Law and Order, Local, Local Police Reports, Park Forest

University Park Man Charged with DUI

Dalbert J. Steele
Dalbert J. Steele. (Photo: PFPD)
Updated Sept. 19, 2021, per Request of Mr. Steele (below)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A 34-year-old University Park man was arrested last week and charged with DUI and driving under the influence of alcohol allegedly with a BAC more than twice the legal limit.

According to police, Dalbert J. Steele, 34, 891 White Oak Lane, University Park, was arrested on July 21 and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, DUI with the BAC greater than .08, aggravated speeding, improper lane usage, expired registration, operation of an uninsured motor vehicle, and illegal transportation of alcohol.

An officer was on patrol on Western Avenue near Sycamore Drive at approximately 2:36 AM when he saw a black sedan traveling southbound on Western Avenue from Steger Road allegedly at a high rate of speed, according to police. The officer confirmed with his radar unit that the vehicle was traveling at 64 mph in the posted 40 mph zone, according to police.

The sedan was the only vehicle traveling southbound on Western Avenue within sight of the officer, according to police.

After making a U-turn, the officer followed behind the car and began traveling southbound on Western Avenue, attempting to catch up to the vehicle, according to police.

The officer “immediately noted” that the black sedan began to increase speed as a continued southbound on Western Avenue, according to the report.

The officer switched his radar unit to “same direction” to ascertain the vehicle speed while trying to catch up to it, according to police. The officer confirmed that the vehicle continued southbound on Western Avenue from Sycamore Drive at speeds in excess of 70 mph in the posted 40 mph zone, with a top speed of 75 mph calculated on the radar, according to police.

The officer also observed that the vehicle slowly began to drift from the left lane into the center most portion of the roadway, splitting the two southbound lanes with tires in both lanes, according to police. The car then moved into the right lane of traffic and immediately began to veer left into the left lane, with both driver’s side tires crossing into the left lane, according to police.

After approximately 1.35 miles of chase, the officer caught up to the vehicle which he now identified as a black Chrysler 200, according to police. The officer activated the emergency lighting on his patrol vehicle and curbed the Chrysler on Western Avenue south of Sycamore Drive, according to police.

After the officer activated the emergency lighting, the Chrysler again veered twice into the left lane prior to pulling over, according to police. A computer inquiry revealed that the registration on the car was currently expired, according to police.

The officer approached the vehicle on the passenger side and spoke with the driver, Dalbert Steele, who was also the only occupant in the car, according to police. The officer informed Mr. Steele why he was stopped and Mr. Steele replied, “No, I know I was almost home, I was just trying to get home,” according to police. Mr. Steele further related that he was trying to get home before his food cooled off, according to police.

Mr. Steele eventually provided the officer with an expired insurance card, according to police.

While speaking with Mr. Steele, the officer in noted that Mr. Steele’s speech was “heavily slurred with an odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath,” according to the report. The officer asked Mr. Steele how many drinks he had that night and Mr. Steele replied, “A couple,” according to police. The officer asked Mr. Steele what time his last drink was and Mr. Steele allegedly replied that his last drink was at approximately 1:00 a.m., according to police.

The officer returned to his patrol vehicle and conducted a LEADS inquiry which revealed that Mr. Steele had a valid Illinois CDL, according to police. Another officer arrived on the scene to assist, according to police.

The officer who curbed Mr. Steele’s vehicle asked that Mr. Steele submit to field sobriety tests and Mr. Steele consented, exiting the vehicle, according to police. After the field sobriety tests, the officer took Mr. Steele into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to police. Mr. Steele’s vehicle was towed from the scene and an administrative seizure was placed on it per village ordinance, according to police.

The officer transported Mr. Steele to the Park Forest Police Department where Mr. Steele submitted to a breath test which yielded a BAC of .168, according to police. Mr. Steele was subsequently charged, according to police.

Update September 19, 2021

Park Forest Police confirmed in a letter to Mr. Steele that $400.00 was “unlawfully removed” from his vehicle by an employee of the towing company police used to seize and impound his car. The August 12, 2021 letter which Mr. Steele provided to eNews Park Forest, was written by Deputy Chief Paul A. Winfrey. The towing company terminated the employment of the employee, per the letter, “and has tendered $400.00 to you as reimbursement and they will recoup those funds from monies owed to the offender,” Dep. Chief Winfrey said in the letter.

“Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. While I am disappointed in the behavior demonstrated by an employee for a vendor with whom the Park Forest Police Department does business, I am pleased that the vendor took immediate action to terminate the employee and reimburse you for your loss. I am also extremely glad that you had the belief in this police department to notify us of your complaint and to investigate your concerns and handle them appropriately,” Dep. Chief Winfrey told Mr. Steele in the letter.

Dep. Chief Winfrey told this publication via email, “[Mr. Steele’s] complaint was investigated and it was learned that a non-police department employee did in fact take Mr. Steele’s money while his vehicle was at a tow yard.  The money was returned and Mr. Steele elected not to file charges for the theft.”

We express our gratitude to Mr. Steele for bringing this to our attention and to the Park Forest Police Department for following up on Mr. Steele’s complaint.

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Please note that we repeatedly say “according to police” in these reports and often use “allegedly.” We are not asserting in any way that those police arrested and charged committed any offenses. We report on what is in the reports that the police furnish to us. As those accused are innocent until proven guilty, the burden is on prosecutors and police to prove all alleged crimes.

eNews Park Forest has continuously published the addresses of those arrested and will continue to do so. 5 ILCS 140/2.15 states that the governmental body (for these reports, the Police Department), shall release information on those charged, including their name, age, and address. This information is necessary to ensure the proper identity of those arrested.

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An arrest does not mean that a person is guilty. The law presumes all those who police arrest are innocent until proven guilty. It is the policy of eNews Park Forest to not remove items in the public record from publication. Suppose you find your name in the police reports. Our policy is that we will only add information relevant to the final disposition of the case at hand, e.g., “Mr. Smith was subsequently acquitted,” “Mr. Smith entered a guilty plea,” or “All charges against Mr. Smith were subsequently dropped.” We will do so upon receiving and verifying proof of such disposition.

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Police captured all the incidents in this report on body-worn and dash-mounted cameras by officers at the respective scenes, according to police. All Park Forest police officers wear body-worn cameras. Officials abbreviate these devices typically as BWC in the reports.

We encourage persons wishing to leave anonymous information on any criminal matters, including narcotics or gang activity, to call the Park Forest Police Department Investigations Division at (708) 748-1309.