ILLINOIS TIGHTENS LAW ON HAND HELD DEVICES WHILE DRIVING

As of July 1, 2019, a first offense for texting or using a cell phone while driving is now a moving violation. Before the change, a second offense incurred the moving violation.

The rest of the law remains the same: It prohibits using an electronic communication device while driving. Such a device includes, but is not limited to, a hand-held wireless telephone, hand-held personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer, but does not include GPS or a device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle.

Fines range from $75 for a first offense to $150 for a fourth or later offense. However, you can be charged with aggravated use of an electronic communicate device, a Class A misdemeanor, if you cause an accident that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement. The charge becomes a Class 4 felony if your texting proximately causes a death.

The law does not apply if you are 1) reporting an emergency, 2) using your device in handsfree mode, 3) parked on the shoulder or 4) stopped in traffic with your car in park or neutral. Simply pushing a single button to begin or end a communication does not violate the law. Furthermore, the law does not apply to CB radio hams or first responders.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced traffic law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Were you simply hitting that single button to terminate a text? Was your car in park? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney can help guide you through court procedure and 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.

Source: 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2.

(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 HAVE PROBABLE CAUSE TO SEARCH YOUR CAR?

You know you blew a stop sign, so you were not surprised when the officer pulled you over. But then the officer searched your car and found an open bottle of whiskey under the passenger seat. You are now under arrest for DUI.

Did the officer have the right to search your car? What can you do?

To search your car without a warrant, the officer must have probable cause to believe that your car contains evidence of criminal activity. The officer may also search if an item of contraband, such as open alcohol or drugs, is in plain view, but then the nature of the object as contraband must be immediately apparent.

The answer to whether an officer has the necessary probable cause can depend on how the particular facts of your case look to your particular judge. And that can be a game of inches.

For example in People v. Bailey, an officer pulled a defendant over for speeding. The officer noticed defendant had barbeque sauce in his beard and thought it odd someone could have food on their face without knowing it. Defendant moved very slowly and deliberately in retrieving his license but did not fumble. The officer attempted to distract defendant while he took out his license and testified that defendant seemed “to be staring almost through me…as if he was having a hard time focusing.” However, the officer had not noticed anything unusual about defendant’s eyes or speech. The officer noticed a sweet odor and saw a purple can, but could not tell what was in the can. The officer then searched defendant’s car, finding open alcohol in the back seat.

Under these circumstances, the court said the officer lacked probable cause for the search. The officer could not tell whether the open can in the back contained alcohol. Further, none of the officer’s observations before the search gave him probable cause. The officer did not notice glassy, bloodshot eyes or a strong odor of alcohol. The observation that defendant moved slowly and stared right through him was vague, subjective and only minimally suggestive of impairment.

Since the officer lacked probable cause, the court suppressed the evidence of the open alcohol container. But be aware that a different judge could have decided the officer had probable cause on the same facts, which is why it is important to know the tendencies of your particular judge.

If you are charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney may be able to present the facts of a questionable search in the light most appealing to your particular judge. 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 FIGHT THE AUTOMATIC DUI SUSPENSION OF MY DRIVER’S LICENSE?

The answer is yes. There is a procedure for asking the court to review the suspension.

After you are charged with DUI, the Secretary of State usually suspends your driver’s license on the 46th day after your arrest. Once you receive the notice of a statutory summary suspension of driving privileges, you may request a hearing before the court. You must state the grounds upon which you are seeking to rescind or overturn the suspension. See 625 ILCS 5/2-118.1. One basis for rescinding is that the officer lacked reasonable grounds to believe you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Another basis is that the state is not ready to go forward with the officer’s testimony on the day of hearing. But to have a chance of winning on this basis, you must retain an attorney to file your petition as quickly as possible.

The petition to rescind your suspension is civil, not criminal. As such, you must make the initial showing that your license should be returned. If you succeed, the state must then present evidence justifying your suspension. If you fail, the court may rule for the state without the state having to present evidence. After hearing the evidence, the judge will determine whether to rescind the suspension of your license. Be advised, however, that even if you win your petition to rescind, your criminal case for DUI will still move forward.

If you have been charged DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can file the petition and present the evidence in the hopes of saving your driver’s 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.

(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 BEAT THE AUTOMATIC SUSPENSION OF MY ILLINOIS DRIVER’S LICENSE?

If you are charged with DUI, you should immediately contact an attorney because certain options to fight the automatic suspension of your driver’s license may only be available for a short time after your arrest.

The Illinois Secretary of State automatically suspends your driver’s license on the 45th day after your DUI arrest for a minimum of six months. An attorney can file a petition to challenge this suspension at any time. However, the sooner you file the petition the better, because the state has to meet certain timeframes.

Under 625 ILCS 5/2-118.1, you must be given a hearing on your petition within 30 days after the petition is received or on the first court appearance date. If an attorney files the petition promptly and the state is not ready for hearing, the judge could grant your petition.

The state must also provide copies of any evidence against you in time for the hearing or again, the judge could grant your petition. Any delay in obtaining the evidence must be attributable to the state and not to you, so you cannot delay in filing the paperwork and then object if the state isn’t ready.

Even if you don’t file your petition promptly, you may still be able to challenge your suspension, but under a much heavier burden.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can file the necessary paperwork in hopes of overturning your driver’s license suspension. While you may be able to drive with a breath activated ignition interlock device, this can be both embarrassing and costly.

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. Patel.

(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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PASSING A SCHOOL BUS IN ILLINOIS

You saw the school bus, but you honestly didn’t see the stop sign extending from it. So you drove past the bus, and next thing you know, a police car signaled you to pull over. You would never intentionally disobey a school bus sign, and the whole thing is extremely upsetting.

What is the law? What can you do?

In Illinois, you must stop before passing a school bus from either direction when the bus is signaling a stop by either a stop sign or flashing lights. You may not drive forward until the school bus proceeds, the bus driver signals to you, or the visual signals are no longer activated. See 625 ILCS 5/11-1414.

There are exceptions to this rule: You need not stop for a school bus on the opposite side of a highway that has four or more lanes with at least two lanes of traffic in opposite directions. You also do not need to stop for a bus on either side of the road if the bus is in a paved loading zone adjacent to a controlled access highway where pedestrians are not permitted to cross.

Apart from fines, you may lose your license for three months if convicted on a first offense, and for one year on a second or later offense that occurred within five years of a prior conviction. You may, however, be able to get a restricted driving permit to travel to work.

If you have been charged with overtaking a school bus or similar offense, contact an experienced traffic law attorney immediately. Was the bus signaling a stop? What was the nature of the roadway? Even if the evidence is clear, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to persuade the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a less damaging offense.

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 SEE THE RESULTS OF MY HOSPITAL BLOOD TEST?

You got into an accident after drinking at a party. You were taken to the hospital where your blood was drawn. The blood test clearly shows you were well over the legal limit. Can the police get those test results or are you protected by patient-physician confidentiality?

In general, Illinois law prohibits your doctor from disclosing any information
acquired while attending you in a professional capacity that is necessary for the doctor to treat you. However, there are certain exceptions.

Physician-patient confidentiality does not apply to blood tests performed while you are receiving medical treatment in an emergency room and can be used under certain circumstances to prosecute you for DUI or reckless homicide. The results of blood, other bodily substance or urine tests performed to determine the alcohol or drug content in your system when receiving medical treatment in the emergency room for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident must be disclosed to police upon request.

According to a recent Illinois case, your blood test results may be admitted in a civil proceeding—the petition to overturn your driver’s license suspension—in order to prove the police officer had reasonable grounds to arrest you. See People v. Quigley

If you have been charged with DUI, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can help determine the best way of handling the evidence against you. 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.

See 735 ILCS 5/8-802.

(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 ADMITTING I WAS DRUNK CONVICT ME OF DUI?

When the officer pulled you over, you were very compliant. Perhaps a little too compliant. You readily told the officer you’d had too much to drink.

Is your DUI defense over before it begins?

While statements like “I am drunk” certainly do not make a DUI defense lawyer’s job easy, such admissions, by themselves, are not necessarily enough to convict you.

To prove DUI, the state must show the commission of a crime, known as the corpus delicti, and the identity of the person committing it. Under the corpus delicti rule, your confession alone cannot convict you without corroborating evidence. Such evidence is not required to show that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt but need only tend to show the commission of a crime.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. For most DUIs, your attorney can review the squad car video of your arrest. If your behavior seemed under control, you did well on field sobriety tests and/or you drove safely, an experienced attorney may overcome any incriminating statements that you might have made.

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. Sanchez.

(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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MY DUI WAS IN CHICAGO, BUT MY CASE IS IN SKOKIE

You live in Chicago, a Chicago officer stopped your car in Chicago, so you fully expected your court would be in Chicago. But to your surprise, your case is assigned to the Cook County Circuit Court in Skokie at 5600 Old Orchard Road.

Why is that? What does it mean for you?

Due to Cook County cost-saving measures, two branch courthouses in Chicago are now closed. As a result, some felony DUIs are now being sent to Skokie. The good news is there are many fine judges in Skokie who will give your case a fair hearing.

In Skokie, your preliminary hearing will likely be heard in Room 105. At that hearing, the court determines whether the state has enough probable cause to proceed on your case. If so, your case will be transferred to another Skokie courtroom. If not, your case could be dismissed.

As in most cases, it helps to have an attorney who is familiar with and respected by the judges and the state’s attorneys at the court where your case is being handled. Knowledge of the courthouse can be important in determining the best strategy for your case.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Can the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were too impaired to drive? 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 THEY MAKE ME TAKE A BREATHALYZER IN COURT?

You stayed up late drinking the night before court. You thought you would sober up in time, but that didn’t happened. Can the court force you to take a breathalyzer?

The answer is absolutely. In Illinois, you are required to appear at each and every court date for your DUI. If the judge believes you showed up for court under the influence of alcohol, you can be legally ordered to take a breathalyzer on the spot.

Any test would be conducted outside the courtroom. If you fail, however, the judge could revoke your bond. Although you would not lose your right to trial on the original DUI, the judge may be less inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt when interpreting your behavior on any video or other evidence the state may present against you.

When coming to court, it always make sense to be as well-groomed as possible in order to make your best impression on the court. Shorts, ripped up jeans, low cut blouses, t-shirts with provocative slogans should all be avoided. Dress as you would for a job interview rather than a trip to the grocery store.

If you have been charged with DUI, contact an attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Was police questioning proper? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? 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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WILL MY DUI BE DISMISSED IF THE OFFICER FAILS TO APPEAR IN COURT?

You are at your first court date for a DUI. You glance nervously about the room and are surprised not to see your arresting officer. Will your case be dismissed if the officer fails to appear?

In Illinois, the answer is almost always no.

When you are charged with a minor traffic ticket, a judge could dismiss your ticket if the officer is not present in court. The reason is because the original court date for a minor offense is considered to be the date set for trial.

A DUI, however, is a Class A misdemeanor. As a result, your first court date is not for trial. Instead, your attorney will file their appearance before the court and ask to see the evidence against you. Barring extraordinary circumstances, it is highly unlikely that the officer’s failure to appear at that first court date will end in dismissal.

While your case won’t be dismissed, the officer’s absence may yet benefit you. It may help you win a hearing to overturn the suspension of your driver’s license, especially if your attorney has timely filed the paperwork necessary to contest the suspension. Therefore, it is essential to contact an attorney as soon after your arrest as possible in order to preserve this possibility.

If you have been charged with DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Was police questioning proper? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? 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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