WHAT IS DRUNK DRIVING IN ILLINOIS?

We all know that drunk driving is something you shouldn’t do. But legally speaking, what exactly is it? How does a court decide when you crossed the line and became too drunk to drive?

Under 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2), a person should not drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. If you have a blood alcohol content of .08 or above, you are presumed to be impaired, although you may be able to challenge that presumption if your driving and performance on field sobriety tests are otherwise stellar.

According to Illinois case law: “A person is under the influence of alcohol when he or she is less able, either mentally or physically, or both, to exercise clear judgment, and with steady hands and nerves operate an automobile with safety to himself and to the public…. A conviction of DUI does not require proof that the defendant was completely incapacitated by alcohol. The prosecution need prove only that the defendant was impaired by alcohol to the extent that it rendered him incapable of driving safely.” See People v. Williams.

Still wondering what that really means? To a large extent, it all depends on the specific facts of your case—as well as your judge. Some cases are clear cut. You were weaving and you drove off the shoulder. Others are less so. You missed a stop sign. Does that mean you were impaired? Some judges might say yes, others no.

While never able to guarantee success, an experienced DUI attorney who is familiar with the courthouse can present your case in its best possible light before your particular judge. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney 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 KEEP OUT EVIDENCE FROM MY POLICE STOP? THE ILLINOIS MOTION TO SUPPRESS

You really were doing nothing wrong. You didn’t run a stop sign, and you weren’t speeding. You’d had more than a couple drinks at the bar, but your driving was just fine. Then suddenly the police are behind you. During the stop, they found the cocaine under your seat. Or maybe you told them about those shots of tequila. Now you’re under arrest.

Can you keep the cocaine or your statement about the tequila out of evidence? The answer is maybe. It all depends on the facts.

If police do not have a legal basis to stop you, you may be able to suppress the evidence resulting from the stop. You may also be able to suppress evidence found or statements made after police detain you but before they read your rights. To do this, your attorney may bring a motion to suppress before the court.

To prevail, you must show that police acted without a warrant and that you were not doing anything unusual that would indicate criminal activity at the time of the stop. (See People v Lopez). A stop cannot be justified by evidence found after the fact. An officer must first have probable cause to arrest you although he or she can make a brief investigatory stop if there is a reasonable and articulable suspicion of wrongdoing. The officer may also stop you as part of their community caretaking duties–for example, to check if you are having a medical emergency.

If you win the motion, you may get at least some evidence from the stop thrown out. In rare circumstances, your entire case could be dismissed.

If you have been charged with DUI or another crime, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove the police stop was legal? Even if the police acted lawfully 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 YOU BE STOPPED FOR MAKING A LEFT TURN INTO THE FAR LANE?

You noticed the officer’s car behind you. You’d had a few drinks but your driving was really spot on. Then you made a left turn into the far lane of an intersection. The officer signals you to pull over. He smelled the alcohol on your breath and now you’re charged with DUI. Is the stop legal?

According to one recent Illinois case, the answer is no.

Under the Fourth Amendment, police may not stop your car unless they have a reasonable articulable suspicion that you have committed or are about to commit a crime. (Police may also stop you under exigent circumstances or as part of their community caretaking duties.) Violating a traffic law is generally enough to justify the stop. But what if your driving doesn’t really fit the definition of that law?

In People v. Walker, the defendant was stopped for making a left turn into the far lane. The defendant argued that such a turn was in fact legal and therefore, the traffic stop was not justified. The court agreed. The law merely requires that a driver turning left should leave an intersection in a lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction upon the roadway being entered. The defendant had not violated the law by turning left into the far lane. Therefore, the evidence from the traffic stop was suppressed.

A court may uphold a traffic stop if the police officer had a good faith basis for the mistake, such as the traffic law itself could be interpreted in more than one way. However, the court held that the Illinois law on traffic turns was clear, and the officer therefore could not substitute his mistaken understanding.

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. Did the officer actually witness a traffic violation? If the stop was not legal, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the results of the stop.

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: 625 ILCS 5/1—801.

(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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THIRD TIME DUI IN ILLINOIS

You’ve seen this movie at least twice. The police pulled you over for a traffic offense, smelled alcohol on your breath and the next thing you knew, you were under arrest. Because it’s your third time, the state has upgraded your charges to Aggravated DUI.

What can happen to you? What can you do?

In Illinois, a third or higher DUI can be charged as Aggravated DUI. Aggravated DUI based on a prior record is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison, provided there are no other aggravating factors such as an overly high breathalyzer result or an accident.

To convict you of aggravated DUI, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) you had actual physical control of a vehicle, 2) you were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, and 3) you had at least two prior DUI violations. Proving those prior violations may be as simple as introducing your driving record into evidence. However, on at least one occasion, the state omitted this proof. As a result, the defendant’s conviction was later dismissed.

If you have been charged with Aggravated DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. For starters, did the police have probable cause to stop you? If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court in hopes of quashing the arrest.

Even if the arrest was legal, can the state prove all the elements of the offense? Did you violate any traffic laws or were you in an accident? Did anyone see you driving the car? (Note that Illinois law defines sleeping alone and intoxicated in the car with the keys as “driving.”) Did you take the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests? How well did you perform? Can the state prove your prior violations?

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 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.

Source: Illinois Dui Statute and People v. Jophlin.

(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 YOU EXPUNGE OR SEAL A DUI ON YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD IN ILLINOIS?

Long after the ordeal of court, the embarrassment of a DUI lingers. You even fear it might affect your job search. Can you get it off your criminal record?

The answer depends on the outcome of your case. Under Illinois expungement and sealing law, DUIs and other traffic offenses cannot be cleared. However, if your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty, you may be able to petition for expungement.

(Expungement clears all records off your arrest, including those held by police. Sealing means that your record is cleared for most public purposes but is still available to law enforcement.)

A supervision for most other misdemeanor offenses can be cleared as it is technically not a conviction. Unfortunately, this does not hold true for DUI.

Even if your record is expunged, you may still have to fight with online websites that post arrest records and mugshots to have them take down their information. Some will comply once you present them with the signed order of expungement.

Fortunately, many employers will not hold a DUI against you the way they would many other criminal offenses. A DUI is not a crime of honesty and often, there is a little more understanding for the one time you may have exercised poor judgment in getting behind the wheel of a car.

If you have been charged with DUI, 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? Can the state prove that you drove the car when impaired? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you 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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U.S. SUPREME COURT FINDS POLICE SEARCH OF RENTAL CAR NOT LEGAL

You and a friend are driving across country. Your friend leased the rental car and is its sole authorized driver. In spite of that, your friend said you could take the car to run an errand. That’s when the police stopped you. The officers asked you some questions before searching the car. They found illegal narcotics in the trunk and now you are under arrest.

Is the search legal?

Under the Fourth Amendment, police cannot search an area in which you have a reasonable expectation of privacy without probable cause or some other exception to the warrant requirement. You have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your home and a somewhat lesser expectation in your car, but do you still have that expectation in a rental car? Especially one you didn’t lease? In a recent decision, the United States Supreme Court says that you do.

In Byrd v. United States, the defendant had been driving a rental car but was neither listed on the agreement nor an authorized driver. For this reason, police told defendant they did not need his consent to search the car. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed: “As a general rule, someone in otherwise lawful possession and control of a rental car has a reasonable expectation of privacy in it even if the rental agreement does not list him or her as an authorized driver.”

A rental car may still be searched if police have probable cause or some other exception to the warrant requirement such as your consent or that evidence of a crime is in plain view. You do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy if you have stolen the car. Your possession or control must be lawful.

If you have are charged with a crime, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate whether the stop and search of your car was legal. If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from the stop. Even if 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 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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LAKE COUNTY INTRODUCES ALCOHOL-SENSING ANKLE MONITORS

In order to deter repeat offenders, Lake County has introduced alcohol-sensing ankle monitors for DUI defendants. The monitors work by testing the defendant’s perspiration for alcohol every 30 minutes.

Under the new program known as SCRAM, repeat DUI offenders may be required to wear the ankle monitors as a condition of bond or as part of their sentence for up to 180 days. The monitors may also be required in offenses where alcohol played an underlying role such as domestic violence or assault.

SCRAM devices have already been used in Cook County. Under certain circumstances, an experienced attorney may be able to negotiate a significantly better sentence if you agree to wear a monitor of this type.

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. 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 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.
See Alcohol Sensing Monitors the Latest Tool against Repeat DUI Incidents in Lake County.

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

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WHEN DOES A TRAFFIC STOP BECOME AN ARREST?

You were driving your car when police stopped you for a broken taillight. The officer started out friendly enough but then began to suspect you of some type of wrongdoing. Now the officer has asked you to get out of your car.

Has your stop become an arrest? The timing of this question can affect whether your attorney has grounds to petition the court to throw out the evidence against you.

When your stop became an arrest or seizure depends on whether you as a reasonable person would feel free to leave. Courts look at a variety of factors to determine when a seizure has occurred including: (1) the threatening presence of multiple officers, (2) the display of a weapon by an officer, (3) some physical touching of the person, and (4) the use of language or tone of voice indicating that compliance might be compelled. The court can also look at other types of coercive police behavior.

In People v Lee, the court found that the officer’s yelling “Hey, no talking!” to defendants was enough to find an arrest had occurred. The court said a reasonable person would not feel free to leave if he was not even allowed to talk to his friend. As a result, the stop was no longer consensual.

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. Perhaps the evidence against you seized before you were under arrest. Even if the police acted legally 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 YOU GET AN ILLINOIS DUI REDUCED TO A RECKLESS DRIVING?

You have just been arrested for your first DUI. You are mortified and afraid that you may be fired or might have a hard time finding a new job. Can you get your DUI reduced to a reckless driving? Is there any advantage in doing so?

Under limited circumstances with the help of an experienced attorney, you may be able to get the charges reduced in exchange for pleading guilty. To do so, you will need to convince the state’s attorney that you deserve the break. The state may look at your driving or criminal background, your family or employment history, and the severity of the current offense. Was there an accident? If you took the breathalyzer, how far were you over the legal limit? Did you argue with the officers?

Generally, there is less social stigma attached to a conviction for reckless driving than there is for DUI. This may help you find or keep a job. Additionally, fines and other penalties may be lower for reckless driving. However, you will likely still need to attend alcohol treatment classes.

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. Did police have probable cause to stop you? Did they follow correct testing procedures? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you 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 DUI FIELD SOBRIETY TESTING: HOW WELL DID YOU FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS?

If you are stopped for an Illinois DUI, the officer will likely ask you to perform field sobriety tests. Refusing these tests increases the length of your driver’s license suspension but may improve your chances of winning at trial. If you take the tests, however, a lot may depend on to how well you follow instructions.

In Illinois, the officer often starts with the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) to test how your eyes follow a pencil. The HGN is not often used as evidence at trial. However, in People v Tatera, the state was allowed to use the HGN test to show how the defendant disobeyed the officer’s instructions by failing to keep his hands out of his pockets and at his side.

The HGN is usually followed by the walk-and-turn. In that test, you must count and walk nine steps in a straight line, heel to toe, turn using small steps, then count and walk nine paces back. Apart from keeping to a straight line, a court looks at how well you followed instructions. Did you only take nine steps? Did you use small steps when turning?

The next, and usually final test, is the one-leg stand. While counting to 30, you hold your leg six inches off the ground with your arms at your side. Did your arms stay at your side? Did you skip numbers when counting?

If you are really impaired, it’s probably better not to take the tests. However, if you already took the tests, all is not necessarily lost. An excellent performance might help win a not guilty verdict. But even if your performance was a disaster, an experienced DUI attorney can help. Did the police follow proper procedure? If not, the attorney may be able to petition the court to throw out any evidence that was wrongfully obtained. As a last resort, 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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