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Traffic Ticket

You only have to read this article to see why DUI law gets tougher but not any more effective.

I have reposted the article here because I am sure the link will die, and it will make it easier to look closely at why our system is broken and will never be fixed.

(My comments are in ITALICS.)

By Seth A. Richardson, State Capitol Bureau

The Senate passed a bill Tuesday expanding in-car blood-alcohol monitoring devices for people convicted multiple times of driving under the influence.
House Bill 3533 would require DUI offenders with at least two convictions to submit to the breath-alcohol interlock ignition device, or BAIID, program for at least five years before their licenses could be reinstated.

(See how our legislature is missing the boat by requiring someone with at least two convictions to have the BAIID?  A driver doesn’t usually get their second DUI conviction until their fourth DUI (unless of course they are in a strict jurisdiction), so this law starts out by skipping 90% of the DUI cases.)
Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, originally sponsored the bill in the House. Her opponent in the November election, Joel Mains, brought the legislation to Wheeler’s attention.

(Every piece of terrible legislation must start with a tragedy.  The logic is that because something horrible happened to someone somewhere, we have to change the rules for all of us.  In this case, a guy gets drunk, drives, kills a teenager with a car, gets prison, gets out and then crashes his car again while DUI, because of course he does.)
A drunken driver killed Mains’ stepdaughter, Caitlin Weese, in 2003, one week before her high school graduation. The driver, James Stitt, sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison before being paroled in 2009. His license was reinstated in 2013.

(The article fails to mention that in order to get his license back he had to complete alcohol counseling and go the the Secretary of State to get his license reinstated; not an easy task.  But, he did everything they asked of him, except stop drinking and driving, so he could make a story where we can all hate the evil that was done.)
Two weeks after the November election, a detective informed Mains that Stitt was arrested again for crashing into several cars while drunk.

(What you are not supposed to ask is:  How did not having a BAIID device stop this guy from crashing into several cars?  Because the answer is: it didn’t.)

The bill passed by a 55-0 vote in the Senate. Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, worked closely with Mains and Wheeler.

(And, of course the bill passed by a 55-0 vote because no one dare question the terribleness of the tragedy.  Of course the terribleness of the tragedy has nothing to do with the law, but you’re supposed to forget that, remember?)

She said the bill was proof Democrats and Republicans can work together.
“We’re just pleased that we can bring initiatives like this forward,” she said. “It can really make a difference.”

(Yes, Democrats and Republicans can work together when they are passing a law which does not solve the problem for which it was written, perfect.)
The BAIID program began in 1994 and was expanded in 2009 to include summary suspensions for first-time DUI offenders. Alcohol-related DUI cases handled by the Illinois State Police have decreased every year since the expansion, from 7,261 in 2009 to 5,014 in 2014.

(There was a bit of magic that just happened here.  Did you see it.  The number of DUI cases is down.  It was actually reduced by high gas prices and a ban on smoking in bars, however the Illinois State Police are happy to associate it with the BAIID device, because showing government programs work is important — for people who work for the government.)

The bill now moves to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.

*    *    *

Lest you think that I am attacking the poorly written DUI code without proposing a solution.  I proposed a solution here.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, IL.

How $500 ended the world

I received an email from a poor fellow that got on the wrong end of a DUI stop.  He seemed to have an answer for everything that was wrong with the stop.  I mean literally everything.  He wrote over 160 pages of rebuttal of the stop.  He claimed that DUI enforcement is some sort of money making machine.

While I would be the first one to agree that DUI enforcement is sloppy and misguided, the problem with the “DUI business” model is that it doesn’t make money.  For example let’s say you are a small city like Spring Grove, IL or Harvard, IL.  According to AAIM statistics if you are Spring Grove you write 55 DUIs in 2013, 27 if you are Harvard Illinois.

Let’s imagine that only 4 of your cases go to jury trial.  The average cost of a (2-3 day)DUI jury trial to a small municipality is $4,000.  So you spend $16,000 on jury trials per city ($32,000 total).  Both cities combined write 82 DUIs.  To write these DUIs both cities combined employ 27 officers.  If you get $1,500 per DUI (which you don’t)  the total DUI money is $123,000, minus how much you paid for jury trials ($32,000), minus the amount you paid your prosecutor (I will guess $2,000 per month for each city, $48,000), means you net $43,000.

You have 27 officers, who you presumably pay to be police officers, divided by $43,000, means that DUI enforcement pays you $1,593 per officer per year.  I have not counted cases that get dismissed because there is not enough evidence, the cars and the gas required to keep the patrols on the road, or officer overtime waiting for hearings or trials to start.  The rumor is that officers get 3 hours overtime per hearing.

If there were a hearing for each of the 82 DUIs that would be 246 hours of overtime paid.  I do not know how much officer overtime is but a conservative guess would be $25/hr.  So the total for overtime would cut another $6,150 off of the $43,000, leaving you with $36,850.

I am pretty sure the salary for one of the 27 officers exceeds the $36,850.

So as a business model, DUI enforcement as a way to make money doesn’t do very well

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, IL.

Tank Window

Recently Kansas has passed a law that you don’t need anything to carry a concealed weapon.  Contrast that with Illinois where you need a FOID (Firearm Owners Identification Card), a concealed carry permit (which requires that you take a gun safety class, prove proficiency with the weapon and register) and still you can’t carry a concealed weapon almost everywhere including parks, churches, bars, casinos and anywhere where there are large groups of people.

One of the nice thing about the United States is that you can have 50 different ways to approach lawmaking.  And consequently, you can see if one type of regulation works better than the other.  If Kansas doesn’t have too many problems with their system, can there be any real justification for Illinois having its overly complicated system?

We should have a Constitutional amendment that provides that laws that impose duties on citizens must use the least restrictive means to accomplish the purpose of the law, and evidence that a law doesn’t meet that requirement voids the law.

I am a troublemaker, aren’t I.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, IL.


finger to nose

While DUI numbers are down, the cost of DUI prosecution is way up.  Typically a small city like Harvard, Illinois has a small budget.  Taking a DUI case to trial can cost the small city or village about $3,000.00 to $5,000.00 per trial.  So if you are a village and you want to be tough on DUI and take 20 cases to trial a year, it will run you a cool $100,000.00

If you win them, you will still lose money because you won’t make $5000.00 in fines costs and administrative fees on the cases.  And if you lose them then you are out a flat $5,000.00

Are there easier ways to not break the budget with DUI charges?  Sure.  Some villages in McHenry County never have any trials.  They make adjustments that drivers charged with DUIs can live with, and they never have to pay for expensive jury trials.  While the DUI cases may be reduced to reckless driving or another traffic ticket, those villages still insist that the driver be sent to alcohol counseling, pay a fine and court costs, and have a BAIID device installed in their cars.  It is a way to deal with the expensive cost of the legal system.

However, there are other actors in the play.  Local anti-DUI groups complain to small villages and cities about the practice.  Of course these groups don’t have to pay for losses during jury trials, so the complaining is easy.  These groups will bend the ear of the state’s attorney, and demand that these villages fully prosecute the cases, and the state’s attorney listens.  But, paying for the lost jury trials is totally borne by the villages.

With DUI numbers way down, and more cases proceeding to trial and thereby costing small towns money, it will be interesting to see who breaks first.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, IL.

A lonely gavel in an empty courtroom.

We currently have a three tier system for law creation in the United States when it concerns DUI law.  The first creation point is the state legislature, the second the federal regulation system, and lastly the appellate courts.  This system is very good at creating “new and improved” laws at the rate of about one per quarter.   It is 2015 and we have been “improving” the law using this three tier system since the mid 60″s.

So why isn’t the law clearer to all of us?   Why isn’t it easier to understand?  Why isn’t it easier to know if you are violating the law or not?

For example: (you can try this in your own home or courthouse)  Ask five people the following question,

1.  Mary goes to the bar Mary drinks three alcoholic beverages then Mary drives home.  On the way home she is pulled over for “weaving within her lane.”  Mary is charged with DUI, and the case goes to a jury trial.  What will the result be?

Compare the answers that you get to that question with the answers that you get to the following question,

2. Billy goes into a candy store and takes a candy bar without paying for it.  On the way out of the store he is stopped by store security and then transferred to police custody.  Billy is charged with theft, and the case goes to trial.  What will the result be?

So in the first case Mary is found guilty about every other time, and in the last case Billy is found guilty every time.  You could argue that its a matter of the definition of intoxication versus theft.  However, the truth would be it is a matter of money.  If the definition of intoxication is blurry, then regulators need to employ people to make tests (field sobriety testing) for determining intoxication, officers are employed to train other officers in detecting intoxication, appellate judges need to be employed to determine when it is proper for a police officer to stop a person suspected of driving while intoxicated, lawyers are needed to represent suspected drivers in court, alcohol counselors are needed to address the alcohol issues.  Literally the industry that services the blurry law is vast and expensive.

Compare what happens to Mary and Billy.  Mary has a comprehensive systems to handle her charge, Billy gets a fine.

Is one better than the others?

How do you make DUI laws better, answer maybe you don’t.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, IL.

Abe Lincoln has a sad :(

You might remember our article about Senator Menendez.  It’s here if you forgot.

As it turns out the same Senator that wanted our hero Edward Snowden to be indicted, got indicted himself.  It’s funny how he was so self righteous about Edward Snowden, and for telling us what treason was or was not.  But, now that it’s the future we can discover the pontificating senator was actually the one in need of being indicted.

I have a theory.  If a congress-critter stands up and declares something should be illegal, you can bet the farm that person does the exact thing he wants to make it illegal for you to do.

If a new congress-critter stands up and tells us how he is against illegal immigration, no doubt some undocumented alien cleans his/her/its house.  While this theory has turned out to be amazingly accurate, I still haven’t figured out why this occurs.

Our state legislature proclaims each year (sometimes more than once) that they are going to do something about the “DUI problem.”  I know what you are thinking.  Do that many legislators have serious drinking problems?

This probably explains why are laws are such a crap load of undecipherable tripe.  I want a new legislature that only has a few goals:  fewer more understandable laws, that effectively deal with our problems as humans living together.

Of course that would put me out of a job.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, IL.