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Illinois Court Dismisses Driver’s Claims that the Police Should be Liable for Failing to Arrest Him for DUI

While most drivers aim to avoid DUI arrests, one Illinois man sought to impose liability on the police for neglecting to detain him for DUI. Specifically, in a novel argument, he asserted that the failure to arrest him caused him to suffer subsequent harm. The courts were not persuaded by the driver’s reasoning and ultimately dismissed his case, definitely stating that the driver could not impose liability on other parties for harm caused by his own criminal acts. If you are charged with an Illinois DUI offense, you should contact an Illinois DUI defense lawyer to discuss your potential defenses.

The Facts of the Case

According to court documents, the plaintiff became intoxicated at a friend’s house and then attempted to drive to his home. He subsequently rear-ended a car stopped at a red light. An officer was dispatched to the scene and spoke to the other driver, who reported he saw the plaintiff’s  SUV swerving. The officer spoke to the plaintiff as well and asked for his license and proof of insurance. The plaintiff gave the officer the wrong paperwork numerous times and provided several different answers when asked where he lived. The officer, whose sense of smell was compromised, did not notice an odor of alcohol.

It is reported that the officer ultimately urged the plaintiff to pay more attention. The plaintiff drove away, fell asleep behind the wheel, and crashed his vehicle twenty minutes later. Chemical testing revealed that he had a blood-alcohol level that was three times the legal limit. He suffered multiple injuries that required surgical repair. He subsequently sued the officer and the municipality that employed the officer for negligence, arguing that the officer’s failure to arrest him led to his subsequent harm.

The Court’s Ruling

The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims, ruling that the officer could not be held liable since they could not be held accountable for failing to provide protection or service. The plaintiff appealed, but the ruling was affirmed on appeal. The appellate court explained that the plaintiff was injured as a result of his own unlawful behavior. Illinois has a long-standing rule that the courts should not help parties whose own criminal conduct contributed to the cause of their losses has been acknowledged by Illinois courts.

The appellate court further noted that the plaintiff decided to take a chance when he drove away from his friend’s home despite being inebriated. Furthermore, once the officer let the plaintiff drive away, the plaintiff made the decision to keep driving despite the fact that he knew it was dangerous. As such, the appellate court found that he chose to put himself in harm’s way. Additionally, the court found that the officer had no legal obligation to the plaintiff. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Trusted Illinois DUI Defense Attorney

A conviction for a DUI crime can result in significant criminal penalties, and it is smart for anyone charged with a DUI offense to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a trusted DUI defense attorney, and if you are charged with DUI, he can assist you in pursuing the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Harvatin through the form online or at 217.525.0520 to set up a conference.


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