This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here about the legal consequences of a DUI when you are under the age of 21. Right now, I’m at the Illinois State Bar Association’s 135th Annual Meeting and the law is strict in Wisconsin for youthful mistakes that can be tragic as well.
As her fellow Homestead High School graduates head off to college dorms in coming weeks, Madeline Kudlata will split her time between Marquette University and a jail cell as punishment for killing her best friend and classmate in a rollover crash last September.
Kudlata, 18, of Mequon was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail, with release privileges to attend Marquette, as a condition of five years probation. If she violates that or other conditions, she could go to prison for two years, and as many as five, under a sentence imposed, and stayed, by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Kevin Martens after a daylong hearing of emotional testimony from family on both sides.
Sydney Tabakin died Sept. 18 after Kudlata lost control on the ramp to northbound U.S. 41 from eastbound I-94. Kudlata and a front-seat passenger were not seriously injured. Tabakin was riding in the back seat without a seat belt.
In April, Kudlata pleaded no contest to homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle. She was initially ticketed for driving too fast for conditions and having an open container of alcohol in her car, but was charged with the felony in January.
Witnesses told investigators that Kudlata was disposing of liquor bottles at the scene. A blood test showed traces of marijuana, but no alcohol. Tabakin had no alcohol or illicit drugs in her system.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams told Martens that the case could have been charged as homicide by drug-impaired driving, a 25-year felony, but that his office negotiated the lesser charge, and plea, in the interest of justice and the facts.
"I believe it's a reasonable resolution of a very difficult matter," Williams said. He recommended the year of jail as condition to probation.
Kudlata will suffer the consequences for the rest of her life while her best friend had her life cut short. It could have been just a tragic accident, had alcohol and drugs not be involved, no matter how attenuated.