A Millstadt man’s driving privileges have been suspended for one year, in the wake of a crash in Belleville that left a motorcyclist dead.
The driver’s license of Gerold G. Mueller, 68, was suspended because he refused to submit to blood testing after the crash in July that claimed the life of motorcyclist Jackie J. Reichling, 58, of Belleville.
Although Mueller declined to submit to blood testing, a police officer’s report states that Mueller did not appear to be intoxicated. Attempts to reach Mueller for comment have not been successful.
Officer Stephen Snyder stated in his report: “Mueller stated both motorcycles had to have been speeding. Mueller did not appear to be intoxicated.”
Snyder also wrote in the report that Mueller stated he has multiple medical problems.
Refusing to submit to police requests for blood testing and other types of sobriety testing is simply a smart practice, regardless of whether a person has been drinking or using drugs, according to William Schroeder, a law professor at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
“Most lawyers under most circumstances would say you should refuse all tests. That would be standard legal advice,” Schroeder said. “There’s plenty of good reasons to refuse the tests. Machines do screw up — that’s another good reason not to take a test, even if you’re stone-cold sober.”
But Sarah Reichling, a daughter of Jackie Reichling, said Mueller’s refusal to submit to tests raises questions.
“If I know I’m free and clear, I would want to submit to that testing to show that I wasn’t drinking tonight — that it was merely an accident,” Sarah Reichling said.
Sarah Reichling said the suspension of Mueller’s driver’s license “makes me feel a little bit better.”
The one-year suspension, implemented by Secretary of State Jesse White’s office, began Sept. 9.
In Illinois, refusing to submit to an officer’s request for blood or breath testing results in an automatic one-year suspension of driving privileges. Taking the test and failing it results in a six-month suspension from the secretary of state’s office — plus any loss of driving privileges that may result through court penalties.
Snyder’s police report states that he gave the routine warning to Mueller about the consequences of refusing to submit to testing, but Mueller again refused testing.
The officer then released Mueller from the scene.
The crash happened about 6 p.m. on July 25 on Foley Drive. According to the police report, Mueller pulled onto Foley Drive from South 78th Street, into the path of Reichling and Reichling’s brother, Danny D. Reichling.
The Reichlings, both on motorcycles, were westbound on Foley Drive. Jackie Reichling’s 2006 Harley-Davidson was run over by Mueller’s 2001 Ford Ranger pickup, according to the report.
A witness contradicted Mueller’s assertion that the motorcycles were speeding. The witness was driving behind the motorcycles and gave a statement to the police officer, saying the motorcycles did not appear to be speeding.
Belleville police say their investigation has not yet concluded.
Sarah Reichling said Monday that Belleville Police have told her their investigation is not yet complete, in part because an accident-reconstruction report is not yet complete.
The officer on the scene issued Mueller a traffic citation for failure to yield. St. Clair County prosecutors dismissed that citation on July 31.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said the citation was dismissed because prosecutors are waiting for the police investigation to be completed before deciding whether to seek charges.
If someone pleads guilty to a traffic offense, it blocks prosecutors from filing a more serious charge in connection with the same incident, Kelly said.