Man faces felony DUI charge

Man faces felony DUI charge

URBANA — An Urbana man arrested earlier this month for allegedly driving drunk is due in Champaign County Circuit Court next week to be arraigned on a felony alleging that this is his fifth DUI.

Jackson V. "Jackie" Harris, 50, who listed an address in the 2100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, was arrested about 9:35 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3.

Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Dornik said a citizen called Urbana police about a person driving near Florida and Cottage Grove avenues in the wrong lane of traffic and allegedly running stop signs.

Police stopped Harris near Gregory and Oregon streets and noticed he had slow reaction times, soft mumbled speech, and smelled strongly of alcohol.

Because of his confusion and inability to stand, police did not administer field sobriety tests, Dornik said.

However, a preliminary breath test put his blood-alcohol concentration at 0.33 percent — four times the limit under which an Illinois motorist is presumed intoxicated. Harris agreed to go to Carle Hospital for blood tests.

Dornik said Harris has three prior DUI convictions from Champaign County and one from Woodford County.

A charge of aggravated DUI has been filed against him alleging that the Oct. 3 arrest is his fifth for driving while drunk. He was told to be in court Nov. 1 to be arraigned on the Class 1 felony offense.

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Local Yocal wrote on October 23, 2013 at 8:10 pm
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This is a small, normally insignificant case (insignficant for its frequency) but is a classic case where a reporter relying on what a prosecutor says for facts, can be either unreliable or at least inconsistent with public record.

The case draws notice at first for the odd fact that the accused, alleged to be noticeably impaired, driving dangerously, alleged to reek of alcohol, and confirmed to be over the blood-alcohol limit is not immediately arrested and taken to jail. And according to the circuit clerk's website, will be allowed to roam free for 43 days after the incident. This current charge wasn't filed until 15 days after the incident outside the presence of the defendant or an attorney on his behalf. No bench warrant is even issued for his arrest, nor is a bond set. Is that standard procedure? I hope the cops at least impounded the drunken man's car before they left him at the hospital on the night of Oct. 3.

Further look-see shows, or does not show, the aforementioned 3 DUI convictions he is supposed to have in this county. Records seem to show only one in 1998. How was 3 prior DUI's in Champaign County arrived at?

There doesn't seem to be public access to the records in Woodward County, but if there is a DUI conviction up there, that makes only two possible past DUI convictions and therefore, a class 1 felony isn't even possible, though it is being charged that way.

Not saying anyone is deliberately overcharging or deceiving a reporter, just that the public record doesn't support some of what's in this story.

It would be interesting to know how this case came to the attention of the reporter in such a delayed fashion. You might want to fact check this one.