CAN I BE FOUND NOT GUILTY OF DUI IF MY BREATHALYZER IS OVER .08 IN ILLINOIS?

 

The answer is that it’s possible.  By the same token, you may still be found guilty of DUI if your blood alcohol was below .08.

Your blood alcohol reading leads to a presumption that you were or weren’t driving under the influence.  If your reading is under .05, the presumption is that you were not driving under the influence.  If it is between .05 and .08, the presumption can go either way.  If you are over .08, the presumption is you are guilty.

But a presumption can be overcome by other evidence.

Your driving is the most important factor that a court considers when rejecting a presumption that you were DUI.  If your driving was safe and you generally did well in handling yourself with officers and in field sobriety tests, you could win a not guilty even if you blew over .08.  On the other hand, if you were swerving all over the road and falling out of the car, you could still be convicted with a breathalyzer below the legal limit.

There is one exception to this rule.  If you were specifically charged with driving under the influence with breathalyzer over .08, you can be convicted on that count no matter how well you drove or behaved.  An attorney can still possibly challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer result or the legality of the police stop.  If all else fails, a experienced attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain to a reduced charge such as reckless driving.

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.)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on CAN I BE FOUND NOT GUILTY OF DUI IF MY BREATHALYZER IS OVER .08 IN ILLINOIS?

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF BOTH DRUGS AND ALCOHOL IN ILLINOIS

In Illinois, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is a separate category of DUI. As with alcohol-based DUI, this form is a Class A Misdemeanor for a first or second offense but can become a Class 4 felony based on certain aggravating factors.

Under 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(4), you commit driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs when you drive or are in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug such that you cannot drive safely.

Your offense can become aggravated if: (1) this is your third or later DUI, (2) you were driving an occupied school bus, (3) a resulting accident caused another person great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement, or (4) this was your second offense and you were also convicted of reckless homicide based on a DUI.

If you have been charged with DUI, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense as well as helping you navigate the process.  Did police have probable cause to stop you?  Can the state prove you consumed both alcohol and drugs?

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.)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF BOTH DRUGS AND ALCOHOL IN ILLINOIS

WHEN MUST I STOP MY CAR FOR POLICE IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you must stop for police when an officer gives you visual or audible signals directing you to stop your car.  The signal given by the peace officer may be by hand, voice, siren, red or blue light. The officer must be in uniform. Further, the officer’s car must display flashing red or blue lights used along with a horn or siren to indicate it is an official police vehicle.

You can be charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer if you willfully ignore such signals, increase your speed or turn off your lights.  A first or second offense is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.  The Secretary of State must also suspend your drivers license for up to 6 months for a first offense and up to 12 months for a second.  A third or later violation becomes a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison.   See 625 ILCS 5/11-204.

If you are charged with fleeing or eluding, contact an experienced criminal or traffic law attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Was the officer in uniform?  Was it clear you were being stopped by aan official police car?  Were you willfully ignoring a signal or simply looking for a safe place to pull over?

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.)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on WHEN MUST I STOP MY CAR FOR POLICE IN ILLINOIS?

CAN FAILURE TO USE A TURN SIGNAL BE PROBABLE CAUSE FOR A POLICE STOP?

The answer is yes, if a turn signal was legally required.

Under Illinois law, you must use your turn signal whenever you make a turn, change lanes, encroach onto the other side of the road or leave the roadway.  Failure to do so can give an officer a valid basis to pull you over.

Questions may arise, however, as to whether your driving fell into one of the above categories.   For example, did you actually change from one lane to another? You are not required to signal movement within a single lane, and a roadway with more than one lane requires that the lanes be marked. Moreover, a lane must be used for driving.

For example, in People v. Jackson, the defendant drove his car to park along an adjacent curb without using his turn signal.  There were no markings on the roadway designating lanes or along the curb designating parking spaces.  The court held that because the road was unmarked, it did not have two lanes. No markings depicted an area used exclusively for parking.  Further, the word “lane” implied that an area of the roadway is used for driving and/or traveling, not parking. Moving within one’s lane to park next to a curb is not one of the situations mentioned in the turn signal statute.  (See 625 ILCS 5/11-804.) Therefore, the officer lacked probable cause to stop defendant on that basis.  As a result, defendant’s conviction resulting from the stop was reversed.

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.)

 

Posted in probable cause | Tagged | Comments Off on CAN FAILURE TO USE A TURN SIGNAL BE PROBABLE CAUSE FOR A POLICE STOP?

WHY AM I GETTING POSTCARDS FROM LAWYERS? HOW DO I CHOOSE A GOOD ONE?

Once you are charged with DUI, some counties will sell the list of new DUI defendants to attorneys who request it. These attorneys often send postcards or letters offering services for a seemingly reasonable fee. While we cannot comment on the quality of these attorneys, beware of those who nearly always plead their cases out. They may not be doing you a real service. For a limited fee, they may simply show up once to plea you out, and frankly, you could probably manage that on your own.

A quality attorney will likely cost more. But he or she will review your case for possible defenses, prepare you for any court-required alcohol evaluation and if possible, try to get your driver’s license suspension overturned. Even if a plea bargain is still the way to go, an attorney who works hard for his or her client may negotiate a better plea bargain than one who never tries a case. But be aware that no reputable attorney can ever guarantee a particular outcome for your case.

When selecting an attorney, ask them how they like to handle cases. How well do they know the courthouse and the judges or prosecutors involved? How often do they take cases to trial? Do they provide a lot of good information when you question them? Are they asking you the right questions? It is important that you feel confidence in any attorney you choose.

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.)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on WHY AM I GETTING POSTCARDS FROM LAWYERS? HOW DO I CHOOSE A GOOD ONE?

WHAT IS LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH IN ILLINOIS?

Let’s say you were distracted by some family problems, ran a stop sign and hit a car that was already in the intersection.  You panicked and drove away.  The officer somehow tracked you down, and now you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death.

What does that mean?  What can you do?

In Illinois, you have a legal duty to remain at the scene of an accident, provide information and render aid.  To convict you, the state must prove:

1) You were the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident;

2) The accident resulted in death or personal injury (personal injury is defined as any injury requiring immediate professional treatment in a medical facility or doctor’s office);

3) You knew an accident had occurred;

4) You failed to immediately stop your car at the scene or as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary; and

5) You failed to remain at the scene until you gave information, such as your name, address and insurance, and rendered aid.

You may also be subject to testing for alcohol or drugs.  If you refuse the testing, the Secretary of State can suspend your license, and you could still be charged with DUI.

If you are charged with leaving the scene, contact an experienced criminal or traffic law attorney immediately.  An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case.  Can the state prove you drove rather than someone else in the car? Did you know an accident had occurred?  Were you unable to stop at the scene and on your way to returning?  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 bargain 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.

Reference:   625 ILCS 5/11-401  

(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.)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on WHAT IS LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH IN ILLINOIS?

WHAT IS LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PROPERTY DAMAGE IN ILLINOIS?

You were speeding when someone in front of you slammed on their brakes, so that you rammed the back of their car.  You panicked and took off.  After taking a deep breath, you drove back to the scene, but you are still charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving damage to property.

What does that mean?  What can you do?

In Illinois, you have a legal duty to remain at the scene of an accident, provide information and render aid.  To convict you, the state must prove that

1) You were the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident;

2)  Damage to another’s vehicle resulted from the accident;

3) You knew an accident had occurred;

4) You failed to immediately stop your car at the scene or as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary; and

5) You failed to remain at the scene until you gave information and rendered aid.

Leaving the scene is a Class A Misdemeanor., punishable by up to 364 days in jail.  If convicted and the damages amounts to more than $1,000, the Secretary of State may also suspend your driver’s license.

If you are charged with leaving the scene, contact an experienced criminal or traffic law attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the above elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  What if you were simply trying to move your vehicle to safe location? It is not a violation to move your car off the highway to the nearest place that is safe and does not obstruct traffic, as long as you stay there until you have given information and rendered aid.

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 bargain 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.

Reference:      625 ILCS 5/11-402

(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.)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on WHAT IS LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PROPERTY DAMAGE IN ILLINOIS?

What is the Definition of “Driving” under Illinois DUI Law?

To be convicted of DUI, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were 1) driving while 2) under the influence.  But it may surprise you to know that sleeping in your car can fall under the definition of “driving.”

Under Illinois law, you may not drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  See: 625 ILCS 5/11-501.

Illinois courts have found actual physical control to include the following:

  1. You are behind the steering wheel in the driver’s seat with the ignition key and physically capable of starting the engine and moving the vehicle. People v. Heimann, 142 Ill. App. 3d 197, 491 N.E.2d 872 (3rd Dist. 1986)
  2. You were in the back seat. People v. Davis, 205 Ill. App. 3d 431, 562 N.E.2d 1152 (1st Dist. 1990).
  3. The car could be operated by coasting even though the  front end and radiator were visibly damaged, but  defendant could still move the car, which was on a downhill incline. People v. Heimann, 142 Ill. App. 3d 197, 491 N.E.2d 872 (3rd Dist. 1986).
  4. The evidence showed that damage to the car matched damage to a car parked at the complainant’s home, defendant was the car’s owner, and police found defendant next to the vehicle, which was parked in the driveway of his house. People v. Slinkard, 362 Ill. App. 3d 855, 841 N.E.2d 1 (2nd Dist. 2006).
  5. Defendant was lying on the seat of the truck with the keys  on the floor under the steering column. People v. Long, 351 Ill. App. 3d 821, 815 N.E.2d 72 (2nd Dist. 2004).
  6. Defendant’s car was stuck in a ditch and he could not get it out. People v. Vallero, 134 Ill. App. 3d 919, 481 N.E.2d 297 (3rd Dist. 1985).

If you are charged with DUI, you should consult an experienced DUI attorney immediately.  Determining if you were “driving” can be very fact specific and depend on the viewpoint of your judge.  An attorney who is familiar with the courthouse may be able to present the facts of your particular case in their most favorable light to your particular judge.

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.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What is the Definition of “Driving” under Illinois DUI Law?

WHAT TO EXPECT ON A FIRST-TIME DUI IN ILLINOIS

Getting arrest for DUI can feel humiliating and stressful.  Knowing what happens next may help ease some of the anxiety:

What is the procedure? Once you have been charged with DUI, you will be given a court date for your first court appearance. Currently, these appearances are often on zoom.  (See our related post:  Do I Need to Come to Court for an Illinois Traffic Ticket?)

On the first court date, your attorney will enter his or her appearance and ask for copies of the evidence against you, including the police video of your arrest.  The appearance tells the court that the attorney is your official representative.  Your attorney may be able to contest the suspension of your driver’s license on the first date.

After reviewing the evidence, your attorney can advise you on your best course of action.  Do you have a good defense for trial?  Or would it be wiser to negotiate a plea bargain?  In either case, you will likely be asked to get an alcohol evaluation. In Cook County, only one agency (Central States Institute) is authorized to prepare these reports. Your sentencing may depend on what your evaluation says. Your attorney can advise you on how to present yourself to the evaluator.

Can I drive? Upon arrest, you will also be given a notice that your driver’s license will be suspended by the Secretary of State, usually on the 46th day after your arrest.  An attorney can file a petition to overturn that suspension.  Your odds of winning the petition improve if you file the petition quickly.  Illinois law requires a hearing within 30 days of filing.  If the state is not ready on time, you could win your petition by default. Otherwise, you may be eligible to drive with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device after serving the first thirty days of your suspension.

Note that if you win the petition, you may still be convicted of DUI. Likewise, if you lose the petition, you could still win a not guilty verdict on your DUI.  The criminal charges and the administrative suspension are on two separate tracks.

How long does this take? A DUI can take several months. On average, your case will come before the court once a month. The length of time may depend on whether you take a quick plea agreement or decide to fight the case. While you may want to “just get it over with,” patience may actually work in your favor.

Will I go to jail? A first-time DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Nonetheless, the odds of actually going to jail are limited on a first offense. If you make a plea bargain, you will likely have to take alcohol classes, pay a fine and/or perform community service. If you take the case to trial and lose, your sentence might be harsher but is still unlikely to involve jail.

If you have questions about this or another related 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.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on WHAT TO EXPECT ON A FIRST-TIME DUI IN ILLINOIS

CAN I BE CONVICTED FOR DUI IN ILLINOIS IF I AM UNDER THE LEGAL LIMIT?

The answer is yes, if you showed other signs of impairment.

In Illinois, the legal limit is currently .08 for alcohol. For marijuana, the limit is 5    nanograms per milliliter of whole blood or 10 nanograms per milliliter of other bodily substance.  See 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2.

These limits, however, are only a presumption that you were intoxicated.  If you drove badly, fell out of your car or garbled your words, the state can still convict you.  On the other hand, if you drove perfectly, enunciated like British royalty and carried yourself like a ballerina, you might win at trial even if you were slightly over the limit.

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.  Did the police have probable cause to stop you in the first place?  If not, your attorney can file a petition to suppress any evidence from the stop in hopes of getting your case dismissed.  Even if your arrest was legal and 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 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.)

 

Posted in DUI evidence | Tagged | Comments Off on CAN I BE CONVICTED FOR DUI IN ILLINOIS IF I AM UNDER THE LEGAL LIMIT?