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DUI - local ordinance charge or statute?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

DUI - local ordinance charge or statute?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 13, 2011

How does a police officer decide whether to ticket a suspected offender under a local ordinance or an Illinois statute?

For example, if a driver is stopped for a violation and then suspected to be DUI, how does the officer decide whether to cite the driver under a city's local ordinance (which often just mirrors the Illinois Statute) or under the Statute itself?

Does it make a difference?

For a serious violation such as DUI, shouldn't the driver be charged under the Statute, which will kick in the Office of the McHenry County State's Attorney and cause them to be the prosecutor?

If he charges the driver under a local ordinance? Then the city's attorney will handle the case. That firm will be the city's general municipal law firm that handles everything (real estate advice, City Code, City Council meetings, traffic tickets, etc.) for the city - and it won't be a specialist in prosecuting DUIs.

Isn't the goal of a DUI ticket to penalize a driver and get her (or him) to mend her ways? As well as sucking up the big bucks for a fine? Maybe a city gets a bigger piece of the pie, when it uses the local ordinance and has its own attorney handle the case.

But it has to win a conviction in court. And the city will bear the expense of prosecution, whether it wins or not.

If you are going to have heart surgery, don't you get the specialist, instead of just having your favorite old family doctor, Dr. Lop N. Chop, come into surgery that day?

There is a case coming up this week for an Early Plea. Why does a driver with a DUI ask for an Early Plea court date? It's called D-E-A-L.

I say, "No deal!" No "negotiated" deal. Well, a blind plea might be okay. Then the judge makes the decision on fine and jail time.

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