Archive for the ‘holiday’ tag

Man Charged in Christmas DUI Crash That Killed Daughter

December 30th, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Drinking and DrivingJeffrey Smith, 26, of South Wolcott Avenue, has been charged in a drunk driving Christmas Eve crash that killed his 8-year-old daughter. According to the Chicago Tribune. Smith, who was driving a Chevrolet sedan, struck a curb and then rammed into a tree. His daughter, Lauren, was “trapped in the car when it rolled over on its side,” the Tribune reports. Her father was also critically injured and as of December 27 was still in the hospital. Regardless, Smith was “charged with a felony count of aggravated DUI and was also cited for negligent driving, failure to reduce speed and failure to adhere to child restraint regulations,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Lauren’s mother, Loressa Hall, was skeptical that Lauren’s father was drunk at the time of the accident, telling the Tribune that Smith is a devoted father “who she believes would not have had more than a single drink,” knowing that he’d have to drive Lauren. Police say that it is doubtful that Lauren had been wearing seatbelt at the time of the crash. According to a different Tribune article, the “3rd grader was looking forward to opening presents, especially a karaoke machine, as she returned from a Christmas Eve family dinner in the south suburbs.” They were on their way to Lauren’s grandmother’s house at the time of the crash. “Firefighters freed Lauren in 20 minutes” from the mangled car, reports the Tribune, “but their efforts to save her life were unsuccessful.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and reported by, “data shows that the daily death toll from drunk driving during the holiday season is significantly more than the rest of the year.” Between 2001 and 2005, for example, there were an average of 36 deaths per day resulting from an alcohol-related crash. “That number increases to 45 per day during the Christmas period and jumps to 54 per day over New Year’s holiday,” according to

If you or someone you know has been accused of DUI or involved in a DUI crash in Chicago, the most important first step is to seek legal counsel. Don’t go through it alone. Contact Ramsell & Associates, Attorneys at Law today.

Weeks pleads guilty to DUI charge

December 15th, 2012 at 10:48 am

Tabitha S. Weeks, 31, from rural Benton left a Franklin County courtroom in handcuffs after her attorney Samuel G. Beggs negotiated a plea of guilt.

State’s attorney Evan Owens shared that the attorneys had reached an agreement; they added Weeks guilty plea to one count of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, a Class 2 felony.

Owens said that Weeks would serve about 85 percent of the sentence, or six years, in the Illinois Department of Corrections, with two years of mandatory supervised release to follow.

In addition to her time served, Weeks will also pay $1,000 in fees plus court costs, a $750 DUI equipment fee, $2,500 in restitution to Marla Payne, $1,000 to the county’s anti-crime fund, and a $250 DNA fee.

Due to the plea agreement, Owens said that the remaining nine counts would be dismissed.

Weeks was accused of a traffic crash on June 10 that took the life of Craig A. Payne, 41, of Bonnie. Owens said that if the case had gone to trial, Marla and William Payne would have been called to the witness stand. The two would have testified that they saw Weeks traveling the wrong direction on Rend Lake Dam Road prior to the crash.

Owens said that after Weeks was air-lifted from that scene and transported to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, a sample of her blood was drawn. The sample indicated that her alcohol-blood level was about the 0.8 legal limit.

The Illinois State Police also tested the sample in the Springfield crime lab and found the same result as the hospital, according to Owens.

Owens also said that Weeks was traveling above the posted speed limit when the crash occurred. He said that Payne slowed to 20 miles per hour and attempted to avoid the crash, but failed because of the roadway that stretches across the lake.

After accepting the plea agreement, Judge Tom Dinn also advised Weeks of her trial and appeal rights. He explained that she would know exactly what would happen to her prior to accepting the plea deal and be asked if she understood.

Weeks shared that it was her own decision to enter the negotiated plea and added that that is what she wanted to do, as the Payne family huddled together in tears outside the courtroom.

Dinn told Weeks that she also had to submit to DNA testing because she is a first-offender.

Dinn added that, had the case gone to trial, the sentence could have run in the 3 to 14 year range and Weeks could have received up to 48 months of probation as well.

If you have gotten into trouble with a DUI this holiday season, contact Ramsell and Associates, Attorneys  at Law, L.L.C. These Illinois DUI attorneys can help you with your DUI case.

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