In Illinois, the county coroner’s office works with various police agencies within the coroner’s county. This recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times online concerns the deputy coroner of Will County Illinois (suburban Chicago) who was arrested on suspicion of DUI. If the police report is accurate, she seemed to imply that her position of authority justified special treatment (“Don’t you know who I am?”)
Here are some tips to keep in mind if the police stop you and you are concerned about being charged with DUI.
First, statements that imply guilt (“give me a break”, “I can’t get another DUI”, “I am only 2 blocks from home, can’t you cut me some slack”) put you in a position of having to provide the judge and jury with an innocent explanation for your statements, and there is an old saying in the law, if you are explaining, you are losing. And these pleas for mercy never work.
Likewise, being belligerent (“I will have your badge”, “I will sue you”, “I am getting railroaded”, “you guys are all on the take”) does not help. Moreover, if the arrest is taped, and most of them are, your actions will leave the judge and jury who view the video with a negative impression of you.
Furthermore, most law enforcement officers encounter so many people on the job that by the time your case gets to trial, the typical officer in the typical arrest will not remember anything about your case other than what is in his notes. But if you have gone out of your way to be rude, that officer is likely to remember you better than the other people who are polite and cooperative. (the nail that sticks out is most likely to get hammered).
In addition, police are human. If you have treated the officer fairly, he is less likely to register a protest if the state officers you a good “deal”. While the prosecuting attorney has final say in those matters, many of them take the arresting officer’s input into account.
The coroner allegedly attempted to suggest she deserved special treatment because she envisioned herself of being in a position of prominence or power. Tactics such as he attempted, or suggesting to the police they you know someone who is “important” typically backfire. And because you are asking for a special favor rather than urging your innocence, it suggests guilt.
You will no doubt be asked to perform standardized field sobriety tests. The police are very good at giving you false hope that taking the tests will lead to a happy outcome. They will say something along the lines of, “go ahead and take these tests and if you look okay to drive, you can be on your way home”. In fact, what they are thinking is, I suspect you are DUI, now take these tests and give me the evidence to help prove it.
You will not benefit from taking these tests or the Portable Breath Test (PBT) that the police will offer to you at the scene. And there is no penalty for refusing to take any of these tests, even the PBT. Compare this with the breath test they will ask you to take at the police station, where the consequences of breath test refusal can be significant.