The Chicago DUI Law Blog - Find a Chicago DUI Attorney

August 2010 Archives

A Champaign County judge last Wednesday sentenced 56-year-old DUI offender Douglas Sleight to 20 years in prison, in addition to a $500 fine, according to the Central Illinois News-Gazette. Judge Richard Klaus called the man a "very real danger to the public" despite the fact that he has terminal cancer.

He could have sentenced the Rantoul man to as many as 30 years in prison because this was his sixth DUI conviction.

Douglas Sleight's Chicago DUI lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Lindsey Yanchus asked the judge to "find it in [his] heart" to give him the minimum sentence of six years, given his terminal illness. Assistant State's Attorney Chris Kanis, pointing to the defendant's stage 4 terminal cancer and recent surgeries, argued for eight to 10 years.

Data from the Illinois Dept. of Transportation's Division of Traffic Safety shows a trend toward fewer alcohol-related automobile fatalities, according to a press release published by the Illinois Government News Network.

That's certainly encouraging news but it's a modest decline and Chicago DUI lawyers will not be put out of work anytime soon.

The largest decline in alcohol-related traffic deaths occurred between 2007 and 2008, at 16 percent, while the overall decline began in 2002. The number of fatalities involving drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater between 2002 and 2008 declined by roughly 18 percent.

Most DUI arrests happen in the hour or so after most bars close, usually beginning around 1:30 a.m. But after a night out with friends kicking back beers in the local bar, where you may feel perfectly sober next to others, it's not so easy to know for sure if you're over the limit... until it's too late.

So why not test yourself before getting behind the wheel instead of risking arrest and the need for a Chicago DUI lawyer?

That's the thinking behind an idea by Wisconsin college students (and business majors) Rory Sampair and Alexander Peterson to put breathalyzer machines in drinking establishments, as reported by Fox Detroit.

Calling it the insurance industry's first free mobile phone tool to prevent distracted driving accidents, State Farm Insurance Co. introduced what it calls its "On the Move" widget, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Specifically, the application allows Android smartphone users to automatically reply to text messages by sending a reply that they're busy driving. The motivation for an insurance company would be to reduce the number of accidents and ultimately lower the cost of claims.

Although Chicago DUI lawyers don't typically handle cases related to distracted driving, which are treated as traffic infractions, proponents of tougher distracting driving laws state that texting while driving (for example) is often just as dangerous as drunk driving.

Plaintiffs reached a settlement with Diamonds Gentleman's Club, a strip club in suburban West Chicago, in conjunction with a drunk-driving accident that took the life of a club patron, a pregnant woman and her unborn child, the Chicago Tribune reported. 

There wasn't much the Chicago DUI lawyer of driver and lone survivor John Homatas could do for his client, who was found guilty in Kane County and is serving a 12-year prison term for aggravated DUI and reckless homicide. He also settled a civil case against him for $200,000, which is the maximum payout on his insurance policy.

The club does not serve alcohol, in accordance with local statute, but they do allow patrons to bring their own. John Homatas and John Chiariello reportedly got so drunk at the club that bouncers ejected them after John Homatas was found vomiting in the bathroom.

Although many would say the real cost of a DUI has more to do with the compromised safety of oneself, passengers and other motorists in one's path. As this blog reported in March, roughly one-third of all Cook County traffic deaths between 1994 and 2008 were alcohol-related.

But in terms of real dollars, how much will a DUI conviction cost you?

Each case is different, so only a Chicago DUI lawyer can give you a more accurate estimate, but Chicago Now's Real Law Blog itemizes most of the costs a DUI offender typically shells out. The Chicago DUI attorney who writes the blog said most DUIs cost at least $1,500, and usually more.

Distracted driving, whether it's sending text messages or handing your child a snack, is hardly a problem limited to teenage drivers. But still, as Chicago Daily Herald article explores, teenagers lack driving experience and also are the most frequent users of handheld technology.

Although proponents of tougher distracted driving laws insist that distractions can sometimes be just as dangerous as alcohol-impairment, Illinois motorists cited for texting while driving typically don't need the services of Chicago DUI lawyers.

Beth Smart, the mother of a 24-year-old man who was killed after Matthew Talavera crashed into a parked car (allegedly under the influence of alcohol) has sued the driver and the bar that allegedly served him, the Chicago Tribune reported. 

Richard Smart was in the passenger's seat of the car, which was registered to his parents, when Matthew Talavera ran full-speed into the parked car, according the lawsuit. The victim was ejected and died as a result, the lawsuit claims.

The status of his criminal case is unclear; he was charged with aggravated DUI, driving without insurance, negligent driving and failure to keep in lanes.

Eleven years after the Chicago DUI lawyers and prosecutors have left the court room, and Thomas Burleson was able to say a final goodbye to his deceased family, the pain of that tragic evening still persists. The Chicago Sun-Times caught up with Thomas Burleson to chronicle his brave recovery after his unthinkable loss at the hands of a drunk driver in 1999.

While no story involving the sudden death of one's wife and three children has a truly happy ending, his physical and emotional recovery is nothing less than inspiring.

DUI memorial sign warning motorists about the dangers of drinking and driving, along with a plaque honoring DUI crash victim Ronald Hale was put back in its place along Illinois Route 142 in Mt. Vernon, according to the Mt. Vernon Register-News. It was put up earlier but taken down after the family of the DUI defendant complained because he hadn't yet been convicted.

The sign is part of the Illinois Dept. of Transportation's DUI Memorial Sign Program meant to memorialize DUI victims and raise awareness. For those convicted of a fatal DUI, it means that they'll continue to be reminded of their missteps even decades after their last meeting with a Chicago DUI lawyer

The Naperville Sun reported that Phillip D. Hamiti was found guilty of a DUI after police stopped him and passenger Paris A. Tsangaris for driving erratically at a speed of 51 mph in a 30-mph zone. Despite the relative rarity of DUI trials, this case made headlines for another reason.

Paris Tsangaris, a pre-law student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was originally charged with attempting to impersonate a Chicago DUI lawyer. He later was found guilty on a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct/breach of peace.

A Rock Island County prosecutor's apparent misstep means the case against 30-year-old DUI defendant Kathryn Ryster is now dismissed, according to the Quad City Times. 

She was charged with a DUI by Illinois State troopers after her 1990 BMW crossed the median and collided with a semi trailer, which left her passenger and boyfriend critically injured. He died in the hospital three days after the crash.

Technicalities in the law are strictly enforced in order to ensure a level playing field, but sometimes it backfires. Her Illinois DUI lawyer was not cited nor quoted in the article but isn't done with his client just yet, as Kathryn Ryster still must face charges of driving without a valid license from a separate incident.

Aurora resident Thomas G. Ofenloch was sentenced to 10 years in prison for an alcohol-fueled, high-speed crash three years ago that left two dead, the Chicago Tribune reported. The incident took place in Sugar Grove Township.

His Illinois DUI lawyer probably did all he could for the 26-year-old who had a "horrendous driving record," according to Kane County Superior Court Judge Timothy Sheldon. The incident happened just five weeks after a prior DUI arrest.

The August 4, 2007 crash claimed the lives of 21-year-old Andrew Berger and 21-year-old Josh Sutton, both from Geneva.