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DUI case against ex-dentist focuses on blood-alcohol evidence
By Jason Meisner
Tribune reporter
10:06 PM CDT, June 16, 2011
​Drew Forquer was under arrest in a fifth DUI case, this time involving a fatal wreck on Chicago's Northwest Side, when a police detective asked him about the hours leading up to the crash.

The former dentist acknowledged drinking two beers while watching television that morning in August 2008. In the afternoon, he said he went to the store for ice cream and was driving home when a motorcycle suddenly slammed into his car.

The 47-year-old rider, Jeff Bondy, was pinned underneath.

"People are screaming at me, 'Move the car!'" Forquer said in the videotaped police interview played Thursday at his reckless homicide trial. He put his Honda in gear and tried to back off the crumpled bike but couldn't.

Bondy, an airfield operations supervisor on his way to work at O'Hare International Airport, died.

"And that's been my day," Forquer said to the detective. "Pretty (expletive) day."

Prosecutors said Forquer, 51, was legally drunk when he tried to take a wide left-hand turn from Belmont Avenue, crossed into the opposing lane of traffic on Opal Avenue and crashed into Bondy's Harley-Davidson.

His bench trial this week at the Criminal Courts Building has centered on a Breathalyzer test administered to Forquer nearly four hours after the collision. He registered 0.045 percent, well below the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

An expert witness testified Wednesday for the prosecution that he estimated Forquer's blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash to be from 0.084 to 0.123 percent.

But the defense on Thursday called its own expert pharmacologist, who testified that Forquer's history of liver disease and chronic alcoholism would have slowed his metabolism. He estimated Forquer's alcohol level at just under the legal limit.

Prosecutors around the country use the technique of "backward extrapolation" to win DUI convictions even when a driver's blood-alcohol content is not measured until hours later.

Defense attorneys argue that too many variables can throw off the results, including an individual's metabolism, what the driver ate or drank that day, as well as health issues.

"There are so many things that can skew the numbers," said Kathleen Colton, an attorney who last year defended Sandra Vasquez against drunk-driving charges in a 2007 crash that killed five Oswego teens. "They can give a range, but it's not an exact science."

Vasquez was convicted despite Colton's argument that her estimated blood-alcohol content of 0.124 percent was inaccurate because her liver had been damaged in the crash, altering enzymes affecting alcohol metabolism. Vasquez also had consumed an energy drink before getting behind the wheel, Colton said.

Cook County prosecutors had charged off-duty Chicago police Officer John Ardelean in a 2007 crash that killed two young men even though he wasn't tested until seven hours later, when his supervising lieutenant reportedly noticed he had bloodshot eyes and alcohol on his breath.

Ardelean's blood-alcohol was measured at 0.032 percent at that time, but prosecution experts had used extrapolation techniques to estimate it was more than twice the legal limit when the crash occurred.

But last year Judge Thomas Gainer threw out the charges, ruling the police had no probable cause to arrest Ardelean, rendering the Breathalyzer test moot.

In Forquer's case, Chicago police detective Michael Dineen testified Thursday that he smelled alcohol on Forquer while talking to him at the scene and suspected he had been drinking after administering a field-sobriety test.

Forquer voluntarily took a Breathalyzer at the Grand-Central Area headquarters but was initially charged with only three misdemeanors. Two months later, the charges were upgraded to felonies.

In his testimony, Dineen did not explain why there was such a long delay before the test was given. At the end of the state's case Thursday, Forquer's lawyer, Barry Pechter, asked the judge to acquit Forquer for what he characterized as flimsy evidence of impairment.

"This was a wide left turn," Pechter said. "We do not convict people of reckless homicide for a wide left turn."

Judge Clayton Crane denied the request.

Forquer, of the 3400 block of North Ozanam Avenue, has four DUI convictions from 1984 to 1991, according to state records.