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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HOW AN ATTORNEY CAN HELP WITH YOUR DUI

Before police can stop your car, they must have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation is occurring.  If  the officer develops a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you are doing something wrong, the officer may investigate as long as he or she does not unreasonably prolong your stop. The officer must be able to point to facts that support his or her suspicion and may not simply rely on a hunch.  Further, the officer cannot rely on evidence found during a search to retroactively justify his or her suspicion.

The definitions of “probable cause,” “reasonable, articulable suspicion,” and “unreasonably prolong” leaves much room for interpretation by your particular judge.  That is why an attorney who is familiar with the personnel at your courthouse can be critical. Your attorney’s job is to persuade the judge to interpret those terms favorably in your defense.

For example, if you failed your DUI field sobriety tests, an attorney can argue any facts that support an alternative explanation.  What if you failed because you are elderly or overweight?  Was it cold outside? Were you wearing high heels?  Did you have a previous injury? Were you exhausted from working a double shift?  What if the officer said you slurred your words?  Are you a non-native speaker with an accent?  Or again, perhaps you were exhausted from a double shift.

Perhaps the officer became suspicious of wrongdoing during the stop and found contraband in your car.  An attorney can argue that the officer’s suspicion did not justify further action. Were you simply looking nervous?  Did you place something under your seat without more?  Was the stop unduly prolonged?  Perhaps the officer kept you waiting for the narcotics dog well after he or she finished writing up your tickets.

People v. Patel provides an example of how different judges see things differently.  An officer stopped a defendant for speeding. The parties did not dispute the officer’s probable cause.  On approaching defendant, however, the officer smelled alcohol. The defendant said he had drank 2 ½ India pale ales.  The trial court did not believe the facts as a whole supported the officer’s reasonable suspicion to justify investigating the defendant for DUI. The appellate court disagreed, and said that the odor of alcohol along with defendant’s admission was in fact enough.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming and your stop was brief, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may still 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 MY CONSENT TO CHEMICAL TESTS BE USED AGAINST ME IF I WASN’T UNDER ARREST FOR DUI?

According to recent Illinois case law, the answer is a probable yes.

Under Illinois law, any person who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle upon the public way shall be deemed to have consented to chemical tests.  This is known as implied consent. Generally, you must be under arrest before the results of any testing can be used against you unless the tests fall under an exception to the warrant requirement.

One such exception is actual consent.  In  People v. Patel, the defendant had been in a traffic accident and was at the hospital where the officer asked him to submit to blood and urine tests.   The defendant agreed.  The officer testified that the defendant knew he was conducting a DUI investigation.  The court permitted the tests to be used at trial even though the defendant was not under arrest at the time because the defendant had given actual consent.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  Did the police follow correct procedure?  If not, an attorney can petition the court to suppress the results of that stop which could include any testing.

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 AN OFFICER SEARCH MY CAR BASED ON ANOTHER OFFICER’S PROBABLE CAUSE?

An officer stopped you for DUI and had you taking field sobriety tests. While doing so, a second officer searched your car without speaking to the first officer.  The search uncovered some narcotics, and now you are charged with DUI and illegal possession.

Was the second officer’s search legal? The answer depends on specific circumstances.

An officer may rely on another officer’s information in the same investigation to establish probable cause. The test is objective: Would a man or woman of reasonable caution be justified at the time of the search in believing that the search was appropriate?  A search could be illegal if the searching officer lacked independent probable cause and the officer who had probable cause did not direct the search.

In People v. Williams, an officer pulled the defendant over for an expired license plate.  The officer then smelled marijuana.  A second officer searched the car and found drugs.  The second officer, however, had not smelled marijuana nor had the first officer asked the second officer to conduct the search.  Therefore, the second officer could not rely on the first officer’s probable cause.  As a result, evidence from the search was thrown out.

If you have been charged with DUI or a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  Did the officer have probable cause?  If not, an attorney can bring a motion to suppress the evidence from the search, which at times may 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.

(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 COULD SAVE YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE FROM AUTOMATIC SUSPENSION AFTER DUI

After a DUI arrest, the Illinois Secretary of State suspends your driver’s license beginning on the 46th day after your arrest.   An attorney can petition the court to overturn (or rescind) that suspension on certain grounds. To succeed, however, you must act quickly.

Illinois law requires that you receive a hearing on your petition on your first court date or within 30 days of filing your petition, whichever is later.  Your petition must be granted if you do not receive a hearing on time as long as you did not cause the delay.

By filing your petition promptly, your odds of success improve dramatically.  Hearing may be delayed because the officer needed to testify is not in court, or the state is not otherwise ready.  In a recent Illinois case, People v. Stoffle,  the court granted a petition after the state failed to provide defendant with the names of necessary witnesses until the last day that a timely hearing could be held. The defendant had filed certain requests for that evidence along with his petition.

If you are arrested for DUI, you should contact an experienced attorney immediately. The sooner the attorney can file your petition, the better your chances of retaining 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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WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR USING A CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING IN ILLINOIS?

Illinois again raised its penalties against drivers distracted by cell phones.  The minimum fine as of July 1, 2020 is $1,000 for aggravated use of an electronic communication device when causing an accident resulting in great bodily injury, permanent disability, disfigurement or death.  Also effective July 1, 2020, your driver’s license may be suspended for twelve months.

If the accident resulted in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to another, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.  If the accident causes death, the charge is a Class 4 felony.

If you did not cause injury, penalties are $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense, and $150 for every offense thereafter.  As with other moving violations, your license may be suspended if you commit three offenses within one year.

The law also now prohibits streaming a video while driving.

Electronic communication devices include hand-held wireless telephones or personal digital assistants and portable or mobile computers, but do not include GPS or devices that are physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle.

If you have been charged with a traffic offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  The law does contain several exceptions.  For instance, you may use a hands-free device or you may use a cell phone while parked on the shoulder or stopped in normally obstructed traffic with your car set in park or neutral.

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 5/12-610.2.     See also 625 ILCS 5/6-206.

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 ARREST ME FOR DRIVING ON A REVOKED LICENSE EVEN IF I DID NOTHING ELSE WRONG?

The U.S. Supreme Court says that they can under certain circumstances.

In Kansas v. Glover, an officer ran a check on a truck’s license plate which revealed that the truck’s owner, Glover, had a revoked license.  Assuming Glover was the driver, the officer stopped the truck.  The court held that a stop on this basis did not violate Glover’s constitutional rights: “When the officer lacks information negating an inference that the owner is driving the vehicle, an investigative traffic stop made after running a vehicle’s license plate and learning that the registered owner’s driver’s license has been revoked is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

While an officer must still have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing before making a traffic stop, an officer’s commonsense inference that a truck’s owner was likely to be its driver was enough.

While this case came from Kansas, the ruling still applies in Illinois.

If you have been charged with driving on a revoked license or similar offense, contact an experienced traffic court attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  The Supreme Court itself has said that its ruling is a narrow one. Your stop may not be legal if the officer had information contradicting his suspicion that a vehicle owner must be the driver.  Even if the stop was reasonable 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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