THE ACCIDENT WASN’T MY FAULT. CAN I STILL BE CONVICTED OF AGGRAVATED DUI?

You were driving home late one night after partying at a friends, when a car suddenly pulled out of an alley. You could not avoid collision and the other driver was severely injured. The state has now charged you with Aggravated DUI.

Can they convict you?

The answer depends on the facts of your case. The state, however, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your driving was the proximate cause of the accident. (Proximate cause is a cause closely connected with a result and is established if a reasonable person could have forseen the harm as a likely result from his or her conduct). If the accident would have happened regardless of any impairment, you have a good chance of being found “not guilty.”

In People v Mumaugh, the defendant struck a young girl who was walking down the centerline of a highway on a dark night. The girl wore black clothes and had her back to defendant. The defendant was charged with Aggravated DUI as he had cannabis in his system at the time of the accident. The court reversed defendant’s conviction because the state had not proven that he was the proximate cause of the accident. There was no evidence to show defendant’s driving had been improper, or that he could have expected to see a pedestrian in the middle of a highway on a dark night.

If you have been charged with Aggravated DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. Did the police follow proper procedures in taking evidence against you? Does the state have the evidence it needs to prove all the elements of your offense? Even if police acted properly and 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 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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ROADSIDE DRUG TESTING MAY BE COMING TO A MUNICIPALITY NEAR YOU

As the opioid crisis continues to alarm, the village of Carol Stream became the first municipality in Illinois to experiment with roadside drug testing. The tests use a mouth swab to screen for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines and opiates such as heroin.

The new testing is portable and avoids a time-consuming trip to the hospital. Currently, the test may only be used to establish probable cause, much like a portable breathalyzer, and is not admissible at trial.

The new testing comes in response to the growing incidence of drug-related crashes. For the first time in 2015, the number of drug related crashes exceeded crashes involving alcohol. The new tests are currently being tried in Michigan, California, Colorado and Kansas. If roadside drug testing proves successful and accurate, it may become more prevalent in Illinois.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. Testing for impaired driving must comply with certain criteria. Perhaps the breathalyzer device was not properly certified or you fall outside the guidelines recommended for field sobriety testing. Even if the police followed proper procedure and 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 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 POLICE USE A DOG TO SNIFF YOUR CAR?

If police stop you for a traffic violation, they don’t need a reason to change the reason they stopped you. For example, they can stop you for speeding but then bring in a narcotics dog to sniff your car. However, if the dog sniff unduly prolongs the stop, a court may, in limited circumstances, suppress the evidence from the search.

But how do you know if your stop was unduly prolonged? The answer can be very fact specific. Courts focus on the reasonableness of the delay.

Generally, the stop cannot be prolonged past the time it reasonably takes to complete the mission of writing the ticket for the initial violation. A stop that exceeds the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the fourth amendment.

In People v. Paddy, the officer had finished the written warning but returned to the driver to ask for proof of insurance. Because the car was registered in another state, Illinois law did not require such proof. Therefore, the court said, the officer’s unjustified return to the car unduly prolonged the stop.

If you have been charged with a traffic violation or related offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. If your stop was unduly prolonged, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from your stop. In limited situations, this could result in the dismissal of your case.

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 THE STATE USE THE RESULTS OF A FORCED BLOOD OR URINE TEST? IT DEPENDS ON WHO’S DOING THE FORCING

In most cases, the police cannot forcibly draw your blood or urine without a warrant. But what if it’s the doctor who’s forcing the tests as part of your treatment plan?

According to a recent Illinois appellate case, the state can use forcibly drawn tests, provided the hospital is not acting as an agent of the police. In People v Sykes, the defendant was knocked unconscious after driving her car into a wall. The hospital believed defendant was in an altered mental state, and that the doctor would need to know what drugs were in her system in order to provide treatment.

When the defendant refused to submit voluntarily to a urine test, the nurse asked for police help in restraining defendant so she could be catherized. The court held that the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures, only applies to state action and not to private parties. Since the police had not asked the hospital to perform the tests, and the hospital would have forcbily catherized defendant anyway, the tests were not a result of state action. Thus, they could be used in evidence.

If you have been charged with DUI, contact an experienced law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you or perhaps any evidence against you was improperly seized. Even if the police acted properly and 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 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,

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CAN YOU FIGHT THE SUSPENSION OF YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE BASED ON A MEDICAL CONDITION?

You were driving somewhat erratically, when police stopped you. The officer suspected you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In reality, you suffer from a medical condition, but the officer didn’t believe you. Now, you have been arrested for DUI, and the state has automatically suspended your driver’s license.

Can you fight the statutory suspension of your license based on your medical condition?

The answer depends on the circumstances and is very fact specific. What is the nature of your medical condition? How does it affect your performance? Does the officer have special training in recognizing drug use? Did the officer see any evidence of intoxication that cannot be explained by your condition?

In People v Gocmen, police and an ambulance were called to the scene of an unconscious driver, who might have been having a seizure. The officer saw a can in the car with residue that later tested positive for opiates and a syringe. Defendant was sweating, had pinpoint pupils, and lapsed in and out of consciousness. The officer had not received specific DUI drug training. Nonetheless, the officer arrested defendant for DUI.

In contesting his driver’s license suspension, the defendant said he was a diabetic. Because defendant may have been diabetic and the officer did not have any drug training or experience, the court found that the officer had no basis to conclude that defendant’s state was based on drugs and not on diabetes. While a layperson can testify regarding intoxication from alcohol, the effects of drugs are not commonly known, and training and experience are necessary to understand their effects on people, which the officer lacked.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to suspect you of DUI. If so, an attorney may be able to petition the court to strike down the automatic suspension of your driver’s license. Note that striking the suspension of your license does not guarnatee you will win your DUI). Even if the police acted legally and 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 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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HOW FAR CAN POLICE GO IN SEARCHING YOUR CAR? THE LIMITS OF CONSENT

You were driving home from a friend’s when police stopped you for speeding. The police then suspected you might have narcotics in your car. They asked if they could look in your car. You said yes, but how far does that consent really go? Are there limits to how far police can search?

Under the Fourth Amendment, police may not search your car without a warrant unless they have probable cause or you are under arrest. There are certain other exceptions to the warrant requirement which include your consent. If you do consent to a search, however, the police have no more authority than what you gave them. For example, if you consent to a search of your glove compartment, the police may not then look in your trunk.

To determine how far police may search based on your consent, the court looks at what is objectively reasonable. In other words, the court considers what a typical reasonable person would have understood by the exchange between you and the officer.

In People v Pulido, the defendant was stopped for speeding. A narcotics dog alerted police to drugs in the car. Defendant consented to a search. Finding nothing, the officers moved the car to the police station for a more thorough exam. Based on the objectively reasonable standard, the court held it was unreasonable to believe that by consenting, the defendant had agreed to the relocation of his vehicle for an even more invasive search. Therefore, the officer’s decision to move the car exceeded the scope of defendant’s consent. As a result, the appellate court reversed the defendant’s conviction.

If you have been charged with a DUI or similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you or perhaps they searched beyond your consent. Even if the police acted properly and 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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ILLINOIS APPELLATE COURT STRIKES DOWN STATUTE REQUIRING DRIVERS TO SUBMIT TO TESTS AFTER SERIOUS ACCIDENTS

An Illinois Appellate Court recently struck down part of the Illinois statute on alcohol testing. Section 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2(c) required that a driver submit to blood, breath or bodily fluid testing for drugs or alcohol where the officer has probable cause to believe that the driver caused death or personal injury while driving under the influence.

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to be free from warrantless searches with certain exceptions. One such exception is known as exigent circumstances, such as where police reasonably believe evidence will disappear if they wait to get a warrant.

In People v Eubanks, the defendant caused a fatal accident. An officer asked defendant to submit to blood tests, which defendant refused. The officer then took defendant to a hospital where his blood was forcibly drawn. He was further threatened with a catheter if he did not submit a urine sample. The tests revealed cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine metabolite.

The state argued that Illinois law required the driver to submit to such tests, and that exigent circumstances always existed under these circumstances. The court disagreed. Instead, the court held that exigent circumstances must be determined on a case by case basis and not as a general rule. The officer arrested the defendant at midnight, then waited nearly three hours for instructions from the accident unit before taking defendant to the hospital. During that interval, the officer could have obtained a warrant.

As a result, the defendant’s conviction for first degree murder was reversed, and the case was sent back to the lower court for a new trial.

If you have been charged with DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you or any evidence against you was improperly seized. Even if the police acted legally and 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 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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HOW CAN I GET MY DRIVER’S LICENSE BACK IN ILLINOIS?

If you have a DUI conviction, the Secretary of State may have revoked your driver’s license. Losing your license is affecting your ability to work and to live your daily life.

How can you get your license back?

The road to reinstatement is not as easy as the Secretary of State rule book makes it sound. For one thing, you will not automatically regain your driving privileges just because you successfully completed the terms of your DUI sentence. You will still need to apply for reinstatement.

Following a first or subsequent DUI conviction, your license will be revoked for at least one year. (If you have received supervision instead of a conviction, your license is suspended rather than revoked, and you may simply need to pay the reinstatement fee.) The court will order treatment for substance abuse, and you will have to complete the terms of your sentence.

Once your sentence is terminated satisfactory, you can immediately apply for reinstatement. Bear in mind, however, that the Secretary of State does not care that you really need to drive. The Secretary is under pressure to keep drunk drivers off the road.

Once you apply, you will have to attend a hearing where you will have to testify on your own behalf. You will also be questioned by an attorney for the Secretary of State. You will have the opportunity to present evidence that you deserve to have your license returned.

Therefore, an attorney can greatly help you navigate the minefield of the reinstatement process. For example, an attorney may recommend certain courses of treatment that will improve your chance of success. An attorney can also help you present yourself in a way that will appeal to the hearing officer. A client often doesn’t realize how their statements may be perceived. What you think is a reasonable explanation may sound like a lame excuse to a hearing officer.

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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RECKLESS HOMICIDE IN ILLINOIS

Let’s say you are driving down the highway at night during a heavy thunderstorm. Visibility is poor, but you are still driving over the speed limit. Suddenly, you crash, killing the other driver.

Can you be charged with homicide? The answer may depend partly on how fast you were going even if you were not under the influence of alcohol.

In Illinois, you may be charged with reckless homicide if you unintentionally kill someone while driving a motor vehicle. Your actions, whether lawful or unlawful, must be performed recklessly and must be likely to cause death or great bodily harm. (720 ILCS 5/9-3). You act recklessly when you consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk, and that disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in your situation.

Whether you were indeed reckless may be inferred from all the facts and circumstances and may be established by evidence of your physical condition and your manner of driving. Negligence alone is not enough to prove recklessness. Evidence of excessive speed, by itself, is not sufficient to sustain a conviction of reckless homicide. However, excessive speed, combined with other circumstances showing that a conscious disregard of a substantial risk likely to cause death or great bodily harm may be enough.

Therefore, if you drive just a little over the limit in the pouring rain, you may simply be negligent. But if you are zipping along intoxicated at an overly high rate of speed on a slippery and busy highway, you have probably crossed into recklessness.

If you were not driving a motor vehicle but you unintentionally and recklessly caused a death, you could instead be charged with involuntary manslaughter. See our related blog What is the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter.

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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A CHICAGO POLICE INVESTIGATIVE ALERT MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TO UPHOLD A TRAFFIC STOP IN ILLINOIS

Calling Chicago police investigative alerts “troubling,” some Illinois courts have been reluctant to uphold the legality of a police stop based on an alert alone.

Investigative alerts are issued by police departments. The Chicago Police Department issues two types of alerts: “investigative alert/probable cause to arrest” and “investigative alert/no probable cause to arrest.” One appellate court judge has argued in a concurring opinion that an investigative alert essentially bypasses the constitutional protections required in obtaining a warrant from a judge. See People v Hyland.

Noting this opinion regarding the “troubling” legality of the Chicago Police Department’s alert policy, another appellate court upheld suppressing evidence that came from a stop based on an investigatory alert. In People v Jones, Chicago police stopped defendant for running a traffic light. After checking defendant’s license, the officer discovered an investigatory alert for homicide. The officer then put defendant in his police car. Only then did the officer see the brick of cocaine in defendant’s back seat.

Ordinarily, the discovery of the cocaine would have been legal during a traffic stop because it was in plain view. However, the officer did not see the cocaine until after he had taken defendant into custody based on the investigative alert.

Police are allowed to stop you if the officer reasonably believes that you have committed or are about to commit a crime based upon specific and articulable facts. The court held that the alert, by itself, was not a sufficient basis to investigate defendant as it only meant that other officers had specific and articulable facts. Because the investigation of defendant was improper, the evidence against him could not be used even though it was in plain view.

If you are charged with DUI or other offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney may review your case for your best possible defense. If the police acted improperly, the attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from any search. Even if this is not possible and 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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