Coghlan also ordered that after his release from prison Bolling talk to recruits at the Chicago Police Academy about “how to properly handle an investigation into one of their own.” — Chicago Tribune
Under the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code, a DUI causing one fatality is subject to a sentence of:
unless the court determines that extraordinary circumstances exist and require probation, shall be sentenced to: (i) a term of imprisonment of not less than 3 years and not more than 14 years if the violation resulted in the death of one person
Thus, unless the court finds that “extraordinary circumstances” exist, the defendant cannot receive probation and must receive at least the three years that Officer Bolling received. The statute does not provide a definition of “extraordinary circumstances” so it is unclear what, if any, factors comprise extraordinary circumstances.
To my mind, the statute might refer to a situation where a defendant is in a unique situation where he or she is the only person who is able to take care of a family member. For example, I once represented someone (not in a DUI fatality, however) who was the sole parent of six children, four of whom had extreme disabilities and could not care for themselves. Something like that.
In any event, Judge Coghlan clearly did not find that there were “extraordinary circumstances” in Officer Bolling’s case, even though he presumably did not have any prior DUI or criminal history, and had been serving and protecting Chicago as a police officer. However, those factors, plus the fact that the evidence for conviction was not strong — Bolling arguably passed the field sobriety tests and his breath test result was 0.079, albeit several hours after the accident — may have contributed to the Judge’s decision to sentence him to the minimum sentence allowable absent “extraordinary circumstances.”
Even though he did not receive probation, to my mind Officer Bolling surely got a very generous sentence. It is not uncommon for defendants in these sorts of cases to get two to three times that sentence — remember Alia Bernard, who got seven years for being involved in a fatality two days after smoking pot? She wasn’t impaired at the time of the accident, and had no record, but she got a sentence more than twice as long as what Officer Bolling got.