(CBS) – A suburban police chief is blasting Cook County prosecutors for not throwing the book at a drunken motorist who has been found asleep at the wheel in traffic – twice in the past four years.
A Riverside Police officer early Monday came across a stalled vehicle at Harlem Avenue at the Burlington Northern Railroad crossing. The officer found the driver slumped over the wheel, with the car running, a news release from Riverside police says.
The driver, 33-year-old Ruben Quintana of Stickney, had to be shaken awake by the officer, the news release said. Quintana allegedly told the officer he consumed “cranberry and vodka throughout the entire night” at a bar and flunked a field sobriety test.
Quintana was arrested for driving while intoxicated. It turns out, Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel says, the motorist was stopped by one of his officers in 2013 for the exact same offense: being asleep at the wheel, in traffic, while intoxicated.
To boot, Weitzel says, Quintana had a third DUI-related offense, in 2011, this one in Kansas. The motorist has not had a valid driver’s license since 2014, Weitzel said.
Cook County prosecutors declined to approve a felony DUI charge for the latest offense, he says.
Quintana, instead, was charged with with driving under the influence of alcohol, improper parking on a roadway, driving with no valid driver’s license and no vehicle insurance, police said.
“To think that Mr. Quintana had been arrested by my agency in 2013 for the exact same crime involving the exact same circumstances where he had passed out behind the wheel in the middle of traffic is really inconceivable,” Weitzel said. “Taking into consideration he had an out-of-state Kansas DUI conviction, I do not understand why the Cook County State’s Attorney did not enhance the charge to a felony drunk driving.”
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has said her office would prioritize cases based on limited resources. Weitzel argues prosecutors should follow criminal statutes.