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Champaign-Urbana public service director sentenced to court supervision for DUI charge

The director of a social service agency in Champaign received court supervision following an arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).  Reports indicated that the probable cause for initially stopping the driver was excessive speed.

It may come as a surprise that speeding is not one of the leading traffic violations that are a precursor to a DUI arrest.  Driving too slowly, a wide turn, and improper lane usage are some of the more common offenses that suggest imparied driving, according to the DUI Detection Guide.

Once the driver was stopped, the officer noticed alcohol on his breath.  At that point, the officer administered the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST).  This test is made up of three components.

The first is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.  In this test, the person administering the test waves a pen or other objecting in front of the subject in a certain fashion. While doing so, the officer scores the driver’s performance.  The test allegedly can detect alcohol impairment based upon how the eyes react.

Following this is the Walk and Turn. In this test, the subject must follow a very specific set of instructions that only marginally mimic walking.  The test subject must begin by putting the right foot forward and then, while staying on a completely imaginary line, take nine steps down, touch “heel to toe” while walking. On the ninth step, the subject must take a few small steps (not pivot) to the left and walk back.

All the while, the subject must count the steps, must watch his or her feet and must not use his the arms for balance. Each of these detailed instructions is scored.  Thus, for instance, if the subject performs 17 of the 18 steps correctly, it’s a point off for not getting all 18.

The last test is the One-Legged Stand. Here the subject must raise either leg off the ground about 6 inches, with the toe pointed outward. Without using either arm for balance, the subject must count aloud to 30 while looking at his or her foot.  Any “wobbling”, touching of the foot to the ground, assistance with the hands or arms or failing to count aloud is points off.

All of these tests are performed at the roadside, regardless of its condition, the weather conditions, the lighting or lack thereof and the number of police officers surrounding the suspect.

After the officer has failed the driver on these tests, he will ask the driver to submit to a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT).  This is a hand held breath testing device. The results of the PBT are not admissible to prove the driver’s “official” blood alcohol content (BAL). 625 ILCS 5/11-501.5 However, the results are a tool the officer can use in determining whether or not probable cause exists to initiate an arrest for DUI.

Following the arrest, the driver will be transported to the jail or other facility where he or she will be asked to take another breath test, this one on a machine whose results are admissible in court.  In the Champaign case, the driver refused the test.

A person who is charged with DUI may only receive court supervision once in a lifetime. 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1 Therefore the fact the defendant in this case received supervision demonstrates this is his first offense. As a result, his refusal to take a breath test would have resulted in a one year statutory summary suspension rather than the six months he would have received had he taken the test and registered at or above the legal limit of .08.  During all but the first thirty days of his suspension, he is eligible for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) that would allow him to drive anywhere at any time for any reason.

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