Update: man charged with Aggravated DUI, Joliet Police Officer charged with misdemeanor DUI in fatal crash that cost life of Berwyn Officer

Third update:  it appears that there was a chain reaction involving multiple vehicles.  According to the Sun-Times:

A man faces DUI charges in a crash Sunday on Interstate 55 that ultimately led to another collision, resulting in the death of a Berwyn police officer.

Rodrigo Marin, 42, is charged with two counts of aggravated DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to render aid, driving without valid insurance and driving on a revoked license, according to Illinois State Police. He was also cited for failure to reduce speed and improper lane usage.

Marin was driving a 2006 Nissan Titan about 6 a.m. on I-55 when he lost control and crossed into another lane, striking the left side of a 2008 Hino Box truck driven by a 44-year-old man, state police said.

Both vehicles came to a stop in the right two lanes, and Marin allegedly ran off from the crash, state police said.

While the vehicles were blocking the lanes, a Dodge Durango slammed into the box truck, state police said.

Earlier stories focused on the driver of the vehicle in which the Berwyn officer was a passenger.  That driver is a Joliet police officer, who was charged with misdemeanor DUI.

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Joliet police officer faces drunken driving charges after a Berwyn police officer who was a passenger in her car died in a crash Sunday morning on Interstate 55 in Plainfield Township, officials said.

Charles “Chuck” Schauer, 33, who died as a result of the crash around 6 a.m., had been a 10-year veteran of the Berwyn Police Department, according to a statement from the agency. Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero announced Schauer’s death in a post on social media, referring to his death as a “tragic traffic accident.”

“Please keep Officer Schauer’s family and friends, as well as all Berwyn police officers in your thoughts and prayers during this time of grief,” he wrote.

Erin Zilka, 35, of Plainfield, faces a charge of driving under the influence, according to Illinois State police. Joliet police released a statement Monday saying that Zilka, “a 12-year veteran, was involved in an off-duty vehicle crash on I-55 near Route 30 where her passenger was tragically killed.”

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Zilka’s attorney, Jeff Tomczak, said her blood-alcohol test came up under the legal limit, but declined to specify the number. He said Zilka was friends with Schauer, and was in “a really bad way.”

“She’s absolutely devastated to a degree I can’t express verbally,” Tomczak said.

He said Zilka “came upon” an earlier accident in a “darkened” part of the road before crashing.

Zilka has been an officer with Joliet police for 6 years, and had served in Shorewood for another 6 years, Tomczak said. He said she is due in court March 18.

Zilka, of Plainfield, was also cited for driving too fast for conditions, state police said.

Driving Instructor nearly 4 times legal limit strikes High School Principal during lesson

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A Germantown driver’s education instructor was arrested for driving drunk while giving a driving lesson Jan. 6.

During the lesson, instructor Corey J. Malone backed into a swinging metal gate, which then struck high school principal Joel Farren, according to Germantown police.

Police found Malone in the office of Just Drive driver’s education office in Germantown, where he was arrested.

Malone was cited for OWI and driving with a prohibited alcohol content, according to the police report. A preliminary breath test indicated his blood alcohol content was over 0.32, more than four times the legal limit.

Farren suffered only minor injuries in the incident. A student who was in the car with Malone was not injured.

Read the entire story here:  https://www.jsonline.com/story/communities/northwest/news/germantown/2020/01/10/germantown-driving-instructor-arrested-giving-driving-lesson-drunk/4424523002/

Illinois ranks 49th in nation in DUI arrest rates, arrests down 30% over last 10 years

According to a new study by US Drug Test Centers, Illinois now ranks 49th in the nation in terms of DUI arrest by population.  Also, the total DUI arrest rate has dropped over 30% in the last 10 years.

However, it is unclear whether that drop has come because of lax traffic enforcement or alternatively, because less people are driving drunk due to tougher DUI laws.  Or it might be some other factor such as the rise of UBER and LYFT.  Most of the states in the top ten of DUI arrest rate by population (both Dakotas, Wyoming and Alaska for example) are spread out and don’t have much public transportation.  In a denser state like Illinois, it is a lot easier for a person to  walk, bike, use public transportation, a cab or ride-sharing to get back home after a night out drinking.  Overall, DUI arrests have fallen by 35% across the United States, so the drop in Illinois isn’t especially remarkable.

From the Patch:

A well-established national drug testing company recently published a comprehensive ranking of the states according to the rates of drunken driving, and Illinois finished near the bottom of the list.

The findings were based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Transportation and FBI crime reports.

Illinois ranked 49 overall for drunken driving rates in 2018, with 98.6 DUI-related arrests per 100,000 people.

Other metrics cited in the report showed our state has:

  • Short-term rate change in DUI arrest rate: -22.4 percent change from 2014-2018
  • Long-term rate change in DUI arrest rate: -30.3 percent change from 2009-2018

In the 10-year span from 2009 to 2018, Illinois peaked in 2012 with 146.54 arrests for every 100,000 people.

The United States overall has seen the population-adjusted rate of drunken driving arrests fall by more than 35 percent since 2009. Only three states — Delaware, Washington and North Dakota — recorded an increase in DUI arrests from 2009 to 2018.

Utah’s new 0.05 BAC DUI law to go into effect December 30

From Fox News:

Utah is set to implement the strictest DUI law in the nation – just in time for New Year’s.

The new law, which takes effect on Dec. 30, lowers the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to .05 from .08 – the national limit imposed by former President Bill Clinton…

The state legislature approved the change in 2017 before it was signed into law by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert.

“That’s the mandate to law enforcement: You see someone driving impaired, you pull them over,” Herbert said earlier this year. “We’re not saying people can’t drink. You can certainly drink, and you can drink until your eyes bug out if you want. We’re just saying don’t’ drive and drink.”

A BAC of .05 percent typically results in about three alcoholic drinks for a 160-pound man, according to the CDC. Effects can include lowered alertness, exaggerated behavior and a “usually good feeling,” the CDC said. As for driving, people with a .05 percent BAC could have reduced coordination or difficulty steering…

Already, Utah has seen an uptick in people relying on ride-share programs, according to Highway Patrol Lt. Col. Mark Zesiger. He told The Salt Lake Tribune many people didn’t realize the law had a delayed implementation and assumed it went into effect immediately after the state legislature approved it.

“Our DUI squad definitely saw right after the law was passed an increase in the number of people who were using ride-share programs,” Zesiger said. “That’s a good thing; we’ll take that.”

Law enforcement officials are instructed to “make arrests based on observed impairment” rather than a “predetermined BAC level,” according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Zesiger said all officers have been retrained in field sobriety “to make sure … they do meets standards.”

Read the entire story here:  https://www.foxnews.com/us/utahs-new-dui-law-strictest-in-the-nation-set-to-be-implemented-ahead-of-new-years-eve

Driving Under the Influence … of Caffeine?

coffee_to_go-resized-600

A California man has been charged with “driving under the influence” of caffeine.  You can read the full story at the Guardian’s website by clicking here.

The charge is odd for a number of reasons.  The man was originally stopped based on reports that he had driven erratically.  He took a breath test, which resulted in a 0.00 BAC.  A blood test was taken, which came back negative for drugs.  A second blood test showed only positive for caffeine.  Nevertheless, the Solano County District Attorney charged him with DUI.  The case is set for trial next month.

It is kind of odd that at the same time that we are seeing an increase in concern about drowsy driving, that we would see a prosecution for caffeinated driving.

Could this happen in Illinois?  The Illinois DUI statute states:

Sec. 11-501. Driving while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds or any combination thereof.
    (a) A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State while:
        (1) the alcohol concentration in the person's blood,
    
other bodily substance, or breath is 0.08 or more based on the definition of blood and breath units in Section 11-501.2;
        (2) under the influence of alcohol;
        (3) under the influence of any intoxicating compound
    
or combination of intoxicating compounds to a degree that renders the person incapable of driving safely;
        (4) under the influence of any other drug or
    
combination of drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving;
        (5) under the combined influence of alcohol, other
    
drug or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving;
        (6) there is any amount of a drug, substance, or
    
compound in the person's breath, blood, other bodily substance, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of a controlled substance listed in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, an intoxicating compound listed in the Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act, or methamphetamine as listed in the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act; or
        (7) the person has, within 2 hours of driving or
    
being in actual physical control of a vehicle, a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration in the person's whole blood or other bodily substance as defined in paragraph 6 of subsection (a) of Section 11-501.2 of this Code. Subject to all other requirements and provisions under this Section, this paragraph (7) does not apply to the lawful consumption of cannabis by a qualifying patient licensed under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act who is in possession of a valid registry card issued under that Act, unless that person is impaired by the use of cannabis.

I do not see how a similar prosecution could proceed in Illinois, unless the State could convince a judge that caffeine is an “intoxicating compound.”  Does making a person jittery equal “intoxicating?”  I don’t think so, but I can’t rule out that a judge would think differently.

What do you think?

Update:  The Prosecutor has decided to drop the case

 

Driving Drunk is Dangerous Enough, Don’t do it While Doing Topless Snapchats as well!

miranda-rader

Here is a story about a college student who not only was alleged to have drove while intoxicated, she also was attempting to do a topless snapchat at the same time.

This didn’t work out too well for her.  She crashed into a squad car.

At least no one was injured.

Read the story here:  http://abc7chicago.com/news/cops-college-student-crashes-into-patrol-car-after-attempting-topless-snapchat/1576058/

Feds release flawed report stating that drunk driving is down, drugged driving is up

First, here is the key quote from a story in today’s Chicago Tribune:

There are fewer drunk drivers on the road, but their place has been taken by people high on marijuana and prescription drugs, according to two reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The number of inebriated drivers has declined by almost a third since 2007, but in a 2014 survey nearly 1 in 4 on the road tested positive for a drug that endangered them or others, NHTSA said.

“The latest roadside survey raises significant questions about drug use and highway safety,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “The rising prevalence of marijuana and other drugs is a challenge to everyone who is dedicated to saving lives and reducing crashes.”

The survey is a voluntary, anonymous effort to collect information from regions across the country. Road signs tell drivers that a data-collection site is ahead of them, and those who wish to participate pull over. The survey has been taken five times in the past 40 years.

The 2014 survey found that about 8 percent of people on the road on weekend nights had alcohol in their system, and slightly more than 1 percent were above the legal limit. That was 30 percent below the 2007 figure, NHTSA said, and an 80 percent drop since the first survey was taken in 1973.

But the number of people with drugs in their system was found to be on the rise. It jumped from 16.3 percent in 2007 to 20 percent of weekend nighttime drivers in 2014. Drivers with marijuana in their system soared by almost 50 percent.

So why do I say that this study is flawed?  Because it equates the mere presence of drugs in one’s system with impairment, which is untrue.  A person could smoke marijuana and test positive for it a month later.  So all this study is showing is that more people are driving around with the residue of drugs in their system, not that they are necessarily driving while impaired from narcotics.