Watch out for DUI roadblocks this Labor Day Weekend

Its another holiday weekend, and the police will once again be out in force.

Here are a few roadblocks that I have seen on the internet (let me know at haroldwallin@gmail.com or @haroldwallin on twitter if you know of any others).

Chicago:  The Chicago Police have announced two roadside safety checks this weekend:  Friday starting at 8 p.m through 4 a.m. Saturday in the Gresham (6th) District at 432 West 87th Street, and the other in the Chicago Lawn 8th) District (exact address has not been announced) starting Saturday at 8 p.m. through 4:00 a.m. Sunday.

West Aurora:  The Illinois State Police will be conducting a roadside safety check tonight, Friday, August 31 from 11 p.m. through 4:00 a.m. at the westbound exit ramp of I-88 going to Illinois Route 31.

Man arrested for DUI, pees all over breath testing tubes

The Huffington Post reported on a man who really “lost it” at the police station after being charged with DUI.

They write:

New Zealand’s Ryan Scott Thompson just may put the “wee” in “Kiwi” after urinating on 300 breathalyzer tubes during a sobriety test.

Thompson, 26, a forklift operator from Christchurch, was arrested by authorities for drunk driving after smashing into the living room of an elderly woman in July, according to the Star Canterbury.

An alcohol breath test at the police station registered that there was more than three times the legal limit of booze in Thompson’s system. When the officer administering the test went to complete paperwork

After the suspect had an alcohol reading that was three times above the legal limit, the on-duty officer went to complete the paperwork and suddenly heard what he was thought was the sound of running water.

But it wasn’t a faucet that he heard.

The officer turned his head and reportedly saw Thompson, still seated, urinating into a box of breath screening tubes, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Despite being told to stop, Thompson kept whizzing.

All 301 breathalyzer tubes had to be tossed and Thompson was charged with willful damage and ordered to pay about $88 to replace the equipment during a recent court appearance, Time.com reported. He also pleaded guilty to drunk driving and careless driving, and had his license suspended for nine months.

Walking Dead actor charged with DUI, tries unusual tactic with police

Here’s another way not to get out of a DUI arrest:  yoga stances.

According to the Christian Post:

Scott Wilson, 70, of the AMC series “Walking Dead,” a post-apocalyptic show that pits the rest of the human survivors against a flesh eating mob of zombies, was stopped by Peachtree City police at 2 a.m. on Aug. 18, according to an incident report.

When officers approached the vehicle, Wilson told police that he had been drinking scotch and wine at a restaurant. Wilson then insisted that the testing officer allow him to perform yoga stances as a way to prove his sobriety, as he did not feel comfortable taking a field sobriety test.

In the incident report officers explained that they were alerted to Wilson’s vehicle after an anonymous caller reported a possible intoxicated driver on one of Georgia’s busiest roadways.

Police stated that they observed Wilson driving a black PT Cruiser at about 70 miles per hour, which was “well above the posted speed limit” and observed the vehicle “swerved back and forth,” according to the incident report.

A breathalyzer test at the scene returned a result of 0.143- well above the legal limit of 0.08- and Wilson was subsequently placed under arrest. Tests taken at the Fayette jail produced results of 0.151 and 0.155, according to the police report.

Question: what is worse for a tv actor:  getting a DUI or being caught driving a PT Cruiser?

Read the whole story here at:  http://global.christianpost.com/news/walking-dead-actor-dui-scott-wilson-tried-yoga-positions-to-avoid-arrest-80764/

Making it easy for the police: Driving drunk to the police station

As they say, alcohol impairs your judgement.

That is the only way to explain what happened to Terrance O’Brien on August 17th.

Mr. O’Brien drove to the Mundelein Police Station to pick up a friend who was in custody after a DUI arrest.

Instead of leaving with his friend, Mr. O’Brien ended up joining him in the lockup after police came to the conclusion that he had driven to the station while intoxicated.  Mr. O’Brien was arrested and charged with DUI.

Read the whole story in the Chicago Tribune here.

Archbishop-elect of San Francisco charged with DUI

The Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, the current Bishop of Oakland, CA and the Archbishop-elect of San Francisco (he assumes office in October) was arrested and charged with DUI after he was stopped at a roadside safety check (a/k/a “roadblock”) in San Diego.

Police have described the Archbishop-elect as being “obviously impaired” and he is alleged to have failed a breath test, but the results of that test have not been released.

Read more at:  http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/San-Francisco-archbishop-elect-in-DUI-arrest-3818542.php

Mark Grace arrested for second DUI in 15 months

Former Cub and fan favorite Mark Grace was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona, for his second DUI in 15 months.

In May, 2011, Grace was arrested and, as a result, he was required to have a breath ignition interlock device on his vehicle.  When he was pulled over again yesterday, August 23rd, for expired registration tags, he did not have a BAIID on his vehicle.

According to reports, Grace was given field sobriety tests, then taken into custody where he provided a blood sample.  Results of that blood test are pending.  Reports indicate that he has been charged with aggravated DUI and driving without the BAIID.

Grace, who has been working as an announcer for the Arizona Diamondbacks, has taken a leave of absence.

My thoughts on the Chicago Cop accused of falsifying DUI arrests

This is a follow-up to my previous post about Officer Fiorito.

As I said, I have represented several people over the past decade who were arrested by Officer Fiorito.  For several years, he was one of the “heaviest writers” of DUIs on the Chicago Police force (i.e., he made a lot of arrests).  He was a regular presence on the fourth floor of the Richard J. Daley Center, where misdemeanor DUI cases are heard.

And I have to say that he was always a gentleman to me.  Even after I had tried two cases before juries where I questioned his conduct and underlying motivation, he would shake my hand and say “hello” whenever we met in court.  He understood that we each had our respective roles in court (as opposed to certain other officers, including one who, ever since I won a jury trial on one of his cases 13 years ago, goes out of his way to brush against me and whisper obscenities in my ear every time he sees me).

Having said that, this case underscores many of the problems with the Chicago Police Department, the Office of the State’s Attorney and our Judges.

I first became aware of this officer sometime in the mid-2000s.  I started to get calls from angry and upset potential clients.  Pretty soon, I began interrupting them to ask “what was the name of the officer who arrested you?” full well knowing what the answer would be.

Some of these people claimed to be arrested without cause.  Several people told me that  they thought that they had been followed out of a bar, and been pulled over almost immediately after pulling away from the curb.  Some felt that they had been singled out or treated in a demeaning manner because of their sexual orientation.  (This officer usually patrolled in the section of Chicago called “Boystown”).

Some of these people went on to retain me, others just vented their frustrations without hiring me.  But the volume of similar calls stood out to me.

I am sure that the State’s Attorney’s office was aware of the problem, because many of these cases went to hearing or trial.  On occasion I would mention to the Assistant State’s Attorneys in traffic division that there was a recurring, common pattern in the complaints that I was hearing.  Other attorneys would do the same thing.

I recall pointing out to one ASA that I had never heard of a defendant “flapping his arms” on the walk and turn test, yet I had seen Officer Fiorito write that on a report or testify about it in three separate cases over a short period of time.  Another time, I pointed out that Fiorito’s report almost always had the defendant failing miserably on all aspects of the field sobriety tests, including one where the client’s breath test result was well below the legal limit.  I felt that the ASA would want to drop the case, for no other reason than to avoid having the incongruous report exposed in court. The ASA’s response was that he could still make a case against my client because Officer Fiorito made a good witness.

Why should he drop the case?  This ASA knew the system and he knew that the judges were more likely to find him credible than the defendants he would arrest, even though many of them were successful professionals who seemed highly credible to me. One time I was asked to review a case for a possible appeal.  The potential client had been represented by a well known, highly competent, defense attorney and law professor.  She was a deaf woman, who claimed that she had been ordered to perform field sobriety tests even though she could not properly understand the instructions.  A Cook County judge upheld her license suspension, finding Fiorito credible and stating that he believed that this woman was exaggerating her disability.

That is why I opted for jury trials — sad to say, but in my experience, many judges will ignore all sorts of major problems with a police officer’s testimony yet find a defendant “incredible” based on some tiny inconsistency or memory lapse.  They will take great pains to avoid calling “shenanigans” on a police officer, even though there seem to have been so many who have been caught playing loose with the facts in DUI cases.  Yet jurors, who are not hardened like trial judges — who have been in the system for years or decades, are able to use their fresh perspective to see the reality of what really has been going on.

These complaints seemed to be totally ignored for a few years, until finally towards the end of this officer’s run, after lawsuits were being filed against him, gay and lesbian activists were protesting him, and other officers in his district were writing “dissenting opinions” to his reports, he was required to have a dash camera installed on his squad car.

One would think that with all that controversy surrounding him and having a camera installed in his squad car would have been enough to get this officer to tone it down and play it by the book.  Instead, a few of his arrest videos began making the nightly news and newspaper websites.  In one, he followed a driver for several blocks.  The reports claimed that the vehicle had been swerving, but this was not on the video.  More lawsuits were filed against him, and the police department restricted his duties, so that he was no longer allowed to make solo DUI arrests, although he would still appear in traffic court to testify as an assisting officer.  He retired last December.

It is all a shame.  As I have said, Officer Fiorito was a good guy to me.  I would rather that this post be about that other officer I mentioned above.

As far as I am concerned, there are enough drunk drivers out there for an aggressive police officer to arrest.  All they need to do is be professional about they way they conduct themselves, follow the rules and do the job properly.  And remember, that even if a person was found not guilty, that doesn’t mean that you have to exaggerate to make a stronger case the next time out.  Be satisfied that you did your job just by getting that person off the street, making them sit in a cell for 12 hours, pay a two to three thousand dollar impoundment fee, plus retain counsel and deal with the anxiety of going to court.

A 0.62 BAC? If accurate, a dubious distinction

Today I read a report of a man arrested in Iowa with a 0.627 BAC.

I have a hard time believing that it is accurate, because most people will be comatose over 0.35, or dead over 0.40.  And the defendant’s mug shot doesn’t look that bad.

From policeone.com:

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — A man was arrested for driving with a BAC of .627, or nearly eight times the legal limit, police say.

Police Chief Jim Warkentin said he’s never seen a percentage as high as that in his two decades of law enforcement.


Police say they arrested DUI suspect Justin Clark, 24, for driving with a BAC of .627 percent. (WFMY Image)

“It’s just amazing,” Warkentin told the Iowa Press Citizen. “Most people don’t make it above .3 — they end up passing out.”

On July 29, officers received calls of an extremely erratic driver hitting curbs and approached a vehicle that had come to a rest in a resident’s lawn. Police found Justin Clark, 24, in the driver’s seat and unable to walk or speak clearly.

Police said when they asked Clark what day it was, he replied, “Three, but now it is four.”

Clark blew a .486 during a breath test at the scene, which surpasses Iowa’s legal limit of .08 percent. Later tests performed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics found an even higher number of .627 percent.

Warkentin said he was taught at police academy that someone with a BAC of more than .4 percent is “clinically dead.”

If true, he has the dubious distinction of cheating death and being alive at 0.627.  This would indicate an extreme tolerance to alcohol, binge drinking and almost certainly alcoholism.  I hope he gets into alcohol treatment immediately and doesn’t try it again.

Police Officers falsifying DUI cases in the news

Two news stories caught my attention this week — one locally, the other from Hawaii.

First, from the Hawaiian Star-Advertiser:

Four Honolulu police officers, charged with falsifying DUI arrest reports so that officers who weren’t pres­ent would qualify for possible overtime, have pleaded no contest and have the chance to clear the charges from their criminal records.

Closer to home, the City of Chicago settled two claims based on false arrests by former Officer Richard Fiorito, in the amount of $450,000.  I have represented several clients who were accused by Officer Fiorito, and I will have more to say in a future post.

This is from the Chicago Tribune:

Former Chicago police Officer Richard Fiorito was once honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his aggressive DUI arrests, but he was pulled off street duty three years ago amid allegations that he had falsified dozens of the charges.

After numerous lawsuits, the city has formally agreed to pay the last of the drivers who had alleged wrongdoing by Fiorito. In a judgment entered Monday in federal court, James Dean Jr. was awarded $100,000 in a lawsuit accusing Fiorito of false arrest and malicious prosecution. Four months earlier, the city settled with another motorist for $100,000. The city also agreed to pay lawyers for both drivers a combined $250,000 in legal fees.

The resolution came on the eve of a trial at which Dean’s attorneys planned to allege that Fiorito arrested Dean for DUI outside the Town Hall Police District just four minutes after he was freed from the station on unrelated traffic charges. Yet no officers inside the district house believed Dean was drunk when he left, Dean’s attorneys contend.

The award to Dean and the earlier settlement by motorist Steve Lopez mark the end to litigation over Fiorito, according to city Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew, who said the city never admitted wrongdoing on Fiorito’s part. A separate lawsuit filed against Fiorito in 2009 resulted in an additional $25,000 settlement, Drew said.

In a telephone interview Tuesday evening, Fiorito, 63, stood by all his DUI arrests.

“I don’t regret one day of it,” he said of his 13 years on the force. He resigned in December.

He also denied allegations he directed racial and other slurs at some of the drivers he arrested for DUI.

“Anybody that says I did is a liar,” he said.

Drivers started coming forward with similar stories about Fiorito in 2003, according to attorney Jon Erickson, who brought a number of the lawsuits.

“I remember being astounded by the brazenness of his dishonesty,” Erickson said Tuesday.

In court filings, attorneys alleged that Fiorito was motivated to fabricate the arrests by the overtime that he received to attend traffic court.

Read the entire story at the Chicago Tribune here.

 

Yankees’ Pitcher Michael Pineda arrested for DUI

According to the New York Post, injured Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was arrested for DUI in Florida:

…Pineda was busted for DUI in Tampa, Fla., on a busy road early this morning after a cop spotted his speeding, “weaving” Nissan SUV driving without its headlights on, authorities said.

The burly Pineda, 23, “had a fixed gaze and his eyes were bloodshot, watery and glassy,” a Tampa police officer wrote after pulling the 23-year-old hurler over at 2:35 a.m. on North Dale Mabry Highway.

“I could smell a distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath, and his speech was slurred,” the cop wrote about Pineda, who was an All-Star in his rookie season last year with the Seattle Mariners.

The Dominican Republic native’s blood-alcohol level was found to be .128 and .125 in two separate readings, according to police records.

He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, and released on a $500 bond from jail shortly before noon today.

Read the whole story here.