Our Chicago accident attorneys at the Pintas and Mullins Law Firm were shocked by recent reports of a drunk driving accident that took the life of a 13-year-old boy and led to the conviction of a long-time Chicago police officer. Unfortunately, drunk driving accidents cause thousands of injuries a year, and many of them are fatal. Although a large number of these accidents result in tragic consequences, they are especially concerning when the offense is committed by a police officer who is supposed to preserve and uphold the integrity of the law.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, the accident happened in May of 2009, when off-duty Chicago police officer Richard Bolling hit a 13-year-old boy who was riding his bicycle on Chicago’s South Side. The teen died at the scene, but Bolling kept driving his Dodge Charger until he was stopped just a few minutes later for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
Video recordings and court testimony reveal a series of controversial steps that soon followed, which indicate that the officer may have received preferential treatment. Bolling admitted to internal investigators that he was at a South Side bar for several hours prior to the accident and drank at least 5 alcoholic drinks. However, one of the arresting officers testified that she was ordered to delay his sobriety test for more than two hours after the accident. Bolling was allowed to wash up at a nearby gas station prior to the test, which is not the usual custom for potential DUI suspects. And although Bolling admittedly gave off a “moderate” odor of alcohol and had to use his hands for balance, it was not until one of the arresting officers watched a videotape of the field sobriety test in court that he finally admitted that Bolling flunked key parts of the test.
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By the time Bolling was given a Breathalyzer, his blood alcohol level registered at .079, which is just below the .08 legal intoxication level. Given the amount of time that passed between the accident and the time that the test was administered, toxicologists estimate that Bolling’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was anywhere from .124 to .169.
On January 18, 2012, a jury convicted Bolling of aggravated drunk driving and reckless homicide. They also found the 17-year police veteran guilty of leaving the scene of an accident. Bolling now faces up to 15 years in prison, although he could also receive probation.
Our drunk driving attorneys have helped countless individuals who have been injured in a car accident, and we aggressively advocate on behalf of families who lost their loved ones in a drunk driving crash. Accidents such as those involving trusted officials like Officer Bolling are especially troubling because these cases involve individuals who are committing the very crimes they are tasked with protecting the public from.
Although it appears that the arresting officers may have given Bolling preferential treatment that they would not give the average citizen, we are at the very least encouraged that the justice system ultimately held Bollinger accountable for his actions. Drunk driving often leads to dramatic injuries, but many of these injuries are preventable. When injuries or fatalities occur, an experienced drunk driving lawyer can assist with filing a claim, collecting evidence, negotiating a settlement, and securing compensation for the victim and the victim’s family.