May 2010 News: The Chicago DUI Law Blog

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May 2010 Archives

A pregnant woman in Georgia suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol lost her fetus in a collision after fleeing police, ABC News reported. She was charged with a DUI and charges related to evading the police.

She also may face charges of "feticide by vehicle" for the death of her unborn child, according to Douglas County District Attorney David McDade:

"An autopsy is being performed on the child and there will almost certainly be criminal responsibility... Under the Georgia statute it doesn't matter the age of the child as long as it was alive just prior to the incident."

The Northwest Times reported that Rosemary Quiñones, a mother of five who lives in East Chicago, Indiana, was inspired to take action to support the texting while driving law after her autistic 6-year-old son nearly got hit by a car. She realized that her son might have been killed if the driver had been distracted by a text message, since the car stopped just inches shy of the boy.

But while most citizen crusades against societal dangers are prompted by tragedy, such as a DUI fatality or sexual assault, Rosemary Quiñones hopes Indiana will follow the lead of neighboring Illinois by outlawing texting while driving.

Illinois banned the sending or reading of text messages while driving on Jan. 1, which some say is often just as impairing as alcohol intoxication. Distracted driving penalties in Illinois are not quite as severe as a DUI, but it may only be a matter of time before Chicago DUI lawyers start taking on such cases.

For now, offenders are stopped and ticketed if caught.

Morris resident Lora Hunt was convicted of reckless homicide for rear-ending the motorcycle of 56-year-old Anita Zaffke, killing her, while she was distracted by nail polish, the Chicago Tribune reported. The victim's family members hope to make some good out of the tragedy by raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

Lora Hunt's criminal attorney said his client would not have been convicted of a crime had she been distracted by a cell phone or a sandwich, to which prosecutor Mike Mermel replied that polishing one's nails is very different from other forms of distracted driving:

"It is not the same as biting a sandwich ... it's a voluntary disablement. She might as well have been in the back seat making a sandwich."

A family drunk driving tragedy inspired John Ruocco to dream up of an ignition interlock system in order to stop drunk driving.

Years before he was even born, about 80 years ago, John Ruocco's 16-year-old uncle was struck and killed by a drunk driver. As he grew up hearing about the incident, detailed in a profile of John Ruocco by ABC News, he vowed to do something to prevent drunk driving:

"They always talked about this young man, what a nice person he was, and what a horrible death he suffered. That kind of stayed with me. I got into the business and developed this technology."

Now 62 years old, the founder and CEO of Interceptor Ignition Interlocks Inc. can say with certainty that he's made good on his promise. And ironically, you have John Ruocco to thank (maybe even as much as your Chicago DUI lawyer) for the option of driving with an ignition interlock system after a DUI conviction.

In what Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon called "one of the toughest cases I've ever had to decide," convicted drunk driver Onofrio "Josh" Lorusso was sentenced to a 180-day jail sentence, the Chicago Tribune reported. The drunk driver killed his friend.

The Chicago Daily Herald reported that 19-year-old Onofrio Lorusso could have served up to 14 years in state prison for the DUI-triggered accident that claimed the life of his good friend Cameron Godee, just 17 years old.

The convicted DUI offender's Chicago DUI attorney was not cited by either article, but probably deserves a mention for helping his client secure such a favorable sentence, given the seriousness of the crime.

A Chicago man who boastfully told police his street name is "Fast Eddie" allegedly offered a Cook County sheriff's deputy a $40 bribe after he was stopped for throwing something out his window, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. A normal traffic stop then took a turn for the worse. Edward Skopek, 58, was arrested and is now free on $20,000 bond.

While he wasn't charged with driving under the influence and will need to consult a criminal attorney rather than a Chicago DUI lawyer, he also was caught with a cup of ice filled with what police claim was alcohol. He was charged with illegal transportation of alcohol as well as bribery of a public official.

It wasn't clear whether his license was suspended for a past DUI or for some other reason.

As we wrote about yesterday, a 5-year-old boy was killed when Chicago Heights police arrested his mother for driving with a suspended license and handed the keys to her intoxicated passenger.

Mother Kathy LaFond and the deceased boy's uncle, Martin LaFond, said they plan to file separate lawsuits against the Chicago Heights Police Dept., according to WBBM Chicago. It's not clear whether they are filing wrongful death suits or some other legal action.

But the suits are expected to put a spotlight on the officer who cleared 22-year-old DUI suspect Cecil Conner to drive 5-year-old Michael Langford Jr. and himself home. Cecil Conner and Kathy LaFond had been dating for about a year, according to family members.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty; but the story of a 5-year-old boy killed in a car crash, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, will probably haunt Chicago Heights police for years to come. The child, Michael Langford Jr., likely would have made it home from the party he attended with his mother if the police hadn't intervened in the first place.

But again, hindsight is twenty-twenty and mistakes sometimes happen to the best of us.

However, this appears to have been a major error in judgment. Mother Kathie LaFond was taken into custody for driving on a suspended license after she was stopped by police at 2:35 a.m. for making an improper turn without a signal.

Forty-year-old St. Charles resident Dirk William Hary was arrested and charged with a DUI, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The incident happened around 1 p.m. on Sunday, which is at least 12 hours earlier than most DUI arrests. 

But Dirk Hary, who allegedly was under the influence of prescription drugs and alcohol while behind the wheel, had his three young boys with him. So in addition to the DUI charge, he also was charged with endangering the life of a child under the age of 18.

He probably already has an Illinois DUI attorney picked out, since he already has two pending DUI cases in St. Charles, from arrests last year according to the article.

Lake County Judge David Hall is back in the news again, just a couple months after a Kane County judge barred key evidence of his DUI arrest, as covered by The Chicago DUI Blog. Now David Hall has filed a federal lawsuit for what he calls "excessive force" related to the use of pepper spray to subdue him, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

His Illinois DUI lawyers, who were able to block the use of their client's BAC reading taken by a physician after the arrest, were not cited in the recent article.

David Hall was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol on April 26, 2008. He allegedly began to roll up his window after police approached his car, after which one of the officers used pepper spray. The embattled judge, who remains on the bench, claims that he "posed no threat to anyone" during the stop, according to his complaint.

Perhaps most other young women who find themselves in a legal bind similar to that of troubled actress Lindsay Lohan wouldn't be so cavalier after being given opportunities for a fresh start. In Lindsay Lohan's case, according to TMZ, she was required to attend alcohol education classes once a week in order to comply with the terms of her DUI probation

TMZ reporters say she hasn't complied and therefore may be headed to a Los Angeles slammer as punishment, proving that neither fame nor fortune guarantees shelter from the consequences of one's actions. Still, attorney Shawn Chapman Holley disputed claims that her client has violated the terms of her probation:

"We have received no negative written report from the program and contend Ms. Lohan is therefore in compliance." 

She might have a difficult time convincing the judge, though.

Two young men were killed when the car belonging to off-duty Chicago police officer John Ardelean collided with them on Thanksgiving Day in 2007, a Chicago Tribune article explains. The now 36-year-old officer was charged with reckless homicide and an aggravated DUI.   

But now it looks like his case is in limbo and the fatal DUI charges may be dropped by prosecutors.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Gainer ruled that John Ardelean was arrested and held without probable cause, thereby tossing out the arrest. Prosecutors could refile, but they likely lack any new evidence.