Woodridge Driver Found Not Guilty of DUI
Driving in rain makes for poor visibility and slippery roads, which increases your chance for an auto accident. In 2019, after being involved in an auto accident in Woodridge, Illinois, our client was charged in DuPage county with DUI of alcohol and/or drugs.
On a rainy evening around 10 p.m., as our client was approaching an intersection, he began to apply his breaks. His tires slid on the pavement and his vehicle collided with the vehicle in front of him, occupied by two teenagers, which was stopped at a red light. Both parties spoke and agreed to drive to the corner of the intersection and park under a gas station canopy. Both parties also called police to report the accident.
On the scene, police question both parties. As attorneys, were able to obtain the police officer’s dash cam video and audio recordings. On video, you see two police officers speaking with the drivers. After a few minutes, it became apparent our client was the target of their investigation, most likely because he appeared to cause the accident and second because he had slurred speech. Officers let the other party go on their way, then turned their attention to our client. The officers quickly went into “good cop, bad cop routine.”
Video captured one officer questioning our client extremely hard and aggressively, while the other officer was attempting to play nice guy by reassuring him. Our client maintained he had not consumed any alcohol or drugs. Even though he was questioned over and over, he was consistent in saying he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Eventually, the officers wanted our client to take a field sobriety test.
Even though our client said he did not wish to take any field sobriety test, officers set up their squad car with a dash cam and audio facing forward so they could capture the test on video. Again, our client stated he did not consume anything, and he was not intoxicated. The questioning became extremely aggressive until our client eventually was placed into custody. While in custody, our client again refused testing and would not submit to any blood, breath, or urine test.
At our first court date, we obtained the video and police report, which was exceptionally long and incredibly detailed. However, it seemed to be inconsistent with the video dash cam on many important issues. For example, the police report stated our client was swaying and needed to brace himself on the vehicle and the gas pump to stand up straight. However, that did not appear on video. Also, officers stated in their report our client initially admitted to consuming some alcohol. Again, none of that appeared in the video or audio obtained from police.
In our office, our client watched this video with our defense team. We explained to him the positives and negatives of the evidence. At his second court date, we spoke with the prosecutor and attained an offer. An offer simply means, “if our client chooses to plead guilty, what would the penalty be?” The offer from prosecutors was court supervision.
Under normal circumstances, court supervision is typically a good offer because it allows a defendant to avoid a conviction – and you do not want a conviction on your record. A supervision avoids conviction. However, supervision also requires the defendant to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, complete some treatment classes, participate in a victim impact panel, pay significant fines and fees, possibly complete some community service and spend a period of time not getting into trouble.
If a person completes all these requirements, their supervision will be determinate satisfactory, and their DUI conviction will not be entered into the record. Our client could accept this offer, however, based on the evidence we saw and because our client refusing testing, we believe the prosecution would have a difficult time proving their case. A prosecutor is required to prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, an individual was in actual physical control of the vehicle and that they were too intoxicated to safely operate that motor vehicle.
We believe the prosecution could not provide, beyond all reasonable doubt, our client was guilty of DUI. We advised our client to go to trial. Ultimately, it was his decision and he agreed.
A trial, two lawyers from Driver Defense Team cross-examined the police officer and witnesses. On the witness stand, we were able to get the officer to admit to some inconsistencies within his report and the video. He then contradicted himself on the witness stand regarding some important issues, such as the smell of alcohol and our client’s behavior.
We also cross-examined the driver of the other vehicle. On the witness stand, he admitted he did not smell alcohol and did not initially believe our client was under the influence. At trial, the judge watched the police video in detail. He took many notes, then gave his ruling. Right from the start, the judge stated our client did in fact have slurred speech and did have very nonsensical answers to police officer’s questions.
The judge felt the officers were absolutely justified in making their arrest based on our client’s strange behavior and thick slurred speech. However, based on some of the contradictions during the trial by witnesses, and some of the issues we highlighted in our closing statements, the judge agreed he could not find our client guilty of DUI beyond all reasonable doubt. As a result, our client was found innocent of DUI.
Based on the evidence at trial and what we predicted all along, we feel this was the right outcome. Our client was thrilled. He was initially skeptical he would prevail at trial, but after understanding the intricate details his case, he understood our reasoning. It was helpful for him to sit with us, analyze the video and police report, and ask questions about his case.
If you would like a similar case analysis, we are happy to provide one for free. Simply call our office and schedule an appointment with one of our DUI lawyers. We will provide a no obligation strategy session so you can determine how to best proceed and find a lawyer you are comfortable with to represent you in this important matter.