The Chicago DUI Law Blog - Find a Chicago DUI Attorney

March 2010 Archives

Will County deputy coroner Eryn Gray was arrested on suspicion of a DUI after wrecking her car earlier this month, the Suburban Chicago Herald-News reports. She also was charged with resisting arrest and cited for a few other traffic violations, police reports indicate.

While Ms. Gray does not seem to be disputing the facts surrounding her case, her alleged comments to the arresting officer suggest a belief that she is immune from such laws.

While struggling against officers trying to handcuff her, she reportedly yelled the following to the arresting officer:

"Don't you know who I am? I'm a deputy coroner."

Chicago prosecutors dropped DUI charges filed against Playboy's Miss May 2009, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. For those who don't "read" Playboy, which is a magazine famous for nude photographs of women, the former DUI suspect's name is Crystal McCahill.

Cook County Judge Thomas V. Lyons ruled last December that Miss May - I mean, Ms. McCahill - should not have been arrested, as this blog reported. But the ruling left open the possibility that prosecutors could still pursue their case, although they would have needed more evidence.

To recap, the buxom brunette was pulled over by police after she ran a red light. She actually admitted to having taken three shots of liquor before leaving her place of employment, a nightclub in the Chicago area. Police say she mumbled, had "red-bloodshot and glassy eyes" and reeked of alcohol.

Chicago machinist Andrezej Piotrowicz fled his Polish homeland nearly 15 years ago after being accused of a DUI crash that killed two 17-year-old girls, the Chicago Tribune reported. US marshals arrested Mr. Piotrowicz in the Belmont Heights neighborhood last November and now he faces possible extradition to Poland to face criminal charges.

Records cited by reporters show that he obtained an Illinois driver's license on May 31, 1996, even though he was arrested on suspicion of a Chicago-area DUI just one year earlier.

Mr. Piotrowicz, now 35, was 20 years old when the incident happened, according to translated court records cited by the Tribune. He allegedly drove two teenage girls home from a disco in the town Ustka one evening in 1994. Allegedly drunk and speeding, his car skidded off the road and hit a tree, killing his passengers Patrycja Kaczmarczyk and Malgorzata Osiak.

A federal judge is expected to rule on the extradition request soon but no solid date was mentioned. 

Downstate in Belleville, State's Attorney Robert Haida has launched a review of DUI cases in an effort to make it harder for those arrested on drunk driving charges to avoid license suspension, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

Mr. Haida launched the review upon revelations that a less-experienced assistant prosecutor regularly violated policy surrounding plea bargains. According to the policy, those charged with a DUI who consent to a breathalyzer test are not eligible to avoid license suspension in return for a guilty plea.

The reporter states that failure of a breathalyzer test is more than enough evidence for a conviction. Illinois motorists who refuse to take a breathalyzer test face an automatic six-month suspension of their driver's license (PDF, pg. 9).

The so-called Restoration Act was a federal program initiated more than a decade ago with the purpose of encouraging states to bring their open container laws in line with the federal standard, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (PDF).

NHTSA's theory was that by enforcing laws that prohibit open containers of alcohol in the hands of drivers and passengers, or within arm's reach of the driver, drunk driving would decrease. 

Without open container laws, drivers legally can still drink alcohol while driving as long as they don't exceed the legal limit. But that's not the case in Illinois, so don't tell your Chicago DUI lawyer that you were "saving" that last half-beer for when you got home.

Straddling your 10-speed after downing one too many pints may not be the safest way to get home, certainly not as safe as hailing a cab or getting a ride from a sober driver. But some may argue that it's much safer than driving a car and won't attract the attention of Chicago's finest.

Any Illinois DUI attorneys out there care to weigh in on this one?

Bicyclists are expected to adhere to the same laws and rules of the road as motorists, so why not DUI laws? Let's look at the Illinois Vehicle Code section governing DUI:

A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State while... (2) Under the influence of alcohol.

This must be among parents' worst nightmares: A bus driver taking your child to school with a blood-alcohol concentration of nearly three times the legal limit. Mount Prospect bus driver Betty A. Burden was arrested last week on suspicion of doing just that, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Ms. Burden and her Chicago DUI lawyer likely will have much to talk about as she prepares either a guilty plea or an unlikely defense to the charge.

She was charged with aggravated DUI for transporting passengers under the age of 18 while under the influence of alcohol after registering a .226 blood-alcohol concentration and ordered to be held on $10,000 bond. She reportedly took 50 Lions Park Elementary School students home from school but was stopped by police after the all of the children had been dropped off.

Katrina Jackson was killed when the driver of the Ford Escort (in which she was a passenger in) lost control of the vehicle, went off the right embankment and slammed into a light pole, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Ms. Jackson, the driver and another passenger reportedly were wearing their seat belts at the time.

This is one case that would challenge even the most-seasoned Chicago DUI lawyer.

The driver and a 9-year-old passenger were not named in the article. Both suffered "non-life threatening" injuries and the driver was charged with a DUI; although her blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was not reported.

Nearly 6,000 people were killed in traffic accidents in Cook County between 1994 and 2008, according to a study by the Scripps Howard News Service cited by the Chicago Sun-Times. The so-called collar counties around the Chicago area (i.e. Kane County, DuPage County) had similarly high rates.

The section of Interstate 94 in Cook County was listed by the news service as the 11th most dangerous road in the US, claiming 301 lives during the 14-year study period.

Statistics compiled by Mothers Against Drunk Driving-Illinois (cited in the article) suggest that half of all drivers involved in DUI accidents have never been stopped or arrested for a DUI before.  

Kane County Circuit Judge F. Keith Brown ruled that evidence of Kane County Circuit Judge David Hall's blood-alcohol level obtained after his 2008 DUI arrest is not admissible in his upcoming trial, according to the Chicago Daily Herald. Despite the setback, prosecutors tell reporters they plan to move ahead with their case.

You may recall that Mr. Hall was arrested in April 2008 and charged with a DUI and resisting arrest. Police used pepper spray when he allegedly refused to get out of his car when asked.

This blog has written about the incident here and here, but Mr. Hall's Illinois DUI attorney filed a pretrial motion to dismiss evidence. He argues that police violated protocol, pointing out that there was no record of police asking hospital workers to test his blood for alcohol until several days after the arrest.

Marquette Heights resident Jamie D. Duhs pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated DUI following a serious car crash that left her friend dead, the Peoria Journal-Star reports. She could have faced 14 years in prison for the additional aggravated DUI counts and reckless homicide charge, which were dropped in return for her plea.

Ms. Duhs' sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 15, where the 18-year-old faces up to 10 years in prison. That means she will have spent more than one-thirds of her life in prison upon release if she receives the maximum sentence. Her friend, 18-year-old Ashlyn Payne, died of massive brain injuries. 

While Ms. Duhs is under the legal age to consume alcohol, she certainly is old enough to be tried as an adult.

Motorists pulled over on suspicion of a DUI usually are given a battery of tests so that officers may collect evidence. The test in which an officer shines a flashlight near one's eye and asks the subject to gaze to the side is called the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN), as explained by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. 

Essentially, the test is based on the fact that alcohol impairment hinders the brain's ability to smoothly control a person's eye muscles.

But the importance of the HGN test in determining intoxication was greatly minimized by the Illinois Supreme Court in a case closely watched by Illinois DUI lawyers.

A fatal downstate crash involving 32-year-old James L. Griesbaum is currently under investigation by Illinois State Police; but no charges have been filed, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Police told reporters they believe alcohol was involved, even though no one has been charged with a DUI.

Statistics are hard to come by, but most Illinois DUI lawyers anecdotally say that DUI cases very rarely go to trial.

An article in the Belleville News Democrat provides a little more information about Mr. Griesbaum's November 2008 court victory, but not many details about the case itself. State Police charged Mr. Griesbaum with a DUI after a stop near Joliet but a Will County jury found him not guilty, according to court records cited by reporters.