Chicago Police’s DUI Strike Unit out to annoy motorists tonight

The Chicago Police Department has announced that it will be in force tonight in the Gresham District, conducting a “DUI Strike Patrol” starting at 7:00 p.m. tonight through 3:00 a.m.

From their press release:

The purpose of this program is to saturate a pre-designated area with roving police officers that continually monitor vehicular traffic for signs of impaired driving. Patrols also place emphasis on speed, alcohol-related and safety belt violations. Police vehicles equipped for speed detection are deployed to apprehend speeding violators. In addition, the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit may also be deployed to allow officers to expedite the process of charging a person with Driving under the Influence (DUI) prior to transporting an alleged into the nearest lockup for bonding. The mobile unit also allows for Individual Recognizance Bonds (I-Bonds) to be issued at the site of the DUI Strike Force Patrol.

You may ask, why do I say “annoy motorists” instead of “protect the public”?

Because look at their stats from last week’s DUI Strike Patrol, conducted in the Grand Crossing District:  135  citations, only one of them was for DUI.

One DUI on a Saturday night?  Are you kidding me?  Any patrol officer can get a DUI while out on patrol on a Saturday in Chicago between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m.  Why not use some of those officers instead to stop people from getting killed a block from the Chicago Police’s main headquarters?

Thats my 2 cents.

Actress who plays Judge “Maximum Moxley” arrested for DUI

moxley

Soap opera star Jensen Buchanan, who plays Judge Moxley, i.e., “Maximum Moxley on The Young and the Restless, was arrested for DUI after driving into oncoming traffic and causing a collision with major injuries to another person.

She is certainly hoping that she does not face a judge with a similar nickname.

From Entertainment Tonight:

Soap opera star Jensen Buchanan was arrested for driving under the influence after causing a car crash in Buellton, California, on Wednesday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

According to the collision report, the 53-year-old actress, best known for her roles in One Life to Live and Another World, also caused major injuries to another driver in the wrong-way crash.

“The immediate cause is under investigation — our understanding is she allowed [her] vehicle to cross the double yellow lines,” John Ortega, public information officer for the Buellton office of the CHP told ET. “There were two parties involved — a driver in each vehicle.”

According to the police report obtained by ET, at approximately 6:19 a.m., Buchanan’s vehicle, a black Mercedes S550, drifted across the solid double yellow lines of the road as she was driving eastbound on State Route 154. The documents claim that she drove directly into the path of a driver of a white Ford C-Max, causing a head-on traffic collision.

Police say Buchanan and the other driver, Bradley Asolas, a 56-year-old man from Camarillo, California, were transported to the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Buchanan was treated for minor injuries and arrested for DUI. Asolas was treated for major injuries.

“It is confirmed Jensen Buchanan as the driver of a black Mercedes,” Ortega also told ET. “Jensen Buchanan was arrested for DUI — she had minor injuries and went to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. As far as law enforcement is aware, she is still there. The other party had major injuries and was also taken to Cottage Hospital — there is no update on his condition.”

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department confirmed to ET that Buchanan was booked charges of driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs with injury or death and driving under the influence of .08 alcohol causing bodily injury, She is being held on $100,000 bail.

Amended bill setting “legal limit” for marijuana DUIs sent to Governor

Last August, Governor Rauner vetoed a bill which would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and replaced Illinois’ “zero tolerance” cannabis DUI law with a “legal limit” of 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of whole blood. At the time, the Governor stated that he recommended a limit of 5 nanograms, the standard adopted by Colorado.

The State legislature has now passed a new bill which incorporates the Governor’s objections to last year’s bill.

From the Chicago Tribune:

House lawmakers sent Gov. Bruce Rauner legislation on Wednesday to decriminalize marijuana across Illinois, meaning people caught with small amounts of marijuana would be fined instead of receiving jail time.

The legislation incorporates changes the Republican governor suggested when he used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite similar legislation last year. Rauner said the old version would have let people carry too much marijuana and set fines too low.

The new edition drops the number of grams allowed from 15 to 10 and raises the range of fines from $55 to $125 to between $100 and $200. Municipalities could add to the fines and implement other penalties, such as a requirement for drug treatment. Citations would be automatically expunged twice a year, on Jan. 1 and July 1.

Under current Illinois law, possession of up to 10 grams is a class B misdemeanor that could result in up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,500…

The bill also would loosen the state’s zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence. As it stands, a driver can be charged if any trace of marijuana is detected, even if it was ingested weeks before and the driver shows no signs of impairment. Under the newest proposal, drivers would not be charged with a DUI unless they have 5 nanograms or more of THC in their blood, or 10 nanograms or more of THC in their saliva.

Rams safety T.J. McDonald arrested for DUI after crash

From ESPN.com:

Los Angeles Rams safety T.J. McDonald was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson confirmed Tuesday night that McDonald was arrested after he allegedly ran into a parked car on the 22900 block of Gershwin Drive in Woodland Hills, California.

After police arrived at the scene, they evaluated and arrested McDonald at 8:30 a.m. PT and booked him at about 3:40 p.m. for a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence-other. The “other” designation means that McDonald was suspected to be under the influence of something other than alcohol.

McDonald was released on $300 in bail at about 6:20 p.m. He has a tentative court date set for June 3 at 8:30 a.m. in Van Nuys Municipal court.

“We are aware of the incident involving T.J. McDonald this morning,” the Rams said in a statement released Tuesday. “We are gathering information and will have no further comment at this time.”

McDonald, who played his college football at nearby Southern California, was a third-round pick of the Rams in the 2013 NFL draft. He has started 37 games with 219 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in his three NFL seasons.

Earlier this offseason, Rams running back Tre Mason was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana, reckless driving, failure to register a motor vehicle and resisting arrest.

New study raises problems in setting “legal limit” for marijuana DUIs

From the Chicago Tribune (story by Mary Wisniewski):

Legal blood limits for marijuana are not an accurate way to measure whether someone was driving while impaired, and can lead to unsafe drivers going free while others are wrongfully convicted, according to a new study.

The study released Tuesday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers can have a low level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in their blood and be unsafe behind the wheel, while others with relatively high levels may not be a hazard.

Marijuana is not metabolized in the system in the same way as alcohol. So while a person with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher is considered too drunk to drive, it’s not possible to say the same thing absent other evidence about a person testing at 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC — the level used to find impairment by Colorado, Montana and Washington, the study found.

The difference matters, because Illinois and 11 other states have laws that forbid any level of marijuana in the system while driving. A pot decriminalization bill being considered in the Illinois legislature would raise the level to 5 ng/ml. The bill faces opposition from law enforcement and anti-pot advocates.

Efforts to legally measure marijuana impairment have become a major concern for lawmakers as more states move to legalize cannabis, either for medical use or adult recreational use. Four states have legalized pot for recreational use by adults, and 24 states — including Illinois, plus Washington, D.C. — allow medical use, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a D.C.-based advocacy group.

“It’s an attempt to try to do an apples-to-apples comparison with blood alcohol concentration,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. He noted that the AAA findings echo earlier research. “They found out that these things can’t really be compared.”

Another problem is that high THC levels may drop before a test is administered, because the average time to collect blood from a suspect driver is often two hours, the AAA study found. Frequent pot users can exhibit high levels of the drug long after use, while levels can decline rapidly among occasional users, so it is difficult to develop fair guidelines, the study found.

Because of the problem in measuring whether someone is impaired with a blood test, AAA urged states to also look at behavioral and physiological evidence through field sobriety tests, such as seeing whether a driver has bloodshot eyes or is able to stand on one leg.

“That kind of testing has proved effective in court,” said J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD.

He pointed to a 2015 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that found no big crash risk associated with people driving with marijuana in their system but says more study is needed. Alcohol remains the biggest drug problem on the highways, he said.

Read the full story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-marijuana-driving-study-aaa-20160509-story.html

Appellate Court rules police cannot enter home without warrant or consent to investigate accident

In a new decision, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, affirmed a ruling from a DeKalb County case, rescinding a DUI suspension and suppressing evidence, after police entered a man’s home, without a warrant or obtaining consent to enter, to investigate a  a report of a man acting confused and disoriented which lead to the discovery of a one car accident.  The case is People v. Swanson, 2016 IL App (2d) 150340.

In summary, the evidence showed that the defendant left a tavern and got into an accident on a cold, snowy and icy night.  He sought shelter at a nearby home, but the homeowner would not let him enter and instead called the police.  The defendant ran off, and ultimately arrived at home, where, according to his wife, he consumed alcohol to “warm up.”  Prior to his arrival at home, police had responded to the homeowner’s call, discovered the smashed vehicle, and visited the defendant’s home and spoke to his wife.  She was asked to call the police when he arrived, which she did, but when police arrived, she did not let them enter and told them that she was taking care of her husband.  The police entered anyway and arrested him for leaving the scene of an accident and DUI.

The case upheld a longstanding proposition of law that police cannot enter a person’s home without a warrant or without consent, unless there are exigent circumstances.

Lesson:  remember your rights.  Because this man’s wife insisted on them, the case against him is history.

The Chicago Police Department is getting serious about body cameras

From NBC 5 Chicago:

The Chicago Police Department will be deploying 2,000 additional body cameras in seven police districts by the summer, authorities announced Friday.

Chicago Police currently use about 30 body cameras in one district on the Northwest Side, where police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says complaints about officers have dropped dramatically. This is proof, according to the department, that cameras help to restore the community’s trust.

“It assures police respond appropriately, professionally, and respectfully, and it also changes behavior of citizens we encounter,” said Johnson, who wore a body camera on beat patrol Friday evening. “So far interaction with community has gone quite well,” he said.

The cameras will be used in seven of the most violent districts across Chicago, mostly concentrated on the South and West Sides, according to police. Those districts are the 14th (Shakespeare), 9th (Deering), 15th (Austin), 2nd (Wentworth), 10th (Ogden), 4th (South Chicago), and 6th (Gresham).

A push for these body cams came on the heels of dwindling public trust and controversial police encounters, like the dashcam video of the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke. Video in that instance contradicted what officers reported occurred that night.

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Chicago-Police-Plan-to-Deploy-Thousands-More-Body-Cameras-378491965.html#ixzz48CUmNctL
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Obviously, there has been a tremendous push for body cameras in the wake of recent highly publicized incidents.  Yet, so far, the only body camera evidence that I have received was in a case from Evergreen Park, a southwest suburban Cook County suburb.

In the meantime, most Chicago arrests do not have any video, dash cam or otherwise.  This move by the Chicago Police Department is a welcome one.  More transparency is always the right decision.