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

Dennis Rodman charged for Hit and Run crash

From the Chicago Tribune (via the Associated Press):

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has been charged with hit-and-run for a wrong-way-related crash on a Southern California freeway.

Orange County prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges against Rodman on Monday for a July 20 accident on Interstate 5 in Santa Ana.

Prosecutors say Rodman’s SUV was traveling north in a southbound carpool lane around 12:30 a.m., forcing a sedan to swerve into a dividing wall to avoid a collision.

Rodman’s attorney, Paul Meyer, says the incident occurred on a poorly signed exit ramp. He says Rodman corrected the driving error without the cars touching, stopped and spoke to people in the other car.

Rodman’s also charged with driving across a dividing section and without a valid license, and giving police false information.

He could face two years in county jail if convicted.

Orthopedic Surgeon Gets 6 years for Aggravated DUI

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Here is an interesting news item:  an orthopedic surgeon, who according to the Chicago Tribune headline has had seven previous DUI citations (I’ll get back to that in a moment), received a sentence of six years in prison from a Rolling Meadows Judge after being found guilty last April.

This is what the Tribune said about his background:

According to court records and authorities, Malik pleaded guilty to DUI in DuPage County in 2002 and again in 2007. He was also cited for DUI in Cicero in 2004 and in Franklin Park in 2005; though in the Cicero case, the DUI was stricken from his record after a probationary period, and in Franklin Park the DUI charge was later dropped.

Authorities said he was also charged with DUI in Wisconsin in 2007.

Some of this didn’t make any sense to me, so I did a little sleuthing myself.  As far as I can tell, the doctor received court supervision in DuPage County for one DUI in 2002, had another in 2004 (Cicero) that may have been reduced to reckless driving, and was convicted of another in DuPage County in 2007.  I suspect that he was found not guilty of the one in Franklin Park.  I could not verify the Wisconsin case.

What that means is that this was the doctor’s sixth DUI arrest.  Of those, he was found guilty of three.  None of the previous Illinois cases were felonies (and from what I know about Wisconsin law, I doubt that the Wisconsin OWI was a felony either).

A fourth DUI in Illinois is a Class 2 Felony, and the sentencing range is anywhere from three to seven years.

So by getting six years, the doctor received a result at the high end of the sentencing range.  This is where his other arrests, even though they did not result in convictions, may have played a factor, as the Judge may have felt that the Doctor was a danger to the public.

Also, my sleuthing disclosed that the Doctor was found guilty after a jury trial.  This is all speculation, but my guess is that faced with a bad case and a minimum sentence of three years, the Doctor chose to take a gamble with a jury.  One problem with that strategy is that Rolling Meadow juries are not traditionally sympathetic to drunk drivers.  Perhaps he thought that they might be impressed by his medical degree, but I guess they weren’t.

Here are the facts of the case, according to the Tribune:

Malik, 64, of Oak Brook, was found guilty in April of aggravated DUI and criminal damage to property stemming from an arrest last July when authorities said he sideswiped a parked car with his Lincoln LS in Franklin Park and then drove onto a lawn in Schiller Park, where he struck a garage, two fences and some landscaping blocks, according to prosecutors and police records.

Here are the highlights of the sentencing, from the article:

The judge was apparently not persuaded to offer leniency to Malik by a several character witnesses who spoke on the doctor’s behalf, including another physician who is also in alcohol recovery, a lawyer and a retired DuPage County judge.

With credit for good behavior and for time served in jail and in treatment, Malik is likely to be released from prison in less than three years, officials said.

For more than three decades, Malik had affiliations with Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, as well as Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist LaGrange Memorial Hospital. Malik stopped seeing patients at those locations by 2014…

“It’s not as though the defendant has not been given a chance or two or three. But this is his seventh time,” Judge James Karahalios, noting that Malik’s salary at his last job at $520,000. “He could have hired a driver.”

Actress who plays Judge “Maximum Moxley” arrested for DUI

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Soap opera star Jensen Buchanan, who plays Judge Moxley, i.e., “Maximum Moxley on The Young and the Restless, was arrested for DUI after driving into oncoming traffic and causing a collision with major injuries to another person.

She is certainly hoping that she does not face a judge with a similar nickname.

From Entertainment Tonight:

Soap opera star Jensen Buchanan was arrested for driving under the influence after causing a car crash in Buellton, California, on Wednesday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

According to the collision report, the 53-year-old actress, best known for her roles in One Life to Live and Another World, also caused major injuries to another driver in the wrong-way crash.

“The immediate cause is under investigation — our understanding is she allowed [her] vehicle to cross the double yellow lines,” John Ortega, public information officer for the Buellton office of the CHP told ET. “There were two parties involved — a driver in each vehicle.”

According to the police report obtained by ET, at approximately 6:19 a.m., Buchanan’s vehicle, a black Mercedes S550, drifted across the solid double yellow lines of the road as she was driving eastbound on State Route 154. The documents claim that she drove directly into the path of a driver of a white Ford C-Max, causing a head-on traffic collision.

Police say Buchanan and the other driver, Bradley Asolas, a 56-year-old man from Camarillo, California, were transported to the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Buchanan was treated for minor injuries and arrested for DUI. Asolas was treated for major injuries.

“It is confirmed Jensen Buchanan as the driver of a black Mercedes,” Ortega also told ET. “Jensen Buchanan was arrested for DUI — she had minor injuries and went to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. As far as law enforcement is aware, she is still there. The other party had major injuries and was also taken to Cottage Hospital — there is no update on his condition.”

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department confirmed to ET that Buchanan was booked charges of driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs with injury or death and driving under the influence of .08 alcohol causing bodily injury, She is being held on $100,000 bail.

Man interviewed on TV confesses to fatal DUI crash: “I drove because he was drunker”

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From the NY Daily News:

A Los Angeles man confessed to a fatal drunk driving wreck as TV cameras rolled, telling the unsuspecting reporter he didn’t want to drive, but was forced to because his drinking buddy was more intoxicated.

“We were drinking. Record it,” the suspect, identified only as Jose, said as hewalked up to a FOX 11 news crew at the scene of the crash Monday.

“He was drunker!” Jose blurted out.

The accident early Monday killed Jose’s cousin Juan, who was riding in the passenger seat, officials said. Jose fled from the scene before he realized Juan was dead, and returned while the local news team was setting up their cameras.

Jose told the reporter that after a night on the town, Juan started to drive the pair home but stopped in the “middle of the freeway” and demanded Jose take the wheel.

“He was drunk already, and I told him I couldn’t drive, so he made me drive,” Jose told the reporter as cameras rolled. “And he made me drive, and I told him I couldn’t drive.”

Jose said after he started driving, he lost control of the car and slammed into a light pole. He left to go get help, he said, and found first-responders and the news team on the scene when he returned.

As he confessed the saga to the reporter, Jose — unaware the crash killed his cousin — asked how Juan was doing.

Police delivered the heartbreaking news, then gave Jose a field sobriety test and arrested him.

Click her to see the full story and video:  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/watch-man-confesses-fatal-dui-wreck-tv-interview-article-1.2541065

Tip of the hat to Springfield attorney Theodore Harvatin for posting this on social media, where I first saw this.

 

22 year old woman charged with homicide after wrong-way DUI accident that killed off-duty police officer

saralopezA young woman is facing reckless homicide and aggravated DUI charges after a wrong-way accident on I-294 that took the life of a 27 year old off-duty Chicago Ridge Police Officer and former Marine.

From Fox 32:

A woman has been charged with DUI after causing a wrong-way crash last month that killed an off-duty Chicago Ridge police officer on the Tri-State Tollway near west suburban Oak Brook, police announced Friday.

Sara Lopez, 22, of Bristol, faces charges of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI involving death, according to Illinois State Police.

About 3:45 a.m. Sept. 13, Lopez was driving a Toyota Camry heading south in the northbound lanes of I-294 near Cermak Road when her car struck a Dodge Neon that was traveling in the correct direction, police said. The Camry struck the Dodge head on, causing the Camry to spin and then strike a Chevrolet that was also traveling in the correct direction.

Steven Andrew Smith, a 27-year-old off-duty Chicago Ridge police officer, was in the passenger seat of the Dodge and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy ruled his death an accident.

Lopez and the driver of the Dodge were both taken to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital non-life-threatening injuries, police said. The driver of the Chevrolet wasn’t hurt.

Smith, a Chicago Ridge resident, began as a part-time officer in the southwest suburb in 2010 before completing police academy and earning full-time status in February this year, according to Chicago Ridge police Chief Robert D. Pyznarski.

Smith, who joined the Marine Corps in 2009 and was still a reserve, is survived by his parents and brother, Pyznarski said.

“He was an excellent police officer and a friend to all of us here. We lost a big part of our family,” Pyznarski said.

Lopez was scheduled for a bond hearing Saturday.

Chicago Tribune’s study finds no safety benefit from red light enforcement cameras

Here is a story from the Chicago Tribune detailing the results of their study into the safety benefits (if any) that have been derived from Chicago’s red light camera enforcement.  It showed that as a result of the cameras, there has been a 22% increase in rear end collisions, and a 15% decrease in T-bone crashes, essentially a wash.  It also found that the City has been overestimating the decrease in T-bone crashes as a way of justifying these cash-cow cameras.