This Week in NFL DUIs

A busy week on the NFL DUI front:

–  Former Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson was arrested early Sunday at 4:30 a.m. after driving very slowly and impeding traffic, on Chamblee Tucker Road in Dekalb, GA.  After being pulled over, he performed field sobriety tests, and was charged with DUI.  In a statement, his attorney claims that Anderson was merely tired.

–  Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey has had his DUI trial set for July, 23rd, just a few days before the start of training camp.

–  Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley plead not guilty to his pending DUI case.  He is seeking a trial date.

–  Fairley’s teammate, Aaron Berry, was arrested for DUI Saturday.

–  Former N.Y. Giant cornerback Elvis Patterson (always remembered by me because of the nickname Bill Parcells hung on him as a rookie — “Toast” because he was so frequently “burned”) had his DUI case dropped by Douglas County, KY prosecutors after they reviewed the officer’s dash cam video.  The prosecutors had also been advised that Mr. Patterson suffered from medical conditions which would make it difficult for him to perform field sobriety tests.

I wonder what next week will bring?

Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists lists its “top cops” & departments

The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists has released its list of the “top cops” in Illinois DUI enforcement.  Please note that several past honorees are no longer on the list because of their removal from active duty pending investigation, indictment or forced retirement.

Rank
Title
Top Cops
Department
DUI Arrests
1 Investigator Rosemary Mathews Rockford 181
2 Officer Timothy Walter Chicago Unit 019 174
3 Officer Mariellen Balcar Chicago Unit 010 157
4 Investigator Paul Gallagher Rockford 153
5 Investigator Vernon Sims Rockford 148
6 Officer Matthew Tegtmeier Chicago Unit 010 143
7 Officer Michael Brown Springfield 141
8 Deputy Steve Kirsch Will County 132
9 Officer Steve Hagemeyer Decatur 128
10 Trooper Marvin Wagle ISP District 7 127
11 Officer Ryan Maddox Springfield 126
12 Officer Scott William Gable Rock Island 117
13 Deputy Jessie Owens Macon County 116
14 Officer Larry Brooks Decatur 110
14 Officer Tony Wasco Cook County 110
15 Officer William Pelarenos Cook County 109
16 Officer Anthony Ikis River Grove 107
17 Officer Matthew McCollum Elmhurst 106
17 Officer Elliot Tupayachi Chicago Unit 019 106
18 Officer Phillip Travis Chicago Unit 016 105
19 Trooper Anthony Kink ISP District 9 102
20 Trooper Jason Czub ISP District 15 99

In addition, the AAIM listed their top police departmentsNot included on the list are the Illinois State Police, who made 9,719 DUI arrests in 2011, and Chicago, which had 3,037.

Rank
Municipality
2011 DUI Arrests
% Change
from 2010 to 2011
2010 DUI Arrests
1 Rockford 686 -5.6% 727
2 Naperville 622 -7.3% 671
3 Springfield 553 17.2% 472
4 Rock Island 465 38.0% 337
5 Decatur 448 -9.7% 496
6 Elmhurst 367 15.4% 318
7 Elgin 352 -14.1% 410
8 Carol Stream 349 -3.3% 361
9 Peoria 306 -9.2% 337
10 Normal 296 12.5% 263
11 Aurora 290 -2.0% 296
12 Alton 281 -4.4% 294
13 Chicago Heights 265 -8.0% 288
14 Itasca 264 45.1% 182
14 Waukegan 264 -32.3% 390
15 Orland Park 263 13.9% 231
16 Schaumburg 250 -1.2% 253
17 Oak Lawn 245 40.0% 175
18 Downers Grove 236 28.3% 184
19 Evanston 225 3.2% 218
20 Mundelein 223 -1.3% 226
21 Addison 221 0.9% 219
22 Skokie 220 -11.3% 248
23 Palatine 214 -16.4% 256
24 Gurnee 211 -11.7% 239
25 Fairview Heights 203 141.7% 84

I should point out that the total number of DUI arrests continue to shrink.  The Illinois State Police were down 9.5% and Chicago 17.8% from the previous year.  I discussed this in one of my first blog posts, which can be found here.

Detroit Lions CB Aaron Berry arrested for DUI

Yet another NFL player has been arrested for DUI, the ninth this off-season.

Cornerback Aaron Berry of the Detroit Lions was arrested early Saturday in his hometown of Harrisburg, PA, after he allegedly struck two parked cars, then walked away from the scene and into his hotel.  He refused to take a breath test.

Berry is the fourth Detroit Lion to be arrested this off-season, for a total of six arrests.  Defensive tackle Nick Fairley was also arrested for DUI.

Convicted Drunk Driver who killed 5 teenagers writes “apology” letter

Sandra Vasquez, who was convicted and sentenced to 15 years prison for aggravated DUI after being involved in a crash in Oswego that caused the deaths of five teenagers, has written an “apology” letter.

Whether her letter is actually an apology, or is more of a “pity me” letter, I leave for you to decide (take a guess which way I side).

Here is Denise Crosby’s article in the Chicago Sun-Times, which has excerpts of the letter:

“For so long I’ve been patiently waiting for the chance to write to you . . . It was important that I share with you so many unspoken words.”

Sometimes the handwriting was cursive and controlled, rolling across the six pages of yellow legal paper like formal script. Then, gradually, the letters became less elaborate, eventually morphing into simple but neatly printed words. At times, the sentences contained a mixture of both styles.

But all of her words, written from inside the walls of the Lincoln Correctional Center, were gut-wrenching, revealing. And they conveyed that Sandra Vasquez takes responsibility for her actions that led to the crash in February 2007 that killed five Oswego teens and sent her to prison until 2023 for aggravated drunken driving and reckless homicide.

“I have always been and will always be sorry for everything I’ve done that led up to this tragic end. And please let it be clear just because I appealed did not mean I was not sorry or take responsibility for my actions.”

Throughout the high-pro­file trial in 2010 and even after she was found guilty and sent to prison, some of the victims’ families doubted her sincerity, labeling her outbursts of remorse in the courtroom as theatrics to gain pity from the judge and jury.

In the letter, Vasquez specifically addressed that criticism — and why she has not reached out to these grieving loved ones since being imprisoned. “. . . maybe one day they will forgive me . . . as for now, I was advised that during my incarceration if I attempt to contact any of the victims or families I could be reprimanded . . . though they must know how sorry I am.”

The beginning of her letter addressed how hard it was being portrayed as a monster by the press. She praised her mother, a woman she described as strong, loving, courageous, who has been left with “heartache and much responsibility” — yet has never complained to a single soul.

She also was grateful to her family for their unyielding support. And she wrote at length about how hard her imprisonment is on her children, now 11 and 5. Just like the teens in the car, Vasquez says her son and daughter are both “victims of my actions.”

“I know it has been said many times I am lucky to even get visits with my babies. I understand where this pain is coming from.”

Then she writes about the anguish of seeing her children in a prison visiting room, and saying goodbye each time to a daughter who understands too little, and an older son who understands too well that “mommy made some bad decisions which resulted in the deaths of five angels now in heaven and three wounded children . . . ”

“I fight back tears that sharply want to reveal themselves. . . . I then explain to her because of my bad choice I have to be away from what I love the most as my punishment. She has yet to understand the concept of consequences this severe.”

On the other hand, her son, who survived “severe health problems” as a baby knows she has “10 years and nine months left.”

“I fought so to keep him alive as a baby. I never left his side — scared of what would happen if I even blinked — and now I left him . . . I was supposed to always be there for him.”

Being apart from her children, she wrote, is “as if my right arm has been amputated.” And she questions whether it was a mistake to have spent time growing closer to them while out on bond as she awaited trial.

“If I could go home to them until they were 18 yrs old I would gladly come back and spend the rest of my life in prison — even after experiencing it firsthand now — without a visit or a phone call. But unfortunately I don’t have that option.”

Much of the letter dwells on the guilt she lives with every day. Vasquez crashed her car on Illinois 31 in Oswego while attempting to give rides home to eight teens who had been at an underage drinking party where she had gone to pick up her younger sister.

“I think of everyone I’ve hurt, and the fact remains, behind my bad decision was a good intention. And I know the survivors know this in their heart & those who are not here today they know I have always been sorry and if my remorse is not outspoken enough for some, I’m okay with that . . . because God knows where my intentions were.”

Vasquez wrote specifically about the victims — the three who survived and the five who did not.

“I pray and think about Bobby Larsen, Arielle Rexford and Josh Dillon every night along with Matt Frank, Jessica Nutoni, Katie Merkel, Tiffany Urso and James McGee. I pray for their souls and their guidance throughout my journey wherever it may lead me . . . To heal takes time and I pray that all the families one day begin to heal as well.”

Until then, she added, “I will continue to pray and keep faith that maybe one day they will forgive me.”

As her writing gradually picked up its original flowing script again, Sandra Vasquez concluded her letter with a final prayer: to “leave Lincoln with the strength of my mother and the courage of my father and with all the love of my family and children.”

Those who know her best say it is through this support Vasquez will find a way to keep going “long after I feel as if I’ve lost everything.”

What do you think?

New Sentencing Credit law means more prison time for drunk drivers

Updated on 6/25/12:  After some email correspondence with DuPage Attorney Donald Ramsell, I am correcting this posting.  I misread the 85% rule to apply to all felony DUIs.  As Don pointed out, under the new “good time” statute, most people who have been convicted of an aggravated DUI will still be eligible for “day for day credit.” However, anyone convicted of aggravated DUI involving great bodily harm or death will only be eligible for 4.5 days of credit per month (i.e., 15%).  __________________________________________________

Under the new sentencing credit legislation, now signed by Governor Quinn, most inmates can receive up to 180 days credit, so long as they enroll in certain education and life skills courses, and don’t have a criminal background involving violent crimes.

However, these new rules won’t apply to many violent offenses, such as first degree murder, solicitation of murder, solicitation of murder for hire, intentional homicide of an unborn child, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated sexual assault criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery with a firearm, heinous battery, being an armed habitual criminal, aggravated battery of a senior citizen or a child, home invasion, armed robbery, aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated discharged of a firearm, armed violence, gunrunning, narcotics, racketeering, controlled substance trafficking, methamphetamine trafficking, drug-induced homicide, aggravated methamphetamine-related child endangerment, money laundering, second offense of luring a child, or aggravated DUI involving great bodily harm or death. All these offenses are limited to either no credit or 4.5 days credit per month.

Now, when you look at that list of offenses, which one doesn’t belong?

Here is the section of the new law that I am referring to:

(2.3) The rules and regulations on early release
shall provide that a prisoner who is serving a sentence for aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereof as defined in subparagraph (F) of paragraph (1) of subsection (d) of Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, shall receive no more than 4.5 days of good conduct credit for each month of his or her sentence of imprisonment.

The DUI section referred to above is Subsection 11-501(d)(1)(F), which states:

        
the person, in committing a violation subsection (a), was involved in a motor vehicle, snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, or watercraft accident that resulted in the death of another person, when the violation of subsection (a) was a proximate cause of the death...

I don’t want to minimize the conduct of someone who causes great bodily injury or death by driving drunk.  However, I believe that such conduct typically occurs out of reckless or compulsive behavior.  That is not something that can typically be said for kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault or gunrunning.

MI Man gets 7th DUI while in stolen motorized wheelchair!

Raymond Kulma is ready for the DUI Hall of Fame.

Mr. Kulma was recently arrested in Utica, Michigan for operating while intoxicated — his seventh OWI arrest.

He blew 0.24 on the breath test — three times the legal limit.

But what makes the case even more memorable is that Mr. Kulma was caught driving a stolen, motorized wheelchair (Apparently, Michigan law is like Illinois — a DUI can occur in any motorized vehicle, be it a car, truck, lawnmower, Zamboni or wheelchair).

It appears that Mr. Kulma stole the motorized wheelchair from another resident, after they had been involved in an altercation that occurred at the senior living complex where they both live.

State’s financial woes is good news for convicts

Illinois’ financial crisis is turning into a boon for convicted criminals.

First, both the Illinois House and Senate have approved a new Good Time credit bill, which will allow the Illinois Department of Corrections to release non-violent prisoners earlier.  The bill is expected to be signed by the Governor.

Next, Governor Quinn is moving ahead with plans to close several prisons, juvenile justice centers and transitional centers, including the Tamms supermax prison and the Dwight Correctional Center.  This will supposedly save the State $62 million.

Of course, prison closure will only exacerbate prison overcrowding, which will likely lead to more early releases.

As I said, its a great time to be a convict.