Just an hour earlier, North Riverside resident Miguel A. Ocampo, 20, might have only gotten a traffic ticket for driving more than 40 mph over the speed limit on 26th Street.
But at 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, when a Riverside police officer stopped him for allegedly driving 99 mph westbound on 26th Street between Harlem and Desplaines avenues, Ocampo was hit with a criminal charge that could land him in jail for up to one year.
When the New Year struck at midnight on Jan. 1, a new Illinois law went into effect, punishing excessive speeders more harshly.
“What used to be a virtual slap on the wrist plus possible fines is now a potential jail sentence,” said Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
“Before the new law took effect, speeding more than 31 miles per hour was considered a moving violation, punishable by court supervision, possible driver safety classes and a fine.”
Ocampo had other problems, though, according to police. In addition to speeding 64 mph over the posted speed limit and blowing through the stop light at 26th Street and Desplaines Avenue as he turned southbound toward his home a few blocks away, said police, Ocampo was also drunk.
According to the police report, Ocampo told the arresting officer that he’d been at a New Year’s Eve party in Chicago where he’d been drinking. A portable breath test supplied at the scene reportedly showed Ocampo’s blood-alcohol content to be .13, which is more than the legal limit of .08.
In addition, Ocampo reportedly told police he had taken the 2006 Nissan he was driving from a relative without the relative’s permission. However, the relative did not wish to pursue charges against Ocampo for stealing the vehicle, said police.
Police charged Ocampo with DUI, reckless driving and speeding more than 40 mph over a posted speed limit, which is now a Class A misdemeanor. He was also cited for failing to stop at a red light and having no proof of insurance.
Weitzel said the officer who made the stop was working an Illinois Department of Transportation-funded holiday traffic detail specifically targeting DUI enforcement. Riverside police made seven DUI arrests during the New Year’s holiday.