Illinois one of toughest states for speeding, reckless driving according to study

From WJBC.com:

Illinois’ police forces may not give out the most speeding tickets but when they do, state laws make them some of the most expensive in the nation.

A new report by financial service company WalletHub found that Illinois comes down the harder on speeders than nearly any other state but it has some of the harshest penalties in the nation. It was tied with three other states for eighth-strictest overall and fourth in terms of speeding enforcement, behind only Virginia, Arizona and New Mexico. It ranked fourth in the nation in terms of WalletHub’s “speeding enforcement” rankings. That’s based on threshold for an automatic reckless driving ticket, average hike in insurance premium after a ticket, and how much a speeding ticket counts toward a suspension.

WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez said one ticket in Illinois gets a speeder much closer to a license suspension than other states.

“It has about 45 percent in terms of how much a speeding ticket counts toward a suspension,” she said. “Usually, a ticket is 15 percent counted toward a suspension.”

Illinois also ranked high on the list because of the long jail sentences and costly fines for reckless driving.

“Illinois has some of the highest days in jail after a first conviction at ten days and 20 for a second and the fines are some of the most expensive in the country as well,” Gonzalez said.

Read the full story here:  http://www.wjbc.com/2018/07/12/study-finds-illinois-doles-out-some-the-toughest-penalties-for-driving-offenses/

In Memoriam: Richard Cohen, defense attorney extraordinaire

I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of DUI defense attorney Richard Cohen. He was a great lawyer and the best DUI defense attorney that I’ve ever seen. He was a great cross-examiner and loved doing legal research. He excelled at finding “technicalities” – like the moment when an officer conducted a seizure before having sufficient evidence, or a breath test device that was improperly calibrated.

Richard gave me first job out of law school and I worked with him for six years, handling DUI and other criminal defense, personal injury and the occasional divorce, paternity or other matter. In the 18 years since we parted ways, we continued to regularly meet or speak to discuss cases that we were working on and of course to catch up on each others lives.

Richard always used to say that it was a great honor whenever someone would place their trust in him to handle their case, and I keep that in mind every time I accept a new matter.

He always harped on the need for hard work. Richard grew up in Buffalo, New York and was a big Bills fan. One day in the office, he was still fuming because the night before he saw a baseball playoff game on tv, and Jim Kelly, the Bills’ quarterback, was sitting in the stands. “He should be home preparing for his next game, not out at a baseball game.” I said, “Its Tuesday, all the players get the day off!” That didn’t matter to Richard. If the player had been home, he’d have more time to prepare and maybe get an insight that would make a difference the following Sunday. That was the way Richard thought. He never wanted to lose at trial because he hadn’t planned and prepared for every eventuality. And you can’t plan and prepare if you are out having a good time.

Richard had been a professor of special education before deciding to go to law school. He was a State’s Attorney in Lake County, then went to work as an insurance defense attorney for Stern and Rotheiser, an insurance defense firm in Chicago. This is where he originally made his reputation, saving his carrier from potentially large verdicts in the Cook County Law Division. He then switched over to plaintiff’s work, at Kugler, De Leo and D’Arco, which became Kugler, Cohen and Sammarco, and then established his own firm, Richard Cohen & Associates.

Here are just a few of Richard’s highlights:

All Illinois DUI defense attorneys will be familiar with the Boomer case. This is a case from DeKalb County that Richard won, both at the trial court and on appeal. Mr. Boomer was found in a ditch about 15 feet from a motorcycle. At the hospital, the arresting officer tried to get consent for a blood draw, based solely on the accident and an odor of alcohol on Mr. Boomer’s breath. The trial court found that the officer lacked probable cause for the arrest and the case was upheld on appeal.

Another memorable moment for him was when he sued the then Cook County State’s Attorney, Cecil Partee, in a paternity suit on behalf of a mother and her child.

A case that Richard remembered fondly was one where the police went to a suspect’s apartment and claimed to have seen contraband through the slightly opened door, thus allowing them to enter and conduct a seizure. Richard had photos proving that the officer could not have seen what he claimed he saw from where he stood at the doorway. The case was before Judge Nicholas Pomaro in Rolling Meadows. Judge Pomaro, now retired, is blind. That didn’t stop Richard, even though his case depended on demonstrating that the contraband was out of the officer’s line of sight.  He had the witnesses testify to what was on the photos, and the Judge ruled in his favor.

More recently, Richard had a case in Bridgeview where his client blew around twice the legal limit. As the case progressed, he would call me frequently to run his ideas past me. To my way of thinking, this was the type of case to take before a jury. But Richard thought otherwise. He felt that the breath test was not properly calibrated, and that a judge would agree. He spent months working up his theory, and preparing his cross-examination. He won the case, and as he was walking back to his car, a law student, who was interning with the State’s Attorney’s office, ran up to him to ask him how he achieved this amazing result. Richard told me that this case was probably his finest moment, and if he never tried another case again, that would be fine. I’m not sure if it was his last trial (he did at least one successful Motion to Suppress after that), but it was one of his last. We were just talking about it again last month.

Of course, the biggest moment of his life was when his son was born.  I will never forget Richard talking about how everything for him changed the instant he first saw his son Rennie.  He was a devoted father, and I know he was very proud to see his son enrolled in his alma mater, Indiana University.  I wish he had a few more years to see his son graduate and become the accomplished man that I am sure he will become, but as life often cruelly reminds us, each day is a gift and we must cherish the few days that we get to have.

Richard, you were a hard person to work for, but I am glad that I did and I will miss you very much.

“I wasn’t drinking while driving, just at stop signs” defense doesn’t work.

This is one of the most absurd defenses to drunk driving that I’ve ever heard.  Not surprisingly, it didn’t work:

From WGN.com:

VERO BEACH, Fla. – A man arrested on suspicion of DUI in Florida had a creative, if ineffective defense.

During the June 27 arrest, 69-year-old Earle Stevens told officers he hadn’t been drinking and driving – he’d only been drinking at “stop signs,” according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Treasure Coast News.

Police received a 911 call after a McDonald’s drive-thru customer in Vero Beach complained of a driver behind her repeatedly bumping her car.

Indian River County sheriff’s deputies found Stevens still behind the wheel, an open bottle of booze stuffed in a paper bag on the seat next to him, according to the affidavit.

Deputies said Stevens smelled of alcohol and told them he was feeling “pretty good.”

Stevens, who said he has never had a Florida driver’s license, allegedly told deputies that he’d only sip Jim Beam at “stop signs.”

According to the affidavit, “He further explained that he was not drinking while the car was moving and only when he stopped for stop signs and traffic signals.”

Read the whole story here: https://wgntv.com/2018/07/12/man-arrested-for-dui-says-he-wasnt-drinking-while-driving-just-at-stop-signs/

AZ Cardinals GM arrested for DUI

From KTAR.com:

PHOENIX — Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was cited for a DUI on July 4. He was released that same night after being processed.

Chandler police confirmed to KTAR News 92.3 it happened during a traffic stop near Dobson and Ocotillo roads…

Keim has been with the organization since 1999. In February, he signed a four-year contract extension through the 2022 season.

Two years ago, former Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd was suspended four games because of an arrest for a DUI in Scottsdale.

Expect Enhanced DUI Enforcement for the 4th of July

carefulonthefourth

The Illinois State Police and more than 150 local police departments are planning enhanced DUI patrols and roadblocks for the Fourth of July holiday.

According to Patch:

This Fourth of July, please designate a sober driver and don’t let friends or family members drive
drunk. Other important tips include:

  • Give your designated driver your keys before you go out.
  • If you are drunk or impaired by marijuana or other drugs, call a taxi, take mass
  • transit, use your favorite ride-sharing service, or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
  • Promptly report drunk drivers to law enforcement by pulling over and dialing 911.
  • Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears their seat belt. It is your best defense against an impaired driver.

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Click It or Ticket campaign is funded by federal traffic safety funds administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The crackdown runs concurrently with a media campaign reminding motorists that impaired driving has “Life or Death” consequences.

Actor best known for Downton Abbey arrested for DUI

rade

From TMZ:

Rade Serbedzija — who played Prince Kuragin in “Downton Abbey” and memorable movie villains — nearly took out several cars before he was arrested for DUI … according to cops.

Santa Monica cops tell us they got calls about a Lexus swerving all over the road last weekend. Once officers pulled him over … they say they found an open bottle of whiskey, and 71-year-old Rade showed signs of intoxication.

We’re told his field sobriety testing did not go well, and he blew over the legal limit.

Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists releases its annual Top Cops list

The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists has released its annual report of the Illinois police departments and officers who made the most DUI arrests in 2017.

The Top Cop list is as follows:

Rank
Title
Top Cops
Department
DUI Arrests
1 Trooper Eric David ISP District Chicago 208
2 Officer Timothy Walter Chicago District #19 167
3 Officer Benjamin McGill Springfield 132
4 Officer Elliot Tupayachi Chicago District #19 124
5 Investigator Andrew Hartman Rockford 110
6 Officer Paul Dublinski Elgin 105
7 Officer Carlos Ortiz Chicago District #19 104

The top suburban police departments (i.e., not including Chicago (1,982 DUI arrests in 2017) or the Illinois State Police (5,234 arrests) are below:

Rank
Municipality
2017
DUI Arrests
% Change from
2016 to 2017
2016
DUI Arrests
1 Rockford 490 6.8% 459
2 Elgin 418 14.5% 365
3 Decatur 391 -2.5% 401
4 Cicero 341 11.8% 305
5 Aurora 326 39.3% 234
6 Lombard 313 34.3% 233
7 Carol Stream 291 -4.6% 305
8 Springfield 288 25.2% 230
9 Naperville 271 -13.1% 312
10 Normal 246 2.9% 239
11 Fairview Heights 219 4.3% 210
12 Orland Park 216 17.4% 184
13 Elmhurst 214 6.5% 201
14 Gurnee 211 40.7% 150