DO I NEED TO COME TO COURT FOR AN ILLINOIS TRAFFIC TICKET?

 

Zoom has made court appearances for your traffic ticket easier than ever. Even if you are out of state, you can join court on your phone or laptop, although it remains to be seen if zoom court will continue after the state has fully reopened.

But what if you still can’t make it to court, even via Zoom?  For most traffic tickets depending on the type of offense, an attorney can appear on your behalf.   An attorney may be able to get the ticket dismissed, or at least, enter a plea agreement on your behalf.   You will need to give the attorney written authorization to proceed in your absence.  (Note that these procedures apply to Cook County and may differ in your particular jurisdiction.)

If one of your tickets is for not having proof of insurance, and you had insurance or got late compliance insurance, you can provide the proof to your attorney along with the authorization.

If you have a DUI or particularly high speeding ticket, you will still need to appear yourself. For a high speeding ticket, an attorney can present mitigation in hopes of working out a more favorable outcome than you could on your own.

While you may be tempted to simply pay your ticket by mail and avoid the hassle of going to court, this is not a good idea.  A ticket resolved by mail is often generally reported as a “conditional discharge” or conviction, which can increase your car insurance premiums.  (This does not apply to red light or speed camera tickets, which are issued against the car and not the driver.)

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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CAN YOU CHALLENGE THE BLOOD ALCOHOL TEST RESULTS FROM YOUR DUI?

After an accident, you were taken to a hospital and your blood was tested. The results gave you a blood alcohol result that was way over the legal limit.

Can you challenge the testing? The answer depends on who did the test and why.

If the police did not follow proper procedures in collecting evidence, including blood tests from a hospital, an attorney can file a motion to suppress that evidence. To do so, you must first show that the evidence was obtained through an illegal search or seizure violating your Fourth Amendment rights. The state then has an opportunity to respond.

Similarly, to suppress evidence from a blood draw, you must show: 1) that a search occurred in the form of a blood draw, and 2) that the draw violated the fourth amendment.

The Fourth Amendment does not apply to searches by private individuals. However, a private actor may implicate the Fourth Amendment when that person acts as an agent of the state in light of all the circumstances. This is where it gets complicated because participation by the police, in and of itself, does not automatically mean that the hospital acted as an agent of the state. How much participation is too much? Your attorney will need to argue the facts of your case to show that police crossed the line.

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).

Reference:  People v. Mueller, 2021 IL App (2d) 190868

 

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CAN POLICE SEARCH MY HOSPITAL ROOM WITHOUT A WARRANT?

The answer is generally no.

The Fourth Amendment protects you from warrantless searches in places where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy unless the search falls under an exception to the warrant requirement, such as when an item is in plain view.

But when do you have a “reasonable expectation of privacy?” The answer may depends on the facts of your specific case. Some factors a court considers are: (1) ownership of the property searched; (2) whether you were legitimately present in the area searched; (3) whether you had a possessory interest in the area or property seized; (4) prior use of the area searched or property seized; (5) the ability to control or exclude others from the property; (6) whether you had a subjective expectation of privacy; (7) the nature of the premises where the search occurred; and (8) the intimate or personal nature of the activities that usually take place in that space.

Be aware that different judges may weigh these factors very differently. Therefore, an attorney who has experience with your particular judge may be able to present your situation to that judge in its most appealing light.

In People v. Pearson, police searched the defendant’s hospital room after he had been shot. A nurse took defendant’s clothing from his room and gave it to the police at their request and without defendant’s consent. The court held that defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the hospital room: “The concern for patients’ personal bodily privacy and vulnerability…gave rise to the laws protecting the privacy and confidentiality of medical treatment …. Those same laws were in effect at the time of the events here, supporting a similar conclusion that [defendant]’s expectation of privacy was one that “society is prepared to consider reasonable.”

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did the officer have a legitimate basis for the search? If not, an attorney can petition the court in hopes of suppressing the evidence from the 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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CAN I BE STOPPED FOR PARKING IN A LOT LATE AT NIGHT?

You like driving late at night.  It’s quiet, and it lets you think.  One night, you pulled over to eat in a store’s parking lot.  The store had been closed for several hours, and the area was deserted.  An officer spotted you and came over to investigate.  He smelled alcohol and pretty soon you were out of your car and under arrest. Can they do that?

The answer depends on the facts of your situation.

An officer can see if you need help as part of his or her community caretaking function.  Were you sleeping in the car or did you have a heart attack?  If the officer sees something suspicious, the officer may then question and arrest you. But if the officer stopped you only because you were in the parking lot late at night, then any resulting search or arrest is probably illegal.

To justify a stop, the officer must have observed unusual conduct which lead to a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you have committed or are about to commit a crime.  The officer’s suspicion must be more than a hunch and cannot be justified after the fact.

For example, in People v. Gallagher, the defendant was in a gas station parking lot around 12:45 a.m.  The officer became suspicious due to the gas station’s having been previously burglarized, the lateness of the hour and the two individuals sitting inside the car in a darkened area. The court held that this evidence merely amounted to a hunch and that the lateness of the hour, without more, did not rise to a reasonable articulable suspicion.

If you have been charged with a criminal or traffic offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Did the officer have probable cause both to stop you and to search your car?  If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from the 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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CAN POLICE CHANGE THE REASON THEY STOP ME?

An officer can stop you for one reason then investigate you for another as long as the stop is not unduly prolonged. Whether a stop was unduly prolonged, and thus illegal, is a very fact-intensive question, which different judges may see very differently.

A traffic stop is unduly prolonged if it takes longer than the time reasonably required to complete the officer’s mission. The mission consists of the stop’s purpose and related safety concerns. Authority for the stop ends when tasks tied to the traffic violation are, or reasonably should have been, completed.  These tasks include checking your driver’s license, criminal history, vehicle registration, proof of insurance and whether you have any outstanding warrants.

The court looks at the duration of the stop but also whether the officer acted diligently in fulfilling the purpose of the stop. Even a relatively quick stop can be unduly prolonged if the officer completed his or her mission.  An officer cannot use any time saved to investigate other issues.

In People v. Sanchez, the court upheld a seven-minute traffic stop where the officer diligently conducted the necessary inquiries and obtained the information necessary to write the warning ticket and was not simply stalling to wait for the narcotics dog.

If you have been charged with a traffic or criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Did the officer have probable cause to stop you in the first place?  How long did the stop last, and what was the officer doing during that time?  If the stop was unduly prolonged, an attorney can petition the court to try to suppress any evidence resulting from the stop or search, which in limited cases could result in dismissing your charges.

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 SEARCH MY CAR BASED ON MARIJUANA WHEN POT IS LEGAL IN ILLINOIS?

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the answer is yes, especially if combined with other factors.

In People v. Hill, an officer stopped the defendant, then searched his car based on the strong odor of cannabis and a cannabis bud spotted in the backseat.  Defendant argued that because marijuana had been decriminalized, those reasons could not serve as the basis of a search.  The court disagreed.

The court said that a person does not have a legitimate interest in contraband. While small amounts of marijuana had been decriminalized, cannabis was still contraband, even though it might not be evidence of a crime in every situation.  The court said that cannabis was like alcohol, which is lawful in some situations but not in others. Further, the officer did not rely solely on the odor of marijuana as a basis for his search.  The bud in the back seat along with the defendant’s delay in stopping his car provided sufficient probable cause.

If you have been charged with a DUI, criminal or traffic offense, contact an experienced law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  Did the officer have the probable cause needed to stop you?  Was the search of your car legal?  If not, an attorney can petition the court to try to suppress the evidence.

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 FAILING TO WEAR A SEAT BELT?

The answer is yes.

Police can stop your car when they have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred.  Failure to wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt can be enough.

During any stop, the driver and passengers may be ordered out of the vehicle and questioned without violating the fourth amendment. Any questions need not be related to the purpose of the traffic stop as long as those questions do not prolong the stop.  Police may also frisk everyone to insure there are no weapons. If the stop is prolonged, police then must have a reasonable articulable suspicion of wrongdoing to continue holding you.

If you have been charged with a traffic or criminal 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?  If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress evidence resulting from the stop.  In rare cases, this could result in dismissing the charges against you.

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 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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