Deputy leads the county in making arrests for DUI

Deputy leads the county in making arrests for DUI

URBANA — Jonathan Reifsteck has never had a close friend or relative be seriously injured or die because of a drunken driver. He's not a zealot on a mission. He just likes finding people who have consumed enough alcohol or drugs that they have no business driving.

And he's good at it. Very good.

So far this year, the Champaign County sheriff's deputy has made almost 100 DUI arrests. (The number was 97 as of Oct. 4.)

That represents about 25 percent of all the DUI arrests made by all 13 police agencies in Champaign County during 2012 through Sept. 20.

And it's about 80 percent of the arrests made by the entire sheriff's office patrol division.

"I wouldn't give (DUI enforcement) priority over anything else. It kills time and it's something to do," said the unassuming deputy whose efforts were lauded earlier this year by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.

A graduate of Western Illinois University's law enforcement and justice program, Reifsteck has spent his entire 12-year law enforcement career with the Champaign County sheriff's office. Raised in rural Sadorus, he graduated from Unity High School.

His father, Jim Reifsteck, is a retired sheriff's deputy, and his older brother Brandon is also a Champaign County sheriff's deputy, so the language and lifestyle of law enforcement is familiar to the 33-year-old.

Over the years, he has developed a reputation as being an aggressive detector of drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Working the midnight shift for 10 of his 12 years on the force, he usually has plenty of opportunity to watch for them. And he's been known to make two and sometimes three DUI arrests in one shift.

Given that a DUI stop and arrest can consume at least two hours from start to finish, that's proactive enforcement by any measure.

"If I could have a whole shift of him, I would," said Sgt. Dan Coile, one of two supervisors on midnights.

"He's very well rounded in all areas. But we rely heavily on him for the DUI part, not only for enforcement but for assisting other officers in our department. He also reaches out beyond our department to other agencies. Any time somebody has a question (on a DUI) we refer them to him," Coile said.

King of DUIs

Veteran DUI defense attorney Mark Lipton of Champaign said that while he doesn't exactly cower when he sees Reifsteck arrested one of his clients, he knows he's up against an experienced officer.

"He is referred to as the 'King of DUIs.' He knows how to do the stuff. He does the instructions about the field sobriety testing as well as anybody. (From a defense perspective) it is sort of better to have a less-qualified officer do that kind of a stop. I have a case coming up where one of the best things I have going for me is that the officer didn't know how to do the instructions. He did them wrong. I haven't seen Reifsteck make those mistakes," Lipton said.

Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said the most important thing any officer can do on a DUI stop is to be consistent. And Reifsteck is consistent, she said.

"Do the field sobriety test in the same way, the same order every time. It should be a very routine process, starting with the probable cause for the stop, moving on to making the observations that lead to the belief that impairment may be an issue, leading to conducting the field sobriety tests to confirm that issue, and finally, following all the requirements when it comes to chemical testing. When they do the same thing every time, they end up with very solid cases," she said.

What to look for

On a Wednesday night earlier this month, Reifsteck explained what alerts him that a driver may be having problems: speed, lane violations, traffic control violations, lights on high beams when they needn't be, sitting too long at a traffic light, or something as major as continued driving on a flat tire.

"You'll follow somebody who's all over the road and get excited then find it has nothing to do with DUI. They may be looking at a cellphone," he said.

Before the stop is made, his in-squad video camera is recording.

After the stop come personal observations of the driver: posture, behavior, if his eyes are bloodshot, glassy, watery, how his speech sounds, odors coming from him, and his ability to produce license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

"I had one guy who immediately got out and fell on his face, all on video. That definitely helps," he said, laughing.

"A person might have a stack of credit cards they're looking through and pass up his driver's license two or three times. I'm taking mental notes and notes on an index card. Everything is being recorded so I'll confirm it with the video later."

"Even if I don't smell alcohol, I will ask, 'How much have you had to drink?'"

He also asks where the driver has been and where he's headed.

"If somebody is refusing to talk to me, I have them step out, which they are required to do. If they're not willing to give me something, I'm going to look pretty hard to find something," he said.

Arrest based on big picture

As he was explaining his method of operation, another of Reifsteck's supervisors, Sgt. Jeff Vercler, alerted Reifsteck that he had stopped a car at about 1 a.m. after it went about halfway through the Five Points intersection in Urbana on a red light.

Vercler called Reifsteck for two reasons: Reifsteck is fast and efficient, and his squad car is the only one on the midnight shift with a camera.

The driver pulled into a business parking lot, giving Reifsteck a safe spot out of traffic to talk to him and enabling Reifsteck to position his squad car so that his camera could record the stop.

He then began the field sobriety tests. Those include touching index fingers to nose one at a time to observe eye activity; the walk-and-turn test, putting one foot in front of the other on an imaginary line; and the one-legged stand. The latter two measure balance. Those, Reifsteck explained, are the standard tests.

Non-standard tests can include asking the driver to recite the alphabet from E to P or count backward from 88 to 79. The person who might have a physical condition that would keep him from standing on one leg ought to be able to recite the alphabet. Like a test proctor, Reifsteck is seeing if the person can follow directions.

"When the field sobriety testing is done, I ask if you feel impaired. Believe it or not, more than half the people will say, 'Yes. I feel impaired.' You've basically convinced them they were under the influence," he said.

The Champaign man stopped that early morning was polite and cooperative as he admitted drinking three beers at a downtown Champaign bar before driving. His performance on the field sobriety tests was not so good.

He agreed to Reifsteck's request that he take a portable breath test. Although not admissible in court as evidence, the test can help the officer develop probable cause for arrest.

The reading was 0.17 percent, enough to make Reifsteck think three beers may have been on the low side for a 180-pound, 5-foot-5 man. In Illinois, a motorist is presumed intoxicated with a reading of 0.08 percent.

"The decision (to arrest) is based on the totality of the circumstances. I'm not basing it just on your driving, your appearance, or the field sobriety testing. I'm basing it on everything. Each (individually) doesn't carry much weight, but if you combine a bunch, then you've got something there," he said, adding the man also had a moderate odor of alcohol and bloodshot and watery eyes.

After informing the man that he was under arrest, Reifsteck called for a wrecker to tow the man's car away, put the handcuffed driver in his squad car, and headed to the county jail.

Vercler said he tries to make sure Reifsteck has another officer standing by during a DUI stop. Sometimes it's from another department.

"When he's concentrating on his DUI, he needs us to maintain security, a safe environment," Vercler said.

The second officer can also handle the tow — vehicles are held for 12 hours to prevent an impaired driver from getting back in it after being released from jail — and fill out that paperwork so Reifsteck can get started on what he needs to do at the jail.

Arrest almost complete

Once at the jail, Reifsteck read the obviously tired driver the written "warning to motorist," which outlines his rights, including the consequences of not taking a breathalyzer test. A refusal means losing a license for a minimum of a year. Taking the test and blowing over the limit results in a six-month automatic license suspension.

"Don't throw up or put anything in your mouth," he warned the arrestee, noting either can interfere with the breathalyzer. There has to be a 20-minute period of observation by a correctional officer prior to the breathalyzer test.

The correctional officer certified in administering the breathalyzer then instructed the driver that he had to give a good, long, steady blow for the machine to properly perform.

"If you don't, it's the same as a refusal," he explained.

The driver got the job done with one blow, which showed a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.165 percent.

The correctional officer gave Reifsteck a copy of the result to include with his report. Reifsteck then finished writing the driver the tickets outlining the laws he was accused of breaking and made sure he had all the other paperwork he needed to complete the report he would have to submit to the state's attorney's office for the man's prosecution. A short version was required by the end of his shift.

Reifsteck said if a report is more involved, he may write it at home on his own time after his road shift is over so the details are still fresh. Otherwise, deputies frequently write reports in their cars if they're not tied up on other calls.

"We're supposed to be seen," he said of the reason for writing in the car and not the office.

"It definitely makes a shift go fast," Reifsteck said of a DUI arrest.

No quota

Reifsteck maintains there's nothing in particular about DUI cases that motivate him. They are just a part of his job as a deputy that he enjoys. He routinely attends continuing education classes on DUI enforcement.

"I don't have a goal. If I come across 100 (impaired drivers) I should have 100 arrests. If I come across 10, then it should be 10 arrests," he said.

Working Tuesday through Saturday, Reifsteck finds Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights to be his more productive for finding impaired drivers. Other kinds of calls for service are higher on the weekends, leaving less time for proactive enforcement.

Part of the reason for his high arrest numbers is the respectful way he treats the people he's stopping.

"If you reason with people and you're nice, you tell them: 'Here's what the law says.' That's how I approach it. That's everyday life," he said of the courtesy.

Yes, he's seen people killed because they were drinking. Yes, he drinks alcohol. No, he doesn't drive after he's had even one drink. Yes, people have vomited in his squad car — often. Yes, he has to clean it up himself. No, he doesn't like having to spend so much time in court testifying against the people he arrests.

Vercler noted that he and Reifsteck have been involved in four fatal crashes during 2012 where the victims had been drinking.

"It does have a higher purpose," Vercler said of Reifsteck's DUI enforcement. "Who knows how many accidents he has prevented?"

Sgt. Andy Charles, a 23-year Urbana police officer with an equally good reputation for DUI enforcement, agreed.

"A lot of police officers want to do something to help people or society. You look at the different things you do over the course of your career — domestics, fight calls — and think, maybe I've saved a couple of people from being hurt."

"With DUI enforcement, it's not unrealistic to think: 'I've saved an injury or a family member from the grief of having a son or daughter killed.' That's something that gives you satisfaction. You can look in the mirror and say, 'I've done some good,'" Charles said.

Number of arrest by agency for DUI, 2009-2012


Police agency  2009 2010 2011 2012 Total
Champaign County sheriff's office  116 93 178 117 504
Champaign Police Department  109 123 60 35 327
Fisher Police Department  4 3 5 3 15
Gifford Police Department  4 0 0 1 5
Homer Police Department  0 0 1 0 1
Illinois State Police  157 106 101 108 472
Mahomet Police Department  10 9 4 4 27
Parkland Public Safety  0 1 2 1 4
Rantoul Police Department  66 45 51 45 207
Thomasboro Police Department  3 2 1 1 7
Tolono Police Department  3 2 5 0 10
University of Illinois Police  47 33 40 33 153
Urbana Police Department  93 61 55 35 244
Totals by year  612 478 503 383 1,976
Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Reifsteck  62 80 90 97 329

Through Oct. 4, 2012.

Sources: Departmental numbers: Champaign County state's attorney's office; Reifsteck's numbers: Champaign County sheriff's office

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areader wrote on October 09, 2012 at 8:10 am

Way to go, Officer Reifsteck!  Keep up the good work!  Be safe and continued good luck in your profession.

sameeker wrote on October 09, 2012 at 7:10 pm

It is not about law enforcement or "safety". It is about the cash. While the cops sit outside the bars in order to follow people home and nab them, there are people getting beaten and assaulted in campustown. How many of those people were pulled over for nonsense, such as a license plate light not being bright enough? (yes, I know someone that this happened to. They were not drinking but were frisked regardless.) I will share my own story about the greed of the state of Illinois. In 2009, I went to Indiana to take my mother out for dinner and drinks following the death of my dad. I got stopped on the way home. I tested right at the limit (about two drinks with the obscenely low limits the state DUI industry has established.) I plead guilty ad received a $1 fine and minimum penalties such as probation and community service. This was due to the fact that I had no priors in 45 years. Since it was an out of state DUI, Illinois revoked my license for a year and then wanted me to cough up $500 to get them back. My lawyer advised me that if I had been licensed in Indiana, I would have had a 30 day suspension. Had I got stopped in Illinois, I would have received a form 55 from the court allowing me to keep my license. I must also add that my mandatory evaluation had me at minimal risk. I denounce Illinois as a greedy, extorting state, from the governor in Chicago (of course) all the way down to the local tow companies who butter bread to get the towing business. Those towing companies charge at least three times as much for the same tow on an impound, as well as ridiculous "storage" fees. All of this in addition to the "nusience" fines and other costs levied by local government. If it is all about "safety", then allow people to work the entire cost of fines, penalties, court costs, towing, license reinstatement  and impoundment off in community service. Then we will all know that it isn't just about money. I also propose a ban on additional charges if someone is stopped for failure to use a turn signal, license plate light burnt out, etc. during a stop. The only way a DUI should be allowed is when the police video shows clear evidence of impairment prior to the stop. If someone is too impaired to drive, then they should not be allowed to; however, like most good laws, they have went way too far with the greed and harassment factor.

gummo2 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 4:10 am

I'm with you, Sam.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 10:10 am
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Amen, sameeker.

And, of course, the reason they are able to get away with all of this is because there are enough nanny state supporting simpletons like areader out there who applaud the police no matter what, without thinking about the motivations behind many of these arrests and their consequences.

EL YATIRI wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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You are dead on sameeker. 

BigBlue wrote on October 09, 2012 at 10:10 pm


--This year he's made about 25% of all the DUI arrests in this county.  

--That's 97 arrests he's made in 2012 alone, compared to 103 for the Champaign, Urbana, and U of I police departments combined.  

--The 2010 census lists Champaign + Urbana's populations at over 120k, the County Sherrif's Office website states that they police approximately 50,000 people.  

--Every year his arrest totals have steadily risen, even though Champaign County totals haven't







rsp wrote on October 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm

That comes out to about 2-3 arrests a week. Clearly this man is a menace to us all. <smh>

gummo2 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 4:10 am

M.A.D.D. ~~ Motorists Against Deviant Deputies. This jerk sounds like he'll do anything he can to try to trick you into screwing up so he can haul you in and ruin your life...because he's 'bored'. Next, he'll be asking drivers to say "Irish Wrist Watch" three times as fast as they can. Something's wrong when one guy gives out as many DUI's as the ENTIRE Champaign P.D. over the course of several years....but we'll congratulate him and put is picture in the newspaper, much in the same way that we celebrate the wonderfulness of Christopher Columbus.

gummo2 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 4:10 am

New Rule: When any elementary school student is beaten up at recess for a third time, he must sign a legal contract agreeing never to become a law enforcement officer.

MadGasser wrote on October 10, 2012 at 7:10 am
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natebaux wrote on October 10, 2012 at 6:10 am

"If somebody is refusing to talk to me, I have them step out, which they are required to do. If they're not willing to give me something, I'm going to look pretty hard to find something," he said.


2. Never Talk To A Police Officer - The only questions you need to answer is your name, address, date of birth, sometimes your social security number but NOTHING else! Instead of telling the police officer who you are, give him your drivers license or your I.D. card. All the information the police officer needs to know about you, can be found on your i.d. card or drivers license. Don't volunteer any information to a police officer, if the cop ask you a question politely ask him "Am I free to go?" If he says yes then leave, if he says no then say I'm Going to Remain Silent.

gummo2 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 7:10 am

Exactly. It's none of their business where I'm coming from or where I'm headed. This is not Russia, and I won't be harrassed by a Champaign County KGB agent.

MadGasser wrote on October 10, 2012 at 7:10 am
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I wonder if this is the clown that pulled me over south of Savoy one night because my truck has a trailer hitch on the bumper and it was "blocking" my license plate?

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 10, 2012 at 7:10 am

There is a simple way to get back at this officer that everyone is complaining about.  "Don't Drink, and Drive."  It's a crime.  Innocent people get injured, and killed every day because of it.  Everyone raises Hades when the NG posts a story about a drunk driver hurting others; and everyone raises Hades when a law enforcement officer arrests too many drunk drivers.  Go figure...

By the way; it might not have been a good idea to bring up the route, and the bumper hitch blocking your license plate in your comment.  It might be a good idea to not park in front of the bars you patronize now. :)

rsp wrote on October 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Where's Mark!!!!

whatsinitforme wrote on October 10, 2012 at 11:10 am


If you want to drink, move close enough to the taverns to walk home. I have no pity for a drunk driver being popped for a DUI.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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Neither do I...that is, I have no pity for a driver who is actually too drunk to drive safely and gets popped for a DUI.  I do have some pity for a driver who finds themself in a situation like sameeker described in an earlier post, one who is sober enough to drive, but still gets a DUI because their BAC is at an arbitrary level.  If a driver can pass all of the sobriety tests and was not driving unsafely, but still blows a .1, is it completely fair that they get a DUI?

Yet, my sympathy for any DUI arrestee is still somewhat limited, since at the end of the day (or night I guess, typically), it is still less safe to drive if you have any amount of alcohol in your system, and you still made that choice.  Even if your arrest and the law cited to arrest you were overzealous in your particular circumstance, it was still your call.

The overreaching problem in all of this is that traffic laws have become predatory towards citizens, and their wallets, in so many regards.  We have so many arbitrary traffic rules that serve little or no benefit from a public safety perspective...things like insufficient lighting on your license plate, no license plate on the front of your vehicles, all of the stickers that the state blackmails you to buy, and the list goes on and on.  There are so many inane violations on the books that if an officer wishes to pull you over and write you a ticket so you can give some more of your hard earned money to the state, he or she will be able to find a reason to do so, even if you are driving safely.  At some point, traffic laws became less about protecting citizens than they did about extorting citizens' hard earned money.


A bit of trivia to conclude with, though...the U.S. actually is tied with a few other countries for the most generous illegal BAC while driving.  Ireland's is only .05!  China and a few others, it's .02.  A few countries, mostly Islamic ones but also Russia, Israel, and Brazil, have zero tolerance laws where you cannot have any measurable alcohol in your blood at all.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on October 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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"You'll follow somebody who's all over the road and get excited then find it has nothing to do with DUI. They may be looking at a cellphone," he said.


Remember kids, it's okay to kill someone. But you must do it for the right reasons.

ClearVision wrote on October 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Exactly. We've had people killed in ths community by drivers distracted by cell phones, and they get at most a slap on the wrist. But drive safely with a 0.08% BAC and you're a criminal for life. There's definitely a problem here.

rsp wrote on October 12, 2012 at 1:10 am

And there are people working to change the laws on driving distracted. In the mean time, you might want to look up what the current laws are for driving while using your cell phone. You may be surprised. 

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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The question that's gnawing at me is, why does this one officer have such a huge proportion of DUI arrests in this county?  That alone just seems very odd.  Is he that much more vigilant than all of his colleagues, or is he overzealous, or have the police depts in this area just collectively dumped most of the responsibility for DUI arrests onto him?  It seems like it would be one of those three scenarios.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm

alabaster;  Another reason might be the area he covers, and the time he covers it.  Deputies usually are assigned geographic parts of the county to cover on shifts.  If he covers Rt.45 south from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m., he would probably see more DUIs than from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.  What roads outside of C-U get the majority of drunken drivers in the evenings?  Is it Rt.45 north to Rantoul, Rt.45 south to Pesotum, Rt.150 west to Mahomet, or Rt.150 east to St. Joe?  Where are the taverns outside of C-U?  What routes do they drive leaving taverns in C-U?  What rural communities have the most D.U.I. drivers in them?  What rural communities have the most taverns?  Are his arrests to low; No.    

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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I understand all that, Sid, but still...this one sheriff's deputy has had only six fewer DUI arrests this year than the entire Champaign police force, Urbana police force, and campus police force combined.  No matter which roads or which shifts he is assigned to, that just seems very peculiar to me.  Are there that many fewer drunk drivers in town and on campus than there are on Rt. 45 south of town?

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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On another note, I wonder how many drunk drivers will avoid Rt. 45 south of town and take the side roads home instead because of this article.

natebaux wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

There are so many inane violations on the books that if an officer wishes to pull you over and write you a ticket so you can give some more of your hard earned money to the state, he or she will be able to find a reason to do so,


yup, its been illegal to live for a while now.



And, of course, the reason they are able to get away with all of this is because there are enough nanny state supporting simpletons like xxxxxx out there who applaud the police no matter what, without thinking about the motivations behind many of these arrests and their consequences.


love your voice.



natebaux wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

this would be a good opportunity for a class action lawsuit against this officer for harassment. how many false stops were incurred for him to get these high numbers? is there an attorney in this county who is willing to step up here? the only way is to come forward with your story. people who dont read this publication have been affected by his hatred, spread it around, together we can put a stop to this.

K.D. wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

You don't understand class action suits or civil rights claims, do you. 

natebaux wrote on October 11, 2012 at 4:10 am

the lack of a question mark at the end of your sentence indicates that is a statement.

since its not a question, i dont need to answer.

i did however spark a nice discussion tween you and mr jones. good stuff there.

excellent contributions from sid as well.

all because i chose to generalize the term. trust me bro, i used to have an iq of 168. its how i helped bill gates create the internets. and i made it all happen without the overpowering aftertaste of sarcasm, as usually prepared by mr planet of the apes.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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Honestly, I wouldn't hold your breath on that.  Maybe there is solid ground for such a case here, maybe not.  DUI's aren't exactly looked upon sympathetically by judges or juries no matter what their circumstances, so there would have to be a pretty overwhelming pattern of illegal procedures on the deputy's part for the case against him to be won in court.  And even then, the case still might not succeed.

I have no problem at all with what he is doing if all of the people he is arresting were intoxicated enough to be dangerous on the road, and if he always follows proper, fair, and legal procedure to do so.

Again, just the mere fact that his totals are so massive compared to other departments in the area suggests that either he is overzealous or that the other departments are slacking on watching out for drunk drivers.

K.D. wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

As an attorney who has particpated in both class action suits and civil rights claims, I have a fairly deep breath right now. 

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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Color me confused, I thought I was echoing what you said...that such a case would almost certainly not be looked upon favorably in court.


I like the spirit of what nate was saying, but if you're gonna sue a cop you'd better make sure your case is bulletproof.

K.D. wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Apologies.  I was confused. 

natebaux wrote on October 11, 2012 at 5:10 am

those that were convicted of dui, made that choice and are up a creek.

those that were pulled over by this officer, for "petty" or questionable reasons, and not issued a citation, could, by a stretch of the imagination, collectively have a case for ...something. lets say that 20 people come forward with claims they had been pulled over and released, all by the same officer.

google time...these people were wrongly charged. the video just didnt match the reports. im suggesting that people that werent charged could have a similiar claim.

Erickson represents the man in the video and 21 others who are part of a federal civil suit against Officer X.

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 06, 2013 at 12:02 pm

No, they couldn't. That's not how civil rights claims work. It's not a measure of "petty." And that certainly isn't correct with regard to class actions. Finally, you fail to consider immunity issues involved.

djames354 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

could one of the reasons he has such a high rate be that as this article suggests other officers call on him for his camera and expertise and then just let him handle the arrest.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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If that's the case, why don't they learn the laws more thoroughly themselves so they can acquire the same expertise that he has?  Instead of calling him up whenever they get a DUI, when he could be out looking for other impaired drivers instead?

natebaux wrote on October 11, 2012 at 5:10 am

because its about getting the conviction.

Other officers first came upon a man and his girlfriend sitting in their car after hours by the lakefront. They called in Fiorito because he'd had advanced training in making DUI arrests.

this guy in chicago was racking up 300 citations a year. admitted to falsifing reports to get into court for  the overtime.

this guy has to be making loads of overtime. those appearances he makes are paid, right? i wonder what an investigation into his finances would reveal. has his lifestyle become dependant on that extra cash flow? can you get a loan based off of an estimation of overtime pay?


Sid Saltfork wrote on October 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Who cares if he is over zealous in giving out D.U.I.s?  It seems that some care.  What are their motivations for complaining?  What is the line between being sober enough to drive, and too drunk to drive?  It has to be some legal definition.  It cannot be left up to individual choice.  What are the real reasons for complaining against this officer?  How many of the complainers have got busted for a D.U.I.?

I got busted for one years ago.  It cost me a chunk of money.  It cost me something more than money though.  I shamed myself; and I shamed my family.  I went to the M.A.D.D. lecture, and felt low enough to walk under a door.  I went to the evaluation, and classes required.  I went with an open mind.  I learned something about myself.  I learned that I did not have an addiction.  I learned that I was under a lot of stress due to other things happening in my life at the time.  I learned how to handle them.  I want to believe that I became a better person as the result.  I do not drink, and drive now.  I volunteer to be the designated driver, or have an agreed upon other person as the designated driver.  If that changes, I get a cab for us all.  If I want to have a couple of beers in the evening without friends, I drink them at home. Excuses, and blame toward others is for losers.  Accept your responsibilities for the privilege to drive.  If you get busted, don't blame the officer for doing his job.  You knew what you were doing as an adult.  There are too many innocent people including kids that get killed regulary by self medicating drivers.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm
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Kudos to you for your responsibility.  I have never been arrested for a DUI, but there were a few times when I was younger when I could have been.

I cannot find any disagreement with anything you said.  I do find it somewhat unfair that someone with a .08 BAC can get pulled over for an inane traffic violation and then get a DUI, even if they were not driving unsafely.  That, to me, just seems a little much.  But, as you said and as I stated earlier, it is a problem that can be avoided by simply not driving after having any quantity of alcohol.  My motivation for complaining is based more on inane traffic laws in general than towards DUIs specifically.  I cannot speak for the motivations of anyone else who has complained on this comment thread.

djames354 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm

i guess my question is about inane traffic violations, which ones do you feel the officer should ignore and which to enforce.  Their job as I understand it is to upkeep all laws not just the ones people feel are necessary.  Does the person sho has a license plate light out just not know it or could he be trying to hide his plate number.  Is the person who goes halfway into the intersection on a red light just a slow stopper or could he have killed someone going through on green.  How do make a distinction on who to stop.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm
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I don't blame an individual officer for doing his or her job and enforcing the laws on the books.  He or she has no say what the laws are.  (Although, I imagine that there are some officers who might look the other way on really minor violations.  Good for them.)

His or her union and/or high-ranking superiors, though, probably lobby for stricter laws that do not benefit public I can certainly blame them.

Here's a nifty idea for the license plate light burnt out...give the offender a ticket that can be voided if the offender promptly gets the light fixed and reports to some place...the DMV, the police station, the courthouse, wherever...and shows them that the light is now functioning properly.  Good luck trying to get the state to pass a law like that, though.  If it doesn't contain a way to take a citizen's money, they aren't interested.

rsp wrote on October 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Many officers give warning tickets. They don't cost you any money but there is a record that you got it so if you don't correct the problem and get stopped for the same license plate light out a few days later you will not get any sympathy. They are at the officer's discretion. Of course, people who have an attitude, don't co-operate or refuse to answer any questions usually don't get any discretion. 

natebaux wrote on October 11, 2012 at 6:10 am

in less than 30 seconds he came STOMPING back to my car. "did you JUST get a ticket for this, 2 DAYS AGO!?"

i swallowed hard and nodded in acknowledgment.

"HMMP! ya know, we TRY to give you guys a break, but you're not givin' me any CHOICE!"

he was much more cordial this time. "please.....please listen. you've only got one more, then your done, you know that, right? it wont get you there any quicker, its just not worth it."


and thats how i became the slowest driver in the history of pizza.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm
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Yeah, there are warnings, but it shouldn't even be a law in the first place.  If an officer can't see someone's license plate when he's driving behind him, then the officer needs new headlights.

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 06, 2013 at 12:02 pm

License plates don't only exist for the purposes of police officers driving directly behind the car.

EL YATIRI wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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Those are huge ifs, and to be frank, I doubt he is doing everything properly and fairly. 

K.D. wrote on October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

 The quotes attributed to a well-repsected DUI attorney with a large volume of DUI cases indicate that mistakes aren't an issue. 

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm
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It sounds like he meets the "legal" and "proper" benchmarks simply due to his lengthy experience conducting DUI arrests.  As the article and K.D. noted, a prominent DUI attorney in town admits as much.  Those are the benchmarks that court gives a damn about.

"Fair," who knows.  But the courts aren't about what's fair, they're about what the law says.

EL YATIRI wrote on October 13, 2012 at 7:10 am
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The most unfair aspect is selective enforcement.  One obvious example: U of I football games.

Post game is an opportunity for a bumper crop of DUI's.  But police look the other way as many drivers with over the limit BAL drive away.  All that beer an liquor during tailgating and game supposedly didn't get into any driver.

Police can always find or manufacture some infraction to pull anyone over and have them do the field sobriety and blow.  The only fair way is to video record every stop.

How about a DUI checkpoint after U of I home games with DA and judge present at the scene?

That would be perfectly legal and proper.

Selective enforcement based on politics just isn't fair.

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 06, 2013 at 12:02 pm

How about a DUI checkpoint after U of I home games with DA and judge present at the scene?

For what purpose? Arraignment?

pdfdems wrote on October 10, 2012 at 11:10 pm

 He does observe drivers before pulling them over. Just because he is doing his job its not Harrassment . If you reported a DUI driver and no one showed up you would be complaining up a storm.  This guy is taking time to make sure you and your family are safe. Would you rather he turned the cheek and let you and your family member be injured or worse even killed by a drunk driver I'm betting NO!!!

randyandjoy1 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm

It's wrong to do your job with excellence? Really? Just because the others aren't aspiring to excellence doesn't mean one who aspires to excellence shouldn't aspire to excellence. I like the advice I heard many years ago, "Don't ask me why I'm doing the "right" thing, ask the other 99% why they are not? It isn't my fault. Ask them?"   Seriously ask. We all should aspire to excellence in whatever we do...not apathetically go along to get along.

read the DI wrote on October 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm

When I was 17,

I drank some very good beer.

I drank some very good beer,

I purchased with a fake ID.

My name was Brian McGee.

I stayed up listening to Queen, when I was 17.

welive wrote on October 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm

as a person who has had a his numbers seem a little high but do you want you kids to be out driving with drunks on the road?

and to the reply of campus beatings he is a county cop.What else is there to do on the night shift?

And i have 2 beers and thats it.Its called a accident for a reason no one planned it.

So thank you

and yes Champaign county has the highest number of duis in the state.We also have a lot of bars.


Sid Saltfork wrote on October 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

welive;  Good comments.  I wonder what the ratio is for county D.U.I.s versus in town D.U.I.s?  People in the county generally have to drive a distance between the bar, and home. Someone in town may have to drive several blocks to get home; but someone in the county may have to drive several miles to get home.  The worst scenario is drinking in town, and driving home somewhere in the county.  Urbana to St. Joe, Champaign to Tolono, Urbana to Rantoul, Champaign to Mahomet after a big game, or after a after work drink with the co-workers is a double chance of running into police, or deputies.  Most villages have a bar which the locals appreciate.  Some C-U townies used to host a hired bus with a driver for friends to go bar hopping in the county.

read the DI wrote on October 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Oh come now, more DUIs than Cook County?

Local Yocal wrote on October 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm
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The .08 limit might have to be re-visited as to whether that should be the standard. Perhaps there are past statistics that show most alcohol-related traffic fatalities are attributed to a driver having .08 or better. What was wrong with .10?

As for a better solution than having this or any other police officer "fishing" for intoxicated drivers: 120 breathalyzers for all the Class A liquor establishments, and these breathlyzers are then posted at the door. Like smokers having to smoke outside nowadays, drinkers have to give up the car keys to the bartender before they are served. When a driver wishes to go home, they first blow to see if they are above the .08 limit, before they are given back their car keys. Should they be over the limit, a 48-hour parking sticker is issued for their car, and an MTD shuttle takes the driver home.

Those that lie to the bartender and say they didn't drive, absolves the bar from liability and the full weight of the courts falls on the driver if detected.

As for out-of-town drinkers, I guess your ride home is limited to in-town service, car keys regardless. Discount on a hotel?

There may be a thousand flaws to the plan, but at least it addresses the problem proactively rather than the current system of lucky guesses on the part of a happenstance meeting with an officer on the road. We all have a right to drink, drink to excess even, but we don't have a right to drive drunk. The cries of a nanny state fall short to the legitimate expectation that everyone pay attention and be alert when operating a 3,000 pound weapon.

I wonder if there are stats to show that most times the drunken driver in a crash left a bar before driving impaired.

Obviously, the breathalyzer-at-the-bar idea provides no protection for the driver who purchases their beverages at a carry-out packaging place.

rsp wrote on October 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

The .08 limit might have to be re-visited as to whether that should be the standard. Perhaps there are past statistics that show most alcohol-related traffic fatalities are attributed to a driver having .08 or better. What was wrong with .10?

The limit was lower to .08 at the behest of MADD as they were able to establish that it would in fact save lives. It was already lowered in other states that were seeing the results. If the limit was raised back to .10 you would begin to see the increase in fatalities again. 

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on October 11, 2012 at 2:10 am
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I'll answer from the perspective of one who's been licensed by the state to practice law AND bartending (TIPS certified).


Lowering the limit gave an automatic reasonable doubt to defense attorneys everywhere. Think along the lines of "this meant sober last year, but drunk this year? Well which is it Illinois?!?!?"


As for overserving; it's bad law, even if the responsibility shirking seems economically reasonable (i.e. hold the bar accountable because it made $12 in the tragedy).


I overserved hundreds, possibly thousands of people in my career. The thing is, you don't know it at the time. They don't know it at the time.


It's not until that one too many hits the system (ten, twenty, thirty minutes later) that they become wobbly, weak-kneed, unable to enunciate complete sentences or drive a car.

rsp wrote on October 11, 2012 at 9:10 am

I'll answer from the perspective of someone who's lost a family member to a drunk driver. If you've been drinking, don't get in a car. Clearly there is impairment. That is the whole point of the drinking, right? Is there any doubt about that? Let alone a reasonable doubt?  It shouldn't matter if you blow .08 or .10, you could still kill someone. Lowering the limit has saved lives. It's not about getting past the deputy or counting drinks or trying to confuse a jury that maybe someone can handle his drinks. It's about things like a little girl growing up without her dad, a wife losing her husband, a man losing his only brother. Parents having to bury their son. I knew a woman who lost her husband and her son to a drunk driver. My best friend growing up, lost her brother when he was drunk and drove his motorcycle into the back of a semi. Shall I go on?

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on October 12, 2012 at 7:10 am
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So in theory, you'd be extra motivated to have an effective enforcement policy.

rsp wrote on October 13, 2012 at 7:10 am

As opposed to someone who admits overserving? I'm aware of my biases. I don't try to use them as excuses to not take resposibility. I've seen people routinely overserved when it's clear they've had too much. Every night there are police calls for unresponsive students who can't even make it home from the bars and are lying on the street, sometimes not breathing properly. Instead of acknowledging there is a problem, almost every comment has attacked the deputy for doing his job. Without any evidence of any impropriety on his part he has been compared to the KGB, accused of being "unfair" whatever that means. 

natebaux wrote on October 11, 2012 at 5:10 am

What was wrong with .10?

gov edgar did not like it. anyone remember the war he waged against bar owners?


natebaux wrote on October 11, 2012 at 6:10 am

know anyone that has one wired to their ignition? i guess it wouldnt be fair to make every car owner spend an extra $300 to ensure drunk driving was eraticated. im too lazy to search right now, but im thinking it was the auto and liquor industry that lobbied against a federal intervention requiring them on all new vehicles.


i suppose you could get booze clasified as a controled substance requiring a permit or script to purchase. the permit is only obtainable once you have documented that your autolizer is installed and functioning properly. frack, im a gunius.

Rock586 wrote on October 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I would suggest if you do not want to be stopped for a DUI do not drink and drive.  The man is good at his job.  Maybe the others look for other violations?  Maybe they do not want U of I students given DUI's. So would you complainers feel better if he has less and the others had more DUI's? 

fyrchic32 wrote on October 11, 2012 at 8:10 am

 Way to go Jon! Keep up the great work! And by the way thank you for keeping our roadways and communities safe!!

I have worked this wonderful man personally, and he is great at what he does and he is fair! And to all the whiners and complainers, we’ll listen to your whining and complaints and see how they change when you get, “that call”.

The “one” we too have to deliver to families in the middle of the night telling them, “I’m sorry Mrs. & Mrs. but we just came to inform you that one of your babies is  dead because of some irresponsible person who decided to over indulge. “Yes ma’am and Sir I understand you will not be able to walk her down the aisle at her wedding.” Yes I also understand you will not get any grandchild from her either.”  This task too goes right along with the DUI work. Maybe we should change the rules and start making the person who kills someone be the one to deliver the message to the families. Maybe that would make you all feel warm and fuzzy inside.

sameeker wrote on October 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

How about when you get the "call" that your child was stopped for a turn signal violation and was shot for "resisting" law enforcement? If someone has one beer and is in a wreck, it is automatically their fault, even if the someone pulled out in front them and caused the wreck. This is nothing but a wich hunt.

Fedupwithstatereps wrote on October 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

It struck me too that his numbers are way out of line with other law enforcement.  That being said -- if you've ever served on a corner's jury and had to hear details of a death caused by a drunk or impared driver, you'd thank Officer Reifsteck instead of looking for alterative motives.

fyrchic32 wrote on October 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm


natebaux wrote on October 11, 2012 at 5:10 pm

then if its soo damn painful, why not stop them entirely, at the ignition process? if his actions are that benevolant, why not stop the violence, pain and death altogether? dont stop there, why not ban alcohol all together? they did it once with wonderful results. there would be no more dui, fighting, or domestic violence calls to deal with, the court system would dry up.....oh, cant have that.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 11, 2012 at 10:10 pm

You do realize that your raising a good question.  If someone is convicted of a D.U.I.; they are usually given a probationary period of a prescribed driving route to work, and a restriction to stay out of establishments serving alcohol.  It could go beyond a probationary period.  After the year of a prescribed driving route, they could have that lifted.  However; the restriction to stay out of establishments serving alcohol, and the possession of alcohol could be for a much longer period of time.  Maybe; ten, twenty, or thirty years.  You could have that.

Not everyone gets a D.U.I.  For those of us who have; we should learn from our experience, and not blame others for it.  George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, judges, and a multitude of others belong to the club.  Anyone with access to a vehicle can join.  The dues are expensive.  The noteriety is shameful.  Initiation only requires a single lapse of judgement.

asparagus wrote on October 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm

How many lives do you suppose this officer has saved?  How many injuries do you think he may have prevented?  How many claims of harrasment are we dealing with here?  If there is a real problem then lets be clear about it and address it.  Otherwise, don't jump to unwarranted conclusions based upon interpretations of some data and your own personal biases.

asparagus wrote on October 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Sid had a moving personal story.  One that showed tremendous personal character. I only wish that I am as noble as he was in changing his POV.

There is tremendous power in personal choice.  Beyond the personal. We need to communicate our truths.

I have driven drunk. I was not caught but I am as gulty as Sid.  I should have been held accountable.  I pledge to all of you that I will never do that again!

If I had been caught, it would have been righteous and correct.  I was not caught.  But I have learned how to prevent this from happening.  It is people like Sid that have suffered the consequences and raised the awareness that made a difference.  For that, I thank him deeply.


constantly amazed wrote on October 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm

UI student killed, Champaign man arrested after alleged DUI hit-and-run

Sat, 10/13/2012 - 11:49am | The News-Gazette



rsp wrote on October 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm

And even that won't change their minds. They look the other way, it's the exception. It's the deputy's fault, even. But it's not. It's a life lost.

TheChiefLives wrote on October 15, 2012 at 8:10 am

sameeker wrote on October 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

How about when you get the "call" that your child was stopped for a turn signal violation and was shot for "resisting" law enforcement? ...


Oh yeah, because that happens all the freaking time!  smh