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Chicago attorney Harold L. Wallin has tried hundreds of cases to verdict; including criminal, DUI/traffic, personal injury and administrative hearings. http://www.illinoisduilawyer.com/

Suspect in fatal crash driving 128 mph, 3X legal limit

From the Chicago Tribune:

Ciro Reyes Ramirez and his son had only been parked for a moment near the Tinley Park bar they were headed to clean early Tuesday morning, when a car allegedly speeding along Oak Park Avenue plowed into them from behind, he said.

Reyes Ramirez’s 20-year-old son Alberto Reyes, his youngest, was killed in the crash and he was injured. The driver of the other car, Joseph Vorberg, of Oak Forest, was drivingat about 130 mph, with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, when he crashed into their parked car, prosecutors said.

Vorberg fled the scene on foot after the crash, prosecutors said Thursday at the Cook County courthouse in Bridgeview. Police found him 30 minutes later, hiding behind a semitrailer that was parked near a Tinley Park bar, prosecutors said.

Vorberg, 37, of the 15300 block of Arroyo Drive, is facing charges including reckless homicide and aggravated DUI stemming from the crash. A Cook County judge set Vorberg’s bail on Thursday at $1 million.

Judge Peter Felice said Vorberg was a “danger to himself … and to the community,” based on the allegations presented in court.

Data pulled from Vorberg’s Cadillac ATS sedan indicated he was traveling 128 mph just seconds before he smashed into the parked car, prosecutors said.

Alberto Reyes was declared dead at the scene, prosecutors said. His father was treated at a local hospital for injuries that were not life threatening and released.

Vorberg had been drinking at bars in Tinley Park and Harvey before the crash, prosecutors said. He had been treated at a local hospital for his injuries.

A test conducted on Vorberg indicated that his blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, prosecutors said…

A GoFundMe page has been set up under Alberto Reyes’ nickname, Beto.

Vorberg is also charged with DUI, failing to give aid/information at an accident, improper lane usage and failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident. Vorberg returns to court Nov. 2.

Cook County to start texting court date reminders to defendants

In an excellent decision to take advantage of modern technology, starting in December, Cook County will phone or text criminal defendants to remind them of their upcoming court dates.

This is good for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the vast majority of missed court dates are because the defendant forgot their court date.  I used to have a lot of clients miss court dates until I began a practice of texting, emailing or calling clients the day prior to court as a reminder.

The other reason is because it is not unusual for court dates to get confused for one reason or another.  For example, recently I had one case where the judge wrote 8/3/17 as the new court date on the court file instead of the actual continuance date which was supposed to have been 8/30/17.  This would have resulted in a warrant for my client but for the client being told about his “upcoming” court date by pre-trial services.

Ultimately, this program should reduce costs, because there will be less court dates, less warrants, less need to go out and arrest fugitives, and less housing costs while the arrestees sit in Cook County Jail.

You can read more about this in a DNAinfo story, linked here.

Minnesota man arrested for 28th DUI

From the Star Tribune website:

A 64-year-old western Minnesota man has been caught for the 28th time driving while intoxicated, according to prosecutors, adding to what likely is a record that state authorities have long attributed to him.

Danny Lee Bettcher, of New York Mills, was charged in Otter Tail County District Court last week with felony-level drunken driving and refusing to submit to a preliminary breath test.

Assistant County Attorney Jacob Thomason said Tuesday that if convicted this time around, the maximum sentence is seven years, with the first two-thirds spent in prison and the balance on supervised release. Bettcher would then serve another five years on probation.

Bettcher’s criminal history already includes spending four years in prison for a prior drunken driving offense, and he’s been ordered to treatment at least a dozen times.

While appearing in an Otter Tail courtroom in 2010 for his 27th arrest, a record for a Minnesotan at the time, the on-and-off construction worker and handyman said, “I drink to get drunk.”

Bettcher’s 28th arrest came Thursday soon after he left the VFW in New York Mills, where he had been drinking. He’s also been caught driving drunk in Nebraska and North Dakota.

According to the criminal complaint:

An off-duty sheriff’s deputy was in the VFW and saw Bettcher drinking. Bettcher’s reputation for driving drunk is “well known to the law enforcement community,” read the charging document, which listed numerous aliases for the defendant.

The deputy alerted authorities that Bettcher was leaving the VFW in a car. Bettcher ignored a stop sign and drove about 10 to 15 miles per hour on Hwy. 10 and was swerving.

He made it another 200 yards before police pulled him over. Bettcher’s eyes were bloodshot and watery. A beer can was spotted behind the passenger seat.

The officer asked for Bettcher’s driver’s license. He produced a health identification card. The officer located Bettcher’s license and noted that it restricted him from drinking and driving.

Bettcher refused to conduct a field sobriety test and had to put his hands on the squad car to steady himself.

“I am way over,” he said. “Take me to jail.”

State Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Megan Leonard confirmed that Bettcher had a valid driver’s license at the time of his arrest, and that it included “a restriction that any use of alcohol or drugs invalidates the license.” As of Tuesday, a move to revoke his license is pending.

It is amazing to me that this man had a valid driver’s license after 27 DUIs.  In Illinois, it has been a lifetime ban upon a fourth conviction (with a limited possibility of getting a restricted permit after that but only after meeting some very onerous conditions and with a “one more strike and you are out” provision).  It is almost as amazing to me that he hasn’t spend years in prison for his previous DUIs.  As I pointed out in this blog post five years ago, an eighth DUI in Illinois (and in certain other states) could result in a life sentence.

LA Cop arrested in DUI crash that killed 3 just hours after he posted anti-DUI video

From Raw Story:

A Los Angeles police officer posted a “don’t drink and drive” Instagram video hours before he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence over a fatal crash that killed three people.

Edgar Verduzco, 26, was speeding on the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway in Whittier, southern California, when he struck the back of two cars, one of which was carrying three members of a family, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) said, according to CBS Los Angeles.

The car carrying the family burst into flames and killed the three people inside. The victims have since been identified as Mario and Maribel Davila, a married couple, and their 19-year-old son Oscar Davila, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help with funeral costs.

Hours before the crash, a video was posted to an Instagram account belonging to Verduzco. The 10-second video featured a cartoon avatar honking the horn of a car, which is captioned #dontdrinkanddrive. The video appears to be shot in a bar; a glass of beer is seen in the background, KTLA 5 reported.

The Instagram account has not been confirmed as belonging to Verduzco, but other photos and videos posted on the account suggest it is his: one post in July has Verduzco’s name badge on display, KTLA 5 reported.

Verduzco was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and vehicular manslaughter and is being held on $100,000 bail, the The Washington Post reported. He suffered a broken nose in the incident.

Read the entire story here:  https://www.rawstory.com/2017/09/la-cop-posted-anti-drink-driving-video-before-crash/

Drunk Driver crashes into … “Report Drunk Driver” sign

cali_drunk_driving_crash

From KWQC.com:

Auto accidents do not get more ironic than this.

The California Highway Patrol says on Wednesday an intoxicated driver plowed over a sign that encourages motorists to report drunk drivers.

Stephen DeWitt, 57, of Aptos is now charged with DUI after police say he rolled his Jeep Wrangler on Highway 1 in Santa Cruz County.

Moments before the rollover, officers say DeWitt crashed into a sign that reads, “REPORT DRUNK DRIVERS CALL 911”.

The Santa Cruz CHP took a photo of the sign showing it came to rest lying face-up on the ground.

“He left this behind…Don’t drink and drive, it’s just not worth it!” the CHP posted along with the photo on its Facebook page.

Cook County Jurors: Buy your own breakfast and snacks!

While at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building at 26th Street this week, I saw a memo from Chief Judge Timothy Evans that was left “in plain view” as the police like to say.

It said that due to budget cuts, Cook County jurors would no longer get breakfast and snacks for the rest of the year.  Even with the reinstatement of the “soda tax.”  It also said that it was expected that this cutback would likely become permanent in all future budgets.

So, to all you Cook County jurors out there:  if you want a cup of coffee and a croissant in the morning, you’d better stop off somewhere else because you aren’t getting it at court.

Trump Lawyers Carelessness is a Useful Reminder for Lawyers

Before I went to law school, I spent a couple of years working as a “project assistant” at a major Chicago law firm.  My fellow assistants and I were sent to a mandatory training that included a segment on client confidentiality.  Over a quarter century later, I can still remember what we were told about it:  never speak about the firms’ cases to outsiders and be exceptionally careful when discussing matters outside of the office.  This included conversations between fellow employees while outside of the office.  To emphasize the point, we were told the story about some associate attorneys who were discussing a case in a restaurant located in the office building lobby.  Unbeknownst to them, legal counsel for the client company was sitting within earshot.  The story did not have a happy ending.

With that in mind, you can imagine how flabbergasted I was to hear that two of the President’s lawyers had a heated conversation about the Mueller investigation while at the outside sidewalk dining area of a popular Washington D.C. steakhouse.  A steakhouse that is on the same block as the N.Y. Times’ Washington office.

The resulting story “Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate with Russia Inquiry” became a major scoop for the “Failing N.Y. Times” and a major embarrassment to the President’s lawyers.

So I hope that all the lawyers who read this blog will take this as a refresher about talking about your clients in public places.  Save that for the office.  There are plenty of other things to talk about, like when will Mitch Trubiskey get a start?