In Illinois, if you commit a DUI that causes the death of another, you would be charged with a felony and would face a prison sentence of three to fourteen years, unless you could prove that extraordinary circumstances exist to support a sentence of probation.
Apparently, in Georgia, the same crime would only be a misdemeanor, and you would face no more than the possibility of one year in jail.
Thus, it was lucky for former NBA star Mookie Blaylock that his DUI, which caused the death of the mother of five children happened in Clayton County, Georgia. As a result, he will spend only a total of 16 days in jail.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Blaylock, 46, pleaded guilty Monday to DUI and hit-and-run charges stemming from an incident last March, a spokeswoman for the State Court of Spalding County said Tuesday. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but was credited for the 14 days he served, attorney Don Samuel told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Within 48 hours of his release from jail, Blaylock must report to an in-patient rehabilitation program, Samuel said.
On March 20, 2013, Blaylock’s 46th birthday, he was spotted staggering toward a grocery store and fell in the parking lot after allegedly hitting a vehicle, the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office report stated. Then on May 31, Blaylock allegedly caused a head-on crash in Clayton County that killed a 40-year-old mother of five, according to police.
Blaylock was critically injured in the crash, but later turned himself in and was jailed in Clayton County on charges of second-degree vehicular homicide, driving on a suspended license, failure to maintain lane and crossing a center median. His bond was set at $250,000 in that case due to his history of DUIs, although there is no evidence indicating Blaylock was the under the influence at the time of crash.
“I believe often times DUIs are vehicular homicides that didn’t occur,” Judge Daphne Walker said at the time. “It’s something that I take very seriously, even though under the law they’re treated as misdemeanors.”
Today I received a phone call from someone who has a Commercial Drivers License (“CDL”).
He went to court a few months ago for a speeding infraction that occurred while he was off of work and in his own car.
When he went to court, the judge made an announcement that persons with good driving records would be eligible for “supervision” which was described as a type of sentence where the infraction would “fall off” his driving record if he paid a fine and didn’t get another ticket for four months. Based on this, the person plead guilty to the speeding ticket.
A few months later, he found out that he had a conviction on his record. How did that happen?
What the judge didn’t say (because either he didn’t know or because it only applies to a few people) is that the United States government forbids states from giving CDL drivers any type of traffic sentence that could be hidden on their driving record.
As a result, if a CDL driver gets a sentence of “supervision” for a traffic violation, it is recorded as a “supervision/conviction” on their driving record — supervision for their “regular” drivers license and a conviction for the CDL.
There are a few consequences as a result of this. First of all, the violation will appear on the CDL holder’s driving record. Second, the CDL driver will accrue points towards a license suspension or revocation, which would have been avoided with a pure supervision.
So my advice to CDL holders is to retain a traffic attorney to represent you in court, to see if the charges can be dismissed or if not that, at least reduced to a non-moving or less serious moving violation.
Early voting for the March primary begins today, so I am providing links to the ratings from all the major Cook County Bar Associations. Now you can be an informed voter when you go to the polls.
Chicago Bar Association:
View our complete findings in the Green Guide to Judicial Candidates.
View a two-page, printable Pocket Guide (take this quick guide with you to vote).
Get the Pocket Guide on your smart phone at http://m.chicagobar.org/ (see instructions for saving to your iPhone below).
Illinois State Bar Association:
Chicago Council of Lawyers: click here for ratings
Alliance of Bar Associations: click here for ratings
It only took a New York jury a little over an hour to acquit Kerry Kennedy of the driving while under the influence of medication charge. Her defense was that she accidentally took a sleeping pill by mistake. This type of defense is not permitted in Illinois.
Kennedy testified this week that she grabbed the wrong prescription bottle from her kitchen counter that morning and swallowed 10 milligrams of zolpidem, a sleep aid also known by the brand name Ambien. Neither she nor prosecutors disputed the fact that she drove erratically after taking the medication and sideswiped a tractor-trailer in Westchester County before she was found, slumped over her steering wheel, her car stalled.
“I now know thanks to the tox lab that I must have taken the sleeping medication by mistake,” said Kennedy, looking at the jury as she testified.
Kennedy said she made cappuccino, had some carrots, prepared bags for the gym and office and had no problem leaving her apartment and getting to her vehicle the morning of the accident.
Her memory from that morning ends just before she entered the highway, Kennedy said. The next thing she recalls is a knock on the window of her SUV, and a man she thought was a police officer asking if she was OK.
“I was confused by that because I thought I was fine,” she said on the stand.
During a contentious cross examination, Kennedy insisted that she would not have stayed behind the wheel if she’d felt the effects of the medication.
“If I’d realized I was impaired, I would have pulled over,” she told prosecutor Doreen Lloyd, and also said she doesn’t know what the side effects of zolpidem might feel like.
“You’ve taken this pill for 10 years and you can’t tell me whether or not it makes you feel tired after you take it?” Lloyd asked.
“I guess I don’t really think about how I’m feeling when I take it,” Kennedy replied. “I take it, and then I’m asleep.”
Nearly two years after her DUI arrest, Amanda Bynes’ case was resolved without a trial.
According to TMZ, Bynes plead guilty to the reduced charge of reckless driving, and was sentenced to three years of probation, alcohol education classes and fines.
There was a lot of celebrity/musician and football related DUI news in the past few days, so I will round them up the links here:
The bill that would end the “lifetime license revocation” for anyone convicted of four DUIs has made it through a major hurdle — getting out of House Transportation Committee.
Elise Dismer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports on her blog:
SPRINGFIELD-Legislation giving Illinoisans with four DUI convictions another chance to get back on the road moved through a House committee Wednesday with backing from a prominent anti-drunk-driving organization.
By an 8-3 vote, the House Transportation: Vehicles & Safety Committee signed off on House Bill 4206, which would let four-time drunk-driving offenders apply for a restricted driving permit five years after their last offense—so long as they have logged three years of uninterrupted sobriety and a successful rehabilitation record.
“I believe in giving people a chance,” said Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, the bill’s chief House sponsor. “For someone who’s truly turned their life around, we ought to be giving them opportunities.”
Under existing state law, anyone with four or more drunk-driving convictions faces a lifetime revocation of their driving privileges…
Nekritz’s bill also drew support from a police officer from northwestern Illinois.
Lt. Donnie Pridemore, of the Fulton Police Department, testified in support of the bill, saying he’s seen people—including his own alcoholic brother—turn their lives around.
“For those who have proven they have numerous years of sobriety, who have become productive members of society, and who don’t pose a threat to themselves or other drivers out there, they do deserve a chance to have independence—to drive to work, to drive to meetings—and they’ve earned that privilege,” Pridemore said.
But Nekritz’s opportunity comes with conditions: Those who obtain a restricted driving permit under her legislation must also drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device, which would affirm their identity through video technology and prevent them from driving without initially passing a breathalyzer.
Nekritz’s bill bars anyone convicted of a DUI-related crash resulting in a fatality from applying for the permit.
Rita Kreslin, executive director of the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, said she supported the legislation in light of the permit eligibility requirements listed in the bill. Her group did not testify Wednesday…