Drunk Driver Crashes Car at 142 MPH, Gets Slap On the Wrist

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The remains of Suominen's car. Photo from Naperville Police Department.

Exactly how does a man charged with driving drunk at over 140 MPH who crashes his car into a billboard avoid jail time? Last month Dean A. Suominen, 37, of Shorewood was zooming down Ogden Avenue in Naperville when he lost control of his Dodge Charger and careened off the road, smashing into a billboard post and fence near an apartment complex, city officials said.

According to the Naperville Patch, first responders found Suominen trapped inside his car in a yard near the complex and extricated him. During the crash the vehicle’s engine was torn loose and thrown into a nearby parking lot. One of the tires also flew into the lot and damaged a parked car. Police found the driver’s blood alcohol level to be .20, more than twice the legal limit. His car’s computer system showed that it had been traveling at 142 MPH when it left the road.

Suominen plead guilty to misdemeanor DUI and reckless driving, the Chicago Tribune reports. The judge sentenced him to two years of supervision and 100 hours of community service but no jail time. The driver will also need to pay $3,000 in fines, fees and restitution, as well as undergoing an alcohol evaluation and attending a victim impact panel, city officials said.

Suominen is extremely lucky to be alive, but imagine what would have happened if he had been less fortunate and struck one or more innocent bystanders. Why does someone else need to be injured or killed before the law considers a car moving at a terrifyingly fast velocity to be a deadly weapon? High-speed drunk driving should not be a misdemeanor but a felony.

  • Do you know if his license was revoked, or if it would be suspended for any amount of time?
    Not that even that would stop him from driving again. The only way to prevent that would be jail time.

  • The Sun-Times reports, “Suominen’s driver’s license was suspended for a year, after he refused to submit to field sobriety tests following the crash.” http://beaconnews.suntimes.com/news/crime/18494527-418/driver-who-crashed-at-142-mph-in-naperville-gets-probation.html

  • CL

    I agree this should come with at least a short jail sentence. The crazy thing is how we put people in prison for years on things like drug charges and stealing property, but you can do something like this and get community service. Sentencing is really messed up in this country.

  • Really. Possessing a small quantity of an herb can get you jail time but this doesn’t?

  • mcass777

    A Dodge Charger can do 140? Wow that is news!

  • According to the Sun-Times, the Charger was equipped with a “large” engine, likely in the 5.7-liter range.

  • sharon

    he must be somebodys son who was able to get him off with money or promises

  • Adam Herstein

    Let me guess… he still has a valid driver’s license?

  • Ryan Wallace

    Can’t you still drive on a suspended license? So this guy can take a second try at killing someone with his car?

  • You can drive on a suspended license with a “hardship” exemption. This means something like, you need the car to get to work or to school or something else really important. You are then allowed to drive to that place on a loosely defined route at certain times and on certain days.

    At least that’s what it was when I had a suspended license. Yes, my license was suspended for 90 days in 2004 or 2005 when I was attending community college. I received 3 speeding tickets in some arbitrary amount of time and I contested none of them. I also didn’t take a class (which cost more money) to have the tickets removed from my record (so they wouldn’t contribute to a potential suspension).

    I applied for a hardship exemption and didn’t receive it. I said I needed the car to drive to school from Batavia to Sugar Grove. This is the route where I received all speeding tickets. Most of the roads between the two towns are rural and low traffic. It was hard not to speed.

  • Randy Neufeld

    Wow, The story says, ” His car’s computer system showed that it had been traveling at 142 MPH when it left the road.” Do police always have the ability to check the car’s data recorder? Can this be used in other crashes to establish speeding when someone is injured?

  • Yes. Yes.

    For more information about the Event Data Recorder, see this article on Wikipedia.

    Key parts:
    “Based on its analysis, NHTSA estimated that by 2010, over 85% of vehicles would already have EDRs installed in them”

    “Some of the required crash data include pre-crash speed, engine throttle, brake use, measured changes in forward velocity (Delta-V), driver safety belt use, airbag warning lamp status and airbag deployment times.”

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