CAN I CLEAR MY OLD ILLINOIS ARREST WARRANT WHEN I LIVE OUT OF STATE?

Many years ago you were young and reckless.  You got arrested in Illinois.  You wanted to pretend your case didn’t exist, so you skipped out on your court date and eventually moved out of state.  Older and wiser, you worry that a routine traffic stop will send you back to Illinois in handcuffs.

Now, you are ready to deal with your past, clear the warrant and deal with the underlying case.  Can you put it behind you?

The answer is very likely yes.  An attorney can bring your open warrant before your original court to ask a judge to vacate or set it aside.  You would likely have to appear in person for a hearing on this procedure, but upi may even be able to make later court appearances on zoom.

Once the warrant is set aside, you now have to settle the underlying offense,.   An attorney can help negotiate a plea agreement or take your case to trial.  If you have been gone a long time, the evidence against you may have grown cold.  Therefore, it may be more difficult for the state to try your case. In rare cases, if the offense is very old and relatively minor, the judge might even be willing to dismiss it.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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WHAT IS FLEEING OR ATTEMPT TO ELUDE POLICE IN ILLINOIS?

When the officer behind you turned on his signal lights, you knew you were in trouble.  So you decided to ignore the signal and try to get away.  The officer caught you anyway, and now you have a fleeing and eluding charge on top of other offenses.

What is fleeing and eluding?  What can you do?

Under 625 ILCS 5/11-204,  you commit fleeing and eluding if an officer has signaled you to stop, you willfully fail to obey, increase you speed, extinguish your lights or otherwise flee or attempt to elude the officer.  The officer must be in uniform, and if the officer is driving a vehicle, the vehicle must flash its lights when they are used with a horn or siren.

Fleeing and eluding is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable up to one year in jail.  The Secretary of State must also suspend your driver’s license for up to six months for a first offense and up to one year for a second.    Third or higher offenses are a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison.

If you are charged with fleeing and eluding or similar offense, contact an experienced criminal or traffic law attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Was the officer in uniform?  Did the officer display the proper signals?  Was your failure to obey willful or was there a legitimate reason you failed to stop?  Did you really try to get away or were you looking for a safe place to pull over?  Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email   matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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WHAT IS AGGRAVATED LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you have a legal duty to remain at the scene of an accident, provide information and render aid.  Failing that, you have a duty to report it.

Leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury is a Class 4 felony.  If your accident resulted in personal injury and you failed to report it within half hour of either the accident or your discharge from a hospital, your offense becomes a Class 2 felony. Your offense is a Class 1 felony if it resulted in death.

You may also be subject to testing for alcohol or drugs in which case you may also be charged with DUI.

If you are charged with aggravated leaving the scene, contact an experienced criminal or traffic law attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case.  Can the state prove you were the driver rather than someone else in the car? Did you know that an accident had occurred?  Was it physically impossible for you to report the accident within the time limits?  Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea bargain than you can on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Reference:      625 ILCS 5/11-401

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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DO POLICE NEED A BLOOD TEST TO PROVE I DROVE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA IN ILLINOIS?

The answer is not necessarily.  Although blood testing for marijuana is available, it is unlikely your blood would be tested if you did not end up in the hospital due to an accident.

However, there are other ways that the state can seek to prove you were under the influence of cannabis.  Police have specialized field sobriety tests for marijuana that are separate from the field tests for alcohol.  For example, the Romberg test examines if you can maintain your balance with your eyes closed.  Another example is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test which tests whether your eyes bounce up and down when following an object from side to side. This later test is often used for alcohol DUI.

If you are charged with a cannabis-related DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  Was the officer certified as a drug expert?  Are there other reasons that you might have performed poorly on the test?  Was any cannabis recovered from you or the car?  Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming and nearly impossible to challenge, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email  matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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OBSTRUCTING A PEACE OFFICER IN ILLINOIS

In criminal or traffic law, the outcome of your case often comes down to how your particular judge sees all the facts in your particular situation.  One example of this can be found in People v. Hall, which involved obstructing a peace officer.

In that case, an officer had received notice of a possible domestic disturbance or kidnapping.  The officer stopped defendant and asked for his identification, which the defendant refused. Officers then questioned a woman in defendant’s car. Defendant swore at police, yelling for them to get away from his car.

To convict under 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a), the State was required to prove that (1) defendant knowingly obstructed a peace officer, (2) the officer was performing an authorized act, and (2) defendant knew the officer was a peace officer. The law’s focus is on the tendency of a defendant’s conduct to create an obstacle that hinders the officer in performing authorized duties.

The State argued that defendant’s actions in failing to obey the officers’ lawful commands went beyond being merely argumentative. Defendant ignored multiple orders to stop his walking towards the vehicle where the possible kidnap victim was located. Thus, the state claimed that these events hindered the officers’ investigation into whether defendant was the person involved in the possible kidnapping.

The trial court found the evidence compelling enough to convict the defendant. However, the appellate court disagreed. While defendant was uncooperative and argumentative, such conduct did not necessarily violate the law. Further, the appellate court did not find that defendant’s refusal to provide identification had hindered the officer’s investigation. Thus, his conviction was reversed.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney who is familiar with your courthouse may be able to present your facts in the light most likely to persuade your particular judge.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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WHAT IS RECKLESS DRIVING IN ILLINOIS?

A charge of reckless driving can be a kind of catch-all offense for police. It can cover everything from excessive speeding to swerving around corners to weaving in and out of traffic. Although less serious than a DUI, it can still have significant consequences.

In Illinois, the most common definition of reckless driving is someone who uses or drives a vehicle “with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”  (See 625 ILCS 5/11-503.)  A secondary definition is using an incline such as a railroad crossing or hill to make your car  airborne.

Reckless driving in Illinois is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. If your driving injures a child or a school crossing guard, however, you can be charged with a Class 4 Felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail.

If your driving causes great bodily harm or permanent disability to someone, you can be charged with Aggravated Reckless Driving, also a Class 4 Felony. If great bodily harm occurs to a child or school crossing guard, then the Aggravated Reckless can be enhanced to a Class 3 Felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in jail.

If you are charged with reckless driving or a similar offense, contact an experienced traffic law attorney immediately. An attorney can help determine the most effective strategy for your defense. As with most crimes, the State must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Was your driving really willful and wanton, or were you swerving to avoid an accident? Did anyone witness your driving, or did the officer arrive after  an accident?  Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an  attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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CAN I BE FOUND NOT GUILTY OF DUI IF MY BREATHALYZER IS OVER .08 IN ILLINOIS?

 

The answer is that it’s possible.  By the same token, you may still be found guilty of DUI if your blood alcohol was below .08.

Your blood alcohol reading leads to a presumption that you were or weren’t driving under the influence.  If your reading is under .05, the presumption is that you were not driving under the influence.  If it is between .05 and .08, the presumption can go either way.  If you are over .08, the presumption is you are guilty.

But a presumption can be overcome by other evidence.

Your driving is the most important factor that a court considers when rejecting a presumption that you were DUI.  If your driving was safe and you generally did well in handling yourself with officers and in field sobriety tests, you could win a not guilty even if you blew over .08.  On the other hand, if you were swerving all over the road and falling out of the car, you could still be convicted with a breathalyzer below the legal limit.

There is one exception to this rule.  If you were specifically charged with driving under the influence with breathalyzer over .08, you can be convicted on that count no matter how well you drove or behaved.  An attorney can still possibly challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer result or the legality of the police stop.  If all else fails, a experienced attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain to a reduced charge such as reckless driving.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF BOTH DRUGS AND ALCOHOL IN ILLINOIS

In Illinois, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is a separate category of DUI. As with alcohol-based DUI, this form is a Class A Misdemeanor for a first or second offense but can become a Class 4 felony based on certain aggravating factors.

Under 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(4), you commit driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs when you drive or are in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug such that you cannot drive safely.

Your offense can become aggravated if: (1) this is your third or later DUI, (2) you were driving an occupied school bus, (3) a resulting accident caused another person great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement, or (4) this was your second offense and you were also convicted of reckless homicide based on a DUI.

If you have been charged with DUI, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense as well as helping you navigate the process.  Did police have probable cause to stop you?  Can the state prove you consumed both alcohol and drugs?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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WHEN MUST I STOP MY CAR FOR POLICE IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you must stop for police when an officer gives you visual or audible signals directing you to stop your car.  The signal given by the peace officer may be by hand, voice, siren, red or blue light. The officer must be in uniform. Further, the officer’s car must display flashing red or blue lights used along with a horn or siren to indicate it is an official police vehicle.

You can be charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer if you willfully ignore such signals, increase your speed or turn off your lights.  A first or second offense is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.  The Secretary of State must also suspend your drivers license for up to 6 months for a first offense and up to 12 months for a second.  A third or later violation becomes a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison.   See 625 ILCS 5/11-204.

If you are charged with fleeing or eluding, contact an experienced criminal or traffic law attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Was the officer in uniform?  Was it clear you were being stopped by aan official police car?  Were you willfully ignoring a signal or simply looking for a safe place to pull over?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN FAILURE TO USE A TURN SIGNAL BE PROBABLE CAUSE FOR A POLICE STOP?

The answer is yes, if a turn signal was legally required.

Under Illinois law, you must use your turn signal whenever you make a turn, change lanes, encroach onto the other side of the road or leave the roadway.  Failure to do so can give an officer a valid basis to pull you over.

Questions may arise, however, as to whether your driving fell into one of the above categories.   For example, did you actually change from one lane to another? You are not required to signal movement within a single lane, and a roadway with more than one lane requires that the lanes be marked. Moreover, a lane must be used for driving.

For example, in People v. Jackson, the defendant drove his car to park along an adjacent curb without using his turn signal.  There were no markings on the roadway designating lanes or along the curb designating parking spaces.  The court held that because the road was unmarked, it did not have two lanes. No markings depicted an area used exclusively for parking.  Further, the word “lane” implied that an area of the roadway is used for driving and/or traveling, not parking. Moving within one’s lane to park next to a curb is not one of the situations mentioned in the turn signal statute.  (See 625 ILCS 5/11-804.) Therefore, the officer lacked probable cause to stop defendant on that basis.  As a result, defendant’s conviction resulting from the stop was reversed.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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