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A 0.295 blood alcohol count, and Bridgeview cops let her walk away

A woman invoved recent accident who was later found have blood-alcohol content .295 was released by Bridgeview police without being

A woman invoved in a recent accident who was later found to have a blood-alcohol content of .295 was released by Bridgeview police without being charged with DUI. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 24, 2012 8:03AM



Bridgeview police are conducting an internal investigation into why a woman who allegedly had a blood-alcohol content of 0.295 — more than three times the legal limit ­— and had been in a traffic crash, was let go, the SouthtownStar has learned.

Instead of charging her with DUI after a Dec. 10 crash, police let her leave the station with lesser charges.

Police reports the SouthtownStar obtained through the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the woman was found to have an open, and nearly empty, bottle of Patron tequila in the center console of her 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe; the first officer on the scene said she smelled of alcohol; and she failed several field sobriety tests given in the parking lot of a nearby fast-food restaurant. She later was found to have a blood-alcohol count of 0.295. The legal limit is 0.08.

Yet, the 36-year-old Chicago woman was only charged with illegal transportation of alcohol, driving without insurance and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, according to police reports.

She was later released on her own recognizance, after Bridgeview police Sgt. Peter Kokkinis told her she was “getting a break,” according to the reports. The SouthtownStar is not naming her because she has not been charged with drunken driving.

It’s not known whether police allowed the woman to drive herself home or whether her vehicle had been impounded.

The woman told the SouthtownStar during a brief phone interview, “That wasn’t the case,” when asked whether she was driving drunk on Dec. 10. She added, “I would prefer not to talk about it” and hung up.

Moments later, she sent a text message to a reporter: “I cannot talk right now ... but ur (sic) facts are incorrect.” Asked if she had been driving drunk, she texted, “Was not.”

Kokkinis has not returned repeated phone calls left for him at the police station and at his home. Mayor Steve Landek and Police Chief Russell Harvey declined to comment and referred questions to Bridgeview city attorney Michael Cainkar.

“There’s an internal investigation into this,” Cainkar said.

The story began at 1:40 p.m. when the woman slammed her Tahoe into the back of a Chicago man’s 2008 Nissan Sentra as he waited in the left-turn lane on eastbound 79th Street to head north on Harlem Avenue. The man did not return two phone calls for this story.

There were no injuries in the crash, but the man told the reporting officer he believed the woman was drunk, and officers detected “a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” coming from her, the police report said.

It said the woman, who stands 5-foot-4 and weighs 140 pounds, told police she drank two beers that day. It would take a 137-pound woman three drinks in one hour to have a blood-alcohol count just under 0.06, according to the Illinois secretary of state’s office.

Another officer arrived to help with the crash investigation and later wrote in his report that Kokkinis “wanted me to handle the DUI so that they would not be on overtime,” referring to two officers who first responded to the accident call. Kokkinis also said that unless one officer completed all the paperwork, the “case will not hold up in court,” the assisting officer claimed in his report, adding that the two officers told Kokkinis they were not comfortable with signing each other’s report.

Police arrested the woman for suspected drunken driving, took her to the Bridgeview police station and began to process the arrest. That’s when Kokkinis called the assisting officer and was told that the woman did not want to take a breath test, and Kokkinis told him to proceed with the paperwork for drunken driving, according to the assisting officer’s report

It says the officer told Kokkinis that he would do that and the first responding officer would complete the accident report, but Kokkinis replied “absolutely not” and told the assisting officer to sign his name to the first officer’s report. The assisting officer refused, leading Kokkinis to tell him, “you figure it out,” and hung up on him, according to the officer’s report.

Kokkinis soon met with the officers in the station’s lockup.

“Sgt. Kokkinis told (the assisting officer) to uncuff (the woman) from the wall and told her that she was getting a break today and was no longer under arrest for DUI,” the police report says.

However, Kokkinis evidently was curious about how drunk she was and told her to take the blood-alcohol test, assuring her that she would not be charged with drunken driving, no matter the result, the report says.

“Sgt. Kokkinis told (her) that everything was on video and audio and that he would not go back on his word. Sgt. Kokkinis wanted her to take the breath test so he could see what her blood-alcohol level was, even though she was not under arrest and this would not be used against her,” the assisting officer wrote in his report.

It says that after she again refused, Kokkinis told the first responding officer to write the woman tickets, and she then “changed her mind and said she would take the test.”

The reports by the first responding officer and the assisting officer say the woman registered 0.295 on the breath test. That’s a level high enough that some people would be “close to passing out” unless they had developed a tolerance for large amounts of alcohol, said Susan McKeigue, state executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The secretary of state’s office said the woman had not been ticketed before.



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