State not backpedaling on bicyclist's DUI charge

WOODSTOCK - Even prosecutors acknowledged the case is a bit odd, but that’s not stopping them from pursuing felony drunk driving charges against an Oakwood Hills man and repeat DUI offender accused of riding his Schwinn bicycle while drunk.

Oakwood Hills police charged Charles Braun, 43, with drunken driving after he allegedly rode his bike – which happened to have a small motor attached to it – into traffic and caused a crash near Valley View Road and North Park Drive on April 21. His blood alcohol level was .272 at the time, prosecutors said.

“The facts and circumstances in this case are a bit unusual,” said Ryan Blackney, a McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney. “He was riding a bicycle ... but he swerved into traffic and collided with a vehicle.”

Standing before a judge dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit with one arm in a sling, as the result of a dislocated shoulder he suffered in the crash, Braun insisted on Friday that the attached motor was inoperable and that he was pedaling at the time.

“The bicycle had a motor that was no longer operating,” Braun told the judge during his request for a bond reduction. “The pull-cord was broken before the [crash].”

In agreeing to lower Braun’s bond from $20,000 to $10,000, Judge Joseph Condon said the state has no evidence that the motor was working.

“I guess I’ll be hearing about that later,” Condon said.

Braun’s court-appointed attorney, Christopher Harmon, said the charges are unfounded.

“There is a good legal basis to challenging the charges as they are now,” Harmon said.

But prosecutors said they believe the charges are valid. Even if the motor wasn’t working, the charges would still stand, Blackney said, because the bicycle was not in “junk status.”

Because of a prior record that includes three drunken driving convictions – those from driving an actual car – if convicted on the bicycle charges, he’d have to serve a mandatory minimum of three years in prison and would not be eligible for probation or supervision.

Braun is next scheduled to appear in court on June 22.

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