For Anastasia Strauther, who had two separate years-old DUI convictions, it happened because she found herself in the courtroom of Cook County Associate Judge Gregory P. Vazquez for a minor traffic violation while driving on a revoked license.
It started in March 2021, when Strauther, a 34-year-old Black woman, stopped to fuel up her gray Chevy Malibu at a Shell gas station in west suburban River Forest. Sean Heneghan, a white River Forest police officer, was at the gas station assisting with an accident. According to the police report Heneghan later filed, Strauther pulled into the station and “abruptly ran out of her car and inside the store.”
Strauther’s swift movement that chilly afternoon prompted Heneghan to run her car’s plates. Strauther’s license was revoked due to DUI convictions in 2009 and 2015, he reported. As Strauther drove east on North Avenue from the gas station, the officer tailed her in his unmarked squad car and pulled her over when he saw her change lanes without signaling, according to the police report.
The officer learned that Strauther did not have a driver’s license or proof of insurance for the vehicle and had been arrested for driving with a revoked license “multiple times in the past,” according to his report. Heneghan arrested Strauther, and later that day she was charged with driving with a revoked license, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and changing lanes without using a turn signal.
A year later, she became one of dozens of people in Cook County to be fitted with a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelet, a device that would monitor her abstinence from alcohol 24/7. Strauther still doesn’t understand why Vazquez ordered her to wear the SCRAM bracelet when her crime was driving without a license.
“I’ve been driving on a suspended license for a long time,” Strauther told Injustice Watch. “I know that’s wrong.”
After completing probation sentences for the two DUIs she caught in her 20s, Strauther said she couldn’t afford to go through the complicated and expensive administrative process to get her driving privileges restored either time. Other than repeatedly driving on a suspended license, Strauther hadn’t been in legal trouble since the last DUI seven years ago. But with three sons in school and a steady job at Target 9 miles from her home, she depended on a car to get around.
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