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Police lack evidence that Illinois State Police officer charged with DUI was drunk, judge rules

An Illinois State Police officer charged with driving under the influence will keep his license as he awaits trial, according a judge's ruling.

McHenry County Judge Mark Gerhardt on Friday stood by his March 14 ruling that Crystal Lake police didn't have enough evidence to arrest Master Sergeant Michael Konie for suspected DUI.

Konie was off duty when Crystal Lake police stopped his unmarked police vehicle for a traffic violation Feb. 1 in the area of Williams and Brink Streets. He and an unidentified passenger were on their way back to Lake in the Hills, where Konie lives, after an afternoon “downtown” with friends, Konie allegedly told police.

Officers described Konie throughout police reports as having smelled strongly of alcohol. Throughout his interaction with police, Konie struggled to speak, balance and perform simple tasks, they said.

Konie's license was suspended after he refused to submit a breath test that would have determined his blood-alcohol content. Defense attorney Patrick Walsh fought the suspension in McHenry County court and won, meaning the Illinois State Police officer was allowed to drive while the DUI charge against him was pending.

At a hearing Wednesday, McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Daniel Wilbrandt asked the judge to reconsider the ruling. Video evidence and police testimony that Konie was slurring his speech, flickering his eyes and smelled strongly of alcohol at the time of his arrest led officers to rightfully believe Konie was under the influence, Wilbrandt argued.

Gerhardt, however, didn't agree that Crystal Lake Police dash-cam footage showed Konie swaying, and the audio, he said, was too low-quality to determine whether the off-duty officer was slurring his words.

At the time of the arrest, the Crystal Lake deputies suspected Konie might be impersonating an officer because he intermittently activated the SUV's lights and sirens, police reports show.

Once Konie exited the vehicle, Crystal Lake Police Sgt. Daniel Hulata struggled to understand the state police officer, who Hulata has said smelled strongly of alcohol.

During an off-camera conversation between Hulata and another deputy, one officer can be heard repeating he word "barely" as the pair discussed whether they had enough evidence to arrest Konie for drunken driving.

Wilbrandt argued in court Wednesday that the officers were talking about how Konie could "barely" stand, speak and pull over his vehicle.

"He could barely even say 'zone,'" Hulata said, according to audio of the conversation

Walsh, however, claimed the exchange was about how Konie "barely" smelled of alcohol.

Konie, who is employed in Zone 1 of the Illinois State Police Department, was placed on restricted duty immediately after he was arrested, ISP Sgt. Jacqueline Cepeda has said. The master sergeant was the agency's 11th highest paid employee last yea, earning $167,000. He received his most recent paycheck on Wednesday, Illinois comptroller records show.

Konie is set to appear in court on June 21 for his misdemeanor DUI charge.

Wilbrandt declined to comment on the judge's decision after court Friday.

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