC limit at which a driver is presumed to be under the influence of alcohol
Effective Jan. 1, 1967

  • Lowered the illegal BAC limit from .15 to .10 percent.

Effective July 2, 1997

  • Lowered the BAC limit at which a driver is considered to be under the influence of alcohol from .10 to .08.
How long before MADD is successful in its alcohol prohibition campaign and Zero Tolerance policy before a driver is considered to be under the influence of alcohol?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer provides an update on the DUI prosecutor who had his DUI dismissed

This Chicago DUI lawyer is anxious to visit her home state of South Carolina despite the headline news from the local politicians. I've posted here and here how DUI Prosecutor Barney Giese knew better than to submit to BAC(Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration) Testing. The DUI charges have been dismissed, but as I have discussed here, here, and here just like here in the Land of Lincoln his license is suspended simply for the DUI arrest.

Fifth Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese said Monday he won’t fight the six-month suspension of his driver’s license for refusing to take a breath test after his DUI arrest in Charleston in June.

But under state law, the longtime prosecutor still can drive during the suspension period, by applying for a route-restricted license, usually granted to go back and forth from work.

In a prepared statement released Monday afternoon, Giese acknowledged he refused to give a breath sample at the Charleston Police Department early on June 30. The test is done by blowing into a machine that measures a person’s blood-alcohol content.

“I did refuse to provide a breath sample, and, because of that, I am prepared to deal with the consequences of that decision,” Giese said in his statement Monday. “I will do what anyone else in my situation must do through the Department of Motor Vehicles to have my driving privilege lawfully reinstated.”

A hearing on the suspension had been scheduled for Aug. 31 in Hanahan near Charleston. Giese said in his statement that, through his attorney Monday morning, he had informed the state Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings that he was withdrawing his request for that hearing.

Contacted Monday, Laura Hudson, legislative liaison with the state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said Giese’s decision not to fight the suspension was “meaningless,” because of the special license.

“Let’s just hope he’s driving soberly and consciously while on suspension,” she said.

State law allows a driver to get a temporary or route-restricted license during the suspension period. After his arrest, Giese obtained a temporary license that gave him full driving privileges within the state.

The temporary license was good only until the suspension hearing; because Giese is no longer contesting the suspension, he would have to obtain a route-restricted license if he wants to continue driving, said Beth Parks, spokeswoman for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The route-restricted license allows drivers to go to and from work, school or court-ordered alcohol or drug treatment programs, Parks said. If Giese applies for that license, he would have to specify the earliest and latest times he would leave and arrive home, and the counties he would be driving in for work, she said.

In South Carolina last fiscal year, the DMV issued 5,635 temporary and 3,185 route-restricted licenses, department records show.

A temporary license or route-restricted license costs $100, plus there is another $100 fee to reinstate the regular license if the driver successfully completes the suspension period, according to DMV documents.

In addition, Giese must complete a certified alcohol counseling program if he wants his regular license back. The base cost of the program is $500, though it could be more if treatment is required, according to the state Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.

Giese was charged with DUI after Charleston police stopped a car he was driving with Minnesota plates going the wrong way on Market Street in the city’s downtown tourist district about 11:45 p.m. on June 29, an incident report said. A woman who was riding with Giese at the time was not charged.

Giese, who had attended a meeting with other solicitors in Charleston earlier that day, was arrested after failing three of four field sobriety tests, police said. He was taken to the Charleston police station, where he was offered, though he refused to take, a breath test, and was later booked at the Charleston County jail, records show.

How's that you ask? The DUI charges were dismissed and still he is punished with a flurry of fees, driver's license suspensions, and classes. Is there any other crime that is routinely burdened like this when the criminal charges are dismissed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says soon you will go to jail for driving without insurance

This Chicago DUI lawyer was worried that legislation making driving without insurance could literally land a person in jail and that worry will be realized as of January 1, 2010. I've posted here, here, and here about the perils of driving without valid insurance.

AN ACT concerning transportation, which may be referred to
as the Michael Dean Law.
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
Section 5. The Illinois Vehicle Code is amended by changing
Section 3-707 as follows:
(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.
(a-5) A person commits the offense of operation of
uninsured motor vehicle causing bodily harm when the person:
(1) operates a motor vehicle in violation of Section
7-601 of this Code; and
(2) causes, as a proximate result of the person's
operation of the motor vehicle, bodily harm to another
(a-6) Uninsured operation of a motor vehicle under
subsection (a-5) is a Class A misdemeanor.
(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.
These are extraordinarily tough economic times. It's a given that no one wants to have an accident. You certainly don't want to have an accident where someone gets hurt and not have inusrance. It used to be the fear was an inability to pay the injured party for their damages. Now, the individual driving without insurance has to worry about going to jail. As a Chicago DUI lawyer and as a former city prosecutor I've seen several accidents where a party didn't have insurance. That doesn't mean they should be facing jail. I've heard, on numerous occassions that the spouse or an ex-spouse by court decree was responsible for paying the bill and had paid late. Are these the types of people we want facing jail?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says sometimes you shouldn't follow police instructions

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here about a young man getting a DUI after being ordered by the police to leave. Now we have a father being charged with a DUI after being told by the police to come down to the station.

August 13, Cumberland, PA

A man who was called to come pick up his daughter after she was charged with underage drinking on July 17 was charged with DUI himself, according to state police at Carlisle.

Police said they were called to the 200 block of Academic Way in Shippensburg Township at 1:15 a.m. that night on a report of a loud party. They found that a number of the attendees were under 21 and had consumed alcoholic beverages, they said.

One of them was Kristina Ann Kushnir, 20, of Shippensburg, police said, and she gave false information about her identification. They charged her with underage drinking and false reports to law enforcement authorities, police said.

Kushnir’s father, 52-year-old Kurt Kushnir, also of Shippensburg, came to pick her up and was discovered to be intoxicated, police said. On Aug. 4 police filed charges of high rate of alcohol DUI and careless driving against him.
Here's a case where the Mr. Kushnir would have been better off telling the police no. You would think they may have shown him a bit of community courtesy by not charging him with a DUI given the circumstances. I don't think his chances are high for a successful entrapment defense.