Chicago Bears CB Tim Jennings Arrested For DUI

Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings has been arrested for driving under the influence, speeding and reckless driving, according to a report from ESPN’s Michael C. Wright.

Wright has been covering the report from the start, and it appears that Jennings is still being held at the Gwinnett County jail in Georgia.

Details are still sketchy, but it doesn’t look like the Bears are off to a great 2015 after stumbling through a disappointing 2014 season. The Bears have yet to release a statement about the incident, and even though they are currently without a coach or general manager, it seems unlikely that the team will cut ties with the 31-year-old cornerback. Jennings started all 32 games for the Bears over the last two seasons, and he earned Pro Bowl selections in 2012 and 2013. Those successful years earned him a four-year contract extension after the 2013 season, and although he had a down here in 2014, we don’t think his roster spot is in jeopardy.

Tim Jennings

Possible Penalties

A DUI charge is fairly serious; Jennings is facing a loss of his driver’s license, community service and possibly even jail time. The criminal repercussions from this case could force him into alcohol treatment and substance abuse programs.

The NFL also has very strict policies dealing with criminal behavior and drug and alcohol violations by the players. Jennings could be suspended for a number of games at the beginning of the 2015 season, and face the very expensive prospect of losing game checks for any games he misses. He could be forced to attend the NFL’s own drug and alcohol treatment program as well as other sanctions the league might hand down.

The best thing Tim Jennings can do right now is start going to alcohol treatment immediately. In-patient treatment is his best option to show the league that he takes this matter seriously and that he want to address his alcohol issues.

Related source: Sports Illustrated, SB Nation

Law Banning Police Ticket Quotas Goes Into Effect Jan. 1

Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 3411 back on June 16, but the law banning police ticket quotas won’t go into effect until Thursday, when the calendar turns to 2015. There has been a lot of debate over what the law really bans, so today we delve into SB 3411.

Two Big Changes

SB 3411 offers two large tweaks to the ticket quota system. The law:

  • Provides that a county or municipality may not require a law enforcement officer to issue a specific number of citations or warnings within a designated period of time, and;
  • Provides that a county or municipality may not, for purposes of evaluating a law enforcement officer’s job performance, compare the number of citations or warnings issued by the law enforcement officer to the number of citations or warnings issued by any other law enforcement officer who has similar job duties.

Essentially, police leaders can’t tell their officers to write 200 speeding tickets each month or give Bill a promotion over Bob just because Bill writes more tickets. State Representative Jay Hoffman, of Swansea, said the banning of quotas will help restore the public’s trust in police.

“Arbitrary quotas on the number of tickets that have to be issued by police officers undermines the public trust in the police departments’ priorities,” Hoffman said. “By eliminating these quotas, we can restore that trust and ensure that police officers are free to do their job protecting the public.”

Illinois Ticket Quota

That said, not all police quotas have been banned. In some instances, police departments must meet certain targets in order to be eligible for federal and state grant money. Officials say targeted grants, like funding for extra DUI patrols during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, will be exempt from the ban. In most cases, the instances in which you may be subjected to a quota are times when you were going to get a citation or arrested regardless of whether or not a quota was in place.

Also, although ticket quotas have been banned, the law says nothing about required daily or monthly contacts. These are situations where an officer interacts with a citizen, but does not necessarily need to involve a crime.

“It could be serving a warrant, serving orders of protection, doing a community program,” said Sangamon County Sheriff Wes Barr.

Police believe these regular interactions help foster trust in officers and ensure their presence is made public in the community.

If you believe you’ve been unjustly given a traffic ticket or related violation, contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney right away.

Related source: The State Journal-Register, The Metro Independent

Illinois Police Add DUI Patrols For Thanksgiving Weekend

Drunk TurkeyThe night before Thanksgiving is often one of the most popular drinking nights of the year, and Illinois police are taking extra measures to cut down on the number of drunk drivers.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are two of the more well-known days on the extended holiday weekend, but it’s tonight -Blackout Wednesday as it is known by some young people – that is of the most concern to local police.

“Obviously stores will be busy, we have plenty of establishments here which will be serving liquor,” said Batavia police director Kevin Bretz. “But we’re prepared for anything that comes up.”

Batavia police aren’t the only ones amping up their DUI patrols. Similar to years past, Kane County will be conducting a “No Refusal” program. Under normal circumstances, a person does not need to submit to a blood or breath test unless they give consent or an officer presents the suspect with a warrant. A warrant typically takes a few hours to be approved by a judge, but tonight and through this weekend judges will be available to sign off on search warrants around the clock. This means suspected drunk drivers will be required to submit to a test once presented with a search warrant or face the consequences.

The Geneva Police Department is also letting residents know that’s they’ll be stepping up DUI patrols. The department will have two extra squad cars out on the roads between 9 p.m. Wednesday and 3 a.m Thursday to catch any patrons who drive home from the bar when they should be in a cab.

“The purpose is to be proactive and hopefully deter poor decisions on the part of drivers,” said Geneva patrol operations commander Julie Nash.

Added police presence and better decisions from drivers should help reduce the number of fatal and non-fatal accidents this holiday weekend. Last year seven people died in car accidents during Thanksgiving weekend, and three of those crashes involved a drunk driver. In all, 723 drivers suffered an injury in a car accident over the holiday weekend last year.

Brett Appelman Comments

Make good decisions out there tonight. The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest nights for drunk drivers of the year. Not only are you more likely to get pulled over if you drive drunk, you could end up injured if you are struck by a drunk driver.

Plan a ride home before you start drinking. A $40 cab ride is much better than a $10,000 DUI bill because you made a poor choice. If you do end up in a rough spot this weekend, give us a call at (630) 717-7801. Have a wonderful holiday!

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Illinois State Bar Attempting To Change DUI Law

Illinois Marijuana DUIThe Illinois state bar association is attempting to change the state’s current DUI law in the wake of a tragic accident.

The incident that spurred the call for change occurred back in December 2011 when Scott Shirey was driving his two 10-year-old twins to swimming practice. Along the way their car was t-boned by a distracted driver who ran a red light. One of Shirey’s kids died in the crash, and the other was severely injured.

Despite adhering to traffic laws, Shirey faced the possibility of 14 years in prison because a blood test found he had marijuana in his system. His attorney said Shirey admitted to smoking marijuana, but that was a month prior to the crash. His attorney argued that he clearly wasn’t under the influence at the time of the accident.

“Nothing can possibly illustrate this idiotic law more than the Scott Shirey case,” defense attorney Patrick O’Byrne said. “It’s incomprehensible how bad the law is. It’s a worst-case scenario, charged with the homicide of your own son for smoking pot that had nothing to do with the accident.”

Knowing that there was little they could do to challenge the law as it was written, Shirey decided his only option was to plead guilty. He was sentenced to 30 months of probation, while the driver who caused the crash received two months of periodic imprisonment and nine months of home confinement.

“We had no choice. We had no defense,” O’Byrne said. “Thank God the judge gave him probation instead of prison.”

Acting on what they believe is a travesty of justice, the Illinois State Bar Association submitted a bill to change the current law. They said the DUI statute shouldn’t apply to drivers who aren’t under the influence at the time of an accident or at fault for causing the accident.

Related source: Daily Herald

Illinois Police Adding Extra Halloween DUI Patrols

DUI roadblockGrants from the Illinois Department of Transportation are making it easier for many departments to police drunk drivers on Halloween and the holiday weekend.

Some departments are putting the extra funds towards DUI roadblocks, while others are simply using the funds to put more troopers on the road this weekend. The Lake County Sheriff’s office received a $135,000 grant from IDoT, and they plan to add roadblocks during most of the upcoming holidays.

“For this grant program, we anticipate conducting the enforcement campaigns during the weeks of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s (Day), the Super Bowl, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day,” the Lake County Board said.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will also conduct “saturation patrols” during the Halloween weekend as they expect more people to take part in the holiday because it falls on a Friday. Similar patrols will take place in Will and Kendall County.

“Officers assigned to these details will be checking for impaired drivers, occupant/child restraint violations, cell phone violations, and other violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code,” said Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton.

Extra Emphasis

As noted above, the extra emphasis on pedestrian safety this Halloween is due in part to the fact that the holiday falls on a Friday. This means more teens and adults will be off to spooky parties on the same night that ghosts and ghouls hit the streets to go Trick or Treating.

As USA Today reports, Halloween is by far the most dangerous day for children in terms of being struck by vehicles. A 20-year study conducted between 1990 and 2010 found that an average of 5.5 people under the age of 18 are killed by vehicles each year on Halloween. That’s more the double the average of every other day on the calendar.

So it’s no wonder that Illinois police want to ramp up DUI patrols this Halloween. The holiday is already the most dangerous day for kids before you factor in drunk drivers. If you’re going to a Halloween party this weekend, please plan a sober ride.

Related source: News Sun, The Times Weekly, USA Today


Rhode Island Man Gets 4 DUIs in 36 Hours

4 DuisA Rhode Island man just set the unofficial record for most DUIs in a 36-hour span, racking up four drunk driving arrests in a day and a half.

The whole ordeal for John Lourenco, 53, began Sunday afternoon when his Dodge pickup collided with a family’s SUV, injuring a 4-year-old and 6-year-old in the other vehicle. The children received treatment and were released from a local hospital, and Lourenco was booked for driving under the influence after failing a field sobriety test.

According to the police report, Lourenco became hostile with officers and hospital staff while being treated for minor injuries. He allegedly threatened an officer and threw a bottle of urine at a nurse. He was released after being given a summons to appear in court on the drunk driving charge.

But Mr. Lourenco’s poor choices didn’t stop there. Bright an early Monday morning Lourenco was back behind the wheel, this time driving a Chevy Sedan. Police responded to a report of a traffic accident around 7 a.m. and found that Lourenco had hit another car. He blew a 0.220, nearly three times the legal limit, when given a Breathalyzer at the scene. He was charged with drunk driving and released to his parents.

Again, Lourenco failed to learn his lesson. Around 11 a.m. an officer noticed a Plymouth Barracuda driving erratically down the road. The officer stopped the vehicle and once again found Lourenco behind the wheel. Lourenco was arrested and taken to the hospital, where he was released to their custody. Lourenco was released from the hospital after having his blood drawn.

Sadly, just a few hours later, Lourenco again made the poor choice to get behind the wheel. He was driving a dump truck when he crashed into a tree around 5 p.m. Monday night. Lourenco was again booked on suspicion of driving under the influence, but this time the police kept him in custody after the hospital drew his blood. He was scheduled to remain in police custody until his September 24 court date, but he was released Tuesday on $25,000 surety bail.

In addition to the four drunk driving charges, Lourenco also faces charges of:

Reckless driving

• Refusing a Breathalyzer

• Failure to provide insurance

Brett Appelman comments

Sometimes a story provides more questions than answers, and that’s how I feel after reading this piece. Why did it take four arrests for the police to keep Lourenco in custody? Where did he need to get to so urgently? How they heck did he have access to three cars and a dump truck?

This is simply one of the stranger DUI stories I’ve ever read.

Related source: The Providence Journal

Illinois Lawmakers Push For Police Body Cameras

Police Body CamerasTwo Illinois lawmakers proposed a bill on Thursday that would help fund police body cameras by adding a $6 surcharge to all criminal and traffic citations.

The bill was introduced by State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth and is sponsored by Senator Bill Haine, both members of the Democratic Party. According to Gordon-Booth, the bill would allow police departments to apply for grants to buy body cameras and video equipment for their squad car. The grant money would be funded by the taxpayers, but only by those who earn a criminal or traffic citation. Gordon-Booth said a $6 surcharge fee on criminal and traffic offenses would raise between $4 million and $6 million annually.

“[The body cameras would] remove controversies and remove doubt on what’s going on with a lawful arrest,” said Senator Haine.

Police body cameras have been a hot topic in the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri. In that instance, an 18-year old unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white police officer. Racial tensions erupted, but nobody has been able to provide clear evidence of what transpired right before the fatal shots were fired. Had the officer been wearing a body camera, the matter would likely be settled. Since then, some officers in Ferguson have begun wearing body cameras, and now Illinois is looking to follow suit.

The Benefits of Body Cameras

The benefits of police body cameras are two-fold. First, they keep officers and civilians on their best behavior. If police and anyone they encounter know their actions are being filmed, everyone will act more civil. True cases of police brutality and excessive force will be recorded for the world to see.

Also, body cameras will help keep officers and their departments safe from frivolous lawsuits. Considering the city of Chicago paid out $84.6 million last year in legal fees and misconduct payouts, and the decade total tops half a billion dollars, the cameras could easily end up paying for themselves.

Criminal defense attorney Brett Appelman said he’d like to see police wear body cameras.

“So often in a court of law it comes down to a ‘he said, she said’ argument,” said Appelman. “With body cameras, we would have an unbiased, third-person view of exactly what transpired. It seems like a no-brainer to me.”

Related source: STL Today

Illinois Red Light Cameras Issuing Faulty Tickets

Red Light CamerasAn investigative report by the Chicago Tribune uncovered that thousands of Illinois drivers have been issued faulty and undeserved tickets by red light cameras across the state.

The 7-page investigative story is astounding. In their report, the Tribune notes that more than 4 million red light tickets have been issued since 2007, some of which were caused by faulty equipment, human intervention or both.

To investigate the recent spike in red light tickets, the Tribune conducted a 10-month study of more than 13,000 questionable red light tickets at 12 intersections throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. After analyzing all the data, the journalists uncovered:

  • Cameras that used to generate only a few tickets a day were suddenly catching dozens of drivers. For example, a light near the United Center averaged one ticket per day up until a two-week period last summer where it averaged 56 tickets per day. After the two-week period, it dropped back down to one or two tickets a day.
  • There appeared to be an unannounced change in the way cameras ticketed rolling stops. Of the 100 tickets a North Side camera issued in the second half of 2011, only 12 were for rolling stops. Then, over a 12-day period, the light issued 563 tickets. 560 of those were for rolling stops.
  • Many spikes were preceded by periods of very few tickets, meaning human intervention likely produced the spike, but city officials have no record of tinkering. They also stated they have no idea how the records could have been lost. (Were they ever recorded in the first place?)
  • Drivers who appealed their red light ticket won their case less than 10 percent of the time.

Experts say there are only two possible causes for the spike in tickets, undocumented human intervention to catch more drivers, or faulty equipment. Either way, it’s the public that suffers, to the tune of $500 million since 2003.

The city said they independently viewed 300 random videos from the spikes and went on record saying no tickets were issued in error, but they would not release the camera footage to substantiate their claim.

Brett Appelman comments

Since the very beginning of the red-light-camera program there have been many issues regarding their lawfulness and reliability. Thousands of people have argued that the cameras are not in fact able to distinguish between a lawful stop at a red light, and someone running the red light. Many cities across the country have had to remove all of their red-light-cameras and discontinue their use due to lawsuits and financial losses to the municipalities.

In Illinois, the tickets given out from these devices are not considered criminal in nature so they prosecutor does not have to prove you are guilty of a violation beyond a reasonable doubt. The law considers these tickets as civil in nature, so the burden of proof the prosecutor must meet to find you liable is much lower. Many times the video is blurry or slightly obscured, but the defendant is found liable anyway.

These red-light-camera tickets are about one thing and one thing only: money. The cities are simply trying to raise more funds by squeezing every last dime out of the drivers on the roads. The companies who install and run the cameras end up taking a huge percentage of the money collected, so they certainly have a motive to set the cameras up to simply give tickets to everyone, whether a violation occurred or not. As I stated before, due to these discrepancies, many cities and even some states have moved to ban, or are in the process of banning these devices. Illinois should follow suit and ban them as well, and if they do uncover foul play or faulty equipment, they should refund drivers. People need to be shown that this system is designed to catch illegal driving maneuvers, not an arbitrary system to steal money from law-abiding citizens.

Huge 4th of July DUI Enforcement Underway in Illinois 

DUI Patrol ILThe Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois State Police (ISP) hope to continue the downward trend of traffic deaths on state roads by conducting a large scale DUI and seatbelt enforcement.

The Fourth of July is often a fun holiday filled with family and fireworks, but Tonya Loker, IDOT Director of Traffic Safety, said the holiday also involves two dangerous elements: heavy traffic and alcohol. Loker said the added patrols will help keep Fourth of July commuters safe.

“IDOT and law enforcement remind everyone this weekend that if you drink and drive in Illinois this Fourth of July, you will be caught,” said Loker. “Whether driving a car or motorcycle, if you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a sober driver or find a safe way home BEFORE the party begins. Be responsible or risk a DUI.”

The added patrols begin today and run through Sunday, July 6. ISP Director Hiram Grau said the patrols will focus on drivers who violate four of the most dangerous driving acts.

“The upcoming Fourth of July holiday means law enforcement statewide will be out on the roads enforcing laws to avoid tragic outcomes. To boost safety around the holiday weekend, the Illinois State Police enforcement efforts will focus on the Fatal Four – Speeding, Seatbelts, Distracted Driving and DUI.”

The Illinois State Police and more than 320 local law enforcement agencies will join IDOT in the DUI and seatbelt crackdown, and before you start thinking that you only need to make it to the state border to avoid the extra patrols, know that Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa are conducting similar sweeps.

Sobering Statistics

Although 85 less individuals have lost their lives on Illinois roads this year compared to the same time last year, the Fourth of July holiday if often the deadliest weekend of the year, especially when the holiday falls on a Friday.

According to IDOT, 18 motorists died on Illinois roads during the Fourth of July holiday last year, and 33 percent of those deaths involved at least one driver who had been drinking. 58 people have lost their lives on Illinois roads during the holiday weekend in the last five years, and 50 percent of the fatalities have involved an inebriated driver.

Brett Appelman added that the drive sober sentiment should apply to all vehicles this weekend.

“Be smart over the holiday weekend when it comes to drinking and driving,” said Appelman. “Just because it’s not a car doesn’t mean you aren’t subjected to the same laws. If you’re over the legal limit, steer clean of recreational vehicles like boats, pontoons and ATVs.”

Related source: IDOT


Illinois Bans Police Ticket Quotas 

Illinois Ticket QuotasGovernor Pat Quinn recently signed a bill that bans Illinois police departments from assigning ticket quotas and evaluating officers based on whether or not they meet those quotas.

Quinn said the law will allow the officer to determine whether or not a driver should receive a ticket without bias or fear of failing to meet a certain number of tickets in a month.

“Law enforcement officers should have discretion on when and where to issue traffic citations and not be forced to ticket motorists to satisfy a quota system,” the governor said in a news release. “This new law will improve safety and working conditions for police officers and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle.”

The bill, which was signed last Sunday, went into effect immediately. The new law applies to local, county, and state police precincts. Earlier this year the bill made its way through the House and Senate with ease, passing 106-9 and 57-1 respectively.

State Rep. Jay Hoffman sponsored the bill, and said he expects the law to lead to better relations between civilians and law enforcement officials.

“Arbitrary quotas on the number of tickets that have to be issued by police officers undermines the public trust in the police departments’ priorities,” said Hoffman, a Democrat from suburban St. Louis. “By eliminating these quotas, we can restore that trust and ensure that police officers are free to do their job protecting the public.”

Brett Appelman comments

This is encouraging news, as it can be difficult to prove that a person received a ticket mainly because the officer needed to reach a certain quota. You may have been speeding, but if the officer needs 10 more tickets by the day’s end to avoid a mark on his record, you can bet that you’re not getting off with a warning.

Now that your driving actions and interaction with the officer are the only influences on whether or not you receive a ticket, it may be a good time to re-read our post on five ways to avoid a traffic ticket.