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January 2011 Archives

Former Bus Driver Betty Burden Sentenced To Probation, Not Prison

Cook County Judge John Scotillo sentenced former Mount Prospect school bus driver Betty Burden to 2 1/2 years of probation for driving drunk when she dropped 45 students home from Lions Park Elementary School. Scotillo made a note of Burden's "exemplary" job performance and clean driving record when he decided to keep her under probation rather than sentence her to a prison term.

Burden, 55, was arrested last March and initially faced up to three years behind bars after she pleaded guilty to felony DUI charges earlier this month, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. She had failed a field sobriety test, and the results of a breath test revealed the former bus driver had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.226 percent. That's nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Cecil Conner Claims Chicago Officer Told Him To Drive

Cecil Conner was charged with several counts of aggravated drunken driving after being involved in fatal accident in May that killed Michael Langford Jr., his girlfriend Kathie LaFond's 5-year-old son. According to the Chicago Tribune, Conner claimed a Chicago Heights police officer had ordered him to drive even though he had clearly been under the influence.

Conner said police arrested LaFond, who was initially the designated driver, for driving with a suspended license. The officer then handed Conner the keys to the vehicle, but 40 minutes later he crashed into an evergreen tree almost two miles away in Steger. Langford was killed in the collision.

Francisco Campos Charged With DUI After Fatal Crash

Bahra Echmail, 17, was killed in a fatal motor-vehicle accident in West Ridge after the driver of the 2003 Ford Explorer that she was riding in allegedly ran past a stop sign. The Chicago Sun-Times reported the SUV ended up crashing into another automobile on North Artesian and injured 20-year-old driver Francisco Campos and four other teenage passengers who were in the other vehicle.

Echmail's younger sister Berola was also included among those who suffered injuries from the accident, and all the crash victims remained hospitalized after the collision. However, the medical examiner's office declared Echmail dead at the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

Sharon Dixon Sues Chicago Officers For False DUI Charges

The Chicago Sun-Times reported 24th Ward alderman Sharon Dixon, 47, has filed a lawsuit against three Chicago police officials for wrongly accusing her of driving while intoxicated in January 2009. She claimed that asking the officers for their badge numbers after she "stood up to them" had "triggered my arrest."

"Many police officers take asking for a badge personal, and take it to be 'contempt of cop,'" said Dixon's Chicago DUI attorney Lawrence Jackowiak.

Study Reveals 1 in 12 Sports Fans Are Drunk After A Game

The University of Minnesota recently released a study that revealed 40 percent of people who attend professional football or baseball games had some alcohol in their system. The study also found that 8 percent of individuals would be drunk after a game, which means their blood-alcohol content (BAC) level would be 0.08 percent or greater.

Researchers from the university tested the BAC of 362 individuals, according to the Chicago Tribune. They stood outside three National Football League and 11 Major League Baseball games, going up to fans at random as they left the sporting grounds. Those who participated in the study shared the amount of alcohol they consumed on a game day and consented to a breath test.

Sportscaster Mike Adamle Charged with DUI

Evanston police officials charged Chicago sportscaster Mike Adamle, 61, with a DUI after he allegedly failed to stop at a red-flashing traffic signal on Main and Sheridan streets. According to the TribLocal, the WMAQ-Channel 5 reporter failed a field sobriety test and exhibited some “erratic behavior” when he was brought to the police station.

Authorities would not elaborate on Adamle’s so-called “erratic behavior,” although it has been said that the newscaster suffers from epilepsy. Police Cmdr. Jay Parrot said Adamle was taken to the Evanston Hospital for blood work to measure his blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level at the time of his arrest, but the information has not yet been disclosed due to pending results for a drug screening test by the state police crime lab.

Soldier Refused Service At Chicago Restaurant For Lack Of Proper ID

The Chicago Sun-Times reported an unusual story regarding a soldier who was refused service at an unnamed popular restaurant chain in Chicago because he apparently lacked the appropriate identification to be served a drink.

The soldier’s family decided to celebrate his return home over the holidays at a Chicago restaurant. Once they ordered drinks at the bar, however, the soldier was denied any alcoholic beverages because his military ID was supposedly invalid. The restaurant said the soldier “needed a stateside ID to be served,” even though military IDs list the person’s date of birth (just like state ID cards) and are issued by the United States government.

Betty Burden Pleads Guilty To Felony DUI Charges

Fifty-five-year-old Betty Burden admitted she had was inebriated while dropping off 45 Mount Prospect grade school students at their homes last March. Police officials said the former school bus driver failed a field sobriety test and had a blood-alcohol level of .226 percent, which is almost three times more than the legal limit of .08 percent.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Burden revealed she drank vodka and orange juice before taking the children from Lions Park Elementary School and dropping them home. She pleaded guilty to felony drunken driving charges at a hearing in Rolling Meadows and currently faces up to three years behind bars.

Underage Drinkers Prone To Visit ER During New Year's

This past holiday season has led Chicago-area law enforcement officials to step up their efforts in watching out for drunk and erratic residents, particularly underage drinkers. According to Reuters, over 5,000 fatalities in the U.S. generally happen every year due to underage drinking.

U.S. government researchers said hospital emergency visits resulting from underage drinking may have even increased over the recent New Year's holiday. Based on the Center for Mental Health Services' most recent study, nearly 1,980 nationwide visits to emergency rooms on January 1, 2009 involved underage drinking. Those visits number four times more than the 546 ER trips that occurred on an average day in 2008.

The family of Jessica C. Mejia, who was killed in a DUI accident last New Year's Eve southwest of Chicago, is suing the Cook County Sheriff's office for allegedly taking nude photos of her at the scene, The Herald-News reported.

The case originally made headlines because the driver was Nicholas Sord, who co-owned a restaurant with former Chicago Blackhawks star Denis Savard. He was charged with DUI and reckless homicide.