Thursday, April 26, 2012

Worried that people getting arrested for DUI just won't learn their lesson? Don't.

According to the Illinois Secretary of State 2012 DUI FactBook, 85% of all people arrested for DUI in Illinois in 2010 were first-time offenders. Also according to the report, 3,440 motorists resulted in revocations after their second offense, 866 for their third, and 436 for their fourth or later (a revocation only occurs after a conviction, and does so automatically). The overall number of DUI arrests has decreased annually from 2008 through 2010 as well.

Unless police simply aren't arresting as many people for some reason, it would appear that Illinois' efforts at preventing recidivism, or the tendency to re-offend, are largely effective.

In Illinois, motorists charged with DUI for the first time are generally eligible for a special one-time chance to dispose of their case via a sentence of Court Supervision. After a finding of guilty, whether after trial or plea of guilty, a defendant can avoid a conviction and jail as long as they comply with certain conditions. This is no free ride - there are significant fines, alcohol education classes and treatment are required, and a criminal record remains forever.  The Court also requires a VIP or victim impact panel run by MADD, and can require significant community service, random alcohol testing and other conditions.

Consistent with the Secretary of State's previous reports on the issues I've written about, the cost of a DUI remains extremely high, and the Secretary of State still pegs the estimated cost of a first DUI at over $16,000.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grayslake police chief charged with DUI - refused all testing. Wonder why?

The Grayslake Illinois police Chief  was charged with drunk driving after a Wisconsin crash Friday. In a wise move that will be no surprise to anyone knowledgable about DUI law and enforcement, the Chief refused to submit to any field sobriety testing, refused medical treatment (which potentially includes blood and urine testing) and refused an evidentiary or forensic blood testing.

Why do this?

Naturally, people tend to think the police live by their famous motto of "To Protect and Serve," and that's certainly usually part of the mix. That said, in the matter of DUI, it's a bit more like "To Investigate and Arrest".

The tests aren't really a chance to prove you're not under the influence of alcohol. They're really to help support the officer's decision to arrest. And by the time you're doing the tests, most officers have already made that decision.

How do I know this? Let's take a short trip down Logic Lane.

One field sobriety test is the Heel-Toe or Walk-and-Turn test. "Failure" of this test occurs when any two "clues" are observed. Clues include things like leaving more than a one inch gap between feet, raising arms at any time more than 6" away from the body, stepping off an imaginary line. There are a total of 18 steps in either direction. So if on one out of eighteen steps, you leave a two inch gap between steps and also raise your arms 6.5" (in the officer's eagle-eyed estimation) you've failed, despite walking the other 17 steps just fine. In any school in the world, 17/18 is an "A", but not here.

Now you can begin to understand why the Chief, who of course knows all of this, refused testing.