Illinois no longer mailing vehicle emissions test notices

Thanks to our budget impasse, Illinois has stopped mailing vehicle emissions notices.  This comes on top of its previous decision to stop sending vehicle registration renewal notices.

From the Daily Herald (story by Erin Hegarty):

As another casualty of the state budget impasse, Illinois will no longer remind you when you need to go for vehicle emissions testing, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday.

This comes on top of the state suspending mailing residents reminders that their vehicle registration is expiring, a move Secretary of State Jesse White said could save $450,000 a month.

The state stopped sending the emissions testing notices in December and says drivers whose license plates expire in March will be the first to not receive the reminder notices.

Of course, it’s simple to look at the sticker on your license plate to figure out when your registration expires, but how will you know when your vehicle needs an emissions test?

The state EPA says most vehicles that need to be tested in 2016 include those with an even model-year from 1996 to 2012. The agency also says most vehicles manufactured after 1996 are subject to an emissions test after they are four years old.

Diesel and electric vehicles are among those the IEPA says are exempt from emissions testing.

Illinois residents can sign up for vehicle registration reminders via email at www.ilsos.gov/greenmail/, and drivers are notified whether a vehicle emissions test is required before the registration is renewed.

Alleged Drunk Driver crashes into Lake Cty Sheriff’s Squad

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A 67-year-old man was charged with DUI after he crashed into a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy squad car early Monday in north suburban Beach Park.

Gregory G. Fowler, of the 38700 block of North Sheridan Road in Beach Park, was charged with a misdemeanor count of DUI and cited for failing to yield, according to a statement from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

At 2 a.m., the deputy was driving northbound on Sheridan Road approaching West Chaney Avenue in Beach Park, and Fowler was driving a 2001 Ford SUV headed southbound on Sheridan Road in the same area. Fowler made a left turn into the Beach Mobile Home Park directly in front of the sheriff’s squad car and the two cars crashed, police said.

No one was hurt in the crash.

Fowler was being held in the Lake County Jail on a $3,000 bond as of Monday afternoon.

“I do not deserve to be breathing the same air as all of you,” says fatal DUI crash defendant at sentencing

From the Chicago Tribune, story by Steve Schmadeke:

The mother of a promising University of Chicago Law School student sobbed Thursday as she talked in a Cook County courtroom about how a crash caused by a man driving the wrong way on Lake Shore Drive while drunk had forever changed two families’ lives.

Judith Wasil’s son, Michael, 24, suffered traumatic brain injuries, while his friend Laura Anne LaPlante, 26, also a U. of C. law student, was killed. Both were three weeks from graduation from the prestigious school.

“Certain truths that I had always taken to be self-evident were instantly shattered,” said Wasil, whose son did not attend the hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. “We were no longer a normal, happy family. My son was lying in a hospital bed hooked up to machines and fighting for his life. My family had suffered one of the worst tragedies a family can experience.”

The defendant, Erik Johnson, sat with slumped shoulders looking shellshocked as Wasil spoke. He briefly appeared to lose his composure and fight back tears as Assistant State’s Attorney Geraldine D’Souza read a statement from LaPlante’s parents wishing Johnson’s family well…

Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated DUI and was sentenced to eight years in prison as part of a deal worked out with the approval of both victims’ families. He must serve a minimum of nearly six years in prison.Johnson, at the time of the crash a recent Loyola University graduate who had been out drinking with co-workers, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.195 percent, about 2 1/2 times the legal limit.

His SUV, being driven south in the northbound lanes on a twisting curve of Lake Shore Drive near Navy Pier, smashed into a taxi carrying LaPlante and Wasil shortly before 2 a.m. in early May 2014. The impact knocked both into the taxi’s windshield. The driver, the only one wearing a seat belt, suffered a broken elbow.

Calling it “a heart-wrenching tragedy of the worst kind,” Wasil’s mother said the massive injuries at first left her son unable to swallow, eat, drink, walk, talk, read or write. He has recovered physically except for a pronounced limp, she told Judge William Lacy, but his brain injury “continues to be problematic” and is “essentially a life sentence.”

Wasil has difficulty even forming sentences, according to an attorney for the family…

Moments before the judge handed down the sentence, Johnson, now 25, apologized for his actions.

“I do not deserve to be breathing the same air as all of you,” Johnson told the courtroom. “I wish this senseless act had killed me alone because of my own mistake.

“I was brought up in a moral and ethical household where we were taught to respect life and a person’s free will,” he said. “No one in my family ever committed a crime, no one in my family ever hurt anyone. But in one night I lost complete control over everything I’ve ever been taught and everything I’ve ever believed myself.

“I have single-handedly taken away the life of a young woman already great but destined for greater things,” Johnson said. “I am devastated to think of what I have taken from you.”

Johnson, who vowed to work to prevent drunken driving after his release from prison, kept his eyes downcast as a deputy sheriff led him from the courtroom.

Read the full story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-lake-shore-drive-crash-law-students-met-20160204-story.html

Former Net Jayson Williams arrested for DUI

jayson

From NBC Sports.com:

Former NBA All-Star Jayson Williams, who served more than a year in prison for the 2002 accidental shooting death of a limo driver, has been charged with drunken driving after he crashed his vehicle in upstate New York.

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office tells the Times Herald-Record of Middletown (bit.ly/1TG5igD) that Williams was driving home on the night of Jan. 26 when he hit a utility pole along a road in the rural town of Delaware, 95 miles northwest of New York City.

Police says the 47-year-old Williams was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Williams told deputies he swerved to avoid hitting a deer. Officials say Williams had difficulty standing, slurred his speech and failed a field sobriety test.

Williams retired from the New Jersey Nets in 1999.

Effective? Budweiser Super Bowl ad has Helen Mirren insulting drunk drivers

Budweiser has released a Super Bowl ad featuring British actress Helen Mirren, introducing herself as a “notoriously frank British lady,” insulting drunk drivers.  Then she holds up a frosty Bud and toasts her fellow Bud drinkers.

I don’t get it.

First of all, does Helen Mirren play with the drunk-driving, football watching demographic?  I think not.

Second of all, the insults don’t work.  Most people who drink while intoxicated don’t realize how drunk they are.  They think that they are good enough to make it home.  They don’t see themselves as “utterly useless, oxygen wasting, human form of pollution.”  They see themselves as hardworking parents, good citizens, church members.  Which they are, most of the time.

A much better pitch is to remind people how easy it is for a good person to get arrested, or much worse, seriously injure or kill themselves or someone else when they drink and drive.

What do you think?

Illinois take note: Colorado Troopers to pilot test marijuana detection devices

While Illinois is still considering amending its marijuana laws to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis and replacing its “zero tolerance” cannabis DUI laws with a “legal limit, ” Colorado, which has taken the lead in legalization, is moving forward with a pilot program using new marijuana detection devices.

From Colorado’s Fox 31:

The Colorado State Patrol is using marijuana DUI devices as part of a three-year pilot program.

Since March, more than 125 troopers have been equipped with one of five types of an oral fluid tester that sample a driver’s saliva for the presence of drugs, including marijuana.

“It would be nice to have that additional evidence on the side of the road,” CSP Major Steve Garcia said.

Troopers can perform roadside sobriety tests and seek a blood test, but much like a Breathalyzer for alcohol use, investigators would like a roadside device to give troopers probable cause to make an arrest.

“It would confirm or deny the officer’s investigation that the suspect would be under the influence of marijuana or other drugs,” Garcia said.

Under the pilot program, drivers have to consent to have the inside of their cheeks swabbed for saliva. The device then takes about five minutes to deliver an electronic readout, evaluating the presence of several narcotics, including marijuana.

Garcia said the legalization of marijuana has increased the need to stop drivers who have more than 5 nanograms of THC in their system, which is Colorado’s legal threshold for impaired driving.

In the meantime, a Wheat Ridge lab is working on a marijuana Breathalyzer-type device thanks to a $250,000 grant from the state.

“It would be home run for any company that develops the technology,” said Barry Knot, CEO of Lifeloc Technologies. “The advantage of a Breathalyzer is that it provides virtually instantaneous feedback to the officer, so within a matter of seconds they can get an accurate determination of blood alcohol content.”

But Knott admits the disadvantage of a Breathalyzer is that it only detects breath from a smoker and not someone who consumes an edible.

As for the saliva test, suspected drivers must consent and so far only 82 have.

“It hasn’t been used in court yet that we’re aware of, but we foresee that in the near future,” Garcia said.

CSP will evaluate the success of the oral testing devices in March, but the pilot program will continue for two more years.

 

 

Supermodel Stephanie Seymour arrested for DUI

seymour

From NBC news, via the AP:

GREENWICH, Conn. — Supermodel Stephanie Seymour was arrested over the weekend in Connecticut and charged with drunken driving.

Police say Seymour backed her SUV into another car Friday evening at an exit ramp on Interstate 95 in Greenwich. Nobody was injured in the crash.

A Connecticut State police report says Seymour was unsteady on her feet, her eyes were bloodshot and her breath smelled of alcohol. It says Seymour refused to perform field sobriety tests.

The 47-year-old celebrity was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and unsafe backing. She was released on a $500 bond.