CAN YOU FIGHT THE SUSPENSION OF YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE BASED ON A MEDICAL CONDITION?

You were driving somewhat erratically, when police stopped you. The officer suspected you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In reality, you suffer from a medical condition, but the officer didn’t believe you. Now, you have been arrested for DUI, and the state has automatically suspended your driver’s license.

Can you fight the statutory suspension of your license based on your medical condition?

The answer depends on the circumstances and is very fact specific. What is the nature of your medical condition? How does it affect your performance? Does the officer have special training in recognizing drug use? Did the officer see any evidence of intoxication that cannot be explained by your condition?

In People v Gocmen, police and an ambulance were called to the scene of an unconscious driver, who might have been having a seizure. The officer saw a can in the car with residue that later tested positive for opiates and a syringe. Defendant was sweating, had pinpoint pupils, and lapsed in and out of consciousness. The officer had not received specific DUI drug training. Nonetheless, the officer arrested defendant for DUI.

In contesting his driver’s license suspension, the defendant said he was a diabetic. Because defendant may have been diabetic and the officer did not have any drug training or experience, the court found that the officer had no basis to conclude that defendant’s state was based on drugs and not on diabetes. While a layperson can testify regarding intoxication from alcohol, the effects of drugs are not commonly known, and training and experience are necessary to understand their effects on people, which the officer lacked.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to suspect you of DUI. If so, an attorney may be able to petition the court to strike down the automatic suspension of your driver’s license. Note that striking the suspension of your license does not guarnatee you will win your DUI). Even if the police acted legally 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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HOW FAR CAN POLICE GO IN SEARCHING YOUR CAR? THE LIMITS OF CONSENT

You were driving home from a friend’s when police stopped you for speeding. The police then suspected you might have narcotics in your car. They asked if they could look in your car. You said yes, but how far does that consent really go? Are there limits to how far police can search?

Under the Fourth Amendment, police may not search your car without a warrant unless they have probable cause or you are under arrest. There are certain other exceptions to the warrant requirement which include your consent. If you do consent to a search, however, the police have no more authority than what you gave them. For example, if you consent to a search of your glove compartment, the police may not then look in your trunk.

To determine how far police may search based on your consent, the court looks at what is objectively reasonable. In other words, the court considers what a typical reasonable person would have understood by the exchange between you and the officer.

In People v Pulido, the defendant was stopped for speeding. A narcotics dog alerted police to drugs in the car. Defendant consented to a search. Finding nothing, the officers moved the car to the police station for a more thorough exam. Based on the objectively reasonable standard, the court held it was unreasonable to believe that by consenting, the defendant had agreed to the relocation of his vehicle for an even more invasive search. Therefore, the officer’s decision to move the car exceeded the scope of defendant’s consent. As a result, the appellate court reversed the defendant’s conviction.

If you have been charged with a DUI or similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you or perhaps they searched beyond your consent. 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 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 APPELLATE COURT STRIKES DOWN STATUTE REQUIRING DRIVERS TO SUBMIT TO TESTS AFTER SERIOUS ACCIDENTS

An Illinois Appellate Court recently struck down part of the Illinois statute on alcohol testing. Section 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2(c) required that a driver submit to blood, breath or bodily fluid testing for drugs or alcohol where the officer has probable cause to believe that the driver caused death or personal injury while driving under the influence.

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to be free from warrantless searches with certain exceptions. One such exception is known as exigent circumstances, such as where police reasonably believe evidence will disappear if they wait to get a warrant.

In People v Eubanks, the defendant caused a fatal accident. An officer asked defendant to submit to blood tests, which defendant refused. The officer then took defendant to a hospital where his blood was forcibly drawn. He was further threatened with a catheter if he did not submit a urine sample. The tests revealed cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine metabolite.

The state argued that Illinois law required the driver to submit to such tests, and that exigent circumstances always existed under these circumstances. The court disagreed. Instead, the court held that exigent circumstances must be determined on a case by case basis and not as a general rule. The officer arrested the defendant at midnight, then waited nearly three hours for instructions from the accident unit before taking defendant to the hospital. During that interval, the officer could have obtained a warrant.

As a result, the defendant’s conviction for first degree murder was reversed, and the case was sent back to the lower court for a new trial.

If you have been charged with DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you or any evidence against you was improperly seized. Even if the police acted legally 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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HOW CAN I GET MY DRIVER’S LICENSE BACK IN ILLINOIS?

If you have a DUI conviction, the Secretary of State may have revoked your driver’s license. Losing your license is affecting your ability to work and to live your daily life.

How can you get your license back?

The road to reinstatement is not as easy as the Secretary of State rule book makes it sound. For one thing, you will not automatically regain your driving privileges just because you successfully completed the terms of your DUI sentence. You will still need to apply for reinstatement.

Following a first or subsequent DUI conviction, your license will be revoked for at least one year. (If you have received supervision instead of a conviction, your license is suspended rather than revoked, and you may simply need to pay the reinstatement fee.) The court will order treatment for substance abuse, and you will have to complete the terms of your sentence.

Once your sentence is terminated satisfactory, you can immediately apply for reinstatement. Bear in mind, however, that the Secretary of State does not care that you really need to drive. The Secretary is under pressure to keep drunk drivers off the road.

Once you apply, you will have to attend a hearing where you will have to testify on your own behalf. You will also be questioned by an attorney for the Secretary of State. You will have the opportunity to present evidence that you deserve to have your license returned.

Therefore, an attorney can greatly help you navigate the minefield of the reinstatement process. For example, an attorney may recommend certain courses of treatment that will improve your chance of success. An attorney can also help you present yourself in a way that will appeal to the hearing officer. A client often doesn’t realize how their statements may be perceived. What you think is a reasonable explanation may sound like a lame excuse to a hearing officer.

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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RECKLESS HOMICIDE IN ILLINOIS

Let’s say you are driving down the highway at night during a heavy thunderstorm. Visibility is poor, but you are still driving over the speed limit. Suddenly, you crash, killing the other driver.

Can you be charged with homicide? The answer may depend partly on how fast you were going even if you were not under the influence of alcohol.

In Illinois, you may be charged with reckless homicide if you unintentionally kill someone while driving a motor vehicle. Your actions, whether lawful or unlawful, must be performed recklessly and must be likely to cause death or great bodily harm. (720 ILCS 5/9-3). You act recklessly when you consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk, and that disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in your situation.

Whether you were indeed reckless may be inferred from all the facts and circumstances and may be established by evidence of your physical condition and your manner of driving. Negligence alone is not enough to prove recklessness. Evidence of excessive speed, by itself, is not sufficient to sustain a conviction of reckless homicide. However, excessive speed, combined with other circumstances showing that a conscious disregard of a substantial risk likely to cause death or great bodily harm may be enough.

Therefore, if you drive just a little over the limit in the pouring rain, you may simply be negligent. But if you are zipping along intoxicated at an overly high rate of speed on a slippery and busy highway, you have probably crossed into recklessness.

If you were not driving a motor vehicle but you unintentionally and recklessly caused a death, you could instead be charged with involuntary manslaughter. See our related blog What is the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter.

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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A CHICAGO POLICE INVESTIGATIVE ALERT MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TO UPHOLD A TRAFFIC STOP IN ILLINOIS

Calling Chicago police investigative alerts “troubling,” some Illinois courts have been reluctant to uphold the legality of a police stop based on an alert alone.

Investigative alerts are issued by police departments. The Chicago Police Department issues two types of alerts: “investigative alert/probable cause to arrest” and “investigative alert/no probable cause to arrest.” One appellate court judge has argued in a concurring opinion that an investigative alert essentially bypasses the constitutional protections required in obtaining a warrant from a judge. See People v Hyland.

Noting this opinion regarding the “troubling” legality of the Chicago Police Department’s alert policy, another appellate court upheld suppressing evidence that came from a stop based on an investigatory alert. In People v Jones, Chicago police stopped defendant for running a traffic light. After checking defendant’s license, the officer discovered an investigatory alert for homicide. The officer then put defendant in his police car. Only then did the officer see the brick of cocaine in defendant’s back seat.

Ordinarily, the discovery of the cocaine would have been legal during a traffic stop because it was in plain view. However, the officer did not see the cocaine until after he had taken defendant into custody based on the investigative alert.

Police are allowed to stop you if the officer reasonably believes that you have committed or are about to commit a crime based upon specific and articulable facts. The court held that the alert, by itself, was not a sufficient basis to investigate defendant as it only meant that other officers had specific and articulable facts. Because the investigation of defendant was improper, the evidence against him could not be used even though it was in plain view.

If you are charged with DUI or other offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney may review your case for your best possible defense. If the police acted improperly, the attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from any search. Even if this is not possible 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 STOPPED FOR DRIVING SLOWLY?

A person who has had a few too many often tries to compensate by driving more slowly. But driving too far under the speed limit can also give police the probable cause they need to stop you for drunk driving.

In one Illinois case, People v Biagi, the defendant drove 32 mph in a 55 speed limit zone. The defendant then pulled over on the shoulder of a rural road. An officer, believing defendant was having car trouble, stopped to help. The officer then became suspicious that the driver had been drinking. The defendant was charged with DUI.

The stop was legal under the officer’s community caretaking function. Community caretaking allows police to make a stop without probable cause, provided the officer is performing some function other than investigating a crime. Any search or seizure must be reasonable because it is undertaken to protect the safety of the general public. Community caretaking includes offering help to stopped cars, determining if someone is having a medical emergency or helping parents find lost children.

The Biagi court held that the above stop was reasonably undertaken to protect the safety of the public because defendant’s car partially blocked the road on top of a hill which would force other drivers to pass him without being able to see oncoming traffic. Therefore, the defendant’s motion to suppress the DUI evidence from the stop was denied.

If you have been charged with a driving offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. If police did not have a valid reason to stop you, an attorney may be able to ask the court to suppress the evidence from your arrest. Even if the police acted properly 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 THE POLICE STOP YOU FOR SIMPLY SITTING IN A PARKED CAR?

The answer is generally no.

The police can stop you for an outstanding warrant or if you were breaking a law such as you were improperly parked or had a broken tail light. They may also check on your wellbeing as part of their community caretaking function. For example, they may stop you to point out a flat tire.

An officer may also stop you if he or she has a reasonable suspicion that you were engaged in criminal activity. For example, someone may have phoned police that they saw a driver with your make of car weaving all over the road.

Under the Fourth Amendment, police may conduct a brief, investigatory stop known as a Terry stop, if they reasonably infer from the circumstances that you are involved in criminal activity. The officer must have specific facts to justify the stop from the beginning and cannot rely on evidence found after the fact.

In People v Williams, the court held that merely sitting in a parked car in a high crime area before an abandoned building did not give the officer reasonable grounds to stop the defendant. The defendant had no warrant and was not committing a crime at the time of the stop. The officer simply stopped defendant to ask what he was doing. As such, the stop was improper. Thus, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for the narcotics found during the illegal stop.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate your situation for your best possible defense. If the police acted improperly, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to suppress the evidence from your arrest.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may negotiate a more favorable plea agreement then you could on your own.

If you have questions about a 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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DO I WIN IF THE POLICE IN ILLINOIS LOST THE VIDEO OF MY DUI ARREST?

The answer is maybe.

In Illinois, squad cars that are equipped with video are supposed to video your arrest. This protects both you and the police. It allows the court to see for itself whether you were really as impaired as the officer said or whether you were doing just fine.

But sometimes the video is lost or destroyed. What then?

In that case, the court may sanction the state as the court deems appropriate. In some cases, the court may bar the officer from testifying about any matters that would have been shown by the video. If the state cannot meet its burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt without the officer’s testimony, you could be acquitted.

In other cases, however, the court may simply decide that you met the initial burden of proof when challenging the Secretary of State’s automatic suspension of your driver’s license. In a recent Illinois decision, People v Acevedo, the defendant petitioned to overturn the suspension (known as the statutory summary suspension). The defendant had to show that the officer lacked probable cause to believe he was driving under the influence. The court allowed the officer to testify, but held that the defendant had met this initial burden of proof. The burden of proof then passed to the state to show that the officer had probable cause for the stop. Unfortunately, due to the officer’s testimony, the defendant ultimately lost his petition.

Courts have declined to sanction the state where the officer failed to turn on the video or had the defendant perform field sobriety tests outside of the camera’s view.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. If video is lost or destroyed, an attorney may be able to petition the court to sanction the state. In limited circumstances, this could result in a verdict of not guilty.

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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SAVING YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE: THE ILLINOIS PETITION TO RESCIND

When you are arrested for DUI, the Secretary of State automatically suspends your driver’s license for a certain time period. However, you may still try to challenge the suspension so you may drive.

If you challenge the suspension, your attorney would file a petition to rescind the summary statutory suspension. It is important to understand that the petition to rescind is a civil proceeding. That means even if you win, the criminal DUI case will still move forward, but at least you’ll be able to drive without the expense and embarrassment of blowing into a Breath Activated Ignition Interlock Device to start your car.

In a petition to rescind, the burden of proof is on you to show by a preponderance of the evidence that your suspension should be overturned. One basis for the petition is that the officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe you were driving while impaired. Or perhaps the officer did not give you adequate warnings before you took the breathalyzer.

The court may look at: 1) Whether you were placed under arrest for an offense as defined in the DUI statute; 2) whether the officer had reasonable grounds to believe you were driving upon a highway while under the influence of alcohol; and 3) whether you refused to submit to field sobriety tests and/or a breathalyzer after being advised that your license would be suspended or revoked if you did so.

If you are charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney may be able to petition the court to throw out your suspension as well as review your case for its best possible defense. In some instances, the prosecution may agree to rescind a suspension in exchange for a plea of guilty. Even if the evidence is overwhelming and your arrest was done legally, 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.

Source: People v Motzko.

(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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