DUI News Roundup

Here are links to some news stories that I have seen over the past few days, most of which are updates to stories that I have already blogged about.  If you are following me on twitter, you may have already seen these links:

Surveillance Video Could Alter Result in San Hamel case

John Greenfield on Streetblogs Chicago reports that surveillance video has been obtained by Cook County State’s Attorneys, showing the fatal collision between the vehicle driven by Ryne San Hamel and bicyclist Bobby Cann.  If what is reported is true, it may be helpful to San Hamel’s defense.

According to the blog post, the accident occurred in the intersection of Clybourn and Larrabee, and may show that Hamel had the right of way.

The aggravated DUI statute states that a person commits aggravated DUI involving death if he or she has committed a DUI which caused the death of another, if the drunk driving was the proximate cause of the death625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(F).

Thus, if it can be shown that Cann entered the intersection in violation of traffic control lights, and that his negligence was the proximate cause of the collision, then San Hamel is only guilty of a misdemeanor DUI.  However, going through a red light is not necessarily the proximate cause of the crash — prosecutors can argue that San Hamel was intoxicated, was driving too fast for conditions and that as a result, he was unable to react quickly enough to avoid the collision.

I will post more as information becomes available.


Some thoughts on the Reader’s article about Bobby Cann and Ryne San Hamel

Here is a link to “Death of a Cyclist,” a detailed article by Keith Griffith in the Chicago Reader about the lives of Bobby Cann and Ryne San Hamel.  Cann is the bicyclist who was (allegedly) killed earlier this year in a collision with a vehicle driven by San Hamel.  Hamel has been charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI.

This was a horrible tragedy, but I take issue with Griffith’s claim that we have a broken system when it comes to DUIs in Illinois.

The article states when he was 18 Hamel was arrested for zero tolerance and when he was 19 he was arrested for a DUI.  The “charges were ultimately dismissed, which is the norm in Illinois for DUI defendants who can afford a private attorney.”   A few paragraphs below, the article states that “In Illinois, fewer than a third of DUI arrests ended in conviction in 2011, the most recent year reported. Most cases end up under court supervision, an option unique to Illinois. If an offender successfully completes the court supervision period, the case is dismissed and the charges dropped.”

In other words, when Griffith says the norm is dismissal, he means that the norm is supervision.

So what does this mean? According to the Secretary of State, 29% of DUIs result in convictions and 66% result in supervision (a disposition only available for first time offenders).  Only 5% of cases fit into “other” which I assume means either not guilty, reduced to a lesser charge or some other type of dismissal.

So this means that in Illinois, the prosecution wins 95% of the time in DUI cases!

Now it is true that supervision, upon successful completion, is a dismissal under Illinois law.  However, it is not truly a “dismissal” considering that the typical person sentenced to supervision gets a record, pays thousands of dollars in court fines, monitoring fees, alcohol treatment costs, plus has to do alcohol treatment and often must perform community service.  The Secretary of State’s fact book puts the cost of a DUI at $16,580.  That will put the average DUI offender at or near bankruptcy.  Plus, a DUI supervision cannot be expunged, will affect job opportunities and will remain on a record that police, prosecutors and the Secretary of State can access.

Another claim that the article makes is that “it seems one key to getting off easy is being arrested in the suburbs… In plea deals, village attorneys can reduce charges or overturn license suspensions in exchange for adding hefty fines, [Cathy] Stanley [court watch director for the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists] says. Prosecutors in the state’s attorney’s office, by contrast, ‘work much harder getting convictions.’”

In my opinion, this claim is vastly overrated, particularly in Lake County, where most of the private village prosecutions are handled by just a few attorneys who are under great pressure to aggressively prosecute DUI cases, and deals for fines are rare.  Even when they occur, it is because the underlying case is weak, something the Alliance will never concede.

The article quotes DUI defense attorney Don Ramsell, whose practice is mainly in DuPage County, where these sorts of deals are more prevalent.

The article complains about a “broken system” but doesn’t have any solutions.  According to the Secretary of State 85% of DUIs are committed by first offendersThe number of recidivists are small.  The system is working.

Does the Reader want to change a system that keeps most first offenders from repeating the offense?  Do we really want to send every first offender to jail?  Would that do anything?  Or is this just sensationalist journalism?

City names street after bicyclist killed by “AllYouCanDrink.com” Driver

Photo from DNAinfo.com

Photo from DNAinfo.com

Today, the City of Chicago named the intersection of Clybourn and Larrabee as “Honorary Bobby Cann Way” as a tribute to the bicycle safety activist who was struck and killed by a motor vehicle this past June.  The driver of that vehicle, Ryne San Hamel, the co-founder of “allyoucandrink.com” was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI.  The case is still pending.

“AllYouCanDrink.com” partner kills bicyclist in alleged DUI crash

hamelLast Wednesday at 6:30 p..m., Ryne San Hamel, who, according to his LinkedIn profile is a partner in allyoucandrink.com, allegedly struck and killed bicyclist and Groupon employee Robert Cann.

From Tanveer Ali of DNA Info Chicago:

COOK COUNTY COURTHOUSE — Ryne San Hamel had a blood-alcohol content of .127 when he struck and killed a Chicago cyclist Wednesday evening, prosecutors said Saturday.

San Hamel, charged with reckless homicide and driving under the influence, was ordered held on $100,000 bond Saturday.

Police said San Hamel, 28, of Park Ridge, hit cyclist Bobby Cann with his Mercedes as they were both traveling south on North Clybourn Avenue near North Larrabee Street Wednesday night. Cann was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Prosecutors said San Hamel was legally drunk and driving at least 20 miles over the posted 30 MPH speed limit.

San Hamel had failed a sobriety test at the scene and refused to take a breathalyzer test, prosecutors said.

Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil ordered that his passport be held.

According to his LinkedIn profile, San Hamel is a partner in a business called AllYouCanDrink.com, which is billed as the “largest online directory for nightlife and entertainment anywhere on the planet.”

Cann, a Lakeview resident from New Hampshire, was an avid cyclist, who rode his bike to his job at Groupon. He was involved in Critical Mass, the bicycle advocacy group, which rode in his memory Friday night.

San Hamel’s next court date is Monday.