Friday, July 31, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the Feds weighing in on texting while driving

This Chicago DUI lawyer has already commented about texting while driving here and here. Now Congress is looking to ban texting while driving throughout the nation using the same stick they used to raise the Breath Alcohol Content(BAC) for DUI's, federal dollars for highways.

States that do not ban texting by drivers could forfeit hundreds of millions of dollars in federal highway funds under legislation introduced Wednesday in the Senate.

Under the measure, states would have two years to outlaw the sending of text and e-mail messages by drivers or lose 25 percent of their highway money each year until the money was depleted.

Studies show this is far more dangerous than talking on a phone while driving or driving while drunk, which is astounding,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, one of four Democratic senators to introduce the proposal.

Regulation of the roadways generally happens at the state level. But the federal government has exerted pressure on the states based on the threat of withholding federal highway funds, as Congress did in 1984 to pressure states to raise the minimum drinking age to 21 years.

The Governors Highway Safety Association, a group that represents state highway safety agencies in every state, opposes texting while driving but does not support the proposed legislation.

“We oppose sanctioning states since there is not yet a proven effective method for enforcing a texting or cellphone ban,” an association spokesman, Jonathan Adkins, said.

I still wonder what are we going to ban next in the name of saftey while driving. Seriously, at what point do we stop legislating and just require some common sense?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says sometimes the cops are out to get you

Unfortunately, this Chicago DUI lawyer is not shocked by a recent DUI conspiracy involving law enforcement. No, I don't believe this is how most law enforcement would react, but I can say I've had my own case where an officer was at fault for an accident and looked to blame my client. Fortunately in that case the charges against my client were dismissed. I've also had cases where I questioned the officer's truthfuless. That taint makes it difficult for other truthful law enforcement officers. And yes, I have had cases where officers were completely forthcoming with the facts and my clients were acquitted. Is it any wonder that defense attorneys are strong advocates for video before an arrest is made?

Public humiliation for Hollywood police continued Wednesday as state prosecutors dropped criminal charges against a driver some officers tried to blame for a rear-end crash that may have been their own fault.

As the four officers talked about what to do late one night last February, a video recorder in one of their cruisers captured their words.

After reviewing the video, Broward prosecutors opted Wednesday not to charge the female motorist because the recording had thrown the police version of events into question, state attorney's office spokesman Ron Ishoy said.

The 23-year-old Hollywood woman, who had been accused of drunk driving, could have gone to prison for close to three years had she been convicted as originally charged.

The allegations against the officers stem from a videotaped exchange among them that occurred after Officer Joel Francisco, 36, rear-ended a car late on the night of Feb. 17.

A dashboard camera in one of the patrol cars at the scene recorded what the officers said, including this remark by one of them: "We'll do a little Walt Disney to protect the cop because it wouldn't have mattered because she is drunk anyway."

Officer Dewey Pressley, 42, wrote the report detailing the midnight crash in the 2800 block of Sheridan Street and recounting that "a large gray stray cat" that had been sitting on Alexandra Gabriela Torrensvilas' lap jumped out of her car window. That, the officer wrote in his report, caused her to veer into Francisco's lane, where she abruptly braked, and Francisco's car hit hers.

Torrensvilas was subsequently charged with four counts of drunken driving and cited for an improper lane change.

The case against her evaporated after the video recording and a transcript of the officers' remarks surfaced Tuesday. The same day, the Hollywood Police Department launched an internal investigation, and put Francisco, Pressley and the others involved at the Sheridan Street crash scene--- Sgt. Andrew Diaz, 39, and civilian community service officer Karim Thomas---on administrative duty.
Perhaps this latest episode will cause some prosecutors to understand why defense lawyers are sometimes both sceptical and wary. The realization that you can't always trust law enforcement to be truthful is disconcerting to say the least.

PS Thanks Sam

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says this DUI prosecutor has words of wisdom since his own DUI was dismissed

Recently, this Chicago DUI lawyer posted about a DUI prosecutor facing DUI charges. Those charges against Solicitor Barney Geise have been dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea to minor traffic offenses.

A drunken driving charge against longtime 5th Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese has been dismissed, but he pleaded guilty Friday to two lesser offenses stemming from a June 29 traffic stop in Charleston.

In a prepared statement released Friday to The State newspaper, Giese, 53, said his Charleston attorney, Andy Savage, entered a guilty plea on his behalf to two traffic offenses that carry no jail time — improper turning and operating a vehicle the wrong way down a one-way street.

The car made an illegal left turn onto Meeting Street from North Market Street, then continued west the wrong way on Market Street, the report said.

He had a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage,” flunked three of four field sobriety tests and refused to give a breath sample at the police department, according to the incident report. His license was automatically suspended under state law for refusing the breath test, the report said.

The main incident report references a supplemental report about the traffic stop, also requested by The State.


Attorney Dick Harpootlian has battled Giese in court and as solicitor himself, worked side by side with Giese.

Harpootlian says the video shows police were wrong.

"Innocent people occasionally get arrested. And in this case, an innocent guy got arrested. I think it's great. I think it will make him a better prosecutor because it re-emphasizes what he knew anyway and I've known as a solicitor and as a defense attorney. Sometimes -- I know this is shocking -- sometimes human beings called policemen make mistakes," said Harpootlian.

There is a video after his arrest here. During the video, back at the police station, Solicitor Geise says:

If I blow under .08 then you are still going to arrest me so how do I win by blowing, no offense. Either way, I am humiliated plus whatever. If I blow under .08 and you've arrested me it's over. You know, no offense to you. Do you know what I'm saying? Why blow if I'm going to be front page of the State. My family is embarrased. My wife is embarrased. What's the use of blowing, no offense?

Now there's a prosecutor who understands how a DUI charge works.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer sees vehicle profiling coming soon to DUI arrests

This Chicago DUI lawyer recently cited a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study here and here. There's even more information to mine from that study of drunk driving. It looks like cars are far less likely to have drunk drivers versus pickup trucks and motorcyclists.

Substantial differences were observed in the percentage of drivers with illegal BACs by vehicle type. Motorcycle riders were more than twice as likely as passenger car drivers to have had BACs > 0.08 g/dL (5.6% compared to 2.3%). Pickup truck drivers were the next most likely vehicle type to have illegal BACs (3.3%).

Somehow I suspect the insurance cabal will be using this information to raise the premiums on pickup trucks and motorcyclists.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer wonders why prosecutors are worried about having crime lab analysts testify

Last week I posted on the Supreme Court's recent decision to require lab analysts to testify in line with the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment, now prosecutors are concerned about abiding with the law.

Some prosecutors have said they fear the uncertainty -- and the potential cost -- of being required to have lab technicians ready to testify.

"This is a train wreck in the making," said Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association. "The court is saying you can't submit an affidavit saying that the cocaine is cocaine. The criminalist must be there to testify the cocaine is cocaine. Particularly in rural states and in smaller communities, this is going to be a major problem."

The Supreme Court's decision also raised questions. For example, is the required witness the lab technician who ran an evidence sample through a machine, or the expert who programmed or calibrated the machine?

It is also not clear what happens in cases where the lab expert is not available.

"What are you supposed to do if your ballistic expert moved from Cleveland to Phoenix prior to the trial?" Burns said.

Stanford University law professor Jeffrey Fisher, who won the case before the high court, said states such as California and Illinois routinely bring crime experts to trials. Other states require prosecutors and defense lawyers to agree in advance what kinds of evidence will be submitted.

"It may take a little while, but people will figure this out," Fisher said.

Some defense lawyers predicted the impact of the ruling would be minimal.

"It will be the rare case where this comes into play," said Steve Benjamin, a criminal defense lawyer in Richmond, Va. "It will be unusual for a defense lawyer to insist on live testimony. All you are doing in those situations is emphasizing the evidence that incriminates your client."

He and other defense lawyers, however, stressed that crime labs have made mistakes that sent innocent people to prison. In some cases, they said, it is crucial to question a crime lab expert to expose doubts about the evidence.

Anyone else find it interesting thatthe government complains about the law of the land?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on 6th ranking Chicago as safe driver haven

This Chicago DUI lawyer finds the Allstate safe driver's study pretty, pretty, pretty good to borrow from Larry David.

Amongst all cities across the country with populations of one million or more Chicago ranks 6th in the number of safe drivers according to Allstate Insurance, it's overall rank is 170. Yes, New York City is numbe three amongst cities with large populations, but practically no one in New York City has a car. No I don't think Chicago got credit because Alstate's headquarters are in Chicagoland's Northbrook, Il.

The Top Ten
Drivers from Sioux Falls, S.D. maintained their status as the safest driving city in this year's report for the fourth consecutive year. However, two new cities championed their way into the top ten, Eugene, Ore. and Boise, Idaho.

City & Overall Ranking
Collision Likelihood
Compared to National
Average Years
Between Collisions
1. Sioux Falls, S.D.
-26.1% less likely
2. Fort Collins, Colo.
-24.6% less likely
3. Chattanooga, Tenn.
-21.4% less likely
4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
-20.7% less likely
5. Knoxville, Tenn.
-19.0% less likely
6. Fort Wayne, Ind.
-18.4% less likely
7. Lexington-Fayette, Ky.
-17.7% less likely
8. Eugene, Ore.
-16.3% less likely
9. Boise, Idaho
-15.4% less likely
10. Colorado Springs, Colo.
-15.0% less likely

Additional "Road" Scholars
Drivers in U.S. cities with populations of one million-plus are more likely than the national average to experience a collision. Motorists in Phoenix topped the list in this category making them the safest big city commuters.

Cities with More Than One Million Residents…

City & Overall Ranking
Collision Likelihood
Compared to National
Average Years
Between Collisions
95. Phoenix, Ariz.
8.8% more likely
108. San Diego, Calif.
13.0% more likely
145. New York, N.Y.
25.5% more likely
161. Houston, Texas
32.0% more likely
168. San Antonio, Texas
36.3% more likely
170. Chicago, Ill.
37.6% more likely
173. Dallas, Texas
39.5% more likely
184. Los Angeles, Calif.
46.6% more likely
188. Philadelphia, Pa.
57.1% more likely

What's interesting is what is missing in the Allstate study highlights. They do mention ways to avoid accidents and ironically, there is no mention of curbing alcohol consumption.

Allstate offers the following safe driving tips drivers should consider:

  • Minimize distractions - Engaging in any other activity while driving - talking on your cell phone, text messaging, changing a radio station, putting on makeup - is a distraction.

  • Be aware of road conditions - Ice, snow, fog, rain - all of these weather conditions require extra caution and slower speeds.

  • Leave a safe distance between your car and others around you - Maintain at least one car length space between your car and the vehicle in front of you for every 10 miles per hour of speed.

  • Steer clear of road rage - Reduce stress on the road by allowing plenty of time for travel, planning your route in advance, and altering your schedule or route to avoid congested roads. Remember not to challenge aggressive drivers and stay as far away from them as possible.

  • Maintenance matters - Ultimately, safety also depends on the maintenance of one's car. Ensure that car brakes, exhaust system, tires, lights, battery, and hoses are in good working order.
Hmmm, I guess they didn't get the memo from MADD.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on DUI suspect's jail beating

There isn't much to say here. The woman in the clip was arrested on charges of DUI. After she was processed and placed in a cell she is clearly struck by law enforcement officers.

What in the world does it take to get fired as an employee of Tazewell County?

It's a fair question after viewing the videotape of two Tazewell jailers beating up a 40-something female arrested on DUI charges last October, and after reading of the Merit Commission's unanimous decision to let them get away with it without penalty.

"The worst use of force ... we've had in my 10 years as sheriff," Huston characterized it, which is saying something in Tazewell. Arguably it's every bit as unsettling as what we saw with the "subduing" last year of a 33-year-old Peoria man by city police officers after he'd led them on a vehicle chase. Captured on tape by a squad car's dashboard camera, the incident resulted in the criminal indictment of three Peoria officers, now awaiting trial.

Yet the Tazewell Merit Commission - comprised of Chairman Gerald Wise, Lloyd Orrick, Harvey Richmond, Solie Myers and Donald Sharpe - unanimously reinstated the suspended officers with full back pay.

We're told there's more to the tape and more context to the episode than we've seen, though we'd suggest the important parts are covered and speak, damningly, for themselves. There's no audio, though we can't imagine anything Behm could have said that would justify such treatment. Ours is no defense of her, though we suspect drunk and belligerent, as she was described, are not exactly foreign adjectives at any jail. Police are human and lose their temper, though it's not unreasonable to expect more restrained, professional conduct. At the beginning this case was referred by Tazewell County State's Attorney Stu Umholtz to a special prosecutor for possible criminal charges, but ultimately a grand jury decided not to indict.

So now it looks like we can't expect law enforcement to recognize their special role. It's their role to diffuse a situation and that requires special training and aptitude. I don't know what this woman said, but no words justify their actions. The full video clip is below. It's about 30 minutes and it isn't for the faint of heart.

Jail beating footage (FULL) from Journal Star on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on Minister's .000 DUI Arrest

Well if ever there's a reason to refuse testing, here it is. I've posted here and here about things to consider before submitting to testing in an alleged DUI arrest.

Now here's a DUI arrest of a minister who took both field sobriety tests, which he failed, sumbitted to a breath test with the resutlts being .000, then submitted to urine testing.

Guess what, they didn't release him after he blew .000. He still has pending DUI charges.

Stapp told the Daily News he was coming home from working his church’s fireworks stand in the early morning hours of July 5 when he was pulled over by a Neosho police officer on Neosho Boulevard, near Stadium Drive.

On Tuesday, Stapp said the arresting officer told him he had been pulled over for crossing the center line for about half a block. The officer performed a field sobriety check on Stapp, which he failed.

The Neosho minister said the officer conducted a Breathalyzer test on him, which read all zeroes.

“At that time, I thought I would be released,” he said.
I guess he thought wrong. As I've said in the past, you can pass the field sobriety tests, the breath tests, and you will still be charged with a DUI. You will still need to have a lawyer represent you. All you need to decide when the police asks you to step out of the car is how much help you want to give the government in prosecuting you.

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on sucking, blowing and humming a new way to start the car

Ugh! It's happened. I have a senior citizen who can't get her car to start. No, she isn't a drunk. She's charged with a DUI and the only way she can drive while her case is pending was to have an Ignition Interlock Device Installed. I've posted here and here on these devices. Now my client has to learn a new skill in order to get her car to start. She has to blow and suck or hum into the instrument in order to get the car to start. She can't do it.

Clear Instructions

Some models you just blow into. Some you have to suck and blow and suck and blow again. With others, you might have to hum a tune into them. Make sure you understand what you have to do and that you will be willing to do it.

As if the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests: Walking heel-to-toe; Standing on one leg, Touching the tip of your nose with your head back, weren't disconnected enough from the skills required for driving, now those accused of DUI in Illinois have a new set of tests, blowing, sucking, and humming.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on Cook County decriminalizing weed

Wow! I've posted, here, here, and here on DUI's and weed. Yesterday, the Cook County Board voted to decriminalize small amounts of weed.

If you’re busted carrying a small amount of marijuana in portions of Cook County patrolled by the sheriff’s police, you may get off with just a ticket.

In a move that caught the sheriff’s office off guard, the county board on Tuesday voted to decriminalize possession of less than 10 grams of pot in unincorporated areas of Cook County. Those are the parts of the county not claimed by Chicago or its suburbs.

The measure, which needs to be approved by Board President Todd Stroger to take effect, gives sheriff’s police and sheriff’s deputies patrolling the unincorporated areas the latitude to arrest a suspect on a misdemeanor charge or, under the new ordinance, hit them with a $200 ticket if they’re carrying 10 grams or less.

Nearly five years ago, Mayor Daley embraced a police sergeant’s proposal to ticket people for small amounts of marijuana — from $250 for 10 grams of pot to $1,000 for 20 to 30 grams — but the plan never got off the ground.

“It’s decriminalized now,” Daley said at the time. “They throw all the cases out. It doesn’t mean anything. You just show up to court. Another case goes out. That's all it is. There's nothing there. They don’t even show up — the offenders. It doesn’t mean anything.”

How will this impact DUI's with weed charges in Illinois?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the impact of the Supreme Court's decision in Melendez-Diaz

Well it looks like the accused's right to confrontation is putting DUI and drug cases at risk.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment's confrontation clause requires the appearance of lab analysts.

Crime laboratory reports may not be used against criminal defendants at trial unless the analysts responsible for creating them give testimony and subject themselves to cross-examination, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a 5-to-4 decision.

The confrontation clause may make the prosecution of criminals more burdensome, but that is equally true of the right to trial by jury and the privilege against self-incrimination,'' Justice Scalia wrote.

''The sky will not fall after today's decision,'' he added.

The decision came in the wake of a wave of scandals at crime laboratories that included hundreds of tainted cases in Michigan, Texas and West Virginia. William C. Thompson, a professor of criminology at the University of California, Irvine, said those scandals proved that live testimony from analysts was needed to explore potential shortcomings in laboratory reports.

''The person can be interrogated about the process, about the meaning of the document,'' Professor Thompson said. ''The lab report itself cannot be interrogated to establish the strengths and limitations of the analysis.''

In February, the National Academy of Sciences issued a sweeping critique of the nation's crime labs. It concluded, for instance, that forensic scientists for law enforcement agencies ''sometimes face pressure to sacrifice appropriate methodology for the sake of expediency.''

Cross-examination of witnesses, Justice Scalia wrote, ''is designed to weed out not only the fraudulent analyst, but the incompetent one as well.'' He added that the Constitution would require allowing defendants to confront witnesses even if ''all analysts always possessed the scientific acumen of Mme. Curie and the veracity of Mother Teresa.''

I'd asked some prosecutors and defense attorneys how they thought Melendez-Diaz would play out in Illinois, most think it will not change things here. It is already significantly changing things in other states however:

There's a call for a special session of the General Assembly in Virginia, after a Supreme Court ruling has put dozens of drunk driving and drug cases in jeopardy.

The ruling, handed down last month, forbids lab reports to be used as evidence in drug and alcohol cases unless a lab technician actually testifies in court. It has already led to dismissals on several drug and DUI cases.

In a letter to Governor Tim Kaine, Cuccinelli says, "There is a need to act quickly to avoid very significant problems once some ongoing cases start to run up against speedy trial limitations as a result of continuances that are currently being requested and granted."

Cuccinelli wants the governor to call a special General Assembly session to change the law.

It's funny how some of us claiming to love America run to change the laws when the Constitution gets in the way of how we think justice should be meted out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says BoozeCrews has a great business idea

There is no question in my mind that a DUI is better avoided than defending. Some local entrepreneurs seem to agree and have started a service specifically aimed at avoiding a DUI.

BoozeCrews, a locally-based business and a drunk-driving prevention advocacy group, wants to do something about that. The recently launched company offers a safe transportation option where those who have been drinking will be driven home in their own car rather than having to leave a vehicle abandoned in an unauthorized area. BoozeCrews employees then return to "base" using mo-peds that easily fit in the back of the client's car. It takes up no more space than a set of golf clubs.

"We researched this and found there are some other groups that are active with this throughout the country," Jopp said. "The biggest is probably in Dallas, Texas, where they operate 40 teams on a 24/7 basis. It took them 2 1/2 years to get to that size. We feel that would be an awfully lofty goal here, but the people we've pitched the idea to here have said it is a fantastic idea and have even asked if we offer gift certificates."

Who says you can't develop a business that makes a profit and does good work, especially during a recession.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says don't drive after eating ice ceram on National Ice Cream Day

July is National Ice Cream month and today, the third Sunday in July, is National Ice Cream Day. No I did not make that up just look here. Ice cream is a treat for everyone, especially during the long hot summer days, although Chicago has had a very cool summer and it isn't even hot down here in North Carolina today. That said, be careful about eating ice cream and driving. It could get you a DUI and, no I don't mean just avoid the rum raisin ice cream.

An Australian man challenged to prove his claim that icecream [sic] gave him a blood alcohol reading demonstrated his defense in court.

The man, whose name was not given, had asked Frankston Magistrates' Court to remove the breath testing alcohol interlock device from his car, the (Melbourne, Australia) Daily Sun reported Tuesday.

Prosecutors inquired why the machine had registered a "fail," which prevents the car from starting, despite the man's claims that he had not been drinking.

The man claimed the alcohol reading was the result of eating a Bubble O' Bill ice cream treat and Magistrate Rod Crisp ordered a test to be performed to back up the claim. Police recorded the man's blood alcohol content as 0.00 and performed the test a second time after he took a few bites of Bubble O' Bill, yielding a 0.018 reading.

Crisp granted the man's request to remove the breath testing device from his car.

Experts said consuming some foods or drinks before breath tests can cause a false positive reading. It is recommended that that [sic] test subjects wait at least 15 minutes in between eating and blowing into the machine.

Sometimes, you really don't have to consume drugs or alcohol to render false over-the-limit readings on these breath machines. Do you really want to rely on this type of technology when it comes to your freedom?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says the government thinks you aren't necessarily impaired just because you have drugs in your system

Earlier this week, I posted on the increase in drugs while driving versus alcohol while driving. Now, it appears even National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) isn't convinced that drug detection equates impaired driving.

Most psychoative drugs are chemically complex molecules, whose absorption, action, and elimination from the body are difficult to predict, and considerable differences exist between individuals with regard to the rates with which these processes occur. Alcohol, in comparision, is more predictable.

Factors that make similar prediction difficult for most other psychoative drugs include:

  • Poor correlation between the effects on psychomatic, behavioral, and/or executive functions and blood or plasma levels (peak psychomotor, behavioral, and executive function effects do not necessarily correspond to peak blood levels; detectable blood levels may persist beyond the impairing effects or the impairing effects may be measurable when the drug cannot be detected in the blood)

  • Acute versus chronic administration (it is not unusual to observe much larger impairment during initial administration of drugs than is observed when the drug is administered over a long period of time)

The result of these factors is that, at the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with effects on driver performance.

Can you believe that the government is actually admitting that driving with some drugs in your system does not, necessarily, mean the driver is impaired?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says finally DUI law is showing common sense

One of the biggest problems with DUI law is it can scoop up the innocent. DUI is practically the only crime, with serious consequences, that does not require mens rea. Mens rea is a legal term that means the criminal intended to commit the crime. There was a plan or some knowledge that a crime would occur.

We all know that when someone is drunk, they aren't capable of thinking clearly or rationally in most instances. Most people drive drunk without the thought that they are putting themselves and others in harm's way. That's why most rational people who feel tired or perhaps like they have had too much to drink will not drive. What most people do is sleep it off in their car.

Unfortunately in many states, including Illinois, if you sleep it off in your car you can be charged with a DUI. That's right, all of those anti-DUI campaigns about drinking and driving weren't really clear. You cannot be in a car at all if you want to avoid a DUI arrest. That's exactly what happened to Travis Peterson of Dixon Illinois.

Peterson was, in the eyes of the law, a frequenter on the Alpine Valley grounds, not a trespasser. And there is no suggestion, that as a frequenter on the evening in question, he was prohibited from drinking alcohol. Indeed, drinking alcohol to excess, while inadvisable and unhealthy, is not unlawful by itself. So, Peterson’s being drunk was lawful conduct. What Peterson did next is also not only lawful, but commendable. Knowing he was drunk, he decided to sleep it off rather than operate his vehicle. So, up to this point at least—where he was found sleeping in his car—he had not engaged in any conduct that would be the catalyst for a criminal design.
No. You still cannot sleep it off in your car. I think this ruling makes the point that it's time to put common sense back in DUI. Otherwise "commendable" people who are sleeping it off in their cars are damend if they do and damned if they don't. Is that what our state legislators intended?

(Congratulations to National College of DUI Defense Attorney Andrew Mishlove who represented Travis Peterson, sorry we aren't with you at Harvard right now)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer wonders if both the passenger and the driver will be found guilty of DUI

Recently, a Pennsylvania couple pled guilty of DUI. The police couldn't figure out which one actually was driving so they cast their nets wide. It looks like it worked:

June 2, New Brighton, PA

A western Pennsylvania husband and wife will enter a first-time offender program after both were charged with drunken driving in connection with the same car crash.

Police were told of the accident, and found the damaged car in a nearby mobile home park. Robert Kotoff claimed he was driving. But police say witnesses told them Tina Kotoff was driving when the car hit the tree, and that her husband only drove the car to the mobile home park afterward.

I guess this local couple didn't hear about the Pennsylvania case.

Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time. Or maybe it was more a matter of desperate people doing desperate things.

In any event, the sensation of her car striking a curb with a Naperville police squad car nearby apparently prompted motorist Erin M. Flanagan to quickly trade places with her front seat passenger, Justin M. Kreis.

Flanagan had been drinking, according to police, and apparently feared she was about to be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The trouble was, Kreis was inebriated, too. Which is why police ended up arresting both on drunken-driving charges.

Is Illinois going to follow Pennsylvania and find both people guilty of DUI?

(Thanks Melinda)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says drinking and driving has taken a back seat to drugs and driving

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here on DUI's involving drugs, not alcohol. Well, looks like the American people have spoken and their poison of choice no longer comes in a bottle. National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), your tax dollars hard at work, has released a study indicating that more night-time drivers are testing positive for drugs than alcohol.

Random roadside checks show that the percentage of people driving under the influence of alcohol appears to be declining, but many weekend drivers test positive for drug use.

The findings come from the latest roadside survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration based on breath, saliva, blood samples and questionnaires taken from randomly selected drivers in 300 locations around the United States. In 1973, 7.5 percent of drivers had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. (A level of .08 is above the legal limit in all 50 states.) In the latest survey, the percentage of people driving above the legal alcohol limit had fallen to 2.2 percent.

For the first time, the roadside survey also used screening methods to detect marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs. The survey found that 16.3 percent of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for drugs. Nearly 9 percent had used marijuana, whereas nearly 4 percent tested positive for cocaine and a similar number had used prescription drugs. The drug tests only indicate the presence of the drug in the body and don’t indicate when the drugs were used or whether the driver was impaired.

Because the survey was anonymous, readings from breath, saliva and blood samples weren’t immediately available to interviewers. However, if a driver appeared to be impaired, the interviewers attempted to obtain a readable breath sample. Drivers who appeared impaired or who were confirmed to be impaired weren’t arrested, but they also weren’t allowed back on the road. Instead, they were allowed to call for a ride, driven home by fellow passengers, offered a ride by the researchers themselves or even offered a hotel room.

“They went to great lengths to prevent these people from driving home,” Mr. Michael said. “It was not an enforcement stop. The important thing was we didn’t want to allow anybody back into traffic that appeared to be impaired.

I think many of my Chicago DUI clients wish this study took place here. After all, the "impaired drivers" were not arrested, they were just prohibited from driving.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says more proof that DUI checkpoints aren't effective

One thousand plus cars through a holiday weekend DUI checkpoint and no DUI arrests. That's not a great return on taxpayer money or any false sense of safer roads.

I've posted on DUI checkpoints/roadblocks here, here, and here. There are no press releases on the Chicago Police Department's website indicating there were any DUI checkpoints in Chicago over the holiday weekend. That doesn't mean they didn't happen, just that there aren't any press releases.

A DUI checkpoint over the holiday weekend resulted in 10 people being arrested and more than 100 drivers being issued traffic citations.

Although no one was arrested for DUI, FHP said the following actions were taken during the checkpoint:

--Two arrested on outstanding warrants.

-- Seven arrested on felony charges, including six on drug-related charges.

-- One arrested for misdemeanor drugs.

-- 104 traffic citations issued.

-- 10 faulty equipment warnings were issued.

-- 10 warnings were issued.

According to a Chicago Police Department press release, when you combine the efforts of two separate DUI checkpoints last month, there were 3 arrests for DUI. Interestingly, there are no press releases to indicate that those DUI checkpoints were going to occur. I'm guessing the impaired drivers didn't take an alternate route to avoid these specific checkpoints. Is it time to remove these DUI checkpoints/roadblock from the arsenal of law enforcement?