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Monday, August 30, 2021

Village and Police Officer Immune From Liability in Drunk Driving Incident

In 2017, Marcos Rodriguez was involved in a minor traffic accident while driving with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.24. A police officer responded to the accident and allowed Rodriguez to drive away. According to Rodriguez's lawsuit against the village and police officer, the officer did not investigate whether Rodriguez was under the influence of alcohol. Rodriguez also did not inform the officer he had been drinking. A few minutes later, Rodriguez sustained injuries in a second accident after he fell asleep at the wheel, left the roadway and struck a utility pole, and sued the village and the police officer.

In his lawsuit, Rodriguez claimed that the police officer’s failure to investigate Rodriguez and prevent him from driving away caused the second accident and defendants should be held liable for his injuries. The trial court ruled against Rodriguez, finding that because the defendants did not owe him a duty, they could not be liable. The court also ruled that even if the defendants owed Rodriguez a duty, section 4-102 of the Tort Immunity Act (which provides immunity for failure to provide adequate police protection or service) and section of that same Actt 4-107 (which provides immunity for failure to make an arrest) also provided the defendants with immunity.

On appeal, the Appellate Court in Rodriguez v. Village of Forest Park upheld the trial court’s ruling in favor of the village and police officer. The Appellate Court rejected Rodriguez's argument that the officer’s failure to investigate and prevent him from driving after the first accident fell within the willful and wanton conduct exception of section 2-202 of the Act. Specifically, since the officer’s alleged omissions more clearly relate to his failure to arrest and his failure to provide adequate police services, the officer had absolute immunity from liability under sections 4-102 and 4-107 of the Act.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink


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