September 2012 News: The Chicago DUI Law Blog

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September 2012 Archives

Will Stoner Study Lead to Better Drugged Driving Laws in Illinois?

Meet Jimmy. Jimmy smoked a joint two days ago. Today, he crashed his car into a pole while listening to a classic Clarence Carter tune. If the officer reasonably suspects drugged driving due to Jimmy's attire (a t-shirt stating "Legalize it") and red eyes, Jimmy can be required to submit to a drug test. That drug test will probably find the remnants of Wednesday's weed in his system and he can then be convicted of drugged driving under Illinois law.

The problem with these per se drugged driving laws is that they lead to inaccurate results. Jimmy was not necessarily. The crime is driving while impaired. Then again, at this point, we aren't even scientifically sure what impaired means, at least in a marijuana context.

Dumb Duo Swapped Seats Before Double DUI Bust

It was about 2:45 a.m. when La Salle County sheriff's deputies noticed a speeding vehicle. The car was going at least 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. When the officers pulled the car over, they noticed a lot of movement in the front seat of the vehicle, reports the Morris Daily Herald.

What [NOT] to do after drinking:

  1. Drive drunk;
  2. Speed;
  3. Change seats with a drunk passenger.

Drunk Driver Injures 4; Faces Felony for No Insurance

His 2003 Chevy Silverado hit the 1997 Toyota Rav4 with such force that the Jaws of Life had to be used to extract all four people involved in the crash, including the alleged drunk driver, 18-year-old Luis Romo, reports the Daily Herald. Police found open containers of beer in Romo’s truck. His blood-alcohol content was reportedly 0.17.

Luckily, despite the force of the accident, none of those injured in the crash face life threatening injuries. However, after Romo was released from the hospital, he was charged with felony driving under the influence, operating an uninsured motor vehicle while causing bodily harm, and running a stop sign.

Study: First Drink, First Time Drunk Can Predict Alcohol Problems

Studies have long since shown a link between the age at which a person takes her first drink and later issues in life involving alcohol. These one-time studies, however, were missing a piece of the puzzle: the progression of the problem. A longitudinal study done Dr. Meghan Rabbitt Morean of Yale University now shows that another factor, the time between a person's first drink and a person's first time getting drunk, is an independent factor that predicts future heavy drinking and other problems in high school and college, reports Decoded Science.

Most previous studies were done in a single shot. These surveys would note the time of a person's first drink and whether she had any subsequent medical issues or problems in school.

Dr. Morean's study, however, measured the same 1,160 college students over four years, beginning with their freshman year.

Are SCRAM Bracelets Ready for Everyday Use as a DUI Deterrent?

You've probably heard of the ignition interlock device. It's the most popular way of preventing convicted drunken drivers from becoming repeat offenders. It's not the only game in town, however. There's now another device, the SCRAM bracelet, which is increasing in popularity.

The Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) is a transdermal alcohol monitoring device that measures the amount of alcohol in a person's sweat every thirty minutes. The device can detect as little as a 0.02 percent blood-alcohol concentration, or about one drink. It's useful for monitoring those whose probation or court order requires them to abstain from alcohol completely.

Huffing and Driving: There's a DUI for That!

Everyone knows drinking alcohol and driving is illegal. We've also covered the illegality, and zero tolerance of, driving with weed in your system. Young people, however, are stupid. They'll get high off anything. So where is the line that defines an intoxicating substance?

It turns out there isn't one. If you've been keeping an eye on the Carly Rousso case, you will have heard that she was charged with reckless homicide and a smattering of aggravated DUI charges after her toxicology report indicated that she huffed difluoroethane, a chemical found in the cans of compressed air typically used to clean dust out of computers.

Was Fatal Head-On Collision Caused by Lane Change or Drugs?

Was a fatal head-on crash near Peoria caused by drugs or an improper lane change? Well, as far as Illinois law is concerned, it doesn't really matter.

Jessica Watkins, 22, of Chillicothe, was headed east on Illinois Route 116. Witnesses say that she appeared to be attempting to pass the car in front of her when the collision occurred. Watkins and her two passengers were taken by ambulance to the hospital. They are all expected to survive, reports the Journal Star.

Danny Whitcomb, 57, of Bushnell, was driving west on Route 116 with his wife when Watkins' car crossed into their lane and crashed into them head-on. His wife was pronounced dead at the scene. Whitcomb was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.

Toxicology Results Are Back: Carly Rousso Charged With Homicide

It's now (unofficially) official: Carly Rousso was under the influence of difluoroethane, a chemical in compressed air cans used for dusting computers, when she drove onto a sidewalk and killed a 5-year-old girl in Highland Park, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Toxicology results confirmed investigators' suspicions. A computer dust-cleaning product was found in Rousso's car at the scene of the crash.

Why would someone snort compressed air, besides stupidity? It's called "dusting." In the old days, kids who wanted to get high would use drugs. Now, they snort chemicals from aerosol cans because any 13-year-old can walk into a store and buy a can of computer cleaner. According to NBC News, it produces a euphoria and can paralyze the user for several minutes. In more severe cases, it can cause an irregular heartbeat and even kill the user.

Torres-Vasquez Sentenced to 18 Years, Deportation for Fourth DUI

Vicente Torres-Vasquez, the man with three prior DUI convictions who reportedly got blackout drunk and caused a fatal crash, was sentenced to 18 years in prison this week. He will also face deportation (again) after he completes his sentence, reports the Daily Herald.

Torres-Vasquez admits he consumed more than 15 beers and a bottle of tequila before hitting the road July 24, 2011. He blacked out in his SUV and crashed into a car and a motorcycle, killing 55-year-old Gregory Homola. Two women in the car were also injured; one still suffers partial leg paralysis and speech issues. When police arrived, they found bottles of liquor and empty beer cans in Torres-Vasquez's car.

After Outcry, They're Making an Example Out of Carly Rousso

It's all starting to make sense now. We told you last week that, despite her apparently privileged background, 18-year-old Carly Rousso would probably get what was coming to her if she was found guilty in an alleged DUI crash that killed a 5-year-old girl. The legal wheels have been set in motion, and as part of that process, more details on Rousso's case have come to light.

According to the Sun-Times, Rousso was initially released on a $3,000 personal recognizance bond. That's pretty standard for a misdemeanor charge. The alleged criminal has to fork over 10% of her bail, or $300, to get out of jail pending trial.

Today, Rousso's bail was upped to $50,000; 10% amounts to $5,000 out of her parents' pockets.

Cop Cops a Plea in Fatal DUI, Faces Trial for Leaving the Scene

Chicago Police Officer Joseph Frugoli, 41, has entered into a plea agreement with the Cook County State's Attorney's office. He pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated DUI causing a death; his reckless homicide charges were dropped. Frugoli is not done yet though -- his trial is underway for walking away from the scene of the accident, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Frugoli's blood-alcohol level was allegedly more than three times the legal limit when he rear-ended a stalled vehicle on southbound Interstate 90/94 in April 2009.

Andrew Cazares, 23, and Fausto Manzera, 21, were killed in the crash.

Is Carly Rousso Getting Preferential Treatment in DUI Death?

Is Carly Rousso being treated differently in an alleged DUI crash that killed a little girl? Or perhaps a better question is: Will Rousso's apparently privileged upbringing even make a difference?

Sure, things seem to be going a little easier so far for Rousso, the 18-year-old daughter of two prominent North Shore residents. Initial reports about the death of 5-year-old Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento indicated only that a car drove up on a sidewalk and struck her, her brothers, and her mother. There was no mention of possible alcohol or drug involvement.

Man gets drunk. Man crashes into tree. Someone gets injured. He gets charged with an aggravated DUI. Sounds like every other case we post on here, right?

Not exactly. Yes, according to the Daily Herald, Donald E. Rericka Jr., 49, of West Chicago, was found to be driving under the influence by the jury. Four hours after the crash, Rericka's blood alcohol content was measured at 0.170. He was very drunk. And yes, he did crash into a tree. The tree then toppled over, pressing a woman against a building. She's still recovering from the resulting spinal injuries.

DUI causing severe injuries? Sounds like a felony aggravated DUI case, right?