Friday, April 30, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer thinks there's no fast break on a DUI for a basketball coach

This Chicago DUI lawyer lacks a TV so she wasn’t quite in the thick of things in March.  Unfortunately, Hofstra’s Men’s Basketball Coach may not make the cut.

Hofstra has suspended its men’s basketball coach, Tim Welsh, indefinitely after he was arrested early Friday morning and charged with driving while intoxicated by the Nassau County police.
 According to the police, they saw Welsh’s Lexus stopped at a green light in Levittown, N.Y., at about 1 a.m. He was taken into custody, given a sobriety test and booked. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday morning.
Hofstra officials, in a statement, said they did not hear of the arrest from Welsh.
“We have learned through media reports of the charges against Mr. Welsh,” the statement said. “Effective immediately, he has been suspended without pay, while the university investigates the charges against him.”
Welsh must return to court Tuesday for a hearing.
Welsh, 49, was hired by Hofstra on March 31 to replace Tom Pecora, who left to coach Fordham. Welsh was a head coach for a total of 13 seasons at Iona and Providence, taking the Friars to the N.C.A.A. tournament twice in 10 seasons there. For the past two years, Welsh has been working as an analyst for ESPN, mostly on Big East broadcasts. Welsh’s five-year contract from Hofstra was reported to be for $600,000 per year.
Seriously, he’s been suspended without pay for a DUI arrest where there’s no accident?  It just goes to show you that if the stakes are that high for a former ESPN analyst you can imagine what happens to a regular working person.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on DUI roadblocks during Cinco de Mayo celebrations

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about DUI roadblocks.  Well this is a popular holiday weekend in Chicago as folks gear up for the festivities for Cinco de Mayo.  You do know what that means right?

The Chicago Police Department will conduct a DUI Strike Force Patrol in the Albany Park (017th) District and the Lincoln (020th) beginning at 7:00 p.m., Friday, April 30, 2010 and ending at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 1, 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. Police vehicles equipped for speed detection are deployed to apprehend speeding violators. 
That means if you have any of the canned signs of a DUI, you will probably be arrested this weekend.  Those signs include bloodshot or glassy eyes; slurred, mumbled, or thick-tongued speech and a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on your breath (don’t forget it could also be the smell of weed).  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on Suspended License law south of the Mason-Dixon line

This Chicago DUI lawyer is from the south. Generally, folks north of the Mason-Dixon line think they are more progressive than those that live south of that irrefutable boundary. Inevitably, the “Northerners” can be surprised to find that the south, once again can be far more enlightened than those in cold climes would like to believe.

In Illinois, I’ve posted here, here, and here about Driving while your license is suspended or revoked, 625 ILCS 5/6-303. This law is pretty straight forward and one of the most difficult to get an acquittal. The primary reason is knowledge that your license is suspended/revoked is required in order to be found guilty of this offense. Imagine the Northern chagrin when they discover that North Carolina insists on knowledge.

From North Carolina Criminal Law: UNC Governmental Blog:
The state supreme court first held in State v. Atwood, 290 N.C. 266 (1976), that the legislature intended that a defendant have actual or constructive knowledge that his or her license had been suspended or revoked before the defendant could be convicted of violating G.S. 20-28(a). The Atwood court based this determination on the requirement in G.S. 20-16(d) that DMV notify a person that his or her license is suspended or revoked and provide an opportunity for a hearing on the matter.
Atwood further held that while the mailing of a notice by DMV in accordance with G.S. 20-48 raises a prima facie presumption that a defendant received the notice and thereby acquired knowledge of the suspension or revocation, a defendant may rebut this presumption.
Wow! This is in stark contrast to the law in Illinois.

625/ILCS 5/6-303:
Driving while driver's license, permit or privilege to operate a motor vehicle is suspended or revoked.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (a 5), any person who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on any highway of this State at a time when such person's driver's license, permit or privilege to do so or the privilege to obtain a driver's license or permit is revoked or suspended as provided by this Code or the law of another state, except as may be specifically allowed by a judicial driving permit issued prior to January 1, 2009, monitoring device driving permit, family financial responsibility driving permit, probationary license to drive, or a restricted driving permit issued pursuant to this Code or under the law of another state, shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
Yep, absolutely no requirement of knowledge is even contemplated by the Illinois statute. It is simply presumed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer provides an update on the Chicago Police Officer charged in a fatal DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about police officers being charged with DUI’s. Today, Judge Gainer ruled, it’s the second time a judge has ruled in this case, that the police can’t use video of the accused (also a police officer) drinking several drinks in a bar prior to a tragic accident.

April 27, Chicago, IL

Key evidence can’t be used against a Chicago cop filmed drinking large amounts of alcohol minutes before he was involved in a car crash that claimed the lives of two young men, a Cook County Judge ruled this morning.

Judge Thomas Gainer Jr.’s ruling that evidence was illegally seized from Officer John Ardelean following the deaths of Miguel Flores and Erick Lagunas on Thanksgiving Day 2007 severely weakens the case against Ardelean.

It provoked an angry response this morning from Flores’ mother and two sisters, who were arrested outside the courtroom after a confrontation with Cook County sheriff’s deputies.

Ardelean was charged with four counts of aggravated DUI and two counts of reckless homicide after video footage from the Martini Ranch Bar showed him consuming large amounts of alcohol just minutes before the crash at the intersection of Damn and Wellington in the early hours of Nov. 22, 2007.

In his ruling, Gainer agreed that Lt. John Magruder — who said Ardelean had seemed drunk when he was brought back to the police station — was an “incredible” witness.

Magruder testified at an earlier hearing that Ardelean had bloodshot eyes, smelled of booze and looked like “he was walking kind of funny with a limp or something.’’

But the judge wrote that Magruder had given a “rambling” account of the decision to arrest Ardelean. He’d referred to another media controversy in which a police officer was facing DUI charges and telling a prosecutor that “we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” the judge wrote.

The judge added that the “police conduct in this case which led to the arrest of the defendant is exactly the type of conduct which the exclusionary rule is meant to deter.”

The judge wrote in his ruling that “there was no conspiracy to protect this defendant by rogue officers acting without regard to their oath to protect the citizens of our community in favor of a fellow officer who was in the wrong.’’
I’ve appeared before Judge Gainer on DUI matters before. I don’t think any lawyer will ever say he’s soft on this particular offense. It takes a lot for a judge to make difficult and unpopular rulings (believe me, I’m fully aware that is their job, but I can tell you many seem to think their job is to make the government happy) when there is so much pressure.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on MADD's mad money grab

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted about so-called DUI advocacy groups like AAIM and MADD here, here, and here. Are you at all surprised that there is internal debate about how the funds they acquire are spent?

April 20, Reno, NV
Some Nevadans working locally for Mothers Against Drunk Driving have split from the national organization, saying money they raised here was sent to the national headquarters instead of being used for local programs to stop drunken driving.

But Debbie Wier, the chief operating officer at the Irving, Texas-based MADD, defended the organization's financial decisions, saying it is "one consolidated legal entity" that raises money in 50 states and spends based on resources and need.

MADD's disconnect with Nevada means no advocates help victims with their grief and recovery. Fewer people monitor the courts to ensure proper punishments. And fewer public campaigns and programs aim at curbing impaired driving in a state with 24-hour alcohol availability.

Charles Hurley, MADD's CEO, acknowledged the group's weak presence in Nevada. "For one, we've had a number of volunteers who have gotten angry and left," he said. Also, it's harder to have a strong presence in rural states. It's easier to do where there are more people."

Laurel Stadler, founder of the first MADD chapter in Nevada in 1990 and a decades-long volunteer, stopped giving MADD money she raised from rural victim impact panels in 2008 after objecting to restrictions placed on the Nevada funds.

All first and second-time drunken-driving offenders must attend these panels, which range in cost from $35 to $50 per person. The money is then used on programs to curb drinking and driving.

"We had $150,000 that was in the Nevada bank account at MADD national in Dallas that our volunteers had generated," Stadler said. "But I couldn't get authorization to do programming in Nevada. It was getting harder for us to get money back from Dallas."

Stadler now gives those funds, about $50,000 annually, to the Reno-based Northern Nevada DUI Task Force "to keep the money locally," she said.
Does anyone else see a problem with the government forcing defendants to pay money to a “charity” group?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on legislation that makes high speeding a crime with harsher punishment than simple drug possession

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about your state legislators considering taking away choices from judges when it comes to people accused of going more than 40 miles over the posted speed limit. Well, it now simply awaits the governor’s signature.

April 23, Springfield, Il

Big-time speeders would face tougher penalties in court, and red-light camera tickets would be a little more difficult to get if legislation the Illinois House sent Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday becomes law.

The speeding measure would prevent a driver from getting court supervision if found guilty of going 40 mph or more faster than the speed limit. Supervision is a form of probation that allows a person to wipe a violation off of his driving record if he doesn't get another ticket for a specified number of months.

The approval comes after the Tribune last month published an analysis of state police tickets, license data and court records showing that since 2006, Chicagoland courts have given supervision to nearly two-thirds of those found guilty of driving 100 mph or faster.

Secretary of State Jesse White, Rep. John D'Amico and others viewed that as a slap on the wrist for driving way too fast.

The legislation went to the governor's desk on a vote of 105-3. Opponents included Rep. Careen Gordon, D-Coal City, a former prosecutor.

"This is a knee-jerk reaction to some very limited circumstances that maybe certain newspapers have completely blown out of proportion," Gordon said.
Again, I don’t know if the reporters have the law wrong or the legislators but the law is already adequate to address this particular offense. It’s an aggravated speeder.

Aggravated Speeding is a Class A misdemeanor. It’s in the same class of offenses as a DUI. Upon a conviction, it carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail. How on earth is that a “slap on the wrist”?

(625 ILCS 5/11 601.5)
Sec. 11 601.5. Driving 40 miles per hour or more in excess of applicable limit. A person who drives a vehicle upon any highway of this State at a speed that is 40 miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit established under this Chapter or a local ordinance commits a Class A misdemeanor.
I smell a rat, because right now you can still get court supervision on a Class A misdemeanor DUI. I wonder how long it will be before they try to change that law?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on roadblocks, High-lidays, and drugs

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. This particular offense is far easier to prove than Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol.

“The program is designated to apprehend drivers who are operating vehicles while
under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Superintendent Jody Weis. “It also offers an opportunity to issue citations to drivers who are otherwise a hazard to themselves and others on the public way.”
If you provide the police with blood or urine and any amount of an illegal drug or even many prescribed drugs shows up you are going to have an uphill battle in winning a DUI case. I’m fully aware that earlier this week, some may have celebrated 4/20 High-liday. Here’s the kicker. While all of us would agree, that if you consumed Kush on April 20th you wouldn’t be under the influence of it tonight, but that’s not what Illinois law says:
Sec. 11 501. Driving while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds or any combination thereof.
(a) A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State while:
(6) there is any amount of a drug, substance, or compound in the person's breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of cannabis listed in the Cannabis Control Act, a controlled substance listed in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, an intoxicating compound listed in the Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act, or methamphetamine as listed in the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act.
Perhaps, you were prescribed a painkiller by your physician and you’ve completed your course of treatment a week ago, that doesn’t mean that painkiller isn’t going to show up now if you decide to submit to blood or urine testing based on a DUI charge.

In other words, if you don’t know, to a scientific certainty, what’s apt to show up in your blood or urine you probably don’t want to provide a sample.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the liquor commissioner's DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted about city workers, Turnpike executives, and politicians being charged with DUI’s. Now it gets even stranger.

April 19, Gilford, NH
N.H. Liquor Commissioner Richard Simard was arrested here Saturday night for driving while intoxicated.

Gilford Police Chief John Markland says that Simard, 67, of 24 Charles Chase Way, Manchester, was stopped by Gilford police near the Airport Plaza on Rte. 11 at around 11:30 Saturday night.

He said that Gilford police were on the lookout for a car whose description matched that of the white, four-door BMW 3-Series that Simard was driving after Laconia police received a report of a possible drunk driver heading toward Gilford.

Simard was stopped for speeding and officers conducted a field sobriety test after Simard refused a breath test.

Markland said that Simard was taken into custody and transported to the Belknap County Department of Corrections jail. He was later released and will be arraigned on a DWI charge in Laconia District Court on May 6.
In all fairness to the accused, I don’t think most of us regard speeding as a sign of drunk driving.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on a City Deputy Commissioner's DUI and subsequent resignation

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about politicians getting charged with DUI. She’s even posted here about government vehicles being used when folks get charged with a DUI. A city worker has resigned after being charged with a DUI, in a government vehicle.

April 22, Chicago, Il

A $119,184-a-year deputy commissioner charged with providing shelter and emergency services for Chicago's homeless has resigned after getting into an accident in a city car while allegedly driving drunk.

On April 15, James V. Lobianco was charged with driving under the influence and failure to reduce speed after rear-ending a car waiting for a red light to change at Broadway and Ainslie.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Roderick Drew said responding officers "detected alcohol," but Lobianco "refused the field sobriety test and the Breathalyzer test." He was taken into custody and released the next morning. He is scheduled to appear in court in June.
The recent rash of DUI arrest should serve as another indicator that there just isn’t any mens rea for a DUI. No one plans to go out, get drunk, and then drive. At what point do we accept that and stop attempting to paint folks charged with a DUI as lepers?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the Turnpike Chief Operating Officer's DUI in the Keystone state

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about politicians being charged with DUI’s. She’s sitting in a coffee shop in Philadelphia where the big news here is of the Chief of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is the latest politician to be charged with a DUI.

April 21, Hershey,PA
The chief operating officer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is facing DUI charges after police in Derry Township said he had a blood alcohol level of 0.137 on April 5 when he spun out his car and crashed into a fence. According to court documents, George M. Hatalowich, 44, crashed into the fence owned by Hersheypark, then drove away northbound in the southbound lane of Park Avenue.

Police have charged Hatalowich with two counts of driving under the influence, careless driving, leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage and failing to remain in the proper lane.

Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said Hatalowich was not driving a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission vehicle. He was driving his personal car on personal time. No disciplinary action has been taken, DeFebo said. Hatalowich continues to be assigned a turnpike-issued vehicle, which is by Turnpike Commission policy only to be used for business purposes. As to whether that car could be taken away, DeFebo said it "depends on the outcome of whatever the magistrate's next steps are. That could change."

In February, Timothy Carson, who was the vice chairman of the turnpike commission, resigned after admitting to having two driving while intoxicated convictions. Carson was driving a turnpike-issued vehicle in both those incidents, one in 2003 and the other in 2006.
Yes, folks here, in Pennsylvania, have already noticed the lag-time from the date of the allegations to the date of the reporting to the public.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on car perks and DUI legislation

This Chicago DUI lawyer has postedhere and here about professional courtesies. Today, it looks like the word “perks” is in greater use as a description of what the Illinois Senate President receives.

April 19, Chicago, IL

The latest drunken driving arrest for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton's son has exposed a little-known perk of taxpayer-funded vehicles for top state lawmakers, a benefit to those in charge of fixing a government that is billions of dollars in the red.

Garritt Cullerton, 26, who has a nine-year trail of traffic citations from Chicago to Springfield, was driving a state-owned Ford Escape SUV when he was pulled over by Chicago police early Sunday. He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.188, more than twice the legal limit, according to police.

The 2009 SUV was used by John Cullerton and kept primarily at his Chicago home, where Garritt Cullerton lives. The Senate president said Monday that as a result of his son's "unauthorized" use of the vehicle; he would now keep it parked at his downtown state office in the Thompson Center.

Garritt Cullerton has been pulled over eight times on Illinois roads since July 2001 for citations that included following too closely, speeding 115 mph in a 65 mph zone and twice previously for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to court records. In some of those cases, according to court records and interviews, he was driving his father's car displaying the official Senate license plate "6" that denotes John Cullerton's North Side legislative district.

The legislator's son was not convicted in the previous DUI cases, in 2004 and 2008, but was fined for lesser traffic offenses in both instances. John Cullerton, an attorney, said he "never, ever intervened in any court cases affecting any of my children. And nor would I."

The Senate leader has long been a transportation safety advocate and sponsored legislation requiring motorists convicted of drunken driving to blow into an ignition-locking device to prove their sobriety.
I’m curious to see what is going to happen to lots of pending DUI legislation during the waning days of the session.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on another case of practicing without a law license

This Chicago DUI lawyer posted here, just last week about a lawyer without a license getting his client a warrant by failing to appear in court after being challenged by the prosecutor as to whether he was authorized to practice law. Once again, I’m shocked that folks would attempt to act like lawyers when they aren’t, but I can admit I don’t know why I’m shocked since some folks practice dentistry without a license as well.

April 18, Naperville, IL
It almost sounds like the set-up for one of those ubiquitous "lawyer jokes," although it has Naperville police feeling anything but amused.

Paris A. Tsangaris is a resident of Naperville's far northwest side and a pre-law student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He served during the 2008-09 academic year as co-vice president of the UIC Pre-Law Society, a student organization, according to a university website.

He was sitting in the front passenger seat and "attempted to intervene on Hamiti's behalf," Anders said.

"He was questioning the officer's investigation of Hamiti, asking why he'd stopped him and so forth," Anders said of Tsangaris.

"The officer noted (Tsangaris') statements and did a follow-up investigation that same day," Anders said. "As a result of that investigation, Tsangaris was charged with false impersonation of an attorney, in that he knowingly, falsely represented himself to be an attorney licensed in the state of Illinois ... with a law degree and a family practice," [sic]

False impersonation of an attorney is a misdemeanor.
This is disconcerting on so many levels but the mere fact that Mr. Tsangaris has been charged will make it far more difficult for him to become a lawyer, if he is still so inclined.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on professional courtesies diminishing in DUI arrests

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about family members of politicians being charged with DUI’s. So imagine her surprise when Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s son get’s charged with a DUI, in a state car earlier this morning.

April 18, Chicago, Il
The son of Illinois Senate President John Cullerton was cited with driving under the influence after he was stopped in downtown Chicago in an SUV registered to the state, authorities said.

Garritt M. Cullerton, 26, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.188 when he was pulled over in the 800 block of North Dearborn Street shortly after midnight, according to police. The level is more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

Cullerton was cited with DUI, negligent driving and improper lane usage, police said.
He was driving a 2009 Ford Escape registered to the state Senate, according to records and police.
It just goes to show that fewer and fewer folks are getting professional courtesies.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer sees a perfect set of facts for a DUI charge

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about an array of DUI arrests. Tonight, I saw a driving infraction that was a perfect set up for a DUI arrest. Why’s that you ask? Okay, here’s what a DUI officer would see:

1) Tinted Windows
2) Luxury Car
3) No Lights are turned on
4) Turns into the neighborhood liquor store parking lot
5) It’s a Saturday night
Equals Probable Cause for a traffic stop that could very well lead to a raised suspicion to check for the following signs of physical impairment:

1) Red, bloodshot , glassy eyes (Yes, I know it’s allergy season, tell that to the cops)
2) Slurred, mumbled, thick-tongued speech
3) Strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from the breath of the driver
4) An admission from the driver that he consumed an alcoholic beverage some time prior to driving the car
Equals enough physical clues of impairment that the officer now invites the driver to step out of the car in order to submit to Standardized Field Sobriety Tests:

After submitting to the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests the driver will be arrested and charged with a DUI.

No, it doesn’t matter what the test are, or how well you do on them, heck it doesn’t even matter if there is video to the contrary of what the arresting officer reports, the driver will still be charged with a DUI.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the DUI arrest that got the cop in trouble

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about the need for videos in squad cars. Fortunately for the accused, not only was he not charged with a DUI because of the video in the squad car, the arresting officer has been charged with official misconduct.

April 16, Streamwood, IL
As Ronald Bell crouched on his hands and knees on his driveway, the Streamwood police officer started whaling away with his metal baton, striking Bell on his back.

Bell tried to block the blows with his right arm, but Officer James Mandarino then hit him on the head and arm — 15 times in all — until Bell collapsed to the pavement, clasping his head in his hands in a desperate attempt to shield himself from further abuse.

Bell was charged with resisting a police officer and reckless driving, both misdemeanors, and was issued a handful of traffic tickets, including driving under the influence.

But less than a day later, the attention of law enforcement shifted to Mandarino. A digital camera mounted on his squad car recorded every second of what Cook County prosecutors said was an unprovoked beating. The early-morning assault played out amid the headlights of the police cruiser as its windshield wipers swept back and forth in the rain.

Mandarino, a 15-year veteran of the northwest suburban department, surrendered Thursday to face felony charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct. Prosecutors said the attack left Bell with a concussion, extensive bruising and seven stitches to close a wound in his right ear.

Prosecutors dropped all the charges against Bell, 28, as well as his passenger, Nolan Stalbaum, 38, of Glendale Heights, who was also charged with resisting a police officer. The two had been driving when Mandarino gave pursuit for a short distance before Bell parked in the driveway of his Streamwood residence.
I think we can all agree the ending to this DUI arrest would have been decidedly different were it not for in-squad video.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on license suspensions, parking tickets, and tax refunds

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about the array of economic reasons one can have their license suspended. Today, many of you are filing income tax returns and making plans for anticipated returns ( yes, I know an equal number of you have already spent your income tax return money). That said, some of us think we have an income tax return coming, but alas, we don’t.


If you have yet to pay it in Marshalltown, don't be hyped up for your state income tax refund until you do.

Nearly 200 people with outstanding parking violations have so far been identified with refunds eligible to cover them.

Since January, excuses and payments have rolled in at the City Clerk's office - to the tune of $19,129 - and tax season isn't over yet.

The Offset Program, administered by the Iowa Dept. of Administrative Services, allows local governments to collect unpaid parking violations, placing a 'hold' against one's state income tax refund.
No, this isn’t done in Chicago yet, but don’t be surprised if something similar is available for the cash-strapped government to garner additional revenue next year.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the booting of any car owned by someone who should be booted

This Chicago DUI lawyer knows times are tough for folks. It also means times are really tough for the government. One city has figured out how to raise revenues, I promise you won't like it.

April 13, Highland Park, Il
For about six dozen residents owing money on five or more city parking tickets, the situation grew worse Monday night with the City Council's change to the existing ordinance to regulate booted vehicles.

Vehicle owners who have accumulated five or more unpaid parking tickets on just one of their vehicles may now discover that a vehicle immobilization device has been placed on one of his or her wheels, pending payment of the fines, even if the booted vehicle is not the one on which all outstanding tickets are written.
Now, when it comes to collecting past-due fines on parking ordinance violations, all vehicles are in play, since new software can identify multiple ownership patterns.

Free Legal Advice: Pay your tickets off now, I'm sure this will come to Chicago very soon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer suspects in switch-a-roo DUI everyone will be found guilty

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here about switching spots with a friend in order to avoid being charged with a DUI. Frequently, you and your friend both end up being charged with the offense of DUI. Unfortunately, it looks like in a heroic act, of moving his drunken friend from behind the driver’s seat two young men are ensnared in the web of DUI.

April 11, Reno, NV

Reno police arrested two men in the same vehicle Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence.

A motorist told police he followed an apparently intoxicated SUV driver about 9:45 p.m. from Sparks to a fast food restaurant near Mae Anne Avenue and McCarran Boulevard in northwest Reno, Sgt. Rob VanDiest said in a news release.
The witness said a passenger carried a man from the driver’s seat and then drove away as police arrived.
Free Legal Advice: If you aren’t stone cold sober, then don’t slide into the driver’s seat so that your friend doesn’t get charged with a DUI.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the undue influence of DUI court watchers

This Chicago DUI lawyer has mentioned the over-reaching influence of MADD and its offshoots like the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM), here, here, and here. Still, I was shocked by what I saw today.

As I checked in with the clerk I watched another gentleman pass his card to the clerk to in turn give to the judge. The Judge was sitting on the bench and court was in session. I did a double-take because I thought I recognized the gentleman who just gave his card to the clerk so that she, in turn, could give it to the judge. Yes, my mouth dropped but I knew the clerk and so I asked her if the gentleman she took the card from was the Bar Attorney. She looked at me and slowly shook her head no. I then asked her wasn’t he one of the court watchers from AAIM? She shook her head yes.

So there you have it, the justice system is being tainted by the undue influence of AAIM’s court watchers. How on earth is a judge going to be fair and impartial to the accused when the court watchers want to put the judge on notice that they are in the courtroom?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the failure of tollway computers

This Chicago DUI lawyer loves machines, technology, and computers but she is aware that sometimes technology fails. Even as a DUI defense lawyer I’m surprised when a prosecutor or private citizen says to me that if the accused were innocent they should submit to testing by machines. Whenever I ask them if they’ve ever had a machine malfunction on them, they always roll their eyes, like somehow DUI breath machines are different than other machines. Needless to say, I’m not surprised that the tollway authority’s computers are making mistakes. Heck, I’ve posted about those machine errors here but this, this takes the cake.

April 11, Chicago, IL

It's pretty clear Heather Perry didn't blow through a toll without paying March 10, 2009.

For one thing, she was half a world away, living with her Air Force husband, stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea.

For another, she didn't own the car photographed by an Illinois tollway camera. Even the license plate number was wrong. Perry's plate, which sat in a storage facility in California, ends in a zero. The license plate in the picture ends in an eight.

By the time the notice of violation arrived at her mother's Broadview home, there had been three violations mistakenly attributed to Perry.

Each missed $1 toll had been assessed a $20 fine, bringing the total to $63. The notice of violation gave Perry 14 days to respond. If she didn't, she would be found liable for the tolls and assessed another $150 in fines.

"Because she's in Korea, she went ahead and paid," Phyllis Perry said. "I told her not to. I said we have some time. I think she was worried she'd get fined, and it would double. She didn't feel like she could fight it."

A short time later, Phyllis Perry called the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and pleaded her case. A customer service representative reviewed the case and agreed with her.

Turns out, a computer that reads the license plates of toll violators had erroneously interpreted the eight as a zero. A toll authority worker who is supposed to review the computer's work failed to catch the computer's error.

The customer service agent promised to send Perry a $63 refund.

That was more than a year ago.

Phyllis Perry had almost forgotten about the refund until she received another notice from toll authority last month. It seemed history had repeated itself.

The same car that blew through three toll plazas in 2009 had blown through another three this year. Again, the tollway's computer misread the license plate. So did the toll authority's human employees.

For the second year in a row, the toll authority sent Perry a notice that she owed $63.

"It's the same car, the same license plate, the same exits as the car that did this in 2009," Phyllis Perry said. "It's very, very crazy."

Phyllis Perry said she called the toll authority again, and a customer service representative immediately agreed to erase the newest batch of fines. Phyllis Perry then asked about the status of her daughter's refund from last year.

"She told me you have to be patient."
This looks like a classic case of Garbage In= Garbage Out. Are you really certain you want to put your trust in computers and machines when it comes to a DUI?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer questions the Constitutionality of a fine for refusing to submit to DUI testing

Chicago DUI lawyer awaits the Constitutional challenge to a fine for refusing to submit to a blood or breath test related to a DUI arrest. She’s posted here, here, and here about your Constitutional rights as they relate to blood or breath testing when charged with a DUI.

April 10, Darby, MT
Darby implemented a brand new ordinance on Friday night called the "Refusal to Submit to a Breath or Blood Test".

If a driver refuses to submit a sample when asked by law enforcement, then they'll receive a $500 fine.

Just a month ago, Darby's Prosecuting Attorney and Darby's Police Chief took their ideas to Helena in hopes of passing a state wide ordinance. But that didn't happen.
This new law should have some DUI practitioners and Constitutional lawyers chomping at the bit for a test case to challenge the new law in this local municipality.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer thinks you should make certain your lawyer has a license to practice law

This Chicago DUI lawyer was left speechless today. I entered a non-jury courtroom today and a warrant was being issued for a defendant. This isn’t terribly unusual but as the prosecutor continued to explain the facts of the case to the judge, in open court, I noticed this was anything but business as usual. Apparently the defendant and his advocate had appeared in court earlier during the court call and answered ready for a hearing. Huh?

That’s right there wasn’t even an outstanding warrant for the defendant’s arrest making his failure to appear back before the judge even odder. This poor defendant is represented by an individual that apparently doesn’t appear on the Master Roll List of attorneys. Now I understood why the defendant’s advocate wasn’t before the bench, because most DUI lawyers have days where they are before the court without a client.

Unfortunately, I suspect the defendant’s advocate told him he didn’t have to go back before the judge. Unfortunately, the defendant has an active warrant out for his arrest. There is not a warrant for the arrest of the defendant’s advocate.

Free Legal Advice: Always make sure you hire a competent lawyer; you have enough to worry about with a Chicago DUI case you shouldn’t have to be worried about your lawyer as well.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on city workers getting out of city camera tickets

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about traffic cameras. Unfortunately, today’s news probably belongs in the “no surprise there” category.

April 8, Chicago, IL
Chicago's Big Brother network of red-light cameras has turned into a money machine for the city, generating $58 million in annual revenue in 2009.

The same cannot be said for city employees caught by the cameras in the act of running red lights. Nearly 70 percent of their tickets get dismissed.

Since January 2007, 2,685 red-light-camera tickets have been issued to vehicles registered to city departments. At $100 a pop, that should have generated $268,500. Instead, only $77,167 has been collected.

A whopping 1,830 of those tickets were dismissed for reasons that include the municipal code exemption for emergency vehicles. Not all of those vehicles were responding to emergencies with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Some police vehicles were working undercover. Some were vehicles assigned to city departments not typically considered emergency departments.

Of those tickets, 689 have been paid by city employees who apparently had no valid defense. Another 77 tickets remain unpaid. Some are eligible for administrative hearings and could be overturned by city hearing officers.
Am I the only one reading this that can’t help but hear George Orwell’s “Four legs good, two legs better”?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer knows exactly how much a picture is worth in a DUI case

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here on the significance of having video in DUI cases. Today, former Blackhawk player Chris Chelios had his DUI charge dismissed after the judge reviewed the video.

April 7, Chicago, IL
A DuPage County judge has dropped DUI charges against former Blackhawks star Chris Chelios.

Dashboard cam video from the Westmont Police Department recorded the traffic stop back on December 28.

Chelios refused to take a breath test. But the officer said Chelios had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol.

After watching the tape, the judge ruled that police lacked probable caused to arrest Chelios for DUI. He did plead guilty to speeding and improper lane usage.
Finally, a judge willing to stand up and recognize that an odor of alcohol doesn’t mean a person is impaired and most importantly, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer says they will put you in jail just for driving

This Chicago DUI lawyer gets asked the same question a lot. Isn’t this just a traffic ticket? She’s posted here, here, and here about the consequences of driving on a suspended or revoked license. So today, she thought she’d share a conversation she has at least once each day. This hypothetical conversation is about being charged with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

Accused: I got charged with a traffic offense.

Chicago DUI Lawyer: What’s the charge?

Accused: Driving without a license

Chicago DUI Lawyer: Driving without a license or do you mean driving while suspended or revoked?

Accused: Yep. That’s it, driving while suspended or revoked.

Chicago DUI Lawyer: Did you have a valid license when you were stopped?

Accused (indignant): No. I’ve never had a driver’s license.

Chicago DUI Lawyer: You know they can put you in jail for that right?

Accused (worried): Why would they do that?

Chicago DUI Lawyer: Because your state legislators decided that a person who would continue to drive without a license should be punished and punished severely.

Accused: A whole year?

Chicago DUI Lawyer: Yes up to a whole year if it’s a misdemeanor, even more time if it’s a felony charge.

Accused: What are you talking about, this is just traffic?

Chicago DUI Lawyer: Unfortunately, it isn’t. Do you consider carjacking a traffic case?

Accused: Of course not that’s theft.

Chicago DUI Lawyer: You realize it also involves a car right?

Accused: Okay, okay I get it.

Chicago DUI Lawyer: You wouldn’t call a carjacking a traffic case right?

Accused: No.
Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a serious offense. Even if you aren’t facing jail time you should have a knowledgeable attorney represent you. Many people choose to plead guilty and “pay a little fine” not realizing that they are giving themselves a criminal record. It’s true, that the accused is always admonished as to the maximum penalty for the crime and they sign a jury waiver indicating that they accept the court’s admonishments, but time after time I come across folks who apparently had not idea what they were signing away or just how serious this offense is.

Free Legal Advice: If your license is suspended or revoked, don’t drive until you have a valid driver’s license in you hand. It is the law and it’s not just a “traffic ticket”.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the return of a Chicago Top DUI Cop

This Chicago DUI lawyer is going to take an educated guess. Her educated guess is that DUI arrests will increase in Chicago. Do you want to know why?

I talked to a prosecutor today and he confirmed what I saw today. Officer Richard Fiorito is back. You may recall I posted here, here, and here about Officer Fiorito. He was a Top DUI Cop for the City. Then last spring his honors and reputation were tarnished with allegations of false arrests for DUI. No criminal charges were ever filed against him and he should be back off of desk assignment soon.


On Monday afternoon, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez announced that she was taking a pass on criminally prosecuting a Chicago police officer who currently faces 34 federal lawsuits alleging that he cooked up phony DUI charges in a ploy to collect tens of thousands of dollars in overtime pay for appearing at court dates.

After a high-profile campaign of public protests, last year Officer Richard Fiorito was finally put on desk duty and prohibited from testifying in his DUI arrest cases.

*** On two separate occasions, his arrest reports showed deaf drivers failing verbal sobriety tests - duh.

*** A particularly laughable case - if it wasn't so outrageous - was the alleged drunken driving case of black, gay motorist James Dean. After spending an hour an half at the Town Hall police station, Dean walked out of the station and a few minutes later was arrested for DUI by Fiorito. Now, unless cops at the Town Hall Station are in the habit of hosting keggers, Fiorito's arrest report once again was objective evidence of perjury.

Alvarez's clearing of Fiorito is not the first time the State's Attorneys Office has bungled of cases of cops allegedly pimping DUI arrests to earn overtime:

*** Officer Joe D. Parker wrote the fourth highest number of DUI tickets in the city in 2006, but then successful lawsuits for false arrest started piling up and dozens of his DUI cases were tossed as video footage from his squad car contradicted his arrest reports. But after costing the City tens of thousands of dollars in lawsuits and overtime, the State's Attorneys Office declined to criminally prosecute Parker.

*** Officer John Haleas was honored several times for making the most drunk driving arrests in Illinois. But in 2008 Officer John Haleas was charged with perjury, official misconduct and obstructing justice. More than 50 of his DUI arrest cases were tossed. But the Andy of Mayberry prosecution by the State's Attorney's Office allowed Haleas to walk. As the Tribune reported last November, "prosecutors improperly used statements given by Haleas to Internal Affairs investigators looking into misconduct charges against him. A U.S. Supreme Court case prohibits statements from administrative disciplinary proceedings from being used against officers in criminal cases." Oops, they ignored a minor precedent, a mere Supreme Court ruling!
The problem isn’t Officer Fiorito, in particular, but the loss of public trust when viewing several incidents involving an array of officers where the arrests are challenged.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on paying a bribe to get your license after a DUI revocation

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about the difficulty in getting driving privileges restored once they are revoked for a DUI. That said she is surprised, post the licenses-for-bribes scandal, that any Illinois DMV employee would be accused of accepting a bribe for a driver’s license.

April 1, Chicago, IL

A woman at a Chicago branch of the Illinois Secretary of State was charged Thursday with accepting $1,000 to create a fake driver's license.
Lisa Marie LaCalamita, 46, of Melrose Park worked as a manager at the Chicago West facility on West Lexington Street, according to the Cook County state's attorney's office.
A relative introduced her to a man who said he needed an ID to pass through airport security, prosecutors said. The man said his license had been suspended because of a prior DUI conviction, authorities said.
There is no easy way to get your driving privileges restored. I wonder if they are going to criminally charge the man who got the fake driver’s license.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on VIPs and professional courtesies

This Chicago DUI lawyer hears from her clients that VIPs get special treatment with DUI’s. I keep telling them that there are plenty of VIPs who get charged with DUI’s. Still, there is a persistent sense by many that police make arbitrary decisions as to whether you will get charged with a DUI based on what the officer thinks of you. Unfortunately, stories like this one of a politician just strengthen those beliefs.

April 3, New York City, NY
Hoboken Police Sgt. Peck: Sgt. Peck, how can I help you?
NYPD P.O. Liotta: Yeah, good morning, sarge. My name is Police Officer Liotta. I'm from the New York City Highway Patrol. I got a question.
Sgt. Peck: Sure.
P.O. Liotta: Of course this is a purely hypothetical situation.
Sgt. Peck: Of course.
P.O. Liotta: Um, if a certain person identifies himself as the City Council president for the city of Hoboken, New Jersey?
Sgt. Peck: OK.
P.O. Liotta: Um, who's name might or might not be Christopher Campos?
Sgt. Peck: Right.
P.O Liotta: Um ... would it be a good or maybe a bad thing for him to become a guest of the city tonight?
Sgt. Peck: A guest of the city tonight? I would, uh... OK, I'm sorry, who am I speaking with?
P.O. Liotta: Officer Liotta.
Sgt. Peck: Officer Liotta, I would expect you to do your duty, sir. I would expect you to enforce the law.
P.O. Liotta: OK.
Sgt. Peck: Now, that's all. I'm not, I'm not gonna tell you anything otherwise, I cannot tell you anything otherwise. I would advise you to do your job ... My desk lieutenant just stepped away, I can run it by him, but, um, I'm sure he would say the same thing if you want to hold on so we can get two people telling you that.
P.O. Liotta: Uh ... No, that's fine. Your opinion ... does it for me.
Sgt. Peck: In this hypothetical situation, can I, uh, what is the offense?
P.O. Liotta: Um, it might be DWI.
Sgt. Peck: Oh really? Interesting. Interesting.
P.O. Liotta: Does City Council, you know, favor you guys?
Sgt. Peck: No, no ...
P.O Liotta: Um, should I enforce this thing, or ...?
Sgt. Peck: Well ... that's besides the point, whether they're good to us or whether they're not good to us, I would expect you to - they're not - but I would expect you to ... regardless, I would expect you to do your job, but that's besides the point.
P.O. Liotta: OK.
Sgt. Peck: That's besides the point. We've been without a contract for two years. That's besides the point. I would expect you to do your job.
P.O. Liotta: Very good sir.
Sgt. Peck: Right.
P.O. Liotta: Yeah, I think my job will be done.
Sgt. Peck: OK.
This exchange suggests that if the Sgt. in Hoboken liked the City Council President, or he had not been working without a contract for the last two years, perhaps he would have suggested a professional courtesy be extended to Council President Campos.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the hot water a politician is in for a DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer is a bit surprised by the DUI scandal rollicking state politics in Utah. She’s posted here about recent DUI arrests in Utah. The reason DUI’s in Utah are particularly interesting and disturbing to folks in Utah is because of the prohibition on alcohol consumption by members of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Former State House Majority Leader Kevin Garn has more skeletons falling out of the closet. Looks like all of the politicians being charged with DUI’s in Utah also are active members of LDS.

March 22, Salt Lake City, UT
Former House Majority Leader Kevin Garn was cited for driving under the influence in 2006, as he was attempting to return to politics and later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.

Salt Lake City Chief Prosecutor Sim Gill said Salt Lake City police received a call in May 2006 reporting a person passed out in a car at a downtown hotel.

"They could smell the odor of alcohol. Based on that, they decided to do a DUI investigation. They did a field sobriety test," Gill said. "Based on their observation, they reached the conclusion that they thought the person was impaired. They decided to arrest him for DUI."

Garn initially pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to go to trial Dec. 20, 2006, but changed his plea that day and pleaded guilty to alcohol-related reckless driving. The plea was entered about six weeks after he was elected to the Utah Legislature for a second time. He previously had served from 1991-2002.

Garn was an LDS bishop at a Weber State ward for married students at the time of the incident, according to a knowledgeable source speaking on condition of anonymity.
Some may think that Garn received special privileges because he was a VIP, but now there’s a lot of talk about the vetting process for politicians. Somehow, I don’t think this DUI will change anything for most politicians.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chicago DUI Lawyer is not fooling there are roadblocks this weekend

This Chicago DUI lawyer says this is not an April Fool’s Day Joke. Looks like the Easter Bunny will be out looking for those driving without licenses, insurance, seat belts, and of course DUI.


For Immediate Release Contact: Office of News Affairs
March 30, 2010 (312) 745-6110

The Chicago Police Department will conduct a DUI Strike Force Patrol in the Chicago Lawn (008th) District beginning at 7:00 p.m. Friday, April 2, 2010 and ending at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 3, 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. Police vehicles equipped for speed detection are deployed to apprehend speeding violators.
There you have it. This is the one that’s announced it does not mean it will be the only road side safety check.