Driver in deadly high-speed Des Plaines crash avoided license revocation

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
DES PLAINES, Ill. (WLS) -- Why was a 21-year-old suburban man with a terrible driving record allowed behind the wheel in a 100 mph crash in Des Plaines that killed three members of an Arlington Heights family in February?

Piotr Rog also died in the Feb. 16 collision.

The day of the deadly crash, Rog had a valid Illinois driver's license despite a dismal driving history; even worse than first thought. The I-Team has learned that state officials would have tried to revoke Rog's license in 2014 had he not been given court supervision for previous violations.

Three numbers added up to the horrific crash: 100, the speed that police said Rog was driving when he hit a car being driven by members of the Crawford family, killing all of them; two, the tickets in which Rog received court supervision, avoiding his license being revoked; and one: the local bar where Rog and a friend were said to have been drinking right before the calamity.

The sum of it all haunts Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner.

"This is definitely the worst I have ever seen," Kushner said.

"He seemed to have a propensity for speeding," said Charles Beach, traffic and DUI attorney.

"It's just awful," said Dave Druker, of the Illinois Secretary of State's office.

Druker said it is a complex table of points-per-violation that determines punishment.

New state records obtained by the I-Team reveal that within five years Rog had seven moving violations, some for speeding much higher than the limit. His license was ordered suspended five times.

Records show on two occasions Rog received what is called court supervision and was allowed to attend traffic safety school, which meant those infractions were erased from his record and didn't count toward his points or a possible revocation.

"Supervision has no effect on your license, which is why it is the holy grail of a plea of guilty," Beach said.

"It's all prescribed by law, or statue, as to whether it's a suspension or a revocation, there's no arbitrary room for the Secretary of State to deviate on that," Druker said.

"What's even more rare about it is that he didn't have a revocation in there. Normally when someone has that many offenses in that period of time they get to the revocation situation," Beach said.

Rog had so many traffic violations that state officials said they would have moved to revoke his license following a lane violation ticket in Schiller Park in March 2014 and a speeding ticket six months later in Arlington Heights. After both he went to traffic safety school, preventing the tickets from being posted to his deplorable driving record and therefore avoiding revocation.

"He did seem to calculate, ya know, when he could be driving legally," Druker said.

On the night of the crash, after Rog's latest temporary suspension, his license had been legally reinstated less than a month earlier. Nevertheless, he was driving 100 mph in a 35 mph zone according to police, but might not have been there at all had his license been revoked.

"It was the timing of his particular tickets in relation to when the suspension went on that allowed him to avoid a revocation," Beach said. "He was working his way there but he wasn't there yet. In the end you can never account for every possibility."

The friend of Rog's in the passenger seat of his car in the Des Plaines crash is still at Lutheran General Hospital in a coma. Police haven't been able to question him.

Not all states use a point system and Illinois is one of the few to offer court supervision. Secretary of State Jesse White said he wants to reduce supervision which would keep potentially dangerous repeat offenders from taking advantage of the system.
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