Wishing you a safe, happy and arrest-free New Year!

This is the time of year when police are out in force conducting roadblocks.

So please remember to drive carefully.

The best way not to get a DUI is to not drink or drive.

But if you do get pulled over, or are stopped at a roadblock, please:

  • Be courteous and polite;
  • Don’t make any sudden moves;
  • Stay in your car with the seatbelt on until the officer tells you otherwise;
  • Try to avoid leaning against your car, or holding onto to car or using the car door for support when exiting, as the officer will claim you needed to do so to keep your balance;
  •  Don’t volunteer any information, such as whether you had been drinking, where you had been drinking or how much (but don’t lie about it either);
  • Don’t admit to being under the influence;
  • Politely refuse all field sobriety tests and breath, blood or urine tests.
  • Contact an attorney as soon as possible.  (My office number is 312-346-7730)

Wishing you a safe and healthy New Year!

Is it more dangerous to be a drunk walker than a drunk driver?

The Perils of Drunk Walking

Yes, according to Freakonomics radio.  They report that January First is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians, and that 58% of those New Year’s Day walkers who died were drunk.

Actually, drunk pedestrians are eight times more likely to die than drunk drivers (per mile walked or driven).

Which is not to say that you should drink and drive.  Just that you shouldn’t walk either. Get a ride, or take a bus, train or cab.

DUI App of the Day

The other day I was out with my wife.  After she had two margaritas, she wondered what her blood alcohol level was (don’t worry, she wasn’t driving).

If only I knew about this new iphone app.  Here is a youtube video about “Breathaleyes” which claims to determine your BAC based upon your eye movements (“nystagmus”) using your iphone camera.

I am dubious about the use of nystagmus to determine intoxication, since there are over 120 documented causes for it.  However, this may be a useful app to help you determine whether or not you should drive after having a couple of drinks.

Here is another video put up by the Breathaleyes people comparing their app to results from a breath alcohol test:

Getting Arrested, the Easy Way.

Car crashes into Gresham District police station

Link to WGN Raw Video

From the Chicago Tribune, Peter Nickeas reporting:

“Police say an intoxicated man drove his car into an exterior concrete wall at the Gresham District police station on the 7800 block of South Halsted Street early Monday morning.

Nobody was injured, Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said.

Andrew Walker, 36, of the 100 block of 154th Street in Harvey, came up the sidewalk, sideswiped a tree and hit the barrier before driving away, police said.

He was cited for DUI and leaving the scene of an accident where property damage occurred.

Greer said Walker was stopped in his 1987 Chevy Caprice on the 7900 block of South Peoria Street, about a block south and west of the police station, and arrested.

No major damage to the building was reported, Greer said.”

Looks like I was right about Chicago Cops and their Dash Cameras

Back on November 3rd, I wrote in this blog that it was a common experience that police departments would remove squad cameras not long after they were installed, or that officers would claim that their cameras had “broke” only weeks or months after they had been installed.

In fact, I wrote the following:

Or suddenly the camera “broke” — and I put quotes on that word because, yes, I am very suspicious.  In Chicago, cameras only started to get put into circulation after several “top cops” were busted for exaggerating DUI cases.  Suddenly, the remaining top DUI officers were required to have video cameras installed in their squads.  After a few months, the videos stopped coming.  I asked one officer what happened to your videos? I thought your squad was set up for them?  The response went something like this:  “Funny, the City got us these cheap cameras and mine is broke already.”  Hmmmm.

Or the officer forgot to “activate” the camera.  You get the picture.

So you can imagine my interest in a story by WBEZ’s Rob Wildeboer, that is mainly about how one of the Chicago “blue light cameras” was suddenly turned away from a police action involving at least 19 squad cars, mace and billy clubs.

More interesting is this quote from former Chicago Police Chief Jody Weis:

Weis says it’s not too much of a stretch to think officers would divert the cameras. He says when he was in charge they had a problem with officers turning off the cameras in their cars, “and I think it was because people had a fear, we don’t want this camera recording what we’re doing and I don’t know how many times I spent and said ‘Guys, if you’re doing your job correctly this camera’s your greatest friend.'”

Sounds like I was right on the nose.  Funny, though.  I don’t remember the State’s Attorney being too upset when their “top DUI cops” suddenly suddenly weren’t producing videos anymore, after the taxpayers had just spent thousands to install new cameras in their squads.

P.S.  I am writing this after just coming back from court on a DUI case, where I was told that the dash cam video of the defendant’s arrest was erased pursuant to a south suburban police department’s “retention” policy.  The State’s Attorney was not given a copy of the video prior to the destruction of the evidence.

How to check up on an attorney before you retain him (or her)

The other day while I was doing some work for my website, I decided to google the search terms “Chicago DUI Lawyer” — and up came the name of an attorney I had never heard of before.

I won’t pretend that I know every attorney out there, but my practice is highly concentrated on DUI attorney and I appear daily at DUI court calls throughout Cook, Lake, DuPage and Kane Counties, so I either know or at least recognize most of the Chicagoland attorneys who work in this area.

So I was curious to look at his website and figure out who this attorney was.

The description on Google claimed that he was “an Experienced and Dedicated Chicago DUI Attorney.”

His website talked about the lessons that he had learned from his “experience as a DUI attorney.”

After looking at his website, I still didn’t recognize the attorney.

So then I looked him up on the website of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.  On their website one can learn some basic information about an attorney, such as when he or she was licensed to practice, contact information, and whether there he or she has ever been disciplined for an ethical violation.

Upon checking this attorney’s name, I discovered that he had been in practice for thirteen months.  It appeared from all information that this attorney was working as a solo practitioner, without the direct supervision of an experienced attorney.

As I said before, I do not know this attorney, and I do not know how much actual “experience” he has had in his thirteen months of experience.

I can say that when I was at a similar level of experience, I don’t think I was ready to handle every case that walked in the door all by myself.  I probably was not even aware of all the things I didn’t know.

Perhaps this attorney is a prodigy, and will handle cases with complete confidence and competence.  But I find myself doubting that.  The fact that he chose to advertise himself as “experienced” after only thirteen months of legal experience is in itself a reflection of his character (and I am being generous, it appears that his website was put up when he had only eight months of experience) .

So as a reminder, if you have any questions about the competence, experience or ethics of an Illinois attorney, check with the Illinois Attorney and Registration Commission at www.iardc.org.