Carol Stream Police to begin using new Drugged Driving Detection test

The Carol Stream Police Department is about to begin trying out a new drugged driver detection device, called the PIA2, which is made by Protzek (I’ve never heard of them before, but you have to wonder about their accuracy when their materials misspell the word “saliva”).

From the Chicago Tribune:

…the device that Carol Stream police plan to test, called P.I.A.2 , gives measurements for the amount of drugs present.

That’s important, because while Illinois used to define impairment as having any amount of cannabis or other controlled substance in the body, last year lawmakers raised that minimum threshold to 5 nanograms per milliliter in the blood, and 10 ng/mL in other bodily fluids.

But the Illinois State Police crime laboratory is not certified to give such precise measurements, and local police agencies say it can take months to process a request. Therefore, police sometimes send samples to private labs, which can be quicker but also costlier.

That’s where the new field test comes in. For drivers who submit to a blood draw, Carol Stream police plan to ask them also to volunteer for the mouth swab, not for use in court, but simply to compare its accuracy to the lab test. The department plans to conduct at least 100 comparisons over the next year, beginning around March.

Testing devices can cost $3,000 to $6,000, but the manufacturer of the unit in question, a German company called Protzek, will provide it for free to the village. Officials claim its accuracy is comparable to state-of-the-art laboratory techniques.

Len Jonker, president of Judicial Testing Systems, the distributor for Protzek here, said he is in talks about supplying the device to other law enforcement agencies in Illinois as well.

The tests have been challenged in some state courts but have been upheld as a preliminary step to establish probable cause to make an arrest, according to the National District Attorneys Association.

Still, the tests cannot yet be used as conclusive evidence in court, and still require a blood draw for confirmation, the prosecutors reported.

Dan Linn, executive director of the marijuana advocacy group Illinois NORML, said he welcomes the test for accuracy.

“We advocate for legalizing cannabis, but that does not mean we advocate people driving impaired by cannabis,” he said. “The bigger question is, who is driving impaired, and who just has cannabis in their systems.”

Illinois law has zero tolerance for driving on controlled substances other than marijuana, meaning any amount is enough to convict someone of DUI.

Yet unlike alcohol, which has been shown to cause impairment at a blood alcohol level of 0.08, no numeric levels have been established to show impairment from various drugs, because their effects vary so widely from person to person, depending in part on the user’s tolerance.

That’s why Linn believes it’s better to have trained police officers try to assess from direct observations whether a driver is impaired.

Police and prosecutors agree, and for that reason call for more training of officers as drug recognition experts, or DREs. While the standard field sobriety test — where drivers are asked to walk in a straight line and turn around, stand on one leg and close their eyes and touch their nose — was designed primarily to detect the influence of alcohol, the DRE test uses more subtle signs to try to detect drugs.

Dilated or constricted pupils, incomplete or repetitive speech, tremors in the eyelids or hands, odors, high pulse or body temperature, nervousness or lack of inhibition may all be considered signs of impairment from various drugs.

Processing a DUI arrest is time-consuming, and the new law that set the cannabis intoxication standard on driving under the influence states that police must take a blood sample within two hours. Police say that’s often impractical or impossible, especially in rural areas far from a hospital.

That’s why interest is so high in finding a quick technological fix.

Read the entire story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/ct-met-police-drug-driving-test-20171205-story.html

 

Collision results in DUI arrests for both drivers

From the Chicago Tribune (Clifford Ward reporting):

Both drivers were under the influence of alcohol when their cars collided in Oakbrook Terrace on Sunday, according to DuPage County prosecutors.

Authorities said Sean Maroney, a 20-year-old Ohio resident, was driving into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of Roosevelt Road when he crashed head-on into a car driven by a Lombard woman.

Maroney was charged with felony aggravated DUI and on Wednesday was ordered held in lieu of $150,000 bond by Judge Michael Reidy, prosecutors said.

Maroney and the driver of the other car, Molly Paige, 25, were taken to a hospital for treatment, as were Paige’s three passengers, though prosecutors say no one suffered life-threatening injuries. After an investigation, Paige was charged with a misdemeanor count of DUI, officials said.

Read the entire story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-dui-crash-both-drivers-charged-met-20170830-story.html

Elmhurst Police to conduct Roadside Safety Checks Saturday night

From the Patch:

On Saturday, Aug. 12, a roadside safety checkpoint will take place on a major roadway in Elmhurst, according to the release. The safety checkpoint will begin at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night and continue until 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. During the safety checkpoint, vehicles will be stopped at a predetermined interval and checked for violations.

Beware of anyone who promises to “fix” a case

This summer, I’ve been reading a couple of first hand accounts of the Greylord scandal (one by Assistant State’s Attorney Terrence Hake, the other by retired Judge Brockton Lockwood, both of whom went under undercover to expose court corruption).  So when I saw a story about a family that paid out $13,000 to a supposed fixer who was going to get their son’s two old DUI cases expunged and arrange for a 90 day sentence on his current case, I cringed.

(While I’m linking to books about the Greylord scandal, let me add a third book, by  reporters James Tuohy and Rob Warden.  All three of these books are worth reading, and since they each come at the same story from different angles, they are complementary to one another and can be read in tandem.).

According to the Daily Herald:

An elderly Glendale Heights couple is out $13,000 and their neighbor is behind bars, accused of deceiving them with promises of fixing a court case involving their son.

Joseph LaPuma, 66, of the 1000 block of Michael Court, is charged with theft by deception and is being held in DuPage County jail on $100,000 bail, according to court records.

LaPuma, the ex-husband of a DuPage County deputy clerk, said he could expunge previous DUI convictions of Joseph Ricchetti, 41, of Elmhurst and influence a pending aggravated DUI charge so that Ricchetti would serve 90 days in a rehabilitation facility, a substantially less severe punishment than he was facing…

LaPuma told the Ricchettis he had a connection through his ex-wife, whom he still lived with, to access the court documents…

Dewey Hartman, chief deputy circuit court clerk, said Wednesday neither LaPuma nor his ex-wife were capable of following through with LaPuma’s claims.

“The ex-wife does work for us, but she does not work in the criminal area of our office. She works in the civil division. As to him or her having access to any information that would provide (those services), the answer is no,” Hartman said. “Certainly he would not have had any access to anything. Nor would she. Our systems are very secure with the users and transactions capabilities that the individuals have on various case types. None of those things (promised by LaPuma) would have been possible.”

They had a term for the type of scam that LaPluma tried to pull off back in the Greylord days.  They called it “rainmaking.”  Rainmaking was when someone took money which was supposed to be used to bribe a Judge or a cop to fix a case but in fact the go- between had no intention of passing along the money, instead pocketing it for himself.  The rainmaker usually knew (or hoped) that the hoped for result was likely going to happen anyway, and took advantage of a defendant who was willing to pay for a “guaranteed result.”  If things didn’t work out as expected, the rainmaker could always explain it away, saying something like “the judge felt that there was too much attention being paid to this case” or give some other excuse.

Back before the Greylord scandal, corruption was endemic, particularly in Cook County. People did not have faith in the fairness of our legal system. Thanks to the efforts of people like ASA Hake and Judge Lockwood, the system has been cleaned up.  I began practicing law shortly after the Greylord reforms took place, and I am happy that I have never had to practice in such a system.  Thankfully, the system is such that this “fixer’s claims were bogus and just a scam.  The possibility that their son would get a multi-year prison sentence obviously upset these parents so much that they fell prey to a con artist.  I feel sympathy for their plight, but they were also breaking the law.  The last thing we need is to allow even the appearance of impropriety to cast any shadow over the integrity of our Clerks, Bailiffs, Police, Attorneys or Judges.

If anyone approaches you with such an offer, do not accept it.  Instead, report it!

Man charged with DUI after stopped for driving with tree embedded into hood of car

From the Roselle, Illinois Police Department’s Facebook page:

A few weeks ago, a Roselle police officer saw a car driving southbound on Roselle Road with a 15-foot tree embedded in the front grill of the car. After stopping the driver, he also noticed the airbags had been deployed (apparently from hitting the tree). After an investigation, the Roselle officer arrested the driver for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol.

Yet another reason why you should not drink and drive!

DuPage Board Member Grant Eckhoff charged with DUI

From the Daily Herald (reported by Robert Sanchez):

A longtime DuPage County Board member, Grant Eckhoff, is facing a DUI charge after a traffic stop outside his Wheaton home.

Eckhoff, 55, of the 200 block of North Erie Street, was charged with one count of DUI and operating an uninsured motor vehicle, according to a Wheaton Police Department report.

Eckhoff was arrested around 8:30 p.m. March 2 at his home address, according to the report.

“He was, in fact, stopped in his own driveway,” Eckhoff’s attorney, Harry Smith, said. “He had a very calm interaction with the Wheaton Police Department. So there was nothing extraordinary or aggravated about the circumstance.”

Eckhoff declined to comment Wednesday and referred all questions to his attorney. Smith said his client might issue a statement after the case is resolved.

Smith said Eckhoff is planning to plead innocent to the DUI charge. He also said Eckhoff has automotive insurance but didn’t have a valid insurance card with him.

Eckhoff, a Republican, serves as chairman of the county board’s judicial and public safety committee.

I wonder how the experience of being arrested in his own driveway will affect Mr. Eckhoff’s future thoughts about heavy-handed police tactics and DUI enforcement.

My rebuttal to the Tribune’s article about DUI plea deals

There was an article this weekend in the Chicago Tribune, decrying the tendency of some prosecutors (mainly village prosecutors in DuPage County) to agree to rescind the mandatory license suspension that comes with most DUI cases, in return for a plea on the underlying DUI case.

In my opinion, the article was one-sided and made “compromise” sound like a dirty word.

So, why should prosecutors make such deals?

1.  To avoid losing cases.  In a DUI case, the state has the burden of proving that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol beyond a reasonable doubt.  In many cases, the only evidence to support a DUI conviction is the arresting officer’s opinion that the defendant was intoxicated, which, however educated, is still just an opinion.  However, the license suspension will be upheld unless the defendant can show that the officer did not have even a reasonable suspicion that the defendant was under the influence.  That is a significantly lower threshhold than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Many cases fall between the two standards of proof.  The plea for rescission deal can be an incentive to get a defendant to plea without a trial, or other pre-trial motions.

When prosecutors agree to a “rescind suspension for plea” deal, they are taking a risk in giving a defendant his license back.  But they are also getting the certainty that the person will plead guilty, and be required to undergo alcohol treatment.  If that person gets a subsequent DUI, now he will be subject to a heightened penalty.  If they went to trial and lost, none of this would happen.

The defendant is taking a gamble that he or she will never get arrested for DUI again. If the gamble turns out wrong and he or she is arrested again, that prior DUI on his or her record will lead to a significantly harsher sentence on the new case.

2.  To avoid a backlog of cases.  Our courtrooms are backed up, especially in DuPage.  In DuPage, the judge will go through the “trial call” in the morning.  Usually, due to volume, most of the cases are continued until the afternoon, or even the following day or month.  If suddenly another 20% of the summary suspension and DUI hearings went to hearing, the system would break down.

I have seen this happen before.  From time to time, to show how tough they are on DUIs, prosecutors will not agree to any deals.  This means cases that should have been dropped or worked out instead go to trial.  As a result, a courtroom full of defendants, police, witnesses and attorneys will be sitting waiting for all the trials ahead of the them to conclude.  The officers are getting paid overtime while they wait, so this can be a big burden for small municipalities.  And, oftentimes, those witnesses or police officers will have left the building by the time their case is called for trial.

3.  There isn’t much else to bargain with in a DUI case.  Most DUI sentences are set by law; there is mandatory alcohol treatment, fines, victim impact panels and (in some cases) community service and/or jail.  The summary suspension is the biggest bargaining chip that a prosecutor has to induce a defendant to plead guilty.

4.  For fairness.  These laws do not affect everyone equally.  Some people have jobs that require that they drive.  Some people have family members that they have to take care of.  Some people have CDLs and a DUI suspension will mean a one year disqualification of that license.

A plea for rescission deal can allow these people to drive while still requiring them to do alcohol treatment, pay hefty fines, follow the law and/or whatever else is part of the plea deal.

5. Because our state government hasn’t acted.  Our summary suspension law has a provision that says that the driving permit will not be effective until after 30 days of suspension.  The reason for this law, when created, was to get drunks off the road for a period of time before allowing them back with a restricted license.  The rationale for this 30 day “hard time” rule evaporated once Illinois required installation of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) as part of the permit. With the BAIID, you can’t drive drunk.  So why do we still have a 30 day hard time period?  Simply, put, government inertia.  It had been required under a Federal Highway appropriations bill, but Congress removed this provision once states began requiring BAIIDs. But Illinois has yet to amend their law.

For someone who must drive for work, this 30 day period means that he or she may lose their job and health benefits, and not be able to support their families.  It is reasonable that a prosecutor can see the injustice of this law and see no point in turning a first offender into an unemployed person whose children need goverment aid to get by.

6.  Yes, to raise money.  Yes, the Tribune article emphasizes that local prosecutors will often require a larger than usual fine in return for a plea for rescission deal.  Well, it should not be surprising to anyone that municipalities see DUIs as a money-making opportunity.  With each DUI, they charge a large impoundment fee, receive court fines, and become eligible for federal funding (See here and here).  Instead of a reinstatement fee that goes to the Secretary of State, or BAIID fees that go to private companies, these towns would like to see the money flow towards them.  I don’t see what is wrong with that.  Would the Tribune prefer that everyone pay higher taxes instead?