Michael Madsen arrested for DUI, had 0.21 BAC

From the Associated Press:

Actor Michael Madsen was released from a hospital after being arrested for investigation of drunken driving on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, his attorney said Thursday.

Madsen, 54, best known for the Quentin Tarantino movies “Reservoir Dogs” and “Kill Bill,” had complained of an undisclosed medical problem following his arrest Wednesday and has since been released, said lawyer Perry Wander.

Madsen was arrested after driving erratically in a red Pontiac GTO on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. In a preliminary test, he had a blood alcohol level of 0.21, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Wander said Madsen had been taking prescription drugs that could have resulted in a faulty sobriety test.

“Michael has been on prescription medication that easily could have made him look to be under the influence and caused him to fail the sobriety test,” Wander said.

In March, Madsen was arrested at his Malibu home after what detectives said was a drunken fight with his teenage son, but prosecutors declined to file charges because of a lack of evidence.

Madsen has struggled with alcoholism and has been in and out of rehabilitation centers over the past several years, Wander said.

“His nemesis is white wine,” Wander said. “Obviously he’s going to have to utilize this experience to motivate him to get help. It’s an ongoing battle.”

More updates on the Highland Park tragedy

Update at 5:00 p.m.: Carly Rousso has been charged with felony counts of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI in the death of five year old Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, after toxicology reports suggested that she had been inhaling cleaning fluids before the fatal crash.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

Carly Rousso, 18,  has been charged with one count of reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound in connection with the crash, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office announced today.

She faces a maximum of 26 years in prison if convicted of all the charges, said Assistant State’s Attorney Ken LaRue.

Rousso surrendered this morning in an appearance before Lake County Circuit Court Judge Raymond Collins, who set her bail at $500,000, according to the news release. She was being booked into the Lake County Jail this afternoon, jail personnel said.

Investigators believe Rousso inhaled the substance just before the crash, LaRue said.

Rousso had been charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound while authorities awaited the results of Illinois State Police Crime Laboratory toxicology tests.

The results of those tests indicate Rousso’s blood sample contained the compound Difluoroethane, prosecutors said. The substance in Rousso’s blood matched a cleaning product found in the vehicle she was driving, and prosecutors believe she was impaired before the crash, LaRue said.

This means that she will need to post $50,000 to make bail.

Here are links to two more stories regarding the Labor Day crash in Highland Park:

Update: Bond raised in Highland Park crash case

According to the Chicago Tribune, a Lake County judge has significantly raised Carly Rousso’s bond and placed significant restrictions on her, including a curfew:

A Highland Park teenager was taken into custody this morning after a judge set bail at $50,000 in connection for a Labor Day crash that claimed the life of a 5-year-old girl in the north suburb.

Bond was set by Lake County Circuit Court Judge Joseph R. Waldeck after an attorney representing the city asked for the bond related to a misdemeanor DUI citation issued to the driver, Carly Rousso, 18.

Conditions include a 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. curfew and that she not operate a vehicle or consumer alcohol or other “intoxicating compounds.”
“You understand they are taking you into custody now?” the judge asked Rousso.
“Yes, sir,” Rousso answered.
Her attorney, Doug Zeit, said Rousso takes part in an outpatient drug treatment program five days per week and is attending night classes at the College of Lake County. Her curfew allows her to attend the classes, the judge said.
“She is to be driven by a parent to and from school,” the judge said.

The article also states that the victim’s mother and two brothers had all been released from the hospital last week.

Still no word on (a likely) upgrade to felony charges.

Read the whole story here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-highland-park-teen-taken-into-custody-in-labor-day-crash-20120911,0,2397004.story

Lake County Clerk candidate’s DUI history raises questions

This weekend, the Daily Herald ran an article stating that Rupam Dave, the Democratic Party Candidate for the open seat of Lake County (IL) Clerk of the Circuit Court, has had three DUI arrests (resulting in two guilty pleas, and one dismissal) from 1993 through 2005.  The last DUI occurred during a time that Dave’s driver’s license had been suspended for her second DUI arrest.

According to the article:

Dave said the three DUI arrests were the only times in the past 20 years she consumed alcohol. She said she has never undergone alcohol treatment.

“Those were the only days I have had alcohol since 1993. It isn’t part of our daily or spiritual lives,” she said. “I don’t drink and my family doesn’t consume alcohol. These instances were three distinct situations where something bad was taking place in my life.”

During the first arrest, she was going through a divorce, she said, and she was dealing with a gravely ill family member during the second and third DUI arrests.

“It is something that I regret deeply and something I have personally been working against as a lawyer,” she said. “And, if I’m elected, I would stand up and assist people to try and stop this from happening to them. I would be a spokesman against the issue of drinking and driving.”

This article raises a few questions:

  • A DUI that occurs while a person is already suspended for a prior DUI arrest can be  charged as a felony offense (Aggravated DUI).  Did this happen in Ms. Dave’s case?  If not, why?  If yes, did she plead guilty to a felony or was her case reduced to a misdemeanor as part of a plea bargain?
  • Ms. Dave became an attorney in 1995.  Was the 1993 DUI disclosed to the Illinois Supreme Court prior to her admission in regards to her character and fitness to be an attorney?  What about the 2005 arrests?  Was the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court advised?  It appears from the ARDC’s website that she has no history of discipline, but I am curious if any investigation was taken to safeguard the public by ensuring that she did not have an alcohol problem that would render her incapable of fulfilling her responsibilities as an attorney.
  • It is a standard in Illinois DUI cases that as a part of sentencing, the defendant is  required to undergo mandatory alcohol treatment and education.  Furthermore, proof of that treatment is required by the Secretary of State before he will reinstate a convicted drunk driver’s license.  So something is wrong when Ms. Dave claims she has never undergone alcohol treatment.  Was a special exception made for her on her last DUI?  Did the Secretary of State ignore his own rules to reinstate her?  Or is she not telling the truth?
  • Ms. Dave claims that the only three times that she drank since 1993 were on the three times that she was arrested.  While that is certainly possible — she did explain that there were extenuating circumstances that help explain each arrest — it is hard to square with common sense.  Government statistics indicate that the average DUI arrestee has driven drunk 80 times without being caught for each time nabbed by police.
  • Ms. Dave was not on the primary ballot.  The winner, Cynthia Pruim Haran, dropped out and the Democratic Party selected Ms. Dave.  Now, it is not unheard of for elected officials to get DUIs.  Just this week, a Winnetka trustee was arrested for DUI by Skokie police.  And as I blogged last President’s Day, George W. Bush had at least one DUI and Vice President Cheney had two.  And Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill managed to save western civilization while drinking prodigious amounts of booze. So a DUI or two is not necessarily a disqualification for holding elective office.  I have represented many people who have been able to move on with their lives after a DUI and have successful careers and families.  But it seems strange for me for a party to pick someone with such an arrest history to run for an office, without the benefit of the vetting process that primaries provide.

None of this is to say that Ms. Dave can’t be an excellent Clerk of the Circuit Court.  But I would like to see the media do a better job of getting answers to these questions before Election Day.


Some thoughts about the Highland Park tragedy

On Labor Day afternoon, a five year old girl was killed, and her mother and two brothers were injured, when an 18 year old motorist named Carly Rousso drove up on a sidewalk in downtown Highland Park.

According to reports, Rousso displayed signs of impairment and she was issued a misdemeanor citation for DUI.  After that, blood and urine samples were taken.  Toxicology results have not been released, and more serious charges could be filed.

Today, it was leaked in the Chicago Tribune that Ms. Rousso may have been inhaling from a gas cannister immediately before the crash.  Other possible intoxicants have been alleged in the comments section of the Highland Park Patch by people who claim to know Ms. Rousso.  Some of these people commenting on the Patch message board state other unflattering things about Ms. Rousso which I will let you find for yourself.

A few thoughts:

  • There have been questions raised by the public about why Ms. Rousso either was not initially charged, or (as it was later reported) she was charged, but only with a misdemeanor, allowing her to be released on her own recognizance and without being placed on any special restrictions.  Some of the explanations given by Highland Park police for this do not make sense to me.
  • First of all, when someone is involved in a fatal accident, they are required under Illinois law to provide a blood and/or urine sample.  So the remarks of the Deputy Chief of Police stating that the filing of a misdemeanor charge was a prerequisite to a blood or urine test was wrong.
  • Second, the Deputy Chief stated that they were waiting for toxicology results before filing charges because there was a double jeopardy concern that Ms. Rousso could plead guilty to a lesser charge, thereby preventing a more serious prosecution.  Again, this is wrong.  The State could file a felony complaint, request that a judge set a high bond (with restrictions on movement or home monitoring and urine testing if she made bail), and continue the matter while waiting for toxicology results.  No judge would accept a misdemeanor plea while a more serious charge was pending.
  • The only reason to wait for a toxicology result is because under Illinois law, it is easier to prove a DUI death case when there is narcotics in the blood or urine, because in such a case the prosecutor does not need to prove either impairment or that the impairment was the proximate cause of the fatal accident.  Even still, it is hard to see how a felony charge could not have been filed based on the evidence (as reported) that Ms. Rousso had driven in an extremely erratic manner before the accident, and was falling over while speaking to officers.  This would be enough to initiate a felony charge, and additional felony counts could have been added later when the toxicology results were available.
  • According to some of the comments on the Patch site, Ms. Rousso’s twitter account is @CarlyRousso.  I do not know for sure if this is truly her account, but if it is, a two year old tweet calling herself “the best drunk driver in drivers ed class” is not the type of thing any defense attorney would like to see.
  • The Highland Park Mayor should not be politicizing a criminal investigation and prosecution.  Shame on her for aggravating the situation and encouraging the police to act before they are ready.  It is bad enough that family members of the victim and others are accusing Highland Park Police of racism without any evidence.  Mayors should be calming the situation, not making it worse.
  • People on the internet, it is fine to comment on the situation.  But publishing this young lady’s home address, phone number, vacation photos and writing about her behavior in high school is not right.  You are putting her at danger.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  If she is guilty, she is facing a sentence of at least 4 to 12 years.  Even if you don’t care about her, you are endangering her other family members.  And please remember that every person in this country is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  There may be an explanation or other side to this story that we do not know about.  Do not jump to conclusions until you have heard all of the facts.

The tweet:

Best drunk driver in drivers ed class. I’m proud to present your designated drunk driver

Chicago Cop pleads guilty to DUI crash that killed two

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

An off-duty Chicago Police officer who crashed into a disabled car on the Dan Ryan Expressway and killed two men has pleaded guilty to DUI.

Joseph Frugoli, who was 41 at the time of the crash, entered guilty pleas Thursday to two counts of aggravated DUI, said Sally Daly, spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. He faces up to 28 years in prison.

Police said he resigned from his position on Aug. 30.

After the plea deal was reached on the DUI charges, a bench trial in front of Cook County Judge Charles Burns got under way on charges he left the scene of the accident, Daly said. That trial will continue Monday.

If convicted at the trial, Frugoli faces up to 15 years in prison for each victim, Daly said.

Frugoli drove his black Lexus SUV into the back of a Dodge Intrepid that had broken down on southbound I-90/94 near the 18th Street ramp in April 2009, authorities said. The detective was walking away from the crash when he was apprehended.

Andrew Cazares, 23, of Summit, and Fausto Manzera, 21, of Chicago were killed in the crash.

The 18-year veteran cop was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where tests indicated his blood-alcohol level was about triple the legal limit of 0.08. He had previously been involved in two other serious wrecks, authorities said.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

Witnesses testified before Cook County Judge Charles Burns that they saw Frugoli flee on foot following the April 2009 crash on a southbound ramp near Roosevelt Road and 18th Street. Andrew Cazares, 23, and his friend, Fausto Manzeras, 20, perished in the fiery wreck.

Frugoli’s attorney, Michael Monaco, argued that his client was disoriented after the crash.

“He was in a fog,” Monaco said. “He was in an incoherent state.”

As part of the plea deal, a lesser charge of reckless homicide was dropped.

Beverly Hills Cop charged with DUI after crashing into a house

No, this doesn’t involve Eddie Murphy.  From the Ventura County Star:

An off-duty Beverly Hills police officer was arrested Tuesday night after crashing a vehicle into a Simi Valley home while driving under the influence, officials said.

Jeffrey Sweet, 42, was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of DUI, Simi Valley police said.

Sweet, a Simi Valley resident, was driving a personal vehicle about 10:20 p.m. east on Royal Avenue when he failed to negotiate a curve at Blackstock Avenue, police said. The vehicle hit a home, knocked down a utility pole and came to rest on its roof on the retaining wall of a second home, police said…

No one was injured, police said…

Sweet is an 18-year veteran of the Beverly Hills force, said Lt. Lincoln Hoshino, a spokesman for the agency. The officer will not be put on leave, pending a DUI investigation and subsequent administrative inquiry, Hoshino said.

Sweet’s blood-alcohol level during the crash will be determined by lab tests, said Sgt. Craig Dungan, a spokesman for Simi Valley police.

Does the Media sensationalize DUI stories?

Here is a letter to the editor that I think is worth reading, written by Jacob Martin, a graduate student at the the University of Georgia.  He sent the letter to the school’s student newspaper, The Red and Black.  In it, he questioned how the paper has been reporting its DUI stories.

Mr. Martin wonders whether the tendency to underline the sometimes goofy things people do or say while intoxicated tends to needlessly embarrass the arrestee as well as diminish the seriousness of the offense.

The article can be read here:  Sensationalist DUI reporting has consequences

What do you think?

This was brought to my attention by Springfield attorney Theodore Harvatin.