Will Illinois amend its DUI lifetime revocation rule?

For about fifteen years, Illinois has had a law that prevents anyone with four DUI convictions from ever obtaining reinstatement of their drivers license (or even a driving permit), so long as the last DUI conviction occurred after January 1, 1999.

Over the years, two common phone inquiries come into my office.  One of them occurs when someone calls from another state, to tell me that “I had three DUIs in the State of ______ and another one when I was visiting my cousin in Illinois” and now “my home state is willing to give me a license so long as Illinois clears me, but Illinois is saying they won’t because of that one DUI years ago!” The other common call that I often get is from someone who tells me that although he had four DUIs he quit drinking years ago, has been working the steps at AA and needs a license to support his family.  He will tell me that he can’t understand why it is that there is nothing that he can do to get Illinois to at least consider him for a work permit.

Hopefully, things will change soon.  Today, I saw this story from WUIS.org which states that Northbrook State Representative Elaine Nekritz has proposed a bill which would allow people who have been convicted of four DUIs to apply for a restricted driving permit — after five years have elapsed since their last treatment or incarceration, and the permit would have to be granted by a judge, who would have the right to limit where and when the person could drive.

This proposal makes all the sense in the world.  It is much better to give people who have had multiple DUI convictions an incentive to undergo treatment and become abstinent than instead to discourage them and keep them from being able to support their families.  The rationale for keeping these people revoked the makes even less sense considering that we have BAIIDs and SCRAMS to test people to see if they have alcohol or drugs in their system.  And since Illinois has decided that it is better to give undocumented persons temporary visitor drivers licenses because we think it is better to have tested and insured drivers than unlicensed and uninsured drivers, doesn’t it make sense to treat revoked drivers the same way, assuming that they can demonstrate a lengthy period of sobriety and that they have learned and changed through an alcohol or drug treatment plan?

Ex-Cowboy Josh Brent gets 180 days in jail, 10 years of probation for DUI fatality

Today former Cowboy and Illini DT Josh Brent was sentenced to ten years of probation and 180 days in jail for the “intoxication manslaughter” of former teammate Jerry Brown.

As I noted in my blog post a couple of days ago, Brent had the support of Brown’s mother, Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones and most of his former teammates.

This sentence was handed down by a Texas jury, which heard five witnesses from the State, including an Illinois State Trooper who arrested Brent for DUI in 2009 and a jail official who testified that Brent tested positive for marijuana while on bond.

What do you think?

Justin Bieber arrested for DUI-drugs and drag racing

What a week for Justin Bieber.  A few days after police found cocaine in his home while executing a search warrant related to a vandalism investigation, Bieber has been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs and drag racing in Miami Beach.

From the Miami Herald:

Pop star Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami Beach early Thursday on charges of DUI and drag-racing, a police spokesman said. The bad-boy musician’s entourage had apparently used their cars to block traffic on Pine Tree Drive at 26th Street, a residential area, at 4:30 a.m., creating a drag strip for the young star, who was in a Lamborghini.

Test showed that Bieber was under the influence of drugs, Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez told the Miami Herald.

Bieber was incoherent, had his hands in his pockets and resisted arrest without violence, Martinez said. He also did not have a valid license, the chief said.

“When the cars are going that fast, it takes awhile to catch up,” said Martinez, whose officers heard the racing in the distance.

Officers are working to book Bieber into jail. He’s at the police station and then will be taken to county jail for processing.

Update:  Here is a link to the police report of the arrest:  http://www.local10.com/blob/view/-/24073366/data/1/-/c6hmebz/-/Bieber-Arrest-Form-pdf.pdf

Former Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent found guilty of DUI manslaughter in death of teammate

After nine hours of deliberations, a Dallas jury found former Cowboy DT Josh Brent guilty in the DUI manslaughter death of his teammate Jerry Brown. He faces anywhere from probation to 20 years in prison.

According to prosecutors, Brent’s blood alcohol level was 0.18 at the time of the fatal crash.

Brent has been publicly forgiven by Brown’s mother, and he has the support of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and many of his former teammates.  Will that be enough to win him probation?  Dallas prosecutors are pushing for prison time, and the Dallas judiciary may be feeling a backlash from the “affluenza” case that garnered national headlines a few weeks ago.

A date for sentencing has not yet been announced.



Carly Rousso’s Attorney indicates a plea is in the works

When I last checked in with Carly Rousso’s case, (the “Highland Park huffing case” that lead to the death of five year old Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento) her attorney Douglas Zeit had argued that the law stating that a person can found guilty of a DUI for inhaling “various substances” to be unconstitutionally vague.

Judge Booras has not made a decision on this motion yet.  Today, he postponed his ruling until March 14th.

However, today Mr. Zeit made news by announcing that his client is ready to plead guilty to reckless homicide, a class 3 felony, if the prosecution would dismiss DUI causing death, a Class 2 felony.  The class two felony has a range of sentence between two and five years (or probation), whereas the DUI charge has a range of three to 14 years, and probation is not allowed barring extraordinary circumstances.

The prosecutor handling the case, Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Ori, did not respond to Mr. Zeit’s offer.  However, Mr. Zeit’s statements indicate that his client will plead guilty assuming that Judge Booras does not find the statute unconstitutional.

A “what-not-to-do” quadruple yutz

Last week, Nicholas Weesies got the “what-not-to-do” quadruple lutz.  This made him a quadruple yutz.

(If you are not up on your yiddish, here is the definition of a “yutz“).

His prize?  A trip to the Will County jail.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Weesies went to Bolingbrook Branch court to pay a $150 fine for a resisting or obstructing a police officer case.  While in court, his cell phone rang.  According to police, he then made “a derogatory comment” and was arrested.  During a search, police found Alprazolam and marijuana, getting him charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of cannabis.  At the time of this incident, Weesies was already on bond for another case of felony possession of a controlled substance.

So, let me break it down:

  1. If you bring your cell phone to court, make sure to put it on silent or buzz-only, or turn it off before entering the courtroom;
  2. Use proper decorum and treat people with respect when you are in a courtroom.  Be nice to everyone, especially the sheriffs and courtroom personnel, and don’t make derogatory comments (of course, this is how you should always act, but if there is ever a place where you should stifle your inner urge to tell people off, it should be in a courtroom);
  3. Don’t bring contraband to court.  There is no safe place where you can walk around in possession of illegal drugs and avoid arrest, but your chances of getting caught go up exponentially when you enter a place like a courthouse where you are subject to search at any time;
  4. When you are on bond for a felony drug case, you should be on your best behavior.  Any mis-step can get your bond revoked.  So walking around with drugs, let alone taking them to court, leaving your cell phone on ring and insulting court officers while on felony bond is a sure-fire way to find yourself in the County Jail.

DuPage State’s Attorney wants Special Prosecutor in Savini DUI case

The Office of the DuPage County State’s Attorney has filed a motion seeking to have a judge appoint a special prosecutor in CBS-2 reporter Dave Savini’s DUI case.  The prosecutor’s are filing the motion because (1) Savini’s brother-in-law is a supervisor in the DuPage State’s Attorney’s office, which would create an appearance of impropriety, and (2) the brother-in-law may be a witness in the case, which, if true, would be a conflict of interest under the Illinois Rules of Professional Responsibility.  Such a conflict would not be limited to just the brother-in-law, but instead would be imputed to the entire office.

The DuPage State’s Attorney has requested that Kane County prosecutors handle the case.  The motion will be heard tomorrow by DuPage County Judge Elsner.

Read more about this story in the Chicago Tribune.

Wednesday update:  The DuPage County State’s Attorney’s motion was granted, and now the case will be prosecuted by the Kane County State’s Attorney.  Read the whole story in the Chicago Tribune.