McHenry County might have the most inefficient system for DUI cases anywhere ever.

It might be impossible to come up with a less efficient way to handle DUI than they do in Woodstock.  Seriously.  I can’t think of one… and I’ve seen cases go through the system in a lot of counties aside from McHenry County.

Imagine, if you will, that you got a DUI.  Of course, it’s going to be the last DUI you get because every time somebody gets a DUI it’s always their last.  There are actually two parts to your case… the criminal DUI charges and the suspension of your license (why they are separate is another story, but that’s beyond the control of the courts).

You’re “actually innocent” so you want to challenge the license suspension and get a date set for a trial as soon as possible… because you want this thing out of your life.  So, you file the paperwork to challenge the license suspension before your first court date.  What would happen in an efficient system?

In places like Cook County or DuPage County you show up on that date and they will, most likely, have a hearing on the license suspension right there. You may even get to have a trial depending on what kind of trial you’d like.  In places like Kane County, they are going to take your DUI file, set the case over on a Friday- because that’s when they do all the license cases- and you will likely have a court date set even quicker than the one the police gave you for the DUI.

In McHenry County, though?  The first thing that will happen in McHenry County is that they will make a special file just for your license suspension.  Then the clerk will set that file on a special court date where your DUI criminal case won’t even be up in court.  Your DUI court date will likely be the following week (or the one after that).

Why do they make an extra file in McHenry County, and then give you an extra date when your DUI isn’t even scheduled?  Because, in the likely event that you will demand a jury trial on your DUI case before your license suspension is decided, they will assign the criminal file to a different judge on a different floor on a different day of the week… meaning it’s not uncommon for somebody to have to go to court in Woodstock on two different days in two different courtrooms in the same week, for the same DUI arrest.

You know why they do that?  

I don’t. I have no clue. It makes no sense.

Remember that the next time you hear somebody whining about how defendant’s drag stuff along and clog up the system. Maybe the system is clogging itself. It sure is in McHenry County

St. Charles wants you to drive sober over the holidays… does that mean they don’t care about the rest of the year?

I love this time of year. Not just because there’s all sorts of outside fun like ice skating, sledding and curling. Also because it’s that time of year when the local police pretend to care more about DUI.  Yesterday the St. Charles Police notified the world that they’d be using the upcoming weeks to launch a “campaign” against impaired driving.  According to the Kane County Chronicle:

“…St. Charles police officers will begin a traffic enforcement campaign that focuses on impaired drivers and seat belt violators, according to a St. Charles Police Department news release.”

Before I go any further, I’ve got to thank the Chronicle for directly telling us this was spoon-fed to them from a police news release. You know that the media’s reliance on police press releases is an “interest” of mine.

Don’t you read that statement, though, and wonder to yourself, “Hey! What about the rest of the year?  You don’t focus on impaired drivers then?”

You should, right?  If the St. Charles Police department is “focused” on impaired drivers during this short period, isn’t it reasonable to believe they aren’t the rest of the year?  Seems reasonable to me.  Although, I’m in DUI court all the time- I know that’s not true. It’s not like they arrest 100% of the drunk drivers they see this time of year, but would let 25% of them go if it were June or October.

What’s going on is that this is more police public relations.  This little enforcement announcement is part of two of annoying programs that many departments like St. Charles buy into- the “drive sober or get pulled over” and “click it or ticket” programs:

The campaign, which is conducted in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Transportation’s “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” programs, will last through Jan. 5. 

The programs are annoying, mostly, because they’re more about marketing and public relations than anything else.  They start with the cute names (“Click It or Ticket”) and media releases before a single person is even arrested.  Local departments across Kane County and all over the country are going to be engaging in these two programs with these two cute names just like St. Charles- so expect more of these news “stories” to pop up quickly.

Why is that?  That’s because the St. Charles Police department didn’t dream this little deal up- neither did any of the other police departments. It’s part of a Federally funded program where your local police can apply for grants. In exchange for the grants, the local police will do things like issue media releases saying they’ll be “extra-cautious” about impaired driving.

Of course, the feds pump the program on their end as well. They’ve set up this informative web page and published intimidating videos depicting things than no person I know who’s ever had to do public service has complained of:

But, I digress.  The St. Charles media release doesn’t acs as though the department will pay special attention to impaired driving over this time because the police disregard impaired driving the rest of the year.  Rather, it’s because the federal grants will go towards things like paying overtime for officers and possibly doing things like setting up roadblocks over this time of year.

So, does that grant money directly combat the problem of impaired driving?  That much is clearly up for debate. Obviously the St. Charles Police, and other departments making use of the grants would tell you it does. Me? I’m not so sure-  That’s a debate for another time.

Either way, the safest bet is to stay safe on the road and call for a ride whenever you’ve had anything to drink– regardless of what time of year it is or what catchy name the federal government is using to administer grants.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Department lets us know man lifeflighted after atv crash has been charged with DUI- as though it’s important.

I love reading these police press releases.  I learn so much from what they say. I learn even more from what they don’t.  So, out of curiosity I occasionally check out McHenry County Sheriff’s media releases.  I like to know what they think is important.

Yesterday a release about a man crashing his ATV, being unconscious, and having to be evacuated by helicopter to the hospital caught my eye.  According to the McHenry County Sheriff’s police:

“On November 3, 2013 at approximately 3 PM, McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and the Nunda Township Fire Protection District responded to the intersection of Riverside Dr. and Kerry Ave, in unincorporated McHenry regarding a reported ATV crash.  Upon arrival Deputies discovered that Timothy P. Ritchie had been operating an ATV on the roadway and it had overturned; landing on top of him.  Nunda Township called for the Flight for Life helicopter and Ritchie was transported to Condell Medical Center.  Ritchie’s injuries were later discovered to be non-life-threatening.”

This sounds bad.  I’m glad to hear that the Sheriff’s office says the injuries are non-life-threatening.  I’m curious as to what the extent of the injuries are.  The Northwest Herald is reporting that the man “was knocked unconscious…”

Unconscious usually means brain injury.  Brain injuries can be fairly serious, resulting in nasty things like paralysis and severe disability- possibly lasting a lifetime.

So, while it’s good that the man will likely live, it’s not like he’ll necessarily be walking out of the hospital tomorrow- we don’t know.  There’s more to the MCSD press release, though.  They’ll let us know what his prognosis is, right?

Sheriff’s Deputies completed their investigation and issued citations to Ritchie for: Driving Under the Influence, Driving on a Revoked License, Operating an ATV on the Roadway, and Careless Operation of an ATV.

Ah.  Glad they didn’t leave that part out. We’d all be horrified if we knew this man had not been cited for DUI and traffic offenses almost immediately.  Thankfully they didn’t wait on either charging him, or letting us know they charged him.

I’ll let you know when they issue the media release on his updated condition, so you can be sure he’ll even be competent and able to go to court to answer the charges.  I’m sure the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department is working on it right now.

Some DUIs might not be what they appear…

“Cary woman charged with DUI in single-vehicle crash”

That’s the headline of the article in the newspaper.  After reading it, curiosity got the best of me.  DUIs aren’t that uncommon.  Single-vehicle crashes aren’t uncommon, either.  Neither are the two of them together.  So, I read on:

WOODSTOCK – A 29-year-old Cary woman was charged with driving under the influence, after she veered her car off the roadway Tuesday and crashed into a culvert in unincorporated Woodstock.

The driver [whose name and address I’ll redact because she’s already having a bad enough day], was also charged with failure to reduce speed, marijuana possession, drug paraphernalia possession, and endangering the life of a child, according to a McHenry County Sheriff news release. A male juvenile was a passenger in the car.

Interesting.  Not so much for what it says, more for what it doesn’t.  What it doesn’t say is that alcohol, or any substance, was believed to contribute to the accident.  Nor does it say that it was an alcohol DUI.  Reading between the lines (because the clerk’s computers haven’t been updated), it very well might be a cannabis/marijuana/THC DUI.

There are people out there- lots of them, actually- who think the marijuana/THC DUI laws in this state are a little silly.  You can count me among those people.  Essentially, if there is any amount of THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) in your system, you can be cited for DUI.  The odd part is that conventional testing can sense THC in your system as many as 30 days after consuming the drug.  That’s odd, because you really aren’t experiencing any effects from the drug at that point- but you can still get a DUI.
Which gets us back to the article.  Did the “DUI” contribute to the accident at all?  It doesn’t look like the police bothered to tell that to the reporter if it did:

Investigators found that [the lady’s] black 2008 Mazda veered from the southbound lane on Dean Street, north of Route 176, to the northbound lane and entered a ditch.

The vehicle then struck a culvert, overturned and hit a tree, police said. The juvenile was taken to Centegra Hospital – Woodstock as a precaution. [The driver] did not seek medical attention, police said.

They also didn’t say that in the McHenry County Sheriff’s Press Release.  I’d really hate to think that this accident only made the news because the police fed a story to the newspaper making it sound like the accident was caused by some sort of impairment when, really, the two are unrelated.  That happens too frequently.