Could a witch get a DUI on a broomstick?

Could this be a DUI?

Could a witch get a DUI on a broomstick?

I posted about this last year, but the question remains timely.

In Illinois, DUI is not limited to cars and trucks. Our DUI laws cover all “vehicles,” which are defined by our Motor Vehicle Code as:

Every device, in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway or requiring a certificate of title under Section 3-101(d) of this Code, except devices moved by human power, devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks and snowmobiles as defined in the Snowmobile Registration and Safety Act.

For the purposes of this Code, unless otherwise prescribed, a device shall be considered to be a vehicle until such time it either comes within the definition of a junk vehicle, as defined under this Code, or a junking certificate is issued for it.
Since a  magic broomstick doesn’t work on “human power” but magic power, it is possible that an intoxicated witch could be prosecuted for DUI on a broomstick. Just to be clear, however, the Illinois Courts have not yet ruled on the matter. They have held that motorized bicycles, motorized lawnmowers, and all terrain vehicles do qualify as a “vehicle.” Snow mobiles and boats are covered by separate statutes. Also, a vehicle that is inoperable is still a “vehicle” unless and until a junking certificate has been issued. So be warned!

My blogiversary!

It has been one year since I started this blog.  I had been thinking about blogging since I first read about blogs back around 2000, but I wasn’t sure if I would have enough items to blog about, especially since I have to be cautious about not revealing any client confidences and I didn’t want this to be forum to gripe about what happens in court.  I also didn’t intend this blog to be a celebration of drunk driving, but instead provide a reasoned look at our DUI laws and how they work in reality.

At the same time, I also wanted to keep this blog interesting and not be just a bunch of keywords.

So after one year, 274 blog posts and over 10,000 page views, I have to thank:

  • the worlds of politics, Hollywood, and professional and collegiate sports for constantly giving me new celebrity DUIs to blog about;
  • and police officers from around the nation, who keep falsifying cases while dash cameras or surveillance tapes are recording;
  • and the police unions, that keep trying to keep it a felony for a citizen to video record police officers who are working and are outside in public view;
  • and the drunk drivers, who have provided me with some very memorable DUI arrests to write about.

Hopefully, everyone reading this will continue to enjoy the blog and have a safe and happy year.


Federal Judge writes article about extreme mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent offenders

Judge Mark W. Bennett, who sits in the Northern District of Iowa, has written a compelling article for The Nation about our over the top mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for non-violent drug offenders.  He has had to sentence over 1,000 non-violent drug offenders over the past 19 years.

Here is an excerpt:

Crack defendants are almost always poor African-Americans. Meth defendants are generally lower-income whites. More than 80 percent of the 4,546 meth defendants sentenced in federal courts in 2010 received a mandatory minimum sentence. These small-time addicts are apprehended not through high-tech wiretaps or sophisticated undercover stings but by common traffic stops for things like nonfunctioning taillights. Or they’re caught in a search of the logs at a local Walmart to see who is buying unusually large amounts of nonprescription cold medicine. They are the low-hanging fruit of the drug war. Other than their crippling meth addiction, they are very much like the folks I grew up with. Virtually all are charged with federal drug trafficking conspiracies—which sounds ominous but is based on something as simple as two people agreeing to purchase pseudoephedrine and cook it into meth. They don’t even have to succeed.

I recently sentenced a group of more than twenty defendants on meth trafficking conspiracy charges. All of them pled guilty. Eighteen were “pill smurfers,” as federal prosecutors put it, meaning their role amounted to regularly buying and delivering cold medicine to meth cookers in exchange for very small, low-grade quantities to feed their severe addictions. Most were unemployed or underemployed. Several were single mothers. They did not sell or directly distribute meth; there were no hoards of cash, guns or countersurveillance equipment. Yet all of them faced mandatory minimum sentences of sixty or 120 months. One meth-addicted mother faced a 240-month sentence because a prior meth conviction in county court doubled her mandatory minimum. She will likely serve all twenty years; in the federal system, there is no parole, and one serves an entire sentence minus a maximum of a 15 percent reduction rewarded for “good time.”

Several years ago, I started visiting inmates I had sentenced in prison. It is deeply inspiring to see the positive changes most have made. Some definitely needed the wake-up call of a prison cell, but very few need more than two or three years behind bars. These men and women need intensive drug treatment, and most of the inmates I visit are working hard to turn their lives around. They are shocked—and glad—to see me, and it’s important to them that people outside prison care about their progress. For far too many, I am their only visitor.

If lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug addicts actually worked, one might be able to rationalize them. But there is no evidence that they do. I have seen how they leave hundreds of thousands of young children parentless and thousands of aging, infirm and dying parents childless. They destroy families and mightily fuel the cycle of poverty and addiction. In fact, I have been at this so long, I am now sentencing the grown children of people I long ago sent to prison.

Read the whole article here:  How Mandatory Minimums Forced me to Send More than 1,000 Nonviolent Drug Offenders to Federal Prison.

More Judicial Ratings Released

Early voting has begun, and since I last provided links to the ISBA and CBA ratings, some additional Bar Associations have posted their own ratings, so here is an expanded list:

Alliance of Bar Associations Judicial Screening (new)

Chicago Bar Association two page pocket guide

Chicago Bar Association (detailed)

Chicago Council of Lawyers (new)

Chicago Tribune editorial board (new)

Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County (new)

Illinois State Bar Association – For all Counties (new)

Illinois State Bar Association – Cook (summary)

Illinois State Bar Association – Cook (full)

Lake County (IL) Bar Association (new)

Why bad police officers remain on the force

Here’s a link to an excellent article by Mike Riggs for about why it is nearly impossible to fire bad police officers: Why Firing a Bad Cop is Damn Near Impossible:  A Short History of the “law enforcement bill of rights”

Here is the key quote:

here’s how a typical police misconduct investigation works in states that have a law enforcement bill of rights in place:

A complaint is filed against an officer by a member of the public or a fellow officer. Police department leadership reviews the complaint and decides whether to investigate. If the department decides to pursue the complaint, it must inform the officer and his union. That’s where the special treatment begins, but it doesn’t end there.

Unlike a member of the public, the officer gets a “cooling off” period before he has to respond to any questions. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is privy to the names of his complainants and their testimony against him before he is ever interrogated. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is to be interrogated “at a reasonable hour,” with a union member present. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can only be questioned by one person during his interrogation. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can be interrogated only “for reasonable periods,” which “shall be timed to allow for such personal necessities and rest periods as are reasonably necessary.” Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation cannot be “threatened with disciplinary action” at any point during his interrogation. If he is threatened with punishment, whatever he says following the threat cannot be used against him.

What happens after the interrogation again varies from state to state. But under nearly every law enforcement bill of rights, the following additional privileges are granted to officers: Their departments cannot publicly acknowledge that the officer is under investigation; if the officer is cleared of wrongdoing or the charges are dropped, the department may not publicly acknowledge that the investigation ever took place, or reveal the nature of the complaint. The officer cannot be questioned or investigated by “non-government agents,” which means no civilian review boards. If the officer is suspended as a result of the investigation, he must continue to receive full pay and benefits until his case is resolved. In most states, the charging department must subsidize the accused officer’s legal defense.

A violation of any of the above rights can result in dismissal—not of the officer, but of the charges against him.

Because of these special due process privileges, there’s little incentive for police departments to discipline officers. In most cases, it’s more financially prudent to let a District Attorney or outside law enforcement agency do the heavy lifting, and then fire the officer if he’s convicted. This is the only “easy” way, under police bills of rights, for departments to get rid of bad cops–which essentially means the only way to get rid of bad cops is if some other law enforcement agency can make a felony charge stick. This is the biggest problem with law enforcement bills of rights–they encourage police departments to let external forces determine what behavior is unacceptable.

Not his prerogative: Bobby Brown busted for 2nd DUI in a year

Singer Bobby Brown, who has a history of substance abuse issues, was arrested for his second DUI in a year early Wednesday morning in L.A.

Brown, who also had a DUI in 1996, was still on probation for his last DUI, and had been in an in-patient alcohol treatment facility over the summer.

According to the New York Daily News:

The New Edition singer, 43, was pulled over shortly before 1 a.m. and failed his field sobriety test on busy Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana, Calif., about four miles from his Encino residence, cops said.

“He was pulled over for a traffic violation and based on the officer’s observations, he was arrested and booked for driving under the influence,” Sgt. Pablo Monterrosa with the Los Angeles Police Department told the Daily News.

“He failed a combination of the field sobriety test and the breathalyzer. It sounds like he was cooperative,” Monterrosa said.

Brown was booked and released within hours on $25,000 bail, police said.

According to TMZ:
The L.A. City Attorney just filed the criminal charges against the singer.  In addition to the DUI charge, Bobby has been charged with 2 other crimes — driving on a restricted license and driving a vehicle without a vehicle interlock device.
The last 2 charges are the result of a prior DUI conviction in 2012.  Bobby was also convicted of DUI in 1996.
If convicted this time, Bobby faces up to 2 years in jail, although it’s highly unlikely he’d get that much time…
And one final thing … Bobby is also facing a probation violation for the prior 2012 DUI.

White Sox Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk arrested for DUI in New Lenox

Carlton Fisk, the Hall of Fame former White Sox catcher, was arrested Monday in New Lenox, IL after he allegedly drove off the road at Gouger and Spencer and into a corn field, where he found unconscious.

According to Roman Modrowski of ESPNChicago:

Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk was charged with a DUI in New Lenox, Ill., on Monday after he was found unconscious behind the wheel of his vehicle, which was found in the middle of a corn field, according to New Lenox police.

“Around 7:20 (Monday) night, we received a couple of calls about a vehicle in a field,” Deputy Chief Bob Pawlisz said. “When officers went over there, they found Mr. Fisk unconscious behind the wheel.

“They contacted local paramedics in New Lenox, had him examined, and the officers had reason to believe he was under the influence. He was transported to the local hospital and charged with a lane violation, driving under the influence and illegal transportation of alcohol. An open container of alcohol was found in the vehicle.”

Pawlisz said a citation was issued, Fisk posted bond and was released. The 64-year-old Fisk is scheduled to appear in the Will County Courthouse on Nov. 29.

Fisk, who had a 24 year major league career beginning in Boston in 1969 and then continuing with the Chicago White Sox from 1981 to 1993, was enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2000.

Update:  Dennis Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune has a few more details in his latest update:

Deputy Chief Bob Pawlisz said Fisk, 64, was at the wheel with the engine running when police arrived around 7:25 p.m. Pawlisz said Fisk was disoriented when officers woke him, and he declined a blood-alcohol test. An open 1.75-liter bottle of liquor also was in the car, Pawlisz said.

Fisk was treated at Silver Cross Hospital and released Tuesday morning after posting bail and is scheduled to appear in Will County court Nov. 29.

In addition to DUI, Fisk was charged with improper lane use and illegal transport of alcohol.