Man guilty of DUI in mock trial

By Alan Marcus

Dan Smith was found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol and improper lane usage during a mock trial Wednesday night at the NIU College of Law.

The case, which was co-sponsored by the NIU Health Services and Delta Theta Phi legal fraternity, was tried by licensed attorneys. Jurors were selected from the audience at random and received an introduction to the proceedings from law Professor Cornelius Toole, who served as presiding judge.

Following opening statements by both the prosecuting and defense attornies, the jurors heard testimony concerning a hypothetical DUI incident which took place on the evening of Sept. 5.

Third-year law student Howard Brookins said the mock case involved an NIU student who was pulled over after a DeKalb police officer sighted him making an improper lane change on Lincoln Hwy.

Following testimony from the arresting officer, the defendant and his female companion, the jury was instructed as to the law and retired to deliberate. After a short recess, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on both counts.

Prosecuting Attorney Dan Porter, a DeKalb County assistant state’s attorney, said, “I hope this trial will make people realize that DUI is a serious matter because of the personal and public safety issues involved, and therefore should not be taken lightly.”

Porter also said people should be aware of the consequences of failing a breathalizer test or refusing to take one. “If someone is arrested for DUI and refuses to take a breathalizer test or only partially completes it, his or her driver’s license will be automatically suspended for six months.

“If the defendant is a first offender and does take the test, he probably will be fined and given supervision. But, a repeat offender who refuses to take the test or fails it repeatedly will lose his license for at least one year.

“However, if someone submits to the test and does not have a blood alcohol content of .10 or greater, there will be no suspension and the suspect will be let go. Thus, the only real chance to avoid having your license suspended is by taking the breathalizer test,” he said.

Porter also said a person cannot refuse to take a breathalizer test on the grounds of self-incrimination. “The Supreme Court has ruled that the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination only applies to oral statements, and thus, the Fifth Amendment guarantee is inapplicable.”

DeKalb area Attorney Scott Irwin said defending a DUI charge can be quite costly. “The basic fee in this county is between $500 and $1,500. When you add in fines and everything else, you’re probably talking between $1,000 and $3,000 before it’s all over.”