Chicago Police Officer Fails to Follow Procedure In DUI Arrests

Prosecutors in Cook County, Chicago, are looking into whether an officer hailed as “top cop” for making a record number of DUI arrests, followed the correct procedure in administering field sobriety tests or Breathalyzer tests. According to a news report in the Chicago Tribune prosecutors dropped 50 misdemeanor cases stemming from arrests made by Officer John Haleas. About 500 more cases are under review, the article said.

The investigation began after two prosecutors in training rode along with the officer in April 2005. Not only did they see that Haleas did not give the man he stopped on suspicion of a DUI a field sobriety test, but also he did not make the man aware of his rights to decline a Breathalyzer test. Officers are also mandated by law to observe a suspect for 20 continuous minutes before giving the exam, but Haleas did not do that either, the article said.

The police department reportedly conducted an internal investigation, found that there was misconduct on the part of the officer. He was penalized with a one-day suspension and reassignment to desk duty. The article also says Haleas made 718 arrests in 2005 and 2006, more than any other officer in the entire state of Illinois. He was a two-time winner of the “Top Cop” award from the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. Now it seems prosecutors will drop not only hundreds of misdemeanor cases involving this officer, but also many felony cases that carry a harsher punishment.

As DUI defense attorneys, we know that this officer in Chicago is probably not the only one in the country who does not follow proper procedure in DUI arrests. Research by the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA) has shown that many police officers themselves don’t understand how to administer field sobriety tests. Breathalyzer exams are also highly questionable.

When a police officer does not follow proper procedure as in this case, not only are innocent people put in jail or penalized heavily, but people who are really guilty of drunk driving are going to be let off the hook because the officer’s credibility is in question.

If you or a loved one has been accused of a DUI, call a Southern California Drunk Driving defense attorney to discuss your legal options. We will make sure your side of the story is heard and help you fight your DUI charge.

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