They can pull you over when you’re driving erratically, and request a breath and even blood test if they believe you’ve been drinking, but are your cops under the influence while behind the badge? A recent report from NBC Chicago puts the spotlight on several suburban police departments that don’t care if their officers have a few drinks before coming to work.
Cops in Forest Park, Glendale Heights, South Barrington, and Westchester can all go to work after tying a few on. It’s not something everyone agrees with, rather it’s part of the union contracts in those departments that says no action will be taken if an officer has a blood alcohol content of .05 or lower. In Elmwood Park and Oak Park, that limit is .08.
For some perspective, .08 is the legal limit at which you are considered too intoxicated to drive. This means a cop who has had enough drinks to register .07 blood alcohol content could pull you over and arrest you for having less than one drink more than him, testing at .08. Really, you could go out drinking with a police officer, you get in your car and he in the patrol car, and you would be the only one risking arrest.
So, what are the dangers here? While a .05 blood alcohol level could feel like “nothing” to the experienced drinker, it could put someone else over the edge. The truth is, alcohol affects us all differently, and many people would pass a driver’s test with flying colors when they are well above the .08 legal limit.
But, we aren’t talking about regular people here; we are talking about people who go to work and carry a gun, people who wear a badge and exercise great power over others. If there is a double standard, where cops are treated differently than regular citizens, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the police be held to a higher standard?
Most police departments have a zero tolerance policy in regards to officers and alcohol. If you have any alcohol in your system you can be disciplined. (Chicago P.D. has a limit of .02). Most departments, in other words, have some sense about them. But until they are all on the same page, don’t assume the officer pulling you over is any better equipped to handle his car after a few drinks than you are.
If you are arrested for drunk driving in the state of Illinois, you could face serious penalties and lifelong consequences. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.