Utah lowers DUI legal limit to 0.05

Utah is about to become the first state in the nation to lower its DUI “legal limit” to 0.05 BAC, which would put it in line with most other countries and the NTSB’s 2013 recommendation.

The Utah legislature passed the law this week and the Governor is expected to sign it.

Utah has never been an alcohol friendly state, so it is not surprising that it is the first state to pass this type of legislation.  I suspect that other states will follow its lead, but it may take a while. On the other hand,  I do not expect the current Congress to force the states to lower their limit by conditioning receipt of Federal highway funds on doing so (as it did previously to get the states to lower their BAC limits to 0.08 and raise drinking ages to 21).

Going to a 0.05 standard is getting very close to a zero tolerance, “don’t drink and drive” standard, as opposed to our current tolerance for some alcohol consumption so long as the person is not impaired.

What do you think?

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

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!

Drunk Driver nearly crashes into film students making anti-DUI promo

Some film students out to make an anti-DUI promo for their local police department nearly became victims themselves.

From KOCO News 5:

A metro-area college student was carrying a light across a Valley Brook street when he saw a vehicle heading toward him.

“I saw him accelerate on the gas like he was trying to hit me,” said Oklahoma City University film student Mike Stamp. “I hopped out of the way real fast. After that, I was kind of in shock.”

Stamp and a friend, fellow OCU film student Jacob Keen, were shooting a DUI awareness promo Sunday night for the Valley Brook Police Department.

“He really wasn’t slowing down like the other cars were,” Keen said. “He kind of did a little swerve.

The driver, Richy Reese, was immediately stopped by Valley Brook Police Chief Michael Stamp, who is Mike Stamp’s father.

“He kind of comes to an abrupt stop, and I made try to contact with him, and he takes off,” Michael Stamp said.

Another officer pulled over Reese, who stumbled from his truck before being arrested. His blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit — .17.

“It could have been very bad. It’s very close,” Michael Stamp. “Very ironic that you’re doing a DUI story and one shows up.”

Police officials said Reese has at least four DUI convictions.

 

Not everyone gets 10 days in jail for DUI fatal accidents

The ten day jail sentence that Ryne San Hamel received last week for the drunk driving crash that killed Bobby Cann has sparked outrage (Click here to read the Sun-Times’ editorial).

But don’t think that everyone who drives drunk and kills someone gets a slap on the wrist.

Here is another recent case that had a very different result.  From the Chicago Tribune:

A Mundelein woman was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison Tuesday for the death of a 22-year-old man in an early morning drunken driving crash in Libertyville.

Amanda Auld, 24, was sentenced after pleading guilty last year to one count of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in a death.

Killed in the crash was Steven Daskaukas, a passenger in Auld’s car when she struck the back of a truck at the intersection of Peterson and Harris roads in Libertyville at 2:43 a.m. on March 7, 2015.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Patricia Fix said she was particularly struck by reports that Auld’s friends, following in another car, had been calling Auld and Daskaukas on mobile phones in an attempt to stop the woman from continuing to drive.

Fix noted that Auld was speeding, leaving the second car unable to catch up with her.

Auld admitted in a statement to the court that she and her friends had been drinking heavily at two bars and had left a bar in Fox Lake when the crash occurred.

Auld apologized to Daskaukas’ family, saying she knew no words would make up for the loss, but that he had been her best friend and that “living through that accident is my very own life sentence.”

“You will never know what it’s like to watch your best friend die and walk away unharmed,” she said.

Auld said she takes “full responsibility for the part I played” in the crash, but also asked for a probationary sentence that would allow her to go into a formal treatment program to battle long-term alcohol, substance abuse and mental health issues.

But Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Brown said Auld had been given supervisory sentences in the past that were to involve treatment programs and she failed to complete them.

Fix also noted that point in handing down the sentence, saying that although Auld had begun treatment programs and courses while in jail, it was hard not to believe her plea for treatment was an attempt to avoid prison.

Auld’s sentencing followed her guilty plea to the charge in a negotiated deal in which other charges were dismissed, including reckless homicide, and a cap of eight years was put on the sentence she would receive. Without the cap, she would have faced up to 14 years in prison, or probation if the judge found that the case included extraordinary circumstances.

Read the whole story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-dui-death-sentencing-st-0201-20170131-story.html