UPDATE: Research Park director arrested for DUI hit squad car

UPDATE: Research Park director arrested for DUI hit squad car

UPDATED Thursday

URBANA — University of Illinois Research Park Director Laura Frerichs allegedly backed into a squad car after almost running a red light, then didn't stop immediately for the deputy who was in the car.

The details of the Wednesday arrest of the 38-year-old UI administrator for driving under the influence were contained in a Champaign County sheriff's deputy's report completed early Thursday by Deputy J.P. Reifsteck.

The 16-year veteran is regarded among his law enforcement colleagues as one of the best at spotting impaired drivers and among the most prolific at making DUI arrests. 

Sgt. Dan Coile said Reifsteck's squad car was not damaged when Frerichs reportedly backed her Mercedes SUV into it about 2:20 a.m. Wednesday. Her vehicle received scratches around the license plate, he said. 

Coile said Frerichs was westbound on Windsor and had pulled into the intersection with Prospect Avenue after the light had turned red. Reifsteck was in the lane behind her.

Realizing she was too far into the intersection, she backed up, bumping Reifsteck's squad car, but then continued west when the light turned green. Coile said Reifsteck turned on his lights and followed as she continued slowly westbound on Windsor. When she didn't stop, Reifsteck turned on his siren.

Frerichs then turned north onto Galen Drive and ultimately pulled over near Ross Drive.

Coile said Frerichs told Reifsteck she had consumed "one or two glasses of chardonnay at her place of employment" and was on her way home. 

Following her arrest, she was taken to the county jail, where a test conducted at 3:51 a.m. put her breath alcohol concentration at 0.22 percent, Coile said. The limit in Illinois for a motorist to be presumed intoxicated is 0.08 percent. 

Following her release from the jail on bond Wednesday, Frerichs was told to be back in court Sept. 12. She has hired Champaign attorney Mark Lipton to represent her. 

 

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Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016

URBANA — University of Illinois Research Park Director Laura Frerichs was arrested by the Champaign County sheriff’s office early Wednesday morning for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Frerichs, 38, of Champaign, was also charged with driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more and issued tickets for disobeying a traffic control signal and improper lane usage, according to police.

She was stopped by police at 2:20 a.m. at Windsor Road and Prospect Avenue, according to Sheriff Dan Walsh.

Frerichs, who is also director of economic development for the campus, oversees operations at the UI Research Park along South First Street in Champaign.

A campus spokeswoman said the university would have no comment.

The research park was created in 2000 to spur help faculty develop and commercialize new technology and allow companies to collaborate with UI researchers.

Created in 2000, the park now has 1,766 employees, including 618 student interns. The park and its EnterpriseWorks startup technology incubator are home to more than 100 companies, and it’s been recognized by industry groups as a top business incubator.

Frerichs took over leadership of the park in 2009, after working closely with the UI in her role with Fox/Atkins Development, the UI’s partner on the project. She is responsible for managing services at EnterpriseWorks, marketing the park, and supporting the university’s economic development efforts.

In 2015, Frerichs was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to co-chair the new Innovate Illinois Advisory Council. She serves on the boards of the Champaign County Economic Development Corp., the Illinois Technology Association and the Illinois Science and Tech Coalition.

In 2015, she received the Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Award. She was named “Woman of the Year” by Central Illinois Business Magazine in 2009 and won the 2013 Athena Young Professional Award.

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Comments

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welive wrote on August 03, 2016 at 10:08 am

it can happen to anyone who drinks and drives.

Local Yocal wrote on August 03, 2016 at 10:08 am
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I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something
Something I can use
People love it when you lose
They love dirty laundry

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on August 03, 2016 at 11:08 am

Well Yodler, by your "fact finding" this would be DUR/DUS #40001  in Champaign County  Or are you ever going to walk that number back?

 

You are more than willing to talk about LEO when they are off duty but this is not fair game?

 

Be intersting to see if she played the always good  "dont you know who I am" game............

wayward wrote on August 03, 2016 at 11:08 am

i'd suspect that if the N-G wrote a story on every single DUI arrest in their circulation area, they wouldn't have room for much else.

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on August 03, 2016 at 11:08 am

There were at least 2 other DUI's last night that will not make the news...............

 

I simply do not understand that in this day of UBER/MTD why you just cannot find a different way home.   

 

Thankfully no one was injured as a result of her activity.

logicalpositivist wrote on August 03, 2016 at 11:08 am

Cuthbert,

It was 2:20 AM. MTD isn't running and the UBER drivers are all in bed. At least her Mercedes that she races around town in would have kept her safe.

It's interesting they didn't say what her BAC was, like other articles of this sort.

worldgoesroundincircles wrote on August 03, 2016 at 2:08 pm

"At least her Mercedes that she races around town in would have kept her safe."

While I'm glad that she wasn't hurt, it's not all about her. She could have injured or killed one or more people. It's a very selfish act.  

Ellen wrote on August 03, 2016 at 11:08 pm
  •  
Bulldogmojo wrote on August 03, 2016 at 3:08 pm

 

Well the people in Springfield aren't going to care who she is. The DUI conviction apparatus is no respecter of persons. It's a huge money making machine for the state. It's just a good thing she makes enough money to hire a driver because that's how she's going to be getting around for the next 12-18 months after the state sends her a letter telling her not only that her license is revoked but she has to send in her license plates from all her vehicles.

University of Illinois leadership in action setting a great example.

Don Mega wrote on August 03, 2016 at 4:08 pm

She will get court supervision and it won't even be on he record by this time next year.

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on August 03, 2016 at 7:08 pm

Unless the SA makes a sweetheart deal with her good friend the State Treasurer, her bac will preclude supervison................................ its not gonna be a "well I had one too many"    We will see if her BAC gets posted on the circuit clerks website like the rest of the unwashed is...... maybe someone will find out the real story behind this............... how they found her in the first place................

BruckJr wrote on August 03, 2016 at 9:08 pm

Why is she not cloaked in a bedsheet like others shown in mugshots?

Chambanacitizen wrote on August 03, 2016 at 10:08 pm

I dive for Uber. 12am - 3am is prime time. I do hope most drivers are in bed... more for me! Wheeeeee!

ChampaignNeighbor wrote on August 03, 2016 at 10:08 pm

Congrats Gazette for your "TMZ Live" reporting. 

Let's just take a time out to make sure it is known that Laura has done many things that have helped our town grow and create jobs. 

She's been a driving force behind commercializing tech coming out of the University, bringing in large corporations to Research Park, growing a strong startup scene and creating programs and work space that provide jobs in our town. 

I for one can separate someone making a mistake in her personal life from the value she has brought to our community via her professional role. I hope others can do the same and ignore this gossip, taboid-style reporting. 

DoNotTread wrote on August 04, 2016 at 9:08 am
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"She's been a driving force behind commercializing tech coming out of the University..."

Maybe 'driving' force isn't the best metaphor to use for your friend that just got busted for ramming her car into a cop while she was wasted.

That being said, you are right. This is a non story and the NG is publicly shaming someone for the same infraction that we see go unreported by them every day with other citizens. I'm sure she will be just fine, as she has clearly done a lot for the community and has strong support at work.

This also shows that not all in the UI elite are protected by the blue shield when it comes to DUI's. Unless, of course, you are the Chief's son.

rsp wrote on August 04, 2016 at 9:08 am

I think "ram" is a little inciteful, considering the lack of damage to the squad car and only scratches to hers.

DoNotTread wrote on August 04, 2016 at 10:08 am
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I agree. Poor choice of adjective. I should have said she gracefully maneuvered the tail end of her vehicle into the police cruiser behind her, causing minimal damage.

rsp wrote on August 04, 2016 at 11:08 am

Not sure graceful works either when you're that drunk...

DoNotTread wrote on August 04, 2016 at 11:08 am
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I incorrectly assumed that the sarcasm was implied.

Ellen wrote on August 03, 2016 at 10:08 pm

"Frerichs, 38, of Champaign, was also charged with driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more and issued tickets for disobeying a traffic control signal and improper lane usage, according to police."

Ruralman wrote on August 04, 2016 at 1:08 am

She made a mistake.  Move along, nothing to see here!

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on August 04, 2016 at 8:08 am

Now................ that is NOT what the Sheriff said yesterday. He said that it was improper lane usage etc.no mention of the fact that she rammed a squad car, failed to yield and was stopped several blocks away.  While the deputy had his lights and siren on the whole way.

 

That is a whole lot different than she got pulled over.

 

Is the great coverup about to happen in this case?

DoNotTread wrote on August 04, 2016 at 9:08 am
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I've been reading your comments for a long time and have become increasingly concerned about your mental health. Conspiracies, obsession with Local Yocal and a radical neo-con ethos all point to a bad thing coming. You're comments further prove the need for mental health screening prior to purchasing a gun.

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on August 04, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Yodler has a sense of distorting the facts.  Just last week he said tht there were 44000 people in champaign county  ( out of 210000 residents) who had suspended DL.  I challenged him on his "facts". He has yet to walk back that statement and his tirades against cops  especially when it comes to tasers.....

 

Now in this case?

 

Here is how this is going to play out.

 

The SA will recuse herself and her office.    A special prosecutor will be appointed.   At some point, past the election, the bac ticket will be dropped.  She then will get Court supervison.  Something that is not allowed if you have a bac over .15.     You are about to see the haves and the have nots in this County.

 

I have seen WWII vets who had bac over .15 get their license revolked  ( now this was 15 yrs ago) because they had bac over .15  Lets see if the same rules apply here.

rsp wrote on August 04, 2016 at 11:08 am

The report wasn't filed yet. Calm down. Everyone wants to see the report first.

Central Illinois Observer wrote on August 04, 2016 at 9:08 am

It took a while, but karma finally got her.  Arrogant and egomaniacal, no one could work for her and she attempted to ruin several people's careers.  She's heartless and ruthless as anyone she had a hand in firing can testify.  Her defenders can say what they want, but those of us she screwed over are vindicated now that the truth about her is in the open.  She was impossible to work for, and now we know why.  You can see the attitude in her perp photo..."don't you KNOW who I am?  I'll have your badge for this."  Glad no one got hurt but her.  I hope UI has the guts to can her for drinking in the office.

rsp wrote on August 04, 2016 at 9:08 am

You think she was in the office at 2:30 a.m.? Try an event, probably a dinner event. As for her expression in the photo, it's what most people look like when they find themselves under arrest, in shock and embarrassed.

David Green wrote on August 04, 2016 at 9:08 am

However, it's important to separate her personal behavior while drinking/driving from her public behavior while helping to turn the U of I into a cash cow for corporate neoliberalism, "entrepreneurship," in our education-for-student-debt-education-for-private-profit-by-patents world. Lots of folks get DUIs. Lots of respectable folks also participate in the privatization/looting of our "public" university, not to mention the local developers/1% gentrified paradise that is now Research Park. She has lots of partners in neoliberal crimes. But that would be the case, for her and her cronies, even if she hadn't made a bad choice, something that 100 people probably were making at the same time as hers.

MSJ66 wrote on August 04, 2016 at 10:08 am

I agree with the others that this happens all the time without front page exposure for the "regular folk". But what would you expect from this"news"paper. I think she has a problem. She blew a .22 an hour and a half after the incident. What was it at the time it happened, surely higher. This is not a breath alcohol number from a few drinks. To drive in that condition I'd say it's not the first time she has done it as most people that are "normal" drinkers would probably been passed out at that breath alcohol level let alone be driving. Hopefully she learns something from the experience.

keyboardcat wrote on August 04, 2016 at 10:08 am

@DoNotTread, What in the world are you even TALKING about?! This woman has done absolutely NOTHING to bring jobs to this community or "drive tech" coming out of the University. NOTHING. In fact, more big companies have left research park under HER watch then before she got there. In fact, there is not one "accomplishment" in her entire career that isn't schmoozing powerful people and being a privlidged princess. Seriously, stop reading her own made up "career" PR bullet points and do some thinking for yourself. You can't list one single benefit she has given this community that wouldn't have happened with or without her. Not one. She treats everyone she comes across like crap, and it is not surprising she thinks she's above the law and "too good" to follow rules. 

DoNotTread wrote on August 04, 2016 at 11:08 am
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I didn't claim she has driven tech, created jobs or anything else of the sort. So, what are you even TALKING about?

You sound like a disgruntled former employee to me. 

guyincognito wrote on August 04, 2016 at 11:08 am

I think Laura is a good person, she always treated me with respect and I never witnessed or heard anything negative about her. Everyone has their critics and sometimes you can't avoid rubbing people the wrong way. People make mistakes and hopefully learn from them.

smokn69 wrote on August 04, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Wait what she was drinking at her place of employment...... Sign me up!!!!!!

ddmarco wrote on August 04, 2016 at 2:08 pm

I can't believe some of the spiteful comments about Laura. Yes she made a mistake but she has also done an incredible amount of good for our community, brought in so many businesses to our economy and outreach to women and students here at U of I. Publicly trashing her character and making her out to be some monster is just ridiculous.

ddmarco wrote on August 04, 2016 at 2:08 pm

I can't believe some of the spiteful comments about Laura. Yes she made a mistake but she has also done an incredible amount of good for our community, brought in so many businesses to our economy and outreach to women and students here at U of I. Publicly trashing her character and making her out to be some monster is just ridiculous.

CarlWinslow wrote on August 04, 2016 at 2:08 pm

She hits the squad car at 2:20AM, and is finally tested 1.5 hours later and still blows a 0.22. Being able to remain concious and functional enough to (poorly) operate a motor vehicle with such an elevated BAC would indicate she has acquired a high level of tolerance for alcohol through persistent heavy drinking. Hopefully she can take this opportunity to be honest with herself about her drinking and seek help for the issues she is using it to address.

DoNotTread wrote on August 04, 2016 at 3:08 pm
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Lol @ the keyboard/armchair psychiatrist. Your thorough examination and subsequent breakdown of a strangers personal life that you know nothing about is enlgithening. 

"Who are you to judge the life I live? I am not perfect and I don't have to be! Before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean." 

CarlWinslow wrote on August 04, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Your commentary speaks volumes about what little you know.

I have been in her shoes, deeper in than she appears to be thus far, and found my way out of that place to a freer and happier life. I hope she seeks the help she needs so she can do the same.

DoNotTread wrote on August 04, 2016 at 4:08 pm
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HA! The hypocrisy runs deep in this town. If you've been in someones shoes then you shouldn't be judging them and speculating on their personal life, especially when you don't even know them.

Your evaluation of my knowledge is obviously taken with a grain of salt. You are the same person that wanted to prosecute the kid from SJO - on a decades old law that has been proven unconstitutional - for exercising his first amendment rights. You also suggested that someone should 'burn a rainbow flag on his front lawn' referring to him being a gay person.

metalmomof4 wrote on August 04, 2016 at 5:08 pm

I do not know this person or have anything for or against her personally, but many years ago my husband had a dui and his BAC was close to what she blew. When he went to his court ordered evaluation he was told that blowing that high of a amount and still being able to walk and drive as far as he had showed a high tolerence for alcohol consumption built up over a period of time and made him a automatic level 3 risk which required the most amount of classes and made it very difficult to get his liscense back.  After thousands of dollars, years of classes and sobriety with help from many people he was finally able to get his liscense back.  Hopefully she has to endure the same hardship and financial difficulty we did. I don't say this out of spite I say it because she needs a serious reality check. Just like any other drunken  idiot out there she could have killed someone, she was a danger to everyone else driving along the same route she was and just because she can drive a fancy car and has a high profile job doesn,t make her special. I would think with all that privledge she would be capable of making better decisions.  Just my opinion

Local Yocal wrote on August 04, 2016 at 6:08 pm
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"Hopefully she has to endure the same hardship and financial difficulty we did."

The call for equal application of the law is a legitimate one, (Frerichs is certainly getting her fair share of equal application of publicity) but history fortells a likely "first offense" treatment from the excuse-laden state's attorney. If the Detective Lisa Staples case and the U of I Music Director case and the Kathryn Daly case is any indication, this "high-profile" case against the Research Park Director will be settled amicably far in favor of the defendant- without the usual hardships leveled against the unwashed citizenry. This favoritism is especially apparent by the presence of private attorney Mark Lipton retained for defense. Rietz always gives Lipton sweetheart deals. And News-Gazette reporter Schenk knows it.

@metalmomof4: would you say the criminal justice system's intervention on your husband's DUI was a fair and helpful solution toward stopping your husband from drinking and driving?

rockwinkle wrote on August 04, 2016 at 8:08 pm
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 Her real name is Fredericks....Frerichs is how she pronounced it to the arresting officer. But just like when Lincoln swam to Japan to defeat the Egyptians, we shall persevere.

metalmomof4 wrote on August 04, 2016 at 8:08 pm

My husbands dui was some time ago and Judge Ford strongly suggested that he should attend AA meetings four times a week. Yes I believe that the support from people that were serious about  staying sober, along with all of his "best frends" abandoning him when he was no longer bankrolling the fun went a long way in helping him change. He still attends AA although not as  often and the 10 days he spent in the county jail certainly was not where he wanted to be. It was hard on our family but if he had just gotten a slap on the wrist  he would not  have had a reason to change
 

 

Local Yocal wrote on August 04, 2016 at 11:08 pm
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Thank you for sharing your experience.

cydnab wrote on August 04, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Official comment from the University: " We understand.  It's not like there's anything else to do in central Illinois other than drink." 

Importantlocalopinion wrote on August 04, 2016 at 10:08 pm

Hey, don't blame him. He wrote that other stuff before he sobered up and changed his life.

Local Yocal wrote on August 05, 2016 at 2:08 am
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A list of some last times when dolphins were caught in the net: 

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2011-08-29/ex-investigator-sherif...

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2016-03-16/ui-official-sentenced-...

Looks like court supervision for Frerichs.