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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I WAS CAUGHT SWITCHING SAMPLES IN MY DRUG TEST WHAT CAN HAPPEN?

You were convicted for a drug-related DUI. As part of your sentence, you must submit to random drug testing. You knew you couldn’t pass, so you switched your urine sample with a friend’s.

Somehow, the probation officer figured it out. Now you are facing a violation on your original case as well as a new felony. The violation alone means you can be re-sentenced on the original case, and in certain circumstances, you may be charged with a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

What can you do?

First, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney who is respected at the court house and familiar with the court officials involved. It is usually difficult to defend these cases on the facts alone, which are usually indisputable. A good working relationship between your attorney and the court can be essential in negotiating a more favorable plea agreement. Furthermore, an attorney can help you present evidence of your otherwise 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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HOW A SIMPLE WELLNESS CHECK CAN TURN INTO A DUI ARREST

The officer may have simply been checking to make sure you were OK. You were slumped over your steering wheel, and the officer thought you might have a medical emergency. So she knocked on your window. You were startled and opened your window. Then, the officer clearly smelled alcohol, which led to your arrest.

Apart from patrolling for crime, an officer looks after public safety as a community caretaker. In that capacity, an officer may stop and question you to see if you need help. Under those circumstances, an officer does not need a reasonable, articulable suspicion of wrongdoing before stopping you.

But then things can get tricky. A community caretaking stop can turn into probable cause for arrest. After smelling the alcohol or spotting other evidence of wrongdoing, the officer now has the reasonable, articulable suspicion required to question you further which can lead to an arrest.

In a recent appellate case, an officer had been following a defendant’s car. The defendant did not commit any traffic violations. However, once the defendant parked, he did not leave his car. After five minutes, the officer became concerned and checked on the defendant, finding him passed out. The officer woke the defendant and then smelled the odor of alcohol which led to the defendant’s arrest. (See People v Winchester).

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 CAN HURT YOUR PERFORMANCE ON FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS?

You were stopped under suspicion of drunk driving. The officer asked you to take field sobriety tests, and since you didn’t have much to drink, you agreed. To your surpise, you failed the tests and were arrested.

What happened? What can you do?

In many cases, you might have been more intoxicated than you thought. But sometimes, other factors may have hurt your performance.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets the standards for giving field sobriety tests. If the tests are not performed according to these standards, you may be able to challenge your arrest.

In Illinois, the three most common field sobriety tests are: 1) the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), 2) the One-Leg Stand and 3) the Walk and Turn test. Judges generally disregard the HGN, while paying close attention to the other two tests.

The NHTSA advises that these tests should be performed on a reasonably, dry, level, non-slippery surface. A recent Illinois case struck down an arrest where tests were given on a wet surface in the rain. See People v Day. The Walk and Turn also requires enough room to take nine heel-to-toe steps.

The tests are not considered reliable for people over age 65. If you are wearing heels higher than two inches, you should be allowed to remove your shoes. The One-Leg stand may be more difficult if you have back, leg or inner ear problems or are more than 50 pounds overweight. The Walk and Turn requires enough room to take nine heel-to-toe steps.

If you are charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If the tests were improper, an attorney may petition the court to suppress the arrest. Note that the court may still look at other evidence such as your driving to determine if there was probable cause for your arrest.

Even if the tests were proper 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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AGGRAVATED DUI: WHAT REALLY CAUSED THE ACCIDENT?

Before the Illinois legislature amended the law, you could be convicted of Aggravated DUI if you were the proximate cause of an accident that resulted in great bodily harm or death, and you had any amount of a controlled substance in your system. The state did not have to prove the drug caused impaired driving. The 2016 changes to the law, also known as the trace law, defines how much marijuana is enough to presume you were impaired.

But what if you can prove that something else really caused your accident? Are you automatically guilty?

A recent Illinois Supreme Court decision has held that a driver may show that another factor was the sole and exclusive proximate cause for an accident. In People v Way, a driver claimed that a sudden loss of blood pressure, rather than the drugs in her system, was the real reason for her crash. The court reasoned that nothing in the law prevented a driver from raising the defense that a sudden, unforeseeable medical condition made the driver incapable of controlling his or her car.

Generally, the state must prove all the elements of your crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Under the trace law, the state must prove you drove with drugs in your system, and you were the proximate cause of an accident resulting in great bodily harm or death. Under the amended law, the state must prove you were over the legal limit for marijuana use. If you claim another factor was the real reason for your accident, the burden of proof now shifts to you.

If you are charged with an Illinois Aggravated DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If there was another cause for your accident, an attorney can help present the evidence you need in its best possible light. 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 also Illinois DUI law.

(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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DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS IN ILLINOIS

After the officer stopped you for a traffic violation, she searched your car and found illegal drugs. As a result, you were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. Sure there were drugs in the car, but does that mean you were driving under the influence?

The answer to this question is very fact specific. Before making an arrest, an officer must have probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence at the time of arrest. Finding narcotics does not justify an arrest after the fact. To determine if probable cause exists, an officer generally must have training or experience in drug detection. The situation can be further complicated if you suffer from some other medical condition. Can the state prove you were intoxicated rather than suffering the symptoms of your disease?

In People v Gocmen, the court held that the officer lacked the necessary training or experience to make a DUI arrest. Although the defendant was sweating, had pinpoint pupils and his heart was racing, the officer had not witnessed any of these symptoms himself. Furthermore, the officer could not distinguish whether these symptoms were caused by defendant’s diabetes rather than the opiates found in his car.

If you are charged with driving under the influence of drugs, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove the elements of DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. If the officer lacked the necessary training, an attorney may petition the court to return your driver’s license, or in some cases, suppress the arrest.

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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EXTRADITION TO ILLINOIS: VIOLATION OF PROBATION

If you violate the terms of your out of state probation, you can be extradited to the state where you originally had the problem.

Extradition means you could be arrested in your current state and brought back to face charges in the original state. The county prosecutor in the original state often decides whether to extradite, and it is impossible to predict their decision in any given case.

If you are at risk of extradition to Illinois, you should contact an experienced Illinois criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case for your best possible defense. For example, an attorney may help clear a problem underlying your original case. Sometimes a violation of probation is the result of miscommunication between court agencies, and an attorney may help sort this out.

Even if you violated probation and there was no mistake, an attorney can still help. For instance, an attorney, who is respected in the courthouse, may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you might get 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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