Police in Kane County used a DUI crackdown to prevent drunk driving around Halloween last month, and they will use similar enforcement the night before Thanksgiving.
Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said four arrests were made during last month’s patrol, and the “no-refusal” system will be in place on the eve of Thanksgiving.
The no-refusal periods are unique, as they allow authorities to have much quicker deliberations with judges and prosecutors. Judges are on call and ready to draft search warrants for suspected drunk drivers who refuse to comply with breath tests. Motorists normally face the loss of their license if they fail to comply with a breath test, but the quick draft of a warrant can order the suspect to take the test.
Last month, police did not have to serve warrants for any of the arrested individuals. Three people complied willing, while the fourth complied only after being told the officer would get a warrant.
All four drivers were over the legal limit at the time of arrest, and one suspect blew a .290, nearly four times the legal limit of 0.8 in Illinois.
The night before Thanksgiving is popular night for alcohol consumption as family and friends arrive in town for holiday festivities. McMahon said authorities would conduct another no-refusal program on November 21.
“Our goal is zero DUI arrests. That means people are being responsible. But we are pleased that we were able to get BAC samples from everyone charged, and we are pleased that four intoxicated drivers were removed from the roadways,” McMahon said.
Field sobriety tests are conducted by police officers when they suspect a driver may be intoxicated. Police use these tests to gain evidence of a person’s intoxication so they can make an arrest for DUI. However, these tests are often a poor indication of a person’s actual level of intoxication. Many people are simply uncoordinated and can’t pass the tests dead sober.
Here are three of the most common field sobriety tests:
- Walk & Turn. This is a very simple test in which you walk in a straight line, heel-to-toe for about 10 paces, before turning (pivoting off the front foot), and retracing your steps. Sometimes an officer will have you count the number of steps you’re taking as well. This is to test your ability to multitask.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. In this test, the officer will place a pen in front of your face and ask you to follow it with your eyes as he moves it right to left. You are only allowed to move your eyes to follow the pen, moving your head will result in failure. Here the officer is checking for nystagmus – the involuntary jerking of the eyes that intensifies with alcohol consumption.
- One legged stand. This one is just what it sounds like. The officer will ask you to raise your foot six inches from the ground and count out loud. Additionally, you are required to keep your arms down at your sides (instead of using them for balance). Here the officer is looking for your ability to balance your body. Swaying, flailing your arms, or putting your foot down, are all seen as signs of possible impairment. This test is very subjective, as some people simply have terrible balance and wouldn’t be able to ace the test sober.
As you can tell, these tests are incredibly subjective. Officers only use them to gain reasonable suspicion that you’ve been drunk driving, so they can arrest you and administer a BAC test. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to know your rights, and contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
This weekend, 18-year-old Luis Romo was charged with 2 counts of felony DUI after a car accident that injured 3 people.
Romo allegedly ran a stop sign and struck another vehicle that was carrying three men. Police estimate that Romo’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was 0.17 – over twice the legal limit of 0.08.
The injured men were all taken to the hospital, but none sustained life threatening wounds.
This case brings up an interesting legal topic – underage DUI. How do the charges differ if a drunk driver is under the legal drinking age?
According to Illinois DUI attorney, Brett Appelman, “This young man is in serious trouble. Besides a charge of DUI, he is likely facing multiple charges of Aggravated DUI, due to his elevated BAC level and the fact that injuries resulted from the crash. He is also facing a long term suspension and possibly a revocation of his driver’s license. If you are under 21 and get a DUI you can be barred from driving under the state of Illinois’ ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy.
“It is likely that he will not face any jail time for these charges, if this is his first DUI. While the accident and injuries appear quite serious, DUIs tend to be considered as reckless behavior (that is, not having been planned or with done with malice). So the sentences, at least for first time offenders, can be lighter than most people expect them to be.”
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.
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.”
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.”