Another case of a police officer arrested for DUI who refuses all tests

As a DUI defense attorney, people always ask me, “should I perform the tests?”  And my answer is, do what police officers do.

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Woodstock police officer faces arraignment in March for driving under the influence after he crashed his pick-up truck in Round Lake Beach about two weeks ago.

The officer was identified as Michael E. Niedzwiecki, 29, of Lake Villa, who was charged with DUI and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, according to a Round Lake Beach Police Department report.

The accident occurred Feb. 11 at 1:49 a.m. on Hainesville Road when Niedzwiecki’s 2007 Ford F250 pick-up went out of control while traveling northbound on a curve close to Clarendon Drive and struck a telephone pole, according to the report, which added that power lines knocked down by the crash blocked northbound traffic on Hainesville between Rollins Road and Clarendon.

According to the report, Niedzwiecki told one of the officers at the scene that he forgot about the sharp curve to the left in the roadway, and that is why he lost control of his truck. The report added that both Niedzwiecki and a woman who identified herself as his wife went to a nearby McDonald’s after the accident and before police arrived to get help.

The officer wrote in the report that Niedzwiecki was slurring his words and had glassy bloodshot eyes and an unsteady gait. “I could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage,” the officer wrote.

When an officer asked Niedzwiecki to do a field sobriety test, Niedzwiecki refused and when asked to submit to a breath test, which he also refused, according to the report, and he was placed under arrest for DUI and was also cited for failure to reduce speed. When asked to make a statement about the accident, Niedzwiecki refused again, the report states.

According to the report, at one point, Niedzwiecki showed an officer his Woodstock police officer badge and identification card.

Read the whole story here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-woodstock-officer-charged-dui-st-0225-20170224-story.html

Former Chicago Bear RB Cedric Benson arrested for DUI

Cedric Benson, the former Bears running back, who was cut from the team after being arrested twice in 2008, once for boating under the influence and then for driving under the influence, has been arrested again for DUI.

I should point out that after he was cut by the Bears, Benson was found not guilty for both 2008 arrests.

From CBS Sports:

The former running back who played for the Bears, Bengals and Packers over eight NFL seasons, and was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, was pulled over and arrested in Austin, Texas for a DUI charge, the Austin American Statesman reports.

And when he was pulled over, things got a little awkward.

According to a police affidavit obtained by the paper, Benson declined to stay in his vehicle after pulling over into a 7-Eleven parking lot, instead appearing to inform the officer he wanted to enter the convenience store.

The Statesman reports police described Benson’s as as “glassy.” He was also “swaying” and “his speech was mumbled and he smelled of alcohol.”

Benson is described in the affidavit as “talkative, uncooperative [and] cocky.”

Additionally, police wrote in the affidavit that Benson “refused sobriety tests.” Benson was asked to recite the alphabet and “stated he couldn’t do that because he played 8 years in the NFL.”

Benson told police he couldn’t count any higher than the number three.

This is not Benson’s first arrest and it’s not even his first arrest in Travis County, Texas. Benson was arrested in 2011 for assault on a family member, while having other legal issues in Austin pending. In 2014, Benson was arrested in Austin for public intoxication.

Benson was released by the Bears in 2008 after being busted for drunk driving and drunk boating (yes, both of them). He latched on with the Bengals but struggled to find a home as a free agent in 2012.

Michael Floyd, Austin Seferian-Jenkins plead to DUI charges

There were two NFL DUI stories in the news over the past couple of days:

From Pro Football Talk:

Wide receiver Michael Floyd has pleaded guilty to extreme DUI to settle the criminal case related to his December arrest in Arizona.

Floyd faced seven charges, but the other six were dropped when he entered a guilty plea in Scottsdale on Thursday. Jonathan Roy of FOX 10 in Phoenix reports that Floyd was sentenced to 120 days in jail with 24 of those days to be served at a Maricopa County facility. The other 96 days of the sentence will be served via home detention.

Floyd also needs to do 30 hours of community service and was fined $5115.99.

and from TMZ:

NY Jets player Austin Seferian-Jenkins has cut a plea deal in his DUI case from last year and won’t spend any time behind bars … TMZ Sports has learned.

The 24-year-old tight end was arrested on September 23 in Florida after a cop pulled him over for a traffic stop and thought he seemed wasted. Dashcam footage from the incident showed him slurring.

According to court docs, Seferian-Jenkins pled no contest to a reckless driving charge and in exchange, got 1 year probation and 50 hours of community service.

He also has to attend DUI school and pay a $500 fine.

I was interviewed for the IL Supreme Court’s 2Civility Project

The Illinois Supreme Court’s 2Civility Project has a mission of “To promote a culture of civility and inclusion, in which Illinois lawyers and judges embody the ideals of the legal profession in service to the administration of justice in our democratic society.”

Each month, they have been interviewing attorneys who exemplify professionalism and civility.

I am the subject of this month’s 2Civility lawyer spotlight.  I guess that means I’ve behaved myself.

You can read the interview here:  https://www.2civility.org/harold-wallin-law-offices-harold-l-wallin/

Harold L. Wallin selected one of Chicago’s Top DUI attorneys

For the third year in a row, Harold L. Wallin has been rated as one of Chicago’s Top Three DWI/DUI attorneys by the website ThreeBestRated.com.

Since they have been rating Chicago’s DUI attorneys in 2015, Harold L. Wallin is the only attorney to make it on their list each year.

Thank you ThreeBestRated, for the honor and recognition!

In Illinois, a fourth DUI is a mandatory minimum three years in prison

There was a story in today’s Chicago Tribune about a 52 year old Naperville woman who was sentenced to three years in prison for her fourth DUI.

She was not involved in an accident.  It sounds like she was being cooperative with the police.  She consented to a breath test.

Unlike a certain well-publicized case where a drunk driver killed a bicyclist and received only ten days in jail, this woman is going to prison.

This was not a case of a judge being harsh.  Actually, the judge was being lenient.  This drunk driver received the mandatory minimum sentence.

In Illinois, a fourth DUI is a Class 2 felony, punishable from three to seven years.  Probation is not permitted in such a case (on the other hand, probation is allowed in DUI death cases when there is “exceptional circumstances”).

Here is the relevant section of the DUI statute (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(2)(C)):

A fourth violation of this Section or a similar
    
provision is a Class 2 felony, for which a sentence of probation or conditional discharge may not be imposed.

So, as the saying goes, “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”

Expect Heightened DUI Patrols Super Bowl Weekend

Police reports are gearing up for an expected uptick of drunk drivers this weekend.

From the Chicago Police:

The Chicago Police Department is conducting DUI Saturation Patrols in the Wentworth (2nd) and Near West (12th) Districts this weekend. The DUI Saturation Patrol in the Wentworth (2nd) District will commence at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 3, 2017 and end at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017. The DUI Saturation Patrol in the Near West (12th) District will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017 and end at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 5, 2017.
The Illinois State Police will be out in force as well:

The Illinois State Police Department says they are increasing patrols for super bowl weekend to crack down on drunk drivers.

State troopers will also be on the lookout for speeding seat belts and distracted driving.

Public safety officer Sean Ramsey says you won’t just see state police out on the highway.

“We can be on the interstate, state routes, in town,” Illinois State Police Trooper Sean Ramsey said. “So really they have the latitude to go where they want. Where they think that these violations may be occurring.”

The Cook County Sheriff has also announced that it will be conducting heightened efforts:

Cook County Sheriff’s Police are scheduled to conduct enhanced patrols this weekend, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

Sheriff’s Police are conducting countywide DUI enforcement patrols today, Saturday and Sunday nights. They will also be on the lookout for those violating seatbelt laws, today, Saturday and Monday.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will conduct special traffic patrols this Super Bowl weekend, cracking down on alcohol-impaired drivers, drug-impaired drivers, and those not wearing their seatbelts.

Buffalo Grove police will be out in force this Super Bowl weekend, cracking down on seat belt law violators and alcohol and drug-impaired drivers.

Department officials announced the beefed up patrol efforts last week, reminding residents, “If you plan on drinking alcohol while cheering on your team, pass your keys to a sober driver before the Super Bowl party begins.”

The initiative coincides with the statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

Other police departments will be out as well.  Please be safe and don’t drink and drive!