HOW QUICKLY SHOULD YOU STOP WHEN POLICE PULL YOUR CAR OVER?

If an officer pulls you over, you must stop as soon as you can safely do so.

Stopping too slowly could give police the probable cause they need to search your car. Police may think you are hiding something or that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

To determine whether you stopped quickly enough, courts look at a number of factors: What were the weather conditions? Is traffic heavy? Are you on a highway without a shoulder? You might be justified in driving a little further to pull in somewhere like a mall where it is safer and less likely to obstruct traffic.

In  People v. Hill, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld a police search of the defendant’s car. Defendant had missed several opportunities to pull over safely. The officer testified that based on his experience, drivers who delay in pulling over are often hiding contraband or retrieving a weapon. The court found that the delay along with the odor of cannabis and a cannabis bud in the backseat were enough to give the officer probable cause.

If you have been charged with a traffic or similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Was the stop by police legal? If not, an attorney can petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from that stop or search.

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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DOES A MINOR TRAFFIC VIOLATION GIVE POLICE THE RIGHT TO STOP MY CAR?

In most situations, the answer is yes.

Police need probable cause before they can stop your car for a suspected offense. Violating even a minor traffic law can be enough. Furthermore, police may conduct a brief, investigatory stop where the officer reasonably believes that you have committed, or are about to commit, a crime, which includes traffic violations.

For example, in People v. Edwards, the defendant violated a Chicago municipal law that prohibited drivers from unreasonably obstructing traffic. The defendant’s car had been running with its headlights on about three to six feet off the curb. This violation was enough to support probable cause.

If you have been charged with a traffic or criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney, who is familiar with the courthouse, can review your case for its best possible defense. For example, the defendant in the above case argued that his car was not unreasonably obstructive because there had been little traffic.  While the court rejected that argument, a different judge with a slight change in the facts could have resulted in a different conclusion.

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 A LAWYER HELP MY CHILD WITH A TRAFFIC TICKET?

 

 

Your child only recently started driving.  Although generally responsible, he or she got a rather high speeding ticket with the possibility of a criminal record as a result.  Should you get an attorney?  What can an attorney do?

 

Be aware that certain types of tickets, like speeding, are very difficult to win at trial. However, under limited circumstances, it may be possible to get a ticket dismissed.  More likely, an attorney can help your child by negotiating with the prosecutor to get a reduced charge or sentence.  If, for example, your child is charged with a Class A Misdemeanor for speeding, an attorney may be able to get the charge reduced to a petty offense.

 

An attorney can further help present your child in their best possible light by drawing attention to their better qualities.  Are they a straight A student?  Heavily involved in afterschool clubs? Do they volunteer anywhere?  Can they get letters attesting to their good character?

 

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 THE EFFECT OF AN ILLINOIS DUI UNDER AGE 21 AND HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP?

If you are arrested for DUI when you are under age 21, you can face somewhat stiffer penalties than if you were older.  For one thing, the Illinois Secretary of State can revoke your driving privileges for at least two years for a first conviction.  Further, under Zero Tolerance, you can lose your license for at least three months if you are found to have any trace of alcohol in your system while operating a motor vehicle even if you were under the legal limit.  The investigating officer has the discretion whether to charge you with Zero Tolerance, DUI or both.

You may also lose your license if you are convicted or received supervision for illegal consumption, purchase, or possession of alcohol or for receiving alcohol as a gift regardless of whether you were driving at the time.

An attorney can help you by reviewing your case for your best possible defense.  Did police have a valid reason to stop you? If not, an attorney may be able to get any evidence from the stop suppressed. Can the state prove all the elements of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt?  Did anyone see you driving?  Was your driving impaired? If not, an attorney may be able to take your case to trial.

A Zero Tolerance charge may be somewhat harder to fight if police do have probable cause to stop you, and they can prove that any alcohol was in your system.  However, an attorney can still help negotiate a favorable plea agreement. Are you an exemplary student?  Do you volunteer?  Are you involved in any afterschool clubs?  Are their family circumstances that would make the prosecutor want to give you a break? Can you get letters attesting to your otherwise good character?

If your license is suspended before age 21, you will have to successfully complete a driver remedial education course, and you can be required to take a complete driver’s test in order to re-issue your license.

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.

 

Source:  Illinois Zero Tolerance Policy.

 

(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 A THIRD PARTY CONSENT TO A POLICE SEARCH OF MY POSSESSIONS?

You left your car at your friend’s house while you were out of town. You wanted the car moved every few days so you left him the keys.  While you were gone, the police stopped your friend in the car and asked to search it based on suspicion that it was involved in a crime.  Your friend said OK. The police found hidden drugs leading to your arrest.

Can they do that?  The answer depends on the authority your friend had to consent to the search.

To justify the search, the state must show that a reasonable person, in the circumstances presented to the officer, would believe that the third party had apparent authority over the item searched.  The third party’s mere possession of the item is not enough. Rather, authority depends on the third party’s use of, control over and access to the item.

For example, in People v. Ortega, a truck driver transported a BMW from Nevada to Chicago.  The driver stopped in Naperville to unload another car. In attempting to move the BMW, the truck driver discovered the battery was dead.  Checking inside the truck, the driver found multiple bundles wrapped in duct tape.  The driver called police who opened the packages based on the driver’s consent.  The packages contained cannabis, and the BMW owner was arrested.

The court found that the truck driver was empowered to enter the BMW, drive it off the transport truck, and open the trunk to access the battery. Thus, the driver had apparent authority over the BMW and could consent to the search of those areas. However, the truck driver did not have authority over the sealed packages. Thus a search warrant was required to open the packages.

If you have been charged with a criminal or traffic offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  Was the search legal?  If not, an attorney may be able to petition the judge to suppress the evidence resulting from the search.  Under certain circumstances, this could result in your case being dismissed.

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.

<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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OVERTURNING YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION BASED ON THE UNDERLYING TRAFFIC STOP

Once you are arrested for DUI, the Secretary of State usually suspends your driver’s license for at least six months beginning on the 46th day after your arrest.  Your attorney may file a petition to rescind or overturn that suspension.  In some cases, the sooner an attorney can file that petition, the better your chance of winning.

Your suspension can only be attacked on certain grounds.  One ground is the propriety of the underlying traffic offense.  In other words, an officer needs probable cause to stop you, which may be that you violated a traffic law.  But what if you didn’t really break that law?

For example, in People v. Araiza, the defendant was stopped for failing to make a left turn when the green turn arrow appeared. Under Illinois law (625 ILCS 11-306(a)(2)), a motorist facing a green arrow signal may cautiously enter the intersection to make the turn. The law does not require the driver to do so within a specified time and requires that the driver yield the right of way to pedestrians and other traffic lawfully within the intersection.   The defendant in this case waited eight seconds including four when the intersection was not clear. The court held that the defendant had not violated the law. Thus, the defendant’s petition to overturn her suspension should be granted.

Note that winning the petition to rescind does not automatically dismiss your DUI.  The Secretary of State and the court are on two separate tracks, so it is possible to win the petition and lose the trial, or vice versa.

If you have been charged with DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  Did the police have probable cause to stop you?  Is there another way to overturn your suspension?  If so, an attorney can file a petition in hopes you can keep driving.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois 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 OF DUI IN ILLINOIS IF I DID NOT TAKE THE BREATHALYZER?

While you can still be convicted of DUI without a breathalyzer, the prosecution’s job certainly is a bit harder.

To find you guilty of DUI, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were both driving and impaired.  A breathalyzer reading above .08 raises a presumption that you were impaired.  Without the breathalyzer, the state must rely on other evidence.

During your court case, your attorney will ask the state to turn over copies of its evidence against you.  In most cases, that evidence will include video from the police stop. The video may show your driving prior to the stop, your behavior towards police and any field sobriety tests that you may have taken.

If your driving was erratic, you looked wasted and you wobbled all over any field sobriety tests, the lack of a breathalyzer will not save your case. However, if you drove well, behaved appropriately without slurring your words or losing your balance and stood like a rock while holding one leg up for 30 seconds, you may be able to win a not guilty verdict at trial.

Note that even with a breathalyzer above the legal limit, it is possible to win a not guilty verdict if there are no other signs of impairment.  However, you may still be convicted of driving with a breathalyzer above .08, which is a separate offense. It is also possible to dispute the accuracy of a breathalyzer test.

If you have been charged with a DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  Did the police have probable cause to arrest you?  Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt?  Even if the police acted lawfully 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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CAN I BE CHARGED WITH DUI FOR GETTING IN A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT?

The answer depends on a variety of factors.

Were you driving? Are there witnesses to your driving?  Did the officer observe the odor of alcohol at the scene?  Were there beer cans or open evidence of drug use in the car? To convict you, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving and that you were impaired.

Did you cause the accident?  What kind of damage was done to the vehicles involved?  Note that even if you didn’t cause the accident, you may still be charged with DUI. The accident gives police the probable cause needed to question you regarding what happened.  Even if the presence of alcohol isn’t obvious, such questioning may lead to evidence that can justify your arrest.

Did the officer ask you to perform field sobriety tests?  Is there video of those tests or of the accident scene?  If so, the video may strongly influence the judge’s opinion of what happened. If police recorded a video and then lost it, you may be able to contest your entire case on that basis.

If you did cause the accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may face stiffer charges or penalties, particularly if anyone was severely injured or killed.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case. 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 YOUR HALLOWEEN COSTUME GET YOU IN TROUBLE FOR DUI?

There is nothing illegal about wearing a costume while driving a car.  If you are driving late at night, however, your costume may garner a little extra attention from police.  The costume and time of night may lead police to assume you’d been partying.

Wearing a costume, in itself, will not give police the probable cause they need to stop you.  But if you show any other signs of erratic driving, the costume may tip the balance in making a stop.

If you have been charged with a DUI, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  Did the police have probable cause beyond your costume to stop you?  Was your driving within the range of an unimpaired driver?  If police lacked probable cause, an attorney can bring a motion to suppress any evidence from your arrest.  Even if your driving was faulty 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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WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR DUI IN COOK COUNTY?

You’ve been booked for DUI and sent home from the police station.  You were given a court date within two months.  What happens from there

Generally at your first court date, your attorney will file his or her appearance with the court and the state. The attorney may also file a motion for discovery, which requests copies of the evidence against you. Discovery may include police reports, breathalyzer results and the squad car or body cam video from your arrest.

Note that the Secretary of State usually suspends your driver’s license for at least six months beginning on the 46th day after your arrest.  Depending on the facts of your case, an attorney may file a petition to overturn this suspension.  You have a much better chance of winning if you hire an attorney promptly so that the attorney can file your petition well in advance of the court date. Illinois law mandates a hearing on your petition within 30 days or at your first court date, whichever is later.  If the state isn’t ready on that date, you may win by default.  Any hearing on your petition will likely take place on that first court date.

Be aware that even if you overturn your suspension, your DUI case will continue. The court and the Secretary of State are on two separate tracks.

After the first court date, your attorney will review the state’s evidence in order to best advise you on how to proceed.  If the evidence against you is shaky, you may have a good chance of winning at trial.    If you do go to trial, you may have to appear for several court dates before you, the court and the state are all ready to proceed. Sometimes these delays actually work in your favor.

If the evidence against you is overwhelming, you may wish to enter a guilty plea. In that case, your attorney will try to negotiate the best possible terms for your plea.  Perhaps you will be allowed to plead guilty to reckless driving instead of DUI, or to a misdemeanor DUI instead of a felony.  Your attorney may present the state with evidence of your good character.

Before entering a plea, you will have to get a DUI evaluation.  In Cook County, you may only use the court-sanctioned evaluators—Central States Institute.  You will have to meet with someone from CSI to answer questions.  Your attorney will advise you on how to present yourself. The evaluator will then give you a certain risk rating which factors into the state’s offer for a plea agreement.  Once the evaluation is ready, you may be able to enter your plea.

If you choose to go to trial, your attorney will advise you on whether you should request trial before a judge or jury.  You generally will not be asked to testify at trial, and for many reasons, your testimony may not be a good idea.  Remember that the state has to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  You do not have to prove that you are innocent.

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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