Occasionally, citizens call in reports of erratic driving to Illinois law enforcement authorities. Often, the underlying factor is that a motorist is suspected of drunk driving. That is exactly what occurred recently in Williamson County, but there was a twist. The suspected drunk driver is a local sheriff’s deputy.

The Illinois deputy was off duty when he was stopped close to Marion at the beginning of March on Illinois 13. Other motorists had apparently suspected the man of drunk driving, and he was arrested under suspicion of committing that criminal offense. However, a news report chronicling the incident did not report that any field sobriety tests or blood alcohol testing was conducted prior to the arrest being made.

Clearly more information is necessary to gauge to significance of the allegations and the potential consequences for the peace officer. Unfortunately, it was reported that he was convicted within the past five years of a separate drunk driving offense. That conviction may have an important bearing on how Illinois prosecutors handle any charges and could also impact any criminal sentence if a conviction is ultimately obtained.

The Williamson County Sheriff characterized the man’s employment situation as “cloudy.” Of necessity, the man will need to protect his legal rights and fight to avoid conviction and perhaps to keep his law enforcement position. To date, however, he is only suspected of drunk driving, and there is a substantial difference between a suspicion of committing a criminal act and a conviction for one. Just like any other individual accused of a DUI related crime in our state, this sheriff’s deputy is fully entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until the government can prove by compelling evidence that he is guilty of the offenses with which he is expected to be charged.

Source: MyFoxChicago.com, “Williamson Co. deputy again accused of DUI,” March 5, 2013