The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and State Police Department are increasing DUI enforcement this weekend in an attempt to keep roads safer over the Labor Day holiday.
350 local law enforcement agencies will also be helping crack down on drunk driving through Monday September 3rd.
“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is the tagline for the weekend.
Over last year’s Labor Day weekend, 9 people were killed in car accidents – 3 of those deaths involved at least one drunk driver.
“IDOT is committed to improving safety on Illinois roadways, protecting innocent motorists from those who make the wrong choice to drink and drive, and driving zero fatalities to reality,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “This Labor Day weekend, law enforcement across the state is cracking down on impaired drivers and seat belt law violators, as it is proven this approach consistently and effectively improves traffic safety, prevents motor vehicle crashes and fatalities as well as minimizes potential injuries on Illinois roadways.”
The legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit in Illinois is 0.08. Anything over that limit can result in a DUI charge, bringing possible jail time, fines, and the revocation of your driver’s license.
Sometimes these increased DUI enforcements result in police officers violating drivers’ rights in order to make an arrest. Be sure you are familiar with your rights just in case you get pulled over this weekend.
In the wake of Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape,” a debate regarding child custody for children born from rape has begun.
Last week, Shauna Prewitt published an article in response to Rep. Akin’s comments in an attempt to enlighten people on the topic of rape and child custody. Shauna is a victim of a rape that led to the birth of her daughter. Shortly after her daughter’s birth, Shauna learned that the man who raped her had the right to apply for custody and visitation rights of the child.
This is the case in 31 states.
In Illinois, child custody disputes are governed by Sec. 602 (a) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Under this section the Court will apply the “Best Interest of the Child” Standard. The application of this standard by the Court is more of an art than a science. The Court considers a variety of factors in any custody evaluation to determine what’s in the best interest of the child, such as:
- Actual violence
- The threat or likelihood of one party to be violent towards the child or any other person
- Whether there are occurrences of ongoing or repeated abuse towards the child or any other person
- Whether one of the parents is a sex offender
“Judging by these guidelines I would find it hard to believe that any Judge would award a rapist any visitation rights, let alone custody to a child that was conceived as a result of sexual assault,” says Illinois Family Law Attorney, Sean Sullivan. “Rep. Akin might argue that in cases of ‘legitimate rape’ the father would have a ‘legitimate right’ to visitation or custody. I would strongly disagree with any Judge who would make any such assertion that a rapist has rights towards his child. If they are entitled to visitation then they should be on the hook for child support too. Maybe this argument could be used to dissuade any such individual from pursuing custody.”
This week a Chicago court ruled that the city will pay $450,000 in damages to two citizens falsely accused of drunk driving.
Both cases involved a now retired Chicago police officer named Richard Fiorito. During his 13 years on the force Fiorito gained a reputation for aggressively pursuing drunk drivers. Three years ago he was forced off of street patrols due to numerous charges of false DUI arrests that resulted in the state’s attorney’s office dropping charges against 130 alleged drunk drivers.
Dozens of alleged DUI offenders arrested by Fiorito have appealed their cases in the past few years. Now the city of Chicago has agreed to pay damages to the last two offenders falsely accused by Fiorito. The city will by $100,000 to each motorist, and $250,000 in legal fees.
Despite these settlements and dropped charges, the state has refused to prosecute Fiorito for falsely arresting people.
“Unfortunately, the local prosecutor’s office has stood by this dirty cop and refused to press charges against him,” says DUI attorney Brett Appelman. “These federal lawsuits are sometimes the only recourse we as citizens have against a corrupt cop and those who defend them. There are many upstanding and honest prosecutors who try very hard to make sure the system remains on a level playing field. But again, just as there will always be dirty police officers who will lie and fabricate evidence against innocent people, there will always be prosecutors who will knowingly use this false evidence to put innocent people in jail. Until we can clean out the corruption in the courts system, these lawsuits will continue to be our best recourse against a rigged system.”
McHenry County Deputy, Gregory Pyle, was arrested this week and will face trial on Friday for sexual assaulting a child.
Making matters worse, at the time of his arrest Pyle was an investigator in the police department’s internet sex crimes unit. Pyle allegedly sexually assaulted a young boy during a trip to Wisconsin and also filmed and uploaded to the internet pornographic material involving the boy.
Pyle faces a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison (and a maximum life sentence) for sexually assaulting a minor across state lines. He is also charged with sexual exploitation of the child – a charge that usually brings 15 to 30 years in prison.
“If the allegations in this story are true, and this Deputy did abuse children, then it truly is a horrible crime,” says Chicago Attorney Sean P. Sullivan. “Sexual abuse of children is always a horrible thing. What I find most troubling about this case is that this Deputy is mentioned as being a former internet sex crimes investigator for the sheriff’s department. This man was entrusted to safeguard our most precious resource- children. Under the guise of protecting our children from predators, he was actually preying on them himself! All while being paid by the taxpayers. Truly reprehensible.”
Under a new Illinois law which went into effect last weekend, possession of marijuana can be charged as a Misdemeanor or as a more lenient ordinance violation (similar to a traffic ticket).
11 people were cited for marijuana possession over the weekend. The debut of the new law coincided with Chicago’s massive music festival – Lollapalooza. And although many predicted that festival goers would be the first to receive violations, no one at the festival was cited.
Those cited with ordinance violations will be forced to pay a minimum fine of $250 and as much as $500 depending on the amount of cannabis they are caught with. The ordinance applies to marijuana amounts of 15 grams or less.
Another gentleman was stopped right outside the festival grounds when police saw him rolling a joint. He initially tried to run, but police caught him and found 20 ecstacy pills on him (in addition to a small amount of marijuana).
“The 11 people cited for possession of marijuana will face nothing more than a fine,” says Illinois criminal defense lawyer, Brett Appelman. “However, the guy caught with ecstasy is in a much more serious situation. In Illinois, possession of ANY amount of ANY drug besides marijuana leads to an automatic felony charge. This man is facing felony possession charges as well as a likely Possession with Intent to Distribute charge. The court will not believe that those 20 pills of ecstasy were only for his personal use. My advice to this young man would be to stop talking to the police and immediately contact a lawyer to assess his situation and protect his rights.”
A fatal crash that killed one on the Kennedy expressway over the weekend was the result of drunk driving, according to police reports.
The accident occurred at 4:20 am Sunday on the Kennedy expressway. The vehicle veered into a barrier, then swerved back into traffic, hitting two other vehicles and causing a third to smash into a wall.
There were seven passengers in the vehicle. Some were sitting on others’ laps. 23-year-old Maryana Holovii was one of the seven passengers, seated directly behind the driver. She was rushed to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center after sustaining several broken ribs and a punctured heart in the crash. She ultimately succumbed to her wounds and was pronounced dead at 6:45 am.
The driver, Pavlo Lulak, had a blood alcohol content of .207—well over the legal limit of .08. He has been charged with aggravated DUI involving a death.
“The driver is going to be facing multiple charges in this case,” says Chicago DUI Attorney, Brett Appelman. “Aggravated DUI, causing an accident, and possibly a lifetime ban on driving. Because one of his passengers died, if he is convicted he will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 3 years in state prison. That prison term is non-probationable, meaning he MUST go to prison if convicted. These tragedies are becoming more common in Illinois. The case of Sandra Vasquez from 2007 is very similar. She had too many people in her car while leaving a party. She was drunk and crashed her car, killing 5 teenaged passengers. She is currently serving a 15 year sentence in the state prison.”