Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on a paroled DUI offender

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about the harsh and ever increasing penalties for those guilty of DUI. DUI offenders tend to be non-violent offenders with no other criminal background. Can you imagine going to prison for a DUI? This man just got out and still his debt isn’t over.

March 31, Aledo, IL

A Mercer County man with a history of drunk driving convictions has been paroled.

According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, Bruce Fish was released from Thomson Correctional Center on Monday of this week.

Fish served less than half of his latest ten year sentence. He was sent to prison most recently in 2006 after police stopped him for drunk driving in Cable, Illinois.

Fish still owes nearly 10-thousand dollars in court fees and restitution. He will be on parole for another year.
Well he hasn’t worked in over four years so my guess is the $10,000 in court fees and restitution will not be paid any time soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on court watchers

This Chicago DUI lawyer got a compliment… she thinks. As I checked in with the clerk in the court house I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. It was a dapperly dressed gentleman that I recognized instantly. He said, "I’ve been watching you and you are a very good attorney.” I thanked him.

I see him in the court rooms now more than ever before this year, or so it seems. He’s not the only one I see. There’s the sweet faced little lady with strawberry blonde curls; she usually, nods or waves at me. So why do I recognize these two? They are volunteers. They sit in court most days and watch. They don’t have cases nor do they have family charged with offenses. They wear these official looking little name tags that identify them as court watchers for AAIM. Some lawyers I know despise them. They feel that there very officious presence does nothing more than bully judges and prosecutors, I’m certain there’s no prosecutor or judge who would ever admit to feeling some sort of pressure from the court watchers.

I often wonder what these folks think while they sit in court. Perhaps I should ask them if they think everyone there is guilty. I wonder if they think the system wouldn’t be better served if we just eliminated prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges and just rely on the word of the police. There’s one problem with that vision, they wouldn’t get to be court watchers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on Chicago Cops' reluctance to keep the cameras rolling

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about the need for video to be installed in police cars. Yes, it is a boon to defense lawyers, but it should also protect law enforcement. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that some officers don’t want to abide by the rules and keep the camera running.

March 29, Chicago, IL

In the 1960s, Chicago cops initially griped about having to wear radios on their belts.
In the last decade, some fretted about having to communicate for the first time through laptop computers in their cars.

Now some officers have been resisting the latest police technology: video cameras installed in 340 vehicles.

"For an organization of this size, this is a fundamental change, and it will take a while to be accepted," said Jonathan Lewin, commander of the Information Technology Section.

Privately, some cops told the Chicago Sun-Times they were ignoring the rule to turn on camera systems because they're worried their words and actions will come back to haunt them. They explained they sometimes must use harsh language to establish control over people they stop.
As a taxpayer, I’m not particularly worried about words coming back to haunt a police officer, assuming the words are profane and not a threat or a lie, but I wonder what actions they are concerned would come back to haunt them?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on Illinois State Rep's DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about politicians being charged with DUI. Usually, these arrest aren't here in the Land of Lincoln but looks like that has changed.

March 17, Decatur, IL

State Rep. Ron Stephens is facing a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after he was found using the wrong lane by Decatur Police and admitted having several Jack and Cokes at dinner.

Stephens, 62, was ticketed Monday night by Decatur Police for improper lane usage and driving under the influence. The ticket states his breath alcohol level was 0.101. The limit in Illinois is 0.08, the equivalent of about three drinks for an adult male.

Stephens issued this statement on Tuesday: “Early on Monday evening, I was stopped by the Macon County Sheriff’s police and received citations for improper lane usage and driving under the influence. I cooperated fully with the police officers, was ticketed and released later that evening. "I exercised poor judgment that evening, and I am truly sorry for my actions. I also regret having disappointed my family, friends, and those I represent. I take full responsibility and stand ready to face the consequences of my actions.”

I wonder if he intends to plead guilty? I also wonder if he has any idea what the consequences of his actions are?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on not 1, not 2, but 3 DUI charges for a Cop

Whoa! This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about cops with DUI arrests. That said she’s never heard of a cop with 3 separate pending DUI arrests. Where’s MADD when you need them?

March 24, Santa Ana, CA

An Anaheim police officer resigned Tuesday amid a department investigation and after being charged with driving under the influence of a cocktail of prescription drugs for the third time in less than a year.

The officer, who hasn't been to work since late 2008 but remained on paid administrative leave, has pleaded not guilty in one case of driving under the influence from an incident last March. The two latest charges were filed last week and Tuesday.

Kevin Noel Schlueter, 37, of Costa Mesa, is charged in three separate cases with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs for each case.
Schlueter's three DUI arrests were first revealed earlier this month by the Register.

If convicted in all three cases, Schlueter faces up to two years and six months behind bars. Schlueter is scheduled to appear in court Friday.

Schlueter had been on leave since November 2008 for what department spokesman Sgt. Rick Martinez said was "a variety of reasons." Personnel rules prohibit him from giving specifics, Martinez said.

Schlueter's leave had been unpaid at first. But then in November 2009, months after Schlueter's first DUI arrest, Anaheim officials put him on paid administrative leave.
After Schlueter's arrests were publicized by the Register, Anaheim police issued a statement saying:

"The Anaheim Police Department is cooperating with the OC District Attorney's office in its prosecution of these cases and we have contacted the Department of Motor Vehicles regarding the officer's future driving privileges. We are also expediting our internal investigation into this matter in order to reach a decision concerning the officer's employment as soon as possible."
It’s clear that the nature of the job can cause some law enforcement officers to need additional support in order to avoid a tragic ending, like this one to employment, not to mention the little matter of three separate criminal charges for DUI.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on extradition and DUI

Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about DUI’s outside of the U.S. A closer connection puts a Chicago man on the international stage for extradition because of an old DUI.

March 26, Chicago, IL
A man accused in the drunken-driving deaths of two 17-year-old girls in Poland escaped from a hospital there after the 1994 crash, fled his homeland and hid for nearly 15 years in Chicago.

The past caught up to Andrezej Piotrowicz, 35, in November 2009, when U.S. marshals arrested him. They were tipped off by Polish authorities who tracked him to a brick home in Chicago's Belmont Heights neighborhood, where he was living with his sister and elderly mother.

An extradition hearing was held in January, and a federal judge is expected to rule soon on Poland's request. The ultimate decision will be made by the U.S. State Department.

Blood drawn at the hospital showed Piotrowicz had a blood-alcohol level of 1.23, six times the country's legal threshold, according to court records. The figure is 15 times the legal threshold in Illinois.

It was unclear how Piotrowicz, who had suffered a concussion, was able to flee the country.

Piotrowicz first appears in Chicago-area public records in 1995, when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, court records show. On May 31, 1996, he got an Illinois driver's license, according to the secretary of state's office.

Piotrowicz bought his Belmont Heights home in 1999, records show. The brick home with a basketball hoop on the backyard garage has his name on the mailbox.
Are you surprised at how far reaching DUI laws can be? I suspect the judge will rule that Mr. Piotrowicz must be extradited to Poland to face the charges.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer says you can be found not guilty of a DUI and still have your license suspended for a DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about Statutory Summary Suspensions. By law, your license is suspended just for being charged with a DUI. In Illinois, even if you are found not guilty of the DUI or the charges are dismissed your license is still suspended unless you have a successful Statutory Summary Suspension hearing. I just talked about this a few hours ago. Even the powerful and famous can be thwarted by this suspension.

March 25, New York, NY
A Manhattan jury acquitted Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV on Thursday of drunken driving but found him guilty of a lesser charge, driving while ability impaired.

Because that charge is only a violation, akin to a speeding ticket, Mr. Powell, 47, will not have a criminal record.

Judge Larry Stephen, who presided over the case in Manhattan Criminal Court, fined Mr. Powell $300, suspended his license for 90 days and required him to participate in an educational program.

“I respect the verdict, but I do disagree,” Mr. Powell said outside the courthouse.

One juror, who declined to give his name, said a video of Mr. Powell’s behavior at the police station after his arrest, which was introduced by the prosecution, helped the jurors reach their decision.

“He was not drunk, absolutely not,” the juror said.
I know it doesn’t make any sense. Either you are drunk driving or you aren’t. It’s disturbing that you can be found not guilty of DUI and still have your license suspended just like Assemblyman Powell.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on Chicago Police patrolling the expressways

This Chicago DUI lawyer isn’t surprised that times have changed. She’s posted here, here, and here about taxpayers needing to vote with their wallets on what is important to them. Now it looks like CPD may have to step up its game by patrolling Chicago Expressways.

March 24, Chicago, Il
The Chicago Police Department might be forced to assume primary responsibility for patrolling 53 miles of Chicago area expressways — at a time when police manpower is woefully short — under Gov. Quinn’s proposal to slash the Illinos[sic] State Police budget and lay off 464 troopers.

The state police have had exclusive control over the expressways since 1985.

In 2001, the Chicago Police Department joined with the state police to help enforce traffic laws on the Eisenhower, Dan Ryan, Stevenson, Kennedy, Edens spur and Bishop Ford to curb rampant speeding.

Now, Quinn’s sweeping budget cuts are threatening to shift the entire burden to Chicago as early as July 1.

It couldn’t come at a more difficult time. In year No. 2 of a hiring slowdown, the Chicago Police Department is 700 officers short of its authorized strength and more than 2,100 officers short each day, counting those on medical rolls and limited duty.

Perhaps giving out speeding tickets shouldn’t be CPD’s priority if ISP stops patrolling the expressways.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer says state legislators think speeders are worse than drug users

This Chicago DUI lawyer is surprised that state legislators are more concerned with an individual speeding than an individual with drugs or charged with a violent crime. The other day the local media noted that those folks travelling more than 40 miles over the legal limit shouldn’t be entitled to court supervision, even though the charge of Aggravated Speeding is currently a Class A misdemeanor punished by a maximum penalty of 364 days in the county jail and fines up to 2500 just like a DUI.

A proposal to toughen punishment for extreme speeders passed a key legislative hurdle Monday, while also reopening the debate about how much leeway judges should have when sentencing defendants.

A Tribune investigation, published Sunday, found that since 2006, Chicago-area courts have given a special probation to nearly two-thirds of speeders going 100 mph or faster. The probation, called court supervision, keeps the tickets off offenders' driving records. It was given to people caught driving that fast while drunk as well as to drivers cited repeatedly at that speed.

In response to the Tribune's findings, state Rep. John D'Amico, D-Chicago, drafted legislation to ban judges from granting court supervision to anyone found guilty of driving 40 mph over the speed limit or faster. A House committee voted 5-0 to move it to the full House for a vote.

"A person (driving that fast) becomes a missile," said Republican Rep. Dennis Reboletti, of Elmhurst, who voted for the bill. "They make a projectile."

"When you're going 40 mph over the speed limit, you're really being reckless and you're putting the lives of innocent people in your hands," D'Amico said. "They should not be allowed to get supervision."
From HB6463:

730 ILCS 5/5-6-1
(c) The court may, upon a plea of guilty or a stipulation
by the defendant of the facts supporting the charge or a
finding of guilt, defer further proceedings and the imposition
of a sentence, and enter an order for supervision of the
defendant, if the defendant is not charged with: (i) a Class A
misdemeanor, as defined by the following provisions of the
Criminal Code of 1961: Sections 11-9.1; 12-3.2; 12-15; 26-5;
31-1; 31-6; 31-7; subsections (b) and (c) of Section 21-1;
paragraph (1) through (5), (8), (10), and (11) of subsection
(a) of Section 24-1; (ii) a Class A misdemeanor violation of
Section 3.01, 3.03-1, or 4.01 of the Humane Care for Animals
Act; or (iii) a felony.
At the very end of House Bill 6463 is where you find the amendment that throws speeders under the bus:

Section 1-129.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.
(p) The provisions of paragraph (c) shall not apply to a
defendant charged with violating Section 11-601.5 of the
Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local
Section 11-601.5 of the Illinois Vehicle Code applies to Aggravated Speeders.

What is it about speeding that makes it so heinous compared to selling or using drugs or beating someone up or stealing? Is this the type of legislation you want them to focus on in Springfield?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer explains why the accused doesn't have to blow

This Chicago DUI lawyer will admit it; she’s surprised that prosecutors still think the burden of proof belongs to the accused, not the government. Today, after asking a prosecutor about his bracket our conversation turned back to the law. “Hey Ava, if your client’s innocent, why won’t they just blow”? I’m sure the look on my face didn’t hide my initial thoughts, but here’s the answer that I wished I’d given him:

You do realize that in Illinois the government is given not one, but two bites at the apple when it comes to DUI arrests right? That’s right, anyone charged with a DUI who submits to blood, breath, or alcohol testing will find themselves with not one but two charges of DUI. One charge will be issued if the results of the chemical testing are above the legal limit of .08 but another one will be issued as a just in case.

Here’s how the just in case works. What if the accused submits to the chemical testing and the results are under the legal limit? Well, it’s certainly been my professional experience that people still find themselves arrested and charged with DUI. They still find themselves having to hire a lawyer to defend them. They still face all of the fear and confusion that comes with wondering why on earth they got arrested when their test results proved their innocence.

In a nutshell, Mr. Prosecutor the burden of proof isn’t on the accused but on the government. This isn’t the Salem witch trials where those accused of witchcraft were given the test of being tied into a sack and thrown into a body of water. If they floated, they were guilty of witchcraft. If they sunk, they were innocent. Like the two DUI charges, the witchcraft tests sound a lot like a damned if you do, and a damned if you don’t situation. Fortunately, we don’t require that people prove their innocence, no the burden of proof rightly belongs to the government.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer says the media is wrong (again) about the law

This Chicago DUI lawyer doesn’t know where the media is getting its information, but it is wrong!

March 21, Chicago, Il
llinois looks tough on speeders, at least on paper. The reality is that most official driving records wind up looking far cleaner than they would in nearby states.

The Secretary of State's office suspends drivers' licenses for those who rack up three speeding tickets in one year, no matter how fast the driver was speeding.

In Wisconsin and Indiana, three minor speeding tickets don't automatically carry suspensions.

But Illinois has something envied by speeders in other states: a generous "diversion" program, called court supervision.

The gist is simple: Admit you did wrong, do court-ordered penance, pay a fine and the case is dismissed. It's as if the ticket was never written. Most drivers qualify. Often it's as simple as checking a box on the ticket envelope, or signing up online.
That highlighted paragraph is wrong! In Illinois, the case is NOT dismissed just because you “do court-ordered penance and pay a fine”. In fact that court-ordered penance and fine are required in order to receive court supervision. The truth is, if you plead guilty or are found guilty the case is not dismissed. No wonder so many of my clients think that paying a court fine removes the ticket from their record. Let me be clear, it doesn't!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer thinks the media doesn't understand the difference between public records and court records

This Chicago DUI lawyer posted here about making speeding 30 miles over the posted speed limit a jailable offense. Today there's a story about aggravated speeding, a criminal misdemeanor, not being available on public driving records.

March 20, Chicago, Il
Sam Sanfilippo was caught going 103 mph on Interstate Highway 294 in 2006 — 48 mph over the speed limit — but you wouldn't know it by looking at his driving record.

That's also the case for Marvin McCraney, cited for weaving at 103 mph on Interstate Highway 55 in 2008.

And for Jermaine Johnson, who police said hit 110 mph on I-57 that year — and was drunk.

All got court supervision, a form of probation that kept the traffic tickets off their public driving records, and a Tribune investigation found those cases weren't exceptions.

For triple-digit speeders, they are the norm.
While the tickets may not be available to the public, that doesn’t mean they aren’t available to the judges and prosecutors. Do you think everyone has a right to review your driving record?

The police, the prosecutors, and the courts have access to information about an individual’s driving record that the general public does not. Can someone explain to me why that’s a problem?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer is glad that DUI cops don't decide guilt

Today, this Chicago DUI lawyer heard it straight from the police officer’s mouth. “I only charge them if they are guilty.” The case didn’t look that open and shut to me.

Why not?

1. There was no accident
2. There was no bad driving
3. The individual wasn’t accused of stumbling, tripping, falling, vomiting,
urinating, sleeping or fighting
4. There was no drug recovery

The accused was charged with a DUI based on Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis. This occurred when the accused was stopped at a roadside safety check.

I just don’t get it. I reminded the officer that if his word was all that was necessary we wouldn’t need courts at all. I can’t imagine why he seems to think to the contrary, but Americans have decided that police don’t decide if an individual is guilty or not. We’ve left that task up to the justice system.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer provides an update on DUI for school bus driver

This Chicago DUI lawyer posted here about the bus driver charged with a DUI. She even wondered why she was permitted to drive drunk in the first place with kids on the bus. Now comes breaking news that the local school board has moved swiftly to fire her and her supervisor.

March 18, Mt. Prospect, Il

School officials in Mount Prospect on Thursday fired the bus driver who was allegedly drunk while 50 students were aboard, and also fired the district's transportation coordinator, who failed to remove her from the route despite allegations of alcohol use.

"It was something Betty did," said parent Ellen Loeb, whose sixth-grade daughter rode Burden's bus. "And to put it on Vince when he didn't get the proper training ... In my opinion the best thing would be to have Vince back in that job, if he's properly trained."

The board voted 6-1 to fire him.
Looks like there should be a couple of job openings for transportation director and bus driver. Whatever is necessary to protect the children.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer explains what happens when you testify in a minor case

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about accidents. She recognizes that sometimes bad things happen and it is an accident. Why on earth you would want to put people in jail or prison for an accident is beyond her comprehension. Now comes news that the court system wants you to come testify when you are involved in an accident.

March 15, Chicago, IL
In the wild kingdom of Traffic Court, a "CW" is the rarest of birds -- you can be in court all morning and never spot one.

"CW" is courthouse shorthand for "complaining witness." If someone's driving like a goof and rear-ends your car or runs you over, the ticket will likely get thrown out unless you appear in court to make your complaint.

So where are all the complaining witnesses?

If a police officer did not see the traffic violation that led to an accident, he's not the witness. He collects the information from the people involved and writes the ticket. The victim has to go to court to make the charge stick.

But most witnesses in traffic cases skip court, probably because in most cases the person who hit them took care of the property damage or injury through insurance, according to Cook County Circuit Court Judge Walter Williams, supervising judge of the 1st District Traffic Court, which covers Chicago. Williams said judges find this disappointing, especially if there was a serious injury. He said the judge may continue a case to give the state's attorney another chance to bring in a witness.
There’s one big problem with this. They don’t tell the CW what could happen. I really don’t know why they don’t because when I was prosecuting these cases I always told complaining witnesses what was at risk. If a CW testifies, anything they testify to can be used in a civil case. That’s why many civil attorneys advise folks not to testify in these minor matters. After all, there is no restitution associated with a finding of guilty on minor traffic cases, even if someone tragically died. Sometimes bad things happen and it is an accident.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on legislative relief to traffic cameras

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about red light cameras. They may increase the number of accidents at intersections (my husband’s concern); they seem to be more of a revenue maker than safety device for municipalities; and the bulk of the people caught are failing to come to full and complete stops prior to turning right. In other words, they aren’t “running” a red light as most of us think of it.

They are wheeling and dealing down in Springfield during the current legislative session to turn of the revenue garnering power of red light cameras.

March 16, Springfield, IL
Red-light camera tickets would be slightly harder to get and cheaper to appeal under a reform plan endorsed by Senate leaders Monday that fell far short of the sweeping overhaul demanded by critics of the automated devices.

The measure was sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and hammered out in a closed-door meeting last week with other lawmakers and lobbyists for Redflex and Redspeed, vendors hired to operate camera systems for Chicago and many suburbs.

The Cullerton plan, sent by the Transportation Committee to the Senate floor on a 10-0 vote, would nibble at the edges of complaints that have arisen as cameras have proliferated across the region in recent years. It would ban the city and suburbs from tacking on an extra fee to the standard $100 fine if a ticket is appealed, a common practice which deters many motorists from fighting the charges.

The measure would also give drivers more wiggle room to creep up to the edge of an intersection before stopping. A complete stop would still be required before making a right turn on red, but drivers could come to a halt after the painted stop line without getting a ticket as long as pedestrians were not nearby. Drivers awaiting a green light to head straight into an intersection also could make stops past the stop line without being nabbed by a camera.

"We want to take away the motivation of the municipalities to just make money by issuing red-light tickets," Cullerton said. "The whole goal here is safety."
I’m not that convinced that the goal was ever safety instead of revenue both for the municipalities as well as the corporations with contracts from your tax dollars for the cameras.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on legislation to let the government jab a needle in you

Finally, some sense! This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about forced blood draws in DUI cases. Now the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial board weighs in.

March 11, Chicago, 2010
Over the past couple of years, Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti has staged what he calls "no refusal" weekends.

Drivers suspected of being intoxicated are arrested and told they must provide a breath or blood sample. A judge is on hand to issue a search warrant. If the driver refuses, he faces the threat of being shipped to the hospital to have his blood taken involuntarily.

In the end, few have refused. No one has been strapped down and forced to give blood. One suspect who refused a test was charged with contempt of court, but a judge found him not guilty.

Barsanti complains that if a suspect can refuse a search warrant to submit for a blood sample without facing consequences, then the law has "no teeth."

Now Rep. Keith Farnham, D-Elgin, is trying to insert some fangs. He has introduced a bill that authorizes police to use "all necessary and reasonable force" to execute a search warrant, whether for driving under the influence of alcohol or anything else. That means suspects could be restrained at a hospital so a nurse or doctor could draw blood or a hair sample.
Really? Does Rep. Farnham think this is an American piece of legislation? Or maybe he thinks “all necessary and reasonable force” doesn't include strapping someone down and jabbing a needle into them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that he talked to anyone about the Constitutionality of this legislation.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the Bulls loss to the Heat--even with a player's DUI team suspension

This Chicago DUI lawyer can’t believe the losing streak that the Chicago Bulls is on. Friday night’s loss to the Miami Heat in marks the seventh consecutive loss for the Bulls. She’s posted here, and here, about athletes charged with DUI. Now comes news that makes the Heat’s suspended Dorell Wright breathe a sigh of relief.

March 13, Miami, FL

With two veterans serving team-imposed suspensions and its second-leading scorer out with an injury, the Heat appeared to enter Friday's game in pretty bad shape.

Fortunately for the Heat, its opponent had it even worse.

With Derrick Rose joining Luol Deng and Joakim Noah on the injured list, a team disguised as the Chicago Bulls showed up to face the Heat at American Airlines Arena.

``At this time of the year, most [teams] only got seven or eight guys in the rotation anyway,'' Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. ``We're not the most healthy team, either.''

The Heat had enough productive bodies to hold off the Bulls in a battle of shorthanded teams fighting for the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Miami withstood a turnover-filled night from Wade and a second-half deficit to pull away for a 108-95 victory. The Heat (34-32) moved into seventh place in the East, a half-game ahead of eighth-place Toronto and 2 ½ in front of Chicago (31-34).

Heat forward Michael Beasley, the No. 2 pick two years ago, sat out with a thigh bruise he sustained in Wednesday's victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. Rose, the top pick in 2008 and Chicago's leading scorer, was out after he sprained his wrist in Thursday's loss at Orlando.

``We can't look past anybody, take anybody lightly,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ``We have to take care of business at home. Our guys are ready for the challenge.''

The Heat also was without reserve forward Dorell Wright, who began his two-game suspension Friday for his DUI arrest Thursday. Veteran guard Rafer Alston, who was suspended indefinitely a week ago, was suspended for the rest of the season Friday.
However, the pressure for this young man could just be too much.

For Dorell Wright, becoming a first-round NBA draft pick meant a three-year, $3-million-plus contract, a Nikeendorsement contract, a sweet condo in the Grove, 100-plus pairs of shoes, and hero status among all who know him. But that won't help him start basketball games. Wright, whose 21 years old now, has languished on the Heat bench for the better part of three seasons, upsetting his supporters and stagnating his development. His patience has been rewarded only periodically, when other players get injured. Wright seems to handle this as well as any young athlete could, but with his career and millions of dollars on the line, you better believe he's upset.

His plight relates to the larger issue of how inexperienced young men adjust to a highly public, pressurized environment like the NBA. "In a lot of ways, they're like a lot of spoiled kids," former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said recently in an online interview. Abdul-Jabbar thinks the straight-out-of-high-school scenario is a crapshoot for a lot of kids who know little about the world. "When somebody drops $20 million in their laps," he says, "it's going to have an effect on their egos."
It just goes to show how far stretching a DUI arrest is. This young man is at the end of his contract and given his stats and now this arrest I suspect he won’t land well. I guess time will tell.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer thinks folks maybe listening this St. Patrick's Day

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about St. Patrick's Day celebrations and increased DUI roadblocks. Now however, she wonders if the message is actually getting through to the revelers.

Then there's this story reminding folks of the end of the South Side parade:

Inside the Beverly Arts Center today, young children had shamrocks painted on their faces and decorated "Blarney stones" with glitter and glue.

It was the beginning of a new tradition for many families who for years had attended the South Side Irish Parade, which organizers cancelled last year after about 300,000 people packed the city's Irish enclave, drunkenness was rampant and nearly a dozen police officers were assaulted.

Kathleen Herber grew up in Beverly and had looked forward to passing on the parade tradition to her 1-year-old daughter, Anna. Instead, she took her daughter on Saturday to the South Side Irish Parade Family Fest, created out of the parade's demise.

"I miss the parade," she said. "I wish it was back this year, obviously. But we're trying to give this a try and bring back the spirit and tradition that usually accompanies the annual parade."

Meanwhile, bars along Western Avenue in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood are gearing up for what could be a massive pub crawl Sunday.

Laura DeVries, a bartender at Cork and Kerry, 10614 S. Western Ave., said the bar has prepared by putting away glassware and serving only in cans or plastic cups. She said many patrons in years past never even watched the parade.

On a window outside the bar, a poster invites patrons to visit Sunday by saying: "Some traditions never die."

But this year, police have said bar owners will find themselves in hot water if they allow overcrowding, underage drinking or allow people to leave carrying alcohol.

"There are a lot of restrictions so I don't see it being as busy as it was last year, " DeVries said. "It's bad because of the revenue that's going to be lost for everybody. Especially with the economy, business is down already. To have the biggest day of the year taken away is a hit."

The pub crawl was spearheaded on Facebook by Evergreen Park resident George Kelleher after the parade was cancelled. At one time, as many as 13,000 people pledged to go. But the Facebook event page has since disappeared.
The weather is not great and with the increased number of revelers I saw today on the North Side and on public transportation or foot, I just don't think there will be many arrests for public intoxication or DUI.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer warns of DUI roadblocks this St. Patrick's weekend

Spring is in the air. It's gorgeous today, plus it's Friday, plus it's St. Parick's Day Weekend. That means lots of drinking and perhaps some alfresco dining. I just hope it doesn't include any driving.



The Chicago Police Department will conduct a DUI Strike Force Patrol in the Harrison
(011th) District beginning at 7:00 p.m., Friday, March 12, 2010 and ending at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 13, 2010.

The purpose of this program is to saturate a pre-designated area with roving police
officers that continually monitor vehicular traffic for signs of impaired driving. Patrols also place emphasis on speed, alcohol-related and safety belt violations.
It's been my experience that if the officers smell alcohol (or you tell them you had a drink) or drugs you will find yourself in need of the services of a Chicago DUI lawyer. Remember to be foretold is to be forewarned.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on 1st Responders' distracted driving

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here on distracted driving. Now comes news of 1st Responders being just as distracted as everyone else.

March 11, New York, New York
They are the most wired vehicles on the road, with dashboard computers, sophisticated radios, navigation systems and cellphones.

While such gadgets are widely seen as distractions to be avoided behind the wheel, there are hundreds of thousands of drivers — police officers and paramedics — who are required to use them, sometimes at high speeds, while weaving through traffic, sirens blaring.

The drivers say the technology is a huge boon for their jobs, saving valuable seconds and providing instant access to essential information. But it also presents a clear risk — even the potential to take a life while they are trying to save one.

In April 2008, an emergency medical technician in West Nyack, N.Y., looked at his GPS screen, swerved and hit a parked flatbed truck. The crash sheared off the side of the ambulance and left his partner, who was in the passenger seat, paralyzed.

In June 2007, a sheriff’s deputy in St. Clair County, Ill., was driving 35 miles per hour when a dispatcher radioed with an assignment. He entered the address into the mapping system and then looked up, too late to avoid hitting a sedan stopped in traffic. Its driver was seriously injured.

“My partner was checking baseball scores as he was driving a patient to the hospital.

I looked through the passageway and said, ‘You’ve got to stop that right now,’ ” recalls Greg Friese, a paramedic in central Wisconsin, who was treating a patient in the back. Mr. Friese also develops online training programs for medics, E.M.T.’s, police officers and firefighters.

“We’re dealing with the carnage, which ranges from the trivial to the tragic, of distracted driving,” he said. “We should know better.”
Once again, it looks like Pandora’s Box has been opened and there just isn’t any way to put the lid back on it… alas we can always hope.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on a school bus driver charged with a DUI...on the job

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about bus drivers. Now comes news of a school bus driver charged with a DUI.

March 10, Rolling Meadows, IL
A northwest suburban school bus driver was arrested Tuesday and charged with DUI after allegedly failing field sobriety tests and registering nearly three times the legal limit on a breath test.

About 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, Mount Prospect police Sgt. Michael Eterno got a call from Vincente Ramirez, transportation coordinator for Mount Prospect School District 57, according to a release from police.

Ramirez told the sergeant one of the district's bus drivers, 54-year-old Betty A. Burden of Mount Prospect, was operating bus No. 11, transporting about 50 students from Lions Park Elementary School in Mount Prospect to various bus stops in the village, the release said.

A co-worker had reported smelling an alcoholic beverage on Burden’s breath about 2:30 p.m. and Ramirez wants police to investigate, the release said.
She did submit to Breath Alcohol Testing. The results were more than two times over the legal limit.

I will admit, I'm curious as to why her colleagues would let her leave with a bus load of children if they thought she was under the influence.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on defendants fighting against DUI license suspensions

This Chicago DUI lawyer has commented here, here, and here on Statutory Summary Suspensions. Statutory Summary Suspensions are issued by the Secretary of State and suspend the driver's license of all charged with a DUI (whether they are found guilty or not). The only way to avoid the suspension is to have a successful Petition to Rescind Summary Suspension.

Today, my suspicions were confirmed that folks were not just taking these suspensions lying down. I overheard a police officer this afternoon commenting he was on his second Statutory Summary Suspension hearing of the day. He shook his head in surprise that he was at court all day today in order to testify. What laid in the balance wasn't the accused's innocence or guilt. All that would be decided in the hearing is whether there would be any restrictions on the accused's ability to drive.

In today's rough economic environment the accused needs to be able to drive in order to fulfill her work and family obligations. People are protecting their rights to drive while the DUI case is pending. The irony is that it looks like the use of BAIID has backfired and instead of getting more folks to participate in the driving program fewer are choosing to do so (at least without a fight).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer believes in the justice system, win, loose, or draw

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here on DUI decisions. Some of the decisions I thought were correct, others I disagreed with, still it's our justice system and sometimes it isn't perfect. That said, I was shocked by what a MADD spokesperson had to say about the jury process.

February 22, Belleville, IL
Illinois State Police charged James L. Griesbaum, 32, with driving under the influence after a stop on July 12, 2008, near Joliet, but when the case went to trial in November 2008 in Will County, a jury found Griesbaum not guilty, according to court records.

"A not-guilty verdict by a jury often shows the community sees drinking and driving as an acceptable behavior," said Kristi Hosea, spokeswoman for Illinois Mother's Against Drunk Driving. "It could also be a refusal where the defendant was not compelled to do a breathalyzer or provide a blood test to check for alcohol. Without that, it may be a difficult charge to prove."
Yikes! Talk about frightening. She has the audacity to challenge a jury because she thinks the result wasn't correct. Looks like she should be lobbying to prohibit anyone charged with a DUI having a trial. In fact, clearly her idea of justice is guilty once charged with a DUI. No need for a judge, a DUI lawyer, a prosecutor, let alone those 12 plus citizens who are away from work and family, listening to all of the evidence, deliberating, and then rendering a verdict. I know the police operate as judge and jury in some countries, but hopefully that view of justice isn't coming here, despite Ms. Hosea's thoughts to the contrary.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on handcuffed nurse's DUI lawsuit settlement

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about hopsitals and hospital personnel drawing blood in DUI arrests. Now comes news that a local nurse has settled her lawsuit against the City of Chicago.

March 3, Chicago, Il
A nurse who was handcuffed when she refused to draw blood from a drunken-driving suspect has settled her lawsuit against a Chicago Police officer for $78,000, according to city records.

Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center nurse Lisa Hofstra sued Officer Marcelo Rodriguez and the city, saying she was handcuffed and forced to sit in the back of a squad car for 45 minutes in August. She said Rodriguez became belligerent when she told him the hospital could not draw blood until the driver was admitted as a patient.
Well the nurse was never charged with a crime. Do you think local hospitals are going to be less apt to draw DUI suspects' blood? Perhaps they will even leave a critical patient untended in a rush to draw the DUI suspect's blood in order to avoid being handcuffed by the police.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the "beer belly" starting in Illinois

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted on DUI's in Illinois here. She's also posted on DUI's throughout the Midwest here and here. Now comes a bit of human geography that may explain it.

From via :
Starting in Illinois, the beer belly expands up into Wisconsin and first spreads westward through Iowa/Minnesota and then engulfs Nebraska, and the Dakotas before petering out (like a pair of love handles) in Wyoming and Montana.
The clustering was so apparent that we wanted to check how it compared to the "official" data on this activity. So we gathered 2007 Census Country Business Pattern on the number of establishments listed in NACIS code 722410 (Drinking places (alcoholic beverages)) and divided by Census estimates for state population totals for 2009 and found remarkable correspondence with our data.

On average there are 1.52 bars for every 10,000 people in the U.S. but the states that make up the beer belly of America are highly skewed from this average.
FWIW- Wisconsin comes in third for bars per 10,000 people. It's hard though to be certain that the number of bars noted is accurate because in many small towns and trout hamlets the bar serves as a gathering spot for entire families and communities.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer discusses the penalties of a DUI ...these are the one's that hurt your pocket

This Chicago DUI lawyer just got off the phone with a friend who is a lawyer with the public defenders' office. Times are getting more difficult economically and he witnessed a rash of people who are being punished for not having money to pay court costs, fees, and fines.

All of them couldn't comply with the state's requirement of paying for a drug and alcohol evaluation. This is required for all pleas of guilt or findings of guilt in DUI cases. So what's the cost? A whopping $250 dollars, but wait there's more. That's in addition to the $250 fee that must be paid to the Secretary of State if you didn't win your Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension.(fee is for first time offender only, it cost more if it isn't your first DUI arrest) It also, doesn't include the approximately $1,000 assessed in vehicle impoundment fees simply for being charged with a DUI. Did I mention that doesn't include the installation and monthly fees for a BAIID?

Did you notice what I didn't mention? Here's a few tangibles: lawyer fees, counseling fees, time loss at work because you must appear in court, transportation cost to and from court(for those of you who aren't installing a BAIID into your car).

All of the above plus court fees and fines if you get sentenced to jail. Yep, they charge you court fees and fines even if you go to jail. Who says you can't get blood from a stone?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on another politician's DUI arrest

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about politicians being charged with a DUI. Now comes news of another politician who gets charged.

March 4, Bakersfield, CA

A California state senator who reportedly has voted against every gay rights measure since he took office eight years ago was charged with driving under the influence on Wednesday, reportedly after leaving a gay nightclub in Sacramento.

Sen. Roy Ashburn, a Republican from Bakersfield, was spotted driving erratically at about 2 a.m. Wednesday in downtown Sacramento, officials said.

He was arrested after taking a sobriety test, and he was taken to Sacramento County Jail, where he was administered a blood-alcohol test prior to being booked and released.

He was charged with two misdemeanors: driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher.

Ashburn, a 55-year-old father of four, apologized for his actions.

"I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuse for my poor judgment," he said in a statement. "I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences for what I did. I am also truly sorry for the impact this incident will have on those who support and trust me -- my family, my constituents, my friends, and my colleagues in the Senate."
Unfortunately, for him, he has more than just a DUI arrest to focus on.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on evidence being kept out in judge's case

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here on Judge David Hall’s DUI.

Now comes huge news that his Constitutional rights will be protected in a case that has come to symbolize the farcical nature of DUI prosecutions.


Evidence of Circuit Judge David Hall's blood-alcohol level at the time of his 2008 arrest for DUI will be barred from his trial, scheduled to begin next week.
Kane County Circuit Judge F. Keith Brown's ruling Monday that proper procedures were not followed in the testing of Hall's blood is the latest blow to the case against Hall.
In spite of the ruling, and the June 2008 death of arresting officer Jesse Goldsmith, prosecutors said they intend to forge ahead with the trial on Monday.
As indicated above, the arresting officer in Judge Hall’s case is dead. Yep, you got it, the government is going forward with its prosecution although Judge Hall’s Sixth Amendment right via the Confrontation Clause is not available.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on trooper being hit by distracted, albeit sober, driver

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here on distracted driving. I've even posted here when I got hit because the driver that hit me was on the phone.

Now comes news of a lady who hit a trooper… she was on her phone.

March 1, Chicago, IL
A cell phone-using driver plowed into an Illinois State Patrol trooper Saturday night on the Dan Ryan Expy, apparently ignoring warnings from her passenger that she was getting too close to the trooper, a Cook County judge heard today.

Cook County Judge Jackie Portman set bond at $50,000 today for Moore, who is charged with aggravated reckless conduct, a felony.

The trooper, who suffered a broken pelvis and two broken legs, remained in intensive care this afternoon and faces the possibility of further surgeries, said State Patrol Master Sgt. S. Nowak.

The trooper was struck shortly after 9 p.m., while standing on the right shoulder of northbound Dan Ryan near 63rd Street, investigators said. At the time, the trooper was handling an unrelated traffic stop, investigators said.
Today, I stopped at the phone store to pick up a new Bluetooth headset. Funny, the sale’s associate mentioned she got a ticket recently for driving while on her phone. She said she had her phone on speaker, but she was holding it near her mouth. The ticketing officer told her, “it’s hands-free, not hand-free”.