WHAT IS LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH IN ILLINOIS?

Let’s say you were distracted by some family problems, ran a stop sign and hit a car that was already in the intersection.  You panicked and drove away.  The officer somehow tracked you down, and now you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death.

What does that mean?  What can you do?

In Illinois, you have a legal duty to remain at the scene of an accident, provide information and render aid.  To convict you, the state must prove:

1) You were the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident;

2) The accident resulted in death or personal injury (personal injury is defined as any injury requiring immediate professional treatment in a medical facility or doctor’s office);

3) You knew an accident had occurred;

4) You failed to immediately stop your car at the scene or as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary; and

5) You failed to remain at the scene until you gave information, such as your name, address and insurance, and rendered aid.

You may also be subject to testing for alcohol or drugs.  If you refuse the testing, the Secretary of State can suspend your license, and you could still be charged with DUI.

If you are charged with leaving the scene, contact an experienced criminal or traffic law attorney immediately.  An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case.  Can the state prove you drove rather than someone else in the car? Did you know an accident had occurred?  Were you unable to stop at the scene and on your way to returning?  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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WHAT IS LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PROPERTY DAMAGE IN ILLINOIS?

You were speeding when someone in front of you slammed on their brakes, so that you rammed the back of their car.  You panicked and took off.  After taking a deep breath, you drove back to the scene, but you are still charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving damage to property.

What does that mean?  What can you do?

In Illinois, you have a legal duty to remain at the scene of an accident, provide information and render aid.  To convict you, the state must prove that

1) You were the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident;

2)  Damage to another’s vehicle resulted from the accident;

3) You knew an accident had occurred;

4) You failed to immediately stop your car at the scene or as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary; and

5) You failed to remain at the scene until you gave information and rendered aid.

Leaving the scene is a Class A Misdemeanor., punishable by up to 364 days in jail.  If convicted and the damages amounts to more than $1,000, the Secretary of State may also suspend your driver’s license.

If you are charged with 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 above elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  What if you were simply trying to move your vehicle to safe location? It is not a violation to move your car off the highway to the nearest place that is safe and does not obstruct traffic, as long as you stay there until you have given information and rendered aid.

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 5/11-402

(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 the Definition of “Driving” under Illinois DUI Law?

To be convicted of DUI, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were 1) driving while 2) under the influence.  But it may surprise you to know that sleeping in your car can fall under the definition of “driving.”

Under Illinois law, you may not drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  See: 625 ILCS 5/11-501.

Illinois courts have found actual physical control to include the following:

  1. You are behind the steering wheel in the driver’s seat with the ignition key and physically capable of starting the engine and moving the vehicle. People v. Heimann, 142 Ill. App. 3d 197, 491 N.E.2d 872 (3rd Dist. 1986)
  2. You were in the back seat. People v. Davis, 205 Ill. App. 3d 431, 562 N.E.2d 1152 (1st Dist. 1990).
  3. The car could be operated by coasting even though the  front end and radiator were visibly damaged, but  defendant could still move the car, which was on a downhill incline. People v. Heimann, 142 Ill. App. 3d 197, 491 N.E.2d 872 (3rd Dist. 1986).
  4. The evidence showed that damage to the car matched damage to a car parked at the complainant’s home, defendant was the car’s owner, and police found defendant next to the vehicle, which was parked in the driveway of his house. People v. Slinkard, 362 Ill. App. 3d 855, 841 N.E.2d 1 (2nd Dist. 2006).
  5. Defendant was lying on the seat of the truck with the keys  on the floor under the steering column. People v. Long, 351 Ill. App. 3d 821, 815 N.E.2d 72 (2nd Dist. 2004).
  6. Defendant’s car was stuck in a ditch and he could not get it out. People v. Vallero, 134 Ill. App. 3d 919, 481 N.E.2d 297 (3rd Dist. 1985).

If you are charged with DUI, you should consult an experienced DUI attorney immediately.  Determining if you were “driving” can be very fact specific and depend on the viewpoint of your judge.  An attorney who is familiar with the courthouse may be able to present the facts of your particular case in their most favorable light to your particular judge.

If you have questions about this or another related 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 TO EXPECT ON A FIRST-TIME DUI IN ILLINOIS

Getting arrest for DUI can feel humiliating and stressful.  Knowing what happens next may help ease some of the anxiety:

What is the procedure? Once you have been charged with DUI, you will be given a court date for your first court appearance. Currently, these appearances are often on zoom.  (See our related post:  Do I Need to Come to Court for an Illinois Traffic Ticket?)

On the first court date, your attorney will enter his or her appearance and ask for copies of the evidence against you, including the police video of your arrest.  The appearance tells the court that the attorney is your official representative.  Your attorney may be able to contest the suspension of your driver’s license on the first date.

After reviewing the evidence, your attorney can advise you on your best course of action.  Do you have a good defense for trial?  Or would it be wiser to negotiate a plea bargain?  In either case, you will likely be asked to get an alcohol evaluation. In Cook County, only one agency (Central States Institute) is authorized to prepare these reports. Your sentencing may depend on what your evaluation says. Your attorney can advise you on how to present yourself to the evaluator.

Can I drive? Upon arrest, you will also be given a notice that your driver’s license will be suspended by the Secretary of State, usually on the 46th day after your arrest.  An attorney can file a petition to overturn that suspension.  Your odds of winning the petition improve if you file the petition quickly.  Illinois law requires a hearing within 30 days of filing.  If the state is not ready on time, you could win your petition by default. Otherwise, you may be eligible to drive with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device after serving the first thirty days of your suspension.

Note that if you win the petition, you may still be convicted of DUI. Likewise, if you lose the petition, you could still win a not guilty verdict on your DUI.  The criminal charges and the administrative suspension are on two separate tracks.

How long does this take? A DUI can take several months. On average, your case will come before the court once a month. The length of time may depend on whether you take a quick plea agreement or decide to fight the case. While you may want to “just get it over with,” patience may actually work in your favor.

Will I go to jail? A first-time DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Nonetheless, the odds of actually going to jail are limited on a first offense. If you make a plea bargain, you will likely have to take alcohol classes, pay a fine and/or perform community service. If you take the case to trial and lose, your sentence might be harsher but is still unlikely to involve jail.

If you have questions about this or another related DUI 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 CONVICTED FOR DUI IN ILLINOIS IF I AM UNDER THE LEGAL LIMIT?

The answer is yes, if you showed other signs of impairment.

In Illinois, the legal limit is currently .08 for alcohol. For marijuana, the limit is 5    nanograms per milliliter of whole blood or 10 nanograms per milliliter of other bodily substance.  See 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2.

These limits, however, are only a presumption that you were intoxicated.  If you drove badly, fell out of your car or garbled your words, the state can still convict you.  On the other hand, if you drove perfectly, enunciated like British royalty and carried yourself like a ballerina, you might win at trial even if you were slightly over the limit.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  Did the police have probable cause to stop you in the first place?  If not, your attorney can file a petition to suppress any evidence from the stop in hopes of getting your case dismissed.  Even if your arrest was legal and 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 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 TO EXPECT FOR YOUR FIRST DUI APPEARANCE ON ZOOM COURT IN ILLINOIS

The COVID-19 pandemic has, at least for the time being, changed court procedures in the Skokie and Rolling Meadows courthouses, the Daley Center and elsewhere.  Depending on your jurisdiction, most of your court appearances will take place on zoom.  This can seem intimidating, but it’s really not that scary.

When you are arrested for DUI, the officer will give you a ticket with information for your first court date and place.  Unfortunately, this does not usually include the zoom meeting and pass codes you will need to log into the courtroom.  You will have to search the court’s website in the county where your DUI is located for that information.  If you hire an attorney, the attorney can provide this information for you.

In order to attend court, you will likely have to download the zoom app.  Once you have done so, you can enter the virtual court at your scheduled time.  Defendants logging into the courtroom will receive a message that the “meeting host will let you in.”  This is normal and not a cause to worry (unless you have the wrong meeting code information).  Once the judge is ready, he or she will admit you.  Be sure to turn on the video but mute your sound until the judge calls your name.

If you have an attorney, the attorney will answer on your behalf.  At that point, the judge will look for you on the call.  On your first court date, the attorney will enter his or her appearance and ask for copies of discovery (the evidence against you).  If you have hired an attorney promptly, the attorney may argue to overturn the automatic suspension of your driver’s license at that time.

Although you are not appearing in person, you should dress and act as though you were physically in court.  I have heard a judge admonish people not to go on zoom while in bed or with someone on top of them or in the shower.  You should treat zoom court as though it were a business meeting for a job you really hope to get.

If you have been charged with a DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense as well as help you navigate your way through the court system.

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.)</i>

 

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WHAT IS AGGRAVATED DUI UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

In Illinois, DUI is defined as driving or having actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or another drug.  DUI can be upgraded to an aggravated offense, which increases the penalties, for the following reasons:

  • This is your third-time or later DUI.
  • You were driving a school bus with passengers on board.
  • Your intoxication was the proximate cause of a motor vehicle accident that caused great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to another.
  • You have a previous conviction for an alcohol-related involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide.
  • You were speeding in a school zone and your being under the influence was the proximate cause of bodily harm.
  • You caused a motor vehicle, snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, or watercraft accident while under the influence which resulted in death.
  • Your driver’s license was suspended or revoked due to an alcohol-related suspension, motor vehicle accident or reckless homicide offense.
  • You did not have any type of driver’s license, including a monitoring device driving permit.
  • You knowingly drove an uninsured car.
  • You caused bodily harm to a child under the age 16 that you were transporting.
  • You had a child under age 16 in the car during your second DUI.
  • You were transporting passengers for hire.

If you have been charged with Aggravated DUI, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you?   Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt?

While recent Illinois case law has held that the state need not prove the aggravating factors at trial, the state must still prove those factors beyond a reasonable doubt at sentencing.  If your offense is based on prior DUIs, can the state prove those convictions? If you were in an accident, was your impairment the proximate cause?  Did you know the car you were driving was uninsured?

Even if the police had probable cause 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 been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did the officer have probable cause both to stop you and to search your car?  If not, an attorney can try to petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from that

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:  People v. May   and 625 ILCS 5/11-501   625 ILCS 5/11-501: Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol

<p><i>(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.)</i>

 

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ASSAULTING A POLICE OFFICER WHILE INTOXICATED IN ILLINOIS

The officer stopped you for DUI near your home.  You tried to reason with him to let you go.  When he didn’t, you drunkenly tried to hit him.  You missed. But now you are charged with aggravated assault on top of your DUI.

Can they do that?  What can you do?

In Illinois, you commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Normally, this is a relatively minor offense—a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail. See 720 ILCS 5/12-1. However, when you swiped at that officer, your offense became a Class 4 felony based on assaulting a peace officer or  emergency personnel, either while performing their official duties or because you wanted to stop them or retaliate against them for performing those duties.  See 720 ILCS 5/12-2. 

As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Did you act knowingly?  Note that drunkenness is not a defense here.  But what if you swung your arms without realizing the officer was behind you?  Was the officer’s fear of battery reasonable?  Was the officer performing official duties?  What if the officer was not on duty and just came over to watch your arrest?  An experienced attorney can raise doubts about the state’s case.  If, however, the evidence is overwhelming against you, 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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ACTING QUICKLY IS IMPORTANT IN OVERTURNING THE DUI SUMMARY SUSPENSION OF YOUR ILLINOIS DRIVER’S LICENSE

In Illinois, the Secretary of State automatically suspends your driver’s license on the 46th day after your arrest for DUI.  To have any chance of beating that suspension, you must act quickly, because there are certain deadlines.

Illinois law allows you to petition the court to overturn or rescind that suspension within 90 days of receiving notice. (See 625 ILCS 5/2-118.1(b))    But don’t wait until day 89 or even day 29. You have a much greater chance of winning your petition if you file as early as possible.  This is because state law requires a hearing on your petition within 30 days of its filing.  The earlier your attorney files your petition, the less likely the state will be ready to proceed at hearing.  In that case, your petition will likely be granted.

Ideally, your attorney should file your petition so that you are ready to proceed on the first court date. Note that any delay attributable to you extends the time in which the hearing may be held.

If you have been charged with a DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can take the steps necessary to file the petition on your behalf as well as reviewing your case for your best possible defense.

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 YOUR BAR FIGHT CAN BECOME A FELONY IN ILLINOIS

You were out with friends at a bar.  Some guy overheard something you said that he didn’t like. He came over and insulted you. You were not about to let that stand, so you punched him.  You knew you lost control, but you were not expecting to be charged with a felony on a first offense.

Why is it a felony?  What can you do?

Under Illinois law, you commit battery, if you knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) cause bodily harm or (2) make physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature.  While battery is a misdemeanor, it can be upgraded to aggravated battery, a felony, for a variety of reasons including the location of your fight.

Under Illinois law, such locations include “a public way, public property, a public place of accommodation or amusement, a sports venue, or a domestic violence shelter, or in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other building, structure, or place used for religious worship.”  A court looks at whether the offense occurred in an area that was accessible to the public.  If so, your offense becomes a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison.   Some bars, however, are exclusive and private.  If the bar was exclusive and private, your charges would not be upgraded on that basis.

If you have been charged with a battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the states’ evidence. As with most crimes, the prosecution must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Was the bar public or private?  Did you have legal justification such as by acting in self defense?  Was the physical contact really insulting or provoking?  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 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.

See Illinois Battery Law and Illinois Aggravated Battery Law.  See also People v. Crawford.

 

(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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