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.

Oscar De La Hoya arrested for DUI

From MSN Sports:

Oscar De La Hoya’s troubled past with substance abuse crept its way to the forefront again early Tuesday morning.

The Hall of Fame boxer and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions was arrested by the California Highway Patrol and charged with two misdemeanors: driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater, according to a police report obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

De La Hoya, 43, was observed speeding in a Land Rover on Del Mar Blvd., west of Arroyo Blvd., in Pasadena, according to police. After he was stopped, the officer detected the odor of alcohol on De La Hoya’s breath. The former four-division champion failed several field sobriety tests and was arrested without incident at 1:57 a.m. PT. De La Hoya was later released from jail to his manager.

Steve Francis arrested for DUI

From the Washington Post:

Former Maryland and NBA star Steve Francis’s weekend arrest on a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge in Houston could be just the beginning of his legal worries. According to KTRK-TV, authorities in Manatee County, Fla., issued a warrant for Francis’s arrest on a burglary charge after hearing about his Texas DUI.

KTRK reports that Francis posted bond on his drunken-driving charge but is now back in Houston police custody because of the Florida charge, which stems from a June incident outside a restaurant in Bradenton.

TMZ has obtained the police report from the Florida incident, in which Francis allegedly asked a bartender at the Cortez Clam Factory for a flashlight on the evening of June 15. Police say he then ransacked a BMW parked outside the restaurant and took $7,252 worth of jewelry, makeup and cash from the car. Francis also, police say, showed up at the station two days later with a clear plastic bag full of the goods and said: “I just robbed somebody. Take me to jail. I’m turning myself in.” He left the station without being charged.

Francis, 39, was pulled over by police in Houston late Saturday night for going 88 mph in a 65-mph zone. Police say Francis smelled of alcohol, refused a sobriety test and was verbally abusive, drawing a felony retaliation charge for threatening a public servant, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The 2000 rookie of the year and three-time all-star played nine NBA seasons after his one standout year at Maryland, last appearing for the Houston Rockets in 2007-08. He averaged 18.1 points, six assists and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Lawyer who donned robes indicted, may still take bench as a real judge soon

Rhonda Crawford, the law clerk who was was running unopposed for judge this November and was allowed to put on a judge’s robes and hear traffic cases as part of an unofficial “training” has been indicted and charged with official misconduct, according to the Tribune.

She is still running in the election, although now she is opposed by write-in candidate Maryam Ahmad.  Assuming that Crawford wins election, she will be sworn in as a judge but will probably be put on administrative duty while this is pending.

AAIM releases 2015 Illinois DUI arrest stats

Every year, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists releases statistics regarding DUI arrests.  Here are some of the numbers:

Top Arresting Departments:

Illinois State Police (statewide): 6,584

Chicago Police:  3,315

Top Cook Suburb:  Cicero:  300 (runner-up Berwyn:  225)

Top DuPage Suburb:  Carol Stream: 464 (runner-up Naperville:  369)

The whole list can be found here:  https://www.aaim1.org/stats_dui.asp

They also produce a list of the “Top Cops” who made the most DUI arrests, which can be found here:  https://www.aaim1.org/stats_topcops.asp  It is interesting to me that the top 5 cops all are stationed in the Chicago area, and they make up 8 of the top 10.  Overall, there were nine Chicago cops who made 100 or more DUI arrests in 2015, as well as another 2 Illinois State Police Officers patrolling the Chicago highways.  Three officers had more than 225 arrests, and one had 310!  Considering that the average officer works less than 250 days of the year, that is at least one DUI arrest per shift.

Task Force Reports highlights problems with IL court fees

I have been a practicing attorney since 1994.  In that time, the cost of filing a civil lawsuit has gone up over 50%, with the additional costs going to fund the court system.

But far worse has been the exponential rise in court costs that are taxed on criminal defendants.  For example, in 1994, a typical Chicago DUI defendant would get a fine in the amount of $200 or $300 plus a $5 “spinal fund fee.”  Over the years, additional fees have been added, supposedly to pay for clerks, state’s attorneys, police, emergency services, etc. In 2016,  a typical defendant in a Chicago case pays an additional $1,339 in costs, in addition to fines.  Since these costs are now so high, they are often not given a “base fine” but still the total fines, fees and costs are over $1,000 more today than they were 20 years ago.  That is an increase of 333%.

It is no coincidence that the rise of these fines began after George H.W. Bush was hammered for breaking his “no new taxes” pledge.  Ever since, politicians in Illinois have found it much easier to raise additional income through regressive fines and sales taxes (probably the biggest increase over the last 20 years has been on cigarette taxes, even though smokers are addicted to the product and the demographics of smokers tend skew towards low income individuals).

These costs are applied regardless of a person’s income, so that they hit hardest on the poor.  Furthermore, the courts are not allowed to waive these costs or allow the defendant to work it off by doing community service.

The Illinois Statutory Court Fee Task Force has issued a report about this growing problem.

In their report they found four key problems:

  1.  The nature and purpose of assessments have changed over time, leading to a byzantine system that attempts to pass an increased share of the cost of court administration onto the parties to court proceedings.
  2. Court fines and fees are constantly increasing and are outpacing inflation
  3. There is excessive variation across the state in the amount of assessments for the same type of proceedings.
  4. The cumulative impact of the assessments imposed on parties to civil lawsuits and defendants in criminal and traffic proceedings imposes severe and disproportionate impacts on low- and moderate-income Illinois residents.

Their recommendations;

  1. The Illinois General Assembly should enact a schedule for court assessments that promotes affordability and transparency.
  2. The General Assembly and the Supreme Court should authorize amendments to the current civil fee waiver statute and related Supreme Court Rule, respectively, to provide financial relief from assessments in civil cases to Illinois residents living in or near poverty.
  3. The General Assembly should authorize a uniform assessment schedule for criminal and traffic case types that is consistent throughout the state.
  4. The General Assembly and the Supreme Court should authorize the waiver or reduction of assessments, but not judicial fines, imposed on criminal defendants living in or near poverty.
  5. The General Assembly and the Supreme Court should modify the process by which fines for minor traffic offenses are calculated under Supreme Court Rule 529.
  6. The General Assembly should routinely consult a checklist of important considerations before proposing new assessments, and should periodically consult the checklist in reviewing existing assessments.

I hope the legislature gives the Task Force’s report due consideration and implements their suggestions.