Springfield Man Acquitted of DUI
James Stewart, a local Springfield police officer, was acquitted in the Sangamon County Circuit Court of DUI charges he faced after crashing his vehicle back in 2014, reports the Illinois Times.
In April 2014, it was discovered that Stewart had a bottle of bourbon in his car that was about two-thirds empty after he slammed his vehicle into a median on Stevenson Drive. At that time, he said he’d swerved to avoid an animal and received a head injury as a result of the accident, which explained the signs of alcohol impairment he showed at the scene. He had declined any roadside sobriety or breath tests.
It was argued in court that while Stewart had been drinking well before the accident, it’s not illegal to drink before you get into a car. Stewart’s defense attorney also pointed out that the state hadn’t eliminated reasonable doubt in the case and that there was a possible explanation for the crash and Stewart’s behavior afterward that did not involve alcohol.
Previously, the court had ruled in Stewart’s favor at a license suspension hearing. The judge decided there wasn’t sufficient reason for the police to believe that Stewart was under the influence of alcohol and that he should be have been required to take a breath test at the time of the incident.
The filling of DUI charges had an impact on Stewart’s employment, according to the State-Journal Register. Stewart, who had been with the Springfield Police Department for 16 years, was placed on administrative leave and then restricted duty for the more than 12 months it took to resolve his case.
DUI in Springfield
Being charged with DUI in Illinois is a serious matter. An adult facing DUI charges for the first time will lose his or his license for at least six months and could end up with a jail sentence of up to one year and a maximum fine of $2,500. For a person who is underage, that lost license period rises to two years. If an adult who has been charged with DUI for the first time refuses to submit to a chemical test, he or she could lose driving privileges for an entire year.
The penalties for subsequent DUI convictions are even steeper, with adults charged for a second time looking at a potential jail sentence of up to one year, with five days in jail or 240 community service hours mandatory. A person with a second DUI conviction also may end up with a fine of up to $2,500 and will lose full driving privileges for at least five years if the first conviction occurred in the last 20 years.
Do You Need Help?
If you’re facing DUI charges, seek the help of the best DUI lawyer in Springfield IL. With such stiff penalties on the line, you need to have seasoned legal professionals on your side.