The Chicago DUI Law Blog - Find a Chicago DUI Attorney

April 2010 Archives

Former Mount Prospect school bus driver Betty Burden, charged with a DUI after uneventfully dropping off 50 students, already has been fired. But she has not been convicted of a crime and actually plans to enter a plea of not guilty to felony aggravated DUI, her Illinois DUI lawyer told the Chicago Tribune.

Betty Burden was formally indicted in Cook County Circuit Court last week after her March 9 arrest on suspicion of drunk driving while dropping off students from Lions Park Elementary School. Her blood-alcohol registered 0.226, nearly three times the legal limit, according to police cited in the article.

The district's transportation supervisor, Vincente Ramirez, also was fired in the wake of the DUI, as reported by the suburban paper Journal & Topics. Police and school officials said Vincente Ramirez allowed Betty Burden to complete her route even though a co-worker raised concerns that she was intoxicated, according to the Tribune story.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the resignation of James V. Lobianco, deputy commissioner of the Dept. of Family and Support Services, following a DUI arrest in his city-issued vehicle. The Chicago official managed the provision of shelter and emergency services for homeless Chicagoans, pulling in a yearly salary of $119,184.

The former Chicago official reportedly refused to submit to a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test after police questioned him following a rear-end collision. It's not clear what James Lobianco's Chicago DUI attorney has in mind for a defense when he appears in court in June.

According to a police report cited by reporters, the Chicago official ran into the rear of a car stopped at a red light, knocking that car into another vehicle. No one was injured in the incident.

According to FindLaw, the concept known as implied consent refers to the agreement motorists make when they apply for a driver's license that they will consent to a blood-alcohol test if officers have reason to believe they're over the limit. Typically it's done with a breathalyzer test.

Illinois motorists who refuse a breathalyzer test automatically lose their license for at least six months.

But repeat offenders might rather lose their license than provide evidence of yet another DUI, thereby risking an harsher penalty. That's the rationale behind so-called "no-refusal" weekends, described in a Chicago Tribune article, during which officers are urged to secure warrants for blood samples when suspected drunk drivers refuse a BAC test.

A drunk driving collision that killed five teenagers in Oswego three years ago is back in the news. Two of the survivors from the DUI crash have been called to testify in the DUI trial of 26-year-old Sandra Vasquez, CBS Chicago reported.

Her trial on multiple counts of aggravated DUI and reckless homicide is scheduled to begin in June in Kendall County Court. While Illinois DUI attorney Kathleen Colton has kept quiet about her client's defense strategy, she insists that tests, photographs, examinations and other evidence will be introduced at trial.

Sandra Vasquez's attorney tried unsuccessfully to move the trial out of Kendall County due to the intense media coverage she believes jeopardizes her client's right to a fair trial. Judge Clint Hull indicated that he may reconsider if jury selection in Kendall County proves difficult.

CBS Chicago reported the news that 26-year-old Garritt M. Cullerton was arrested on suspicion of a DUI. That alone might not be particularly newsworthy, but the fact that he is the son of state Senate President John Cullerton and that he was busted in an official Illinois Senate vehicle certainly is worth some ink (or pixels).

Chicago Police told reporters that Garritt Cullerton was stopped after midnight last Sunday and allegedly had a blood-alcohol content of 0.16 percent, which is twice the legal limit. He also was charged with negligent driving and improper lane usage.

But even though he's the son of the state's most powerful legislator, he'll still need a Chicago DUI lawyer to help him get out of this jam. First-time DUI offenders in Illinois have the opportunity to drive on condition of using a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID), which only allows the engine to start after the driver first proves his or her sobriety. 

What are the odds of slamming your car, allegedly under the influence of alcohol, into the car of the very judge who spared you jail time for an earlier DUI conviction? Probably quite slim, but the Chicago Tribune reported on a Maryland man who hit the jackpot.

The 45-year-old Rockville, Maryland man was not named in the article. Retired former Montgomery County District Judge Collier and wife Ellen Collier were injured when the suspect crashed into them in August.

In a strange coincidence, Judge Collier presided over the same suspect's 1998 DUI case. In that incident, the man pleaded guilty after police found him behind the wheel of his idling car while drunk in a parking lot.

But even though the man had been arrested for drunk driving twice in three months and faced jail time, the judge spared him. Think Judge Collier has any regrets?

About two weeks into the professional baseball season, it's finally beginning to feel like spring: The smell of fresh-cut grass, the warmth of the sun, and the crack of the bat. Baseball is a wonderful family pastime, but all-too-often it is tarnished by the over-consumption of (overpriced) beer. However, fans should be aware of the presence of sobriety checkpoints this season.

Do you really want to dial the number of a Chicago DUI lawyer with a foam finger on one hand and a scorecard in the other? 

Days before the White Sox home opener against the, uh, Milwaukee Brewers earlier this week, Fox Chicago reported that Chicago officials and police issued a public service announcement urging fans to avoid committing an error that could jeopardize the ride back home.

The suburban Chicago Southtown Star reported that Eddie Lumpkin, accused of driving under the influence of drugs when he fatally struck a 6-year-old girl with his full-sized van, has pleaded not guilty. Mr. Lumpkin is being held on $500,000 bail and is scheduled for a hearing later this month. He can expect that his Chicago DUI lawyer will have a hard time plea bargaining with the judge because typically, there are harsh sentences for DUI related deaths.

Back in February, as covered by The Chicago DUI Blog, Mr. Lumpkin struck and killed first-grader Jada Washington. His van also struck and injured the girl's aunt; both were walking across the street when they were hit. The driver was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of cocaine and marijuana, among other charges.

The Southtown Star article noted that two 40-ounce bottles of beer, one of which was opened, also were found in the van at the time of the accident. Mr. Lumpkin's Illinois DUI attorney, public defender Steve Greenberg, insisted that evidence will prove his client was sober and not using cocaine prior to the incident.

It looks like former Chicago Blackhawks hockey star Chris Chelios is finally out of the penalty box; as the Chicago Sun-Times reported that his DUI charges have been dropped. An impressive effort by his Chicago DUI lawyer to throw out police video evidence proved successful.

As you may recall, we blogged about the DUI arrest of Chris Chelios back in February.

Illinois DUI attorney Terry Ekl actually showed the aforementioned 15-minute video in a hearing to bolster his defense. DuPage County Judge Cary Pierce agreed with the defense and ruled that police lacked probable cause for the Dec. 28 arrest.

Fox Chicago reported on 18-year-old Rakeem H. Roach, who was charged with an aggravated DUI (and eight other charges) after he allegedly ran through a stop sign and slammed into a Chicago Police car. Two officers were injured, but have since been treated and released.

Police News Affairs Officer Michael Fitzpatrick told reporters that in addition to the aggravated DUI charge, Mr. Roach was charged with failure to stop at a stop sign, driving without a license, operating a vehicle without insurance, failing to reduce speed, negligent driving, and requiring headlights.

Although Mr. Roach legally is an adult, he's still underage with respect to alcohol consumption. It will be interesting to see how his Chicago DUI lawyer, if he decides to retain one, handles these serious charges. Most DUI cases end in a guilty plea, according to FindLaw.

A little more than 14 months since Illinois started allowing DUI offenders to drive with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID), Alton newspaper The Telegraph reported that it seems to be working as planned.

Illinois motorists convicted of a DUI used to face automatic suspension of driving privileges. But ever since Jan. 1, 2009 drunk-driving offenders could apply for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP). The BAIID device is a small breathalyzer that locks the car's ignition until the driver proves his or her sobriety.

It's difficult to know exactly how effective the BAIID program really is, since so many factors are at play. However, the Illinois State Police reported 321 DUI-related deaths in 2009 (the year the law took effect), compared to 425 DUI-related deaths the year before. That's a nearly 25 percent drop.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that former Mount Prospect bus driver Betty Burden, accused of driving several elementary school kids while under the influence of alcohol, will contest the felony DUI charge. Ms. Burden was arrested for the alleged offense on March 9. 

It seems as though the court of public opinion already has condemned her alleged DUI. Understandably distraught parents of the student passengers called for the firing of Mount Prospect District 57's transportation director, Vince Ramirez, as reported in the Chicago Daily Herald. He was later fired.

Despite warnings from two co-workers who claim to have smelled alcohol on Ms. Burden's breath, she was allowed to board her bus and drive most of her route.

Solomon Aguilera remained silent as Judge Carol Kipperman sentenced him to 8 1/2 years in prison for a fatal DUI in Riverside last year, the Chicago Tribune reported. The 28-year-old had two prior DUI convictions before pleading guilty, probably on the advice of his Illinois DUI lawyer, to four counts of aggravated DUI.

Late in the evening of March 29, 2009, Mr. Aguilera's vehicle veered over the center divider line and hit an SUV head-on, killing one and seriously injuring two others.

Not only was his blood-alcohol concentration 0.24 percent (three times the legal limit), according to results of a breathalyzer test, but police say he also was under the influence of cocaine. Angelina Meza-Hernandez, 57-years-old, was killed in the accident. Meza-Hernandez's sister and brother underwent extensive surgeries and physical therapy for their injuries following the crash.

A proposed piece of state legislation that would toughen penalties for Illinois speeders caught traveling at 100 mph seems to be getting the green light from lawmakers, according to the Chicago Tribune. If it passes, it may also affect how some DUI cases are handled. 

The newspaper published an investigative report last Sunday citing court documents indicating that nearly two-thirds of so-called "triple-digit" speeders receive a light form of probation that keeps the offense off their records.

But among the Tribune's findings is one particularly sobering revelation.