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DUI-300x231The best evidence that the police and the prosecutors have to prove a DUI in Court is a Breathalyzer Test. While it is not necessary for the State to have a breathalyzer test to prove you guilty of a DUI in Court, it is the best evidence that the state can have in a DUI case. I frequently talk to clients who do not understand what a Breathalyzer Test is and how easy it is to get a result that could make it very difficult to fight a DUI case. I want to discuss some facts about the Breathalyzer Test and eliminate some common misunderstandings.

What is a Breathalyzer Test?

The Breathalyzer Test measures the ratio of alcohol to blood or breath. A motorist is asked to blow into a machine, usually at the Police Station, and the machine will record a result which indicates what the alcohol to blood or breath ratio is. In Illinois, a blood alcohol ratio (BAC) of .08 or above is considered to be over the legal limit. If you are under the age of 21, you cannot have any alcohol in your system while operating a motor vehicle. For motorists under 21, if the breathalyzer test detects the presence of any alcohol, that would be enough to charge you with a DUI. If you are a school bus driver, you can be charged with a DUI if a breathalyzer test detects the presence any alcohol in your body. If you are a commercial driver’s license holder, a BAC of .04 or above above is enough to arrest you and charge you with a DUI.

DUI-300x288I frequently speak to clients who have been arrested for a DUI. After the initial shock of being arrested wears off, most DUI clients start to think about the future and the possible implications of having a DUI. As with most things, most people do not think about what could happen to them if they picked up a DUI until it actually happens to them. When I receive those calls, most clients are initially worried about whether they will be going to jail. After I explain to them that jail is usually not an option for a first time DUI, the next question is whether they will lose their license as a result of the DUI. I want to take an opportunity to talk about how a DUI can affect your drivers license.

A first time DUI is considered a Class A Misdemeanor in Illinois. A Class A DUI Misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of up to one-year in County Jail and a maximum fine of $2,500. While it is possible to go to jail for your first DUI, It is highly unlikely that you will be sentenced to jail for your first DUI. It is always possible to receive Court Supervision for your first DUI. Court Supervision is not considered a criminal conviction. A sentence of Court Supervision for your first DUI will allow you to keep your license and maintain your driving privileges in the State of Illinois. Most first time DUI offenders that are found guilty of a DUI, receive Court Supervision for their first DUI. Conditional Discharge is another possible sentence for a first time DUI. Conditional Discharge is considered a conviction that will have serious implications for your drivers license. A sentence of Conditional Discharge for a DUI will result in the revocation of your drivers license and will prohibit you from being able to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Illinois. While it is possible to receive Conditional Discharge for your first DUI, it is rare to see this happen for a first time DUI. However, if you get a second DUI, you cannot receive Court Supervision. The lowest sentence that you can receive for a second DUI is Conditional Discharge. A sentence of conditional discharge for a DUI, whether it’s your first or second DUI, will result in the revocation of your drivers license and will cause you to lose your driving privileges in the State of Illinois.

If you are arrested for a DUI, you will be given some paperwork when you leave the Police Station. It is very important that you read, and understand, the paperwork you are given. One of the documents will be entitled, ‘Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension.’ Depending on whether you took a breathalyzer test or refused to take a breathalyzer test, one of the two boxes on the top left hand part of the document will inform you that your license will be suspended for a period of time. If you took a breathalyzer test and your blood alcohol level was .08 or above, the Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension will notify you that your drivers license, or your Illinois driving privileges, will be suspended for six months. The six-month suspension will begin 46 days after the date of the DUI arrest. If you refused to take a breathalyzer test, the Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension will notify you that your drivers license and your Illinois driving privileges, will be suspended for 12 months. The 12 month suspension will begin 46 days after the date of the DUI arrest. This is known as the Statutory Summary Suspension. The Statutory Summary Suspension will apply to cases involving a blood draw and a refusal to submit to a blood draw. To challenge the Statutory Summary Suspension, your lawyer must file a Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension within 90 days of the date of your DUI arrest. When you meet with your lawyer for the DUI, make sure you bring all of the paperwork you received at the police station to the meeting with your DUI lawyer. The papers contain important information that your DUI lawyer will need to prepare and file the Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension. We have previously discussed what a Petition to Rescind is, and how to pursue the Petition in court.

Illinois-DUI-300x200After 28 years of practicing criminal law, it is very rare to hear a client tell me something about a criminal case that I never heard before. Throughout the years, I have handled thousands of DUI cases. While every case is unique, there are certain common elements to certain criminal cases. This is especially true with most DUI cases. While it is common for me to speak with clients who were arrested for a DUI, for the clients I am speaking to, this is a unique and scary experience for them. Part of my job as a criminal defense lawyer is to listen to the client and guide them through the process so they understand what is happening and how the criminal justice system works. In this post, I want to explain to my readers what a typical DUI arrest looks like.

Most DUI cases begin with the driver being pulled over for a traffic violation. The most common traffic violation involved in a DUI is Improper Lane Usage. The police officer is following a vehicle as it’s swerving in and out of its lane or entering another lane without signaling the lane change. Other reasons for being pulled over could be for Speeding, Failure to Stop at a Stop Sign, Disregarding a Traffic-Control Device, or any other reason to cause the police officer to make contact with the driver of the vehicle. The other day, I signed up a DUI in which the client was involved in a minor traffic accident. Whatever the reason for the driver being pulled over, something happened to cause the police officer to make face to face contact with the driver of the vehicle.

After the police officer makes contact with the driver, something happens to cause the police officer to suspect that they may be under the influence of alcohol. In a typical DUI, a police officer will note that when they approached the driver of the vehicle, they smelled alcohol, or noticed that the driver was mumbling and had a glassy look in their eyes. Typically the officer will note that the driver appeared confused and disoriented. Sometimes the police will note that the driver admitted to consuming alcohol before driving their vehicle.

DUI-1-200x300As one of the busiest and most experienced DUI attorney in Illinois, this may be one of the most common question I get whenever I speak to a client about their DUI case. The short answer to this question is no. But you should understand the consequences of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer, or chemical test, when you are placed under arrest for a DUI. Illinois is an implied consent state. This means that you give consent to a chemical test to determine the blood alcohol contact in your blood by merely driving a motor vehicle on a public highway or roadway in Illinois. So let’s discuss what happens if you are pulled over by a police officer and the police officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test, or provide a blood sample, to determine what the blood alcohol content (BAC) of your blood is and you refuse the request.

The Breathalyzer Test is the most common test used in Court to prove that your BAC was over the legal limit. In Illinois, if the BAC of your blood, was a .08 or above, you could be found guilty of a DUI. Another way of determining the BAC of your blood is a blood test. In Illinois, if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you were operating a motor vehicle on the roadway while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that police officer can request that you take a Breathalyzer or Blood test to determine what the BAC of your blood is. If you submit to a Breathalyzer Test, or a Blood Test, and the BAC was a .08 or above, in addition to facing a DUI criminal charge, the Illinois Secretary of State will suspend your license for 6 months because of the BAC reading of .08 or above. This is called the Statutory Summary Suspension. This is an automatic suspension of your license that happens once the arresting police officer notifies the Secretary of State of the Breathalyzer Test results or the Blood Test results. If you refuse to take a Breathalyzer Test or provide a blood sample, the Secretary of State will suspend your license for 1 year. The 6 month and 12 month Statutory Summary Suspensions will kick in 46 days after the date of your DUI arrest.

If your license is suspended due to a Statutory Summary Suspension, you may be allowed to have a Blood Alcohol Interlock Ignition Device (BAIID) installed on your vehicle which will allow you to drive during the 6 or 12 months of your Statutory Summary Suspension. However, in order to be eligible for a BAIID, you must not have had a DUI in the past five (5) years. In addition, a BAIID may be too expensive and too intrusive for some motorists. I recently represented a client who is an executive for a major corporation. He was concerned that if his employer found out about the DUI, he would lose his job. Since he would regularly go to lunch and dinner with his coworkers, he was concerned that they would find out about his DUI if he ever had to drive any of them to lunch or dinner. At the same time, he was required to drive his vehicle almost everyday as part of his job. For this client, the Statutory Summary Suspension was a major source of concern. I was able to solve this problem by getting the state to agree to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension as part of the ultimate resolution of his DUI case. However, if your license is suspended due to a Statutory Summary Suspension, the only way to legally operate a motor vehicle in Illinois is to have the BAIID installed in your vehicle. If you are caught driving without a BAIID during a Statutory Summary Suspension, you could be facing serious criminal consequences. Plus, if you are charged with driving you Statutory Summary Suspension without a BAIID, this could make it much more difficult for your lawyer to fight the underlined DUI case in Court.

DUIKane County Prosecutors and law enforcement officials have announced that Kane County will be conducting their 25th “No Refusal” DUI patrol over the St. Patrick’s Day Holiday.

The Kane County No Refusal DUI patrols started in 2008. Prosecutors and law enforcement officials will identify specific days of the year to send out patrols of police officers to pull over suspected intoxicated motorists and send a signal that drinking and driving will not be tolerated in Kane County. The specific days selected for the “No Refusal” DUI patrols are days which are associated with a high number of DUI arrests such as New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July. St Patrick’s Day historically results in some of the largest number of DUI arrests every year. Kane County officials will point to statistics which show that there has been a steady decline in the number of DUI arrests in Kane County since the “No Refusal” program started in 2008. What is not known is whether the drop in DUI arrests in Kane County is due to the “No Refusal” DUI patrols, or whether the drop in the number of DUI’s in Kane County has something to do with the increase in the use of ride-share programs like Uber and Lyft. Since the “No Refusal” patrols started in 2008, there have been over 150 arrests resulting from the “No Refusal” DUI patrols.

This year, Kane County Prosecutors and Police, have signaled that they will get tougher on punishing defendants arrested for a DUI during the upcoming “No Refusal” DUI patrols. In Illinois, if you submit to a breathalyzer test, and your blood alcohol level was .08 or above, your driver’s license in Illinois will be suspended for 6 months starting 46 days after your DUI arrest. If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, your driver’s license in Illinois will be suspended for 12 months starting 46 days after your DUI arrest. This is called the Statutory Summary Suspension. The Statutory Summary Suspension kicks in as soon as you are arrested for a DUI and the Illinois Secretary of State is notified by the Police that you refused to take a breathalyzer test or that you took a breathalyzer and your B.A.C. was a .08 or more. If you are pulled over during a “No Refusal” DUI patrol in Kane County and you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, the Police will obtain a warrant allowing the Police to take your blood, without your consent, and use the results of the blood test to prosecute you for a DUI in Kane County. During the “No Refusal” patrols, additional Prosecutors, Police, and Judges, will be on duty and on call to process the warrant requests and to issue the warrants that will allow them to take your blood. A phlebotomist will also be on duty during the “No Refusal” DUI patrols to draw your blood.

DUII’ve been handling DUI cases throughout Illinois for over 27 years. I have probably handled thousands of DUIs in my 27 years of being a criminal defense attorney. Looking back at all of the years and all of the cases that I have handled, I can tell you that most people charged with a DUI do not realize that they are probably looking at a mandatory suspension of their license in Illinois. For many people, this mandatory suspension of their license will have the greatest impact on their lives. It will affect their ability to get to and from work, and may even cause them to lose their job. This mandatory suspension, is called the Statutory Summary Suspension. Let’s talk about what the Statutory Summary Suspension is, at what it means for your DUI case.

Illinois has an implied consent law. This means that by virtue of the fact that you are operating a motor vehicle on a public highway in the State of Illinois, you are deemed to have consented to having your breath, blood, or urine, tested whenever a police officer has a reasonable grounds to believe that you may be Under the Influence of Alcohol. Illinois law provides that you are deemed to have consented to such testing by driving on a public roadway in Illinois. If you have an out-of-state license, Illinois cannot suspend your out-of-state license, but they can suspend your driving privileges in Illinois. If a police officer requests that you take a breath, blood, or urine test, and you refuse, your Illinois drivers license will be suspended for 1-year if you are a first offender. If you take a breathalyzer test, and your blood alcohol level was .08 or above, your license will be suspended for 6-months if you are a first offender. This is what is known as the Statutory Summary Suspension. The Statutory Summary Suspension will start 46 days after your DUI arrest. If you are an out of state resident, your right to drive in Illinois will be suspended for 6-months, or 1-year, depending on whether you took a breathalyzer test or whether you refused.

The Statutory Summary Suspension penalty in a DUI case is separate and distinct from the DUI charges. The Statutory Summary Suspension process is a civil case that is between you and the Illinois Secretary of State. The actual DUI charges are criminal in nature and are between you and the People of the State of Illinois. The Statutory Summary Suspension process only involves your drivers license or your driving privileges in the State of Illinois. The DUI charges are criminal in nature and can result in criminal penalties and monetary fines and court costs.

DUII frequently receive phone calls from clients who are facing their second DUI. Many times, they do not understand how serious their case is and what they are facing. If you have been arrested and are charged with a DUI, and it’s your second DUI, you need to understand how serious this case could be and what the long-term implications to you could be. Not only could it cost you lots of money, but you could be labeled a convicted criminal for the rest of your life, end up in jail, sentenced to Probation, and lose your license for a very long time. Let me explain to you what makes a second DUI so serious.

A second DUI is a class A Misdemeanor which carries a possible jail sentence of up to one year in jail. A DUI will be considered a second DUI in Illinois as long as this is your second DUI ever. Unlike many other states, Illinois does not have a cut-off for how long ago your first DUI was for it to be considered your second DUI. Many states do not consider a DUI if it’s more than 10 years old. Illinois has no such limitation on how old your first DUI has to be in order for them to consider this is your second DUI. Most people that I talk to do not understand that it does not matter that their first DUI was 20 or 25 years ago. As long as they had a prior DUI, Illinois will consider your new DUI to be a second DUI.

You cannot receive Court Supervision for a second DUI. Court Supervision is a sentence that is not considered a criminal conviction on your criminal record. Court Supervision is simply not available for a second DUI. This means that a second DUI will result in a criminal conviction. Since you will be convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor, you will now have a criminal conviction on your criminal record that will appear on a routine background search. This may affect your ability to keep your job, get a job, obtain financial aid to go to school, or obtain and receive certain government benefits.

cannabis-buds-in-hand-300x287In recent years, laws regarding the Possession and Use of Marijuana have been changing throughout the country. This is true in the State of Illinois. In 1931, The Illinois Legislature made the recreational use of marijuana illegal. This legislation was part of a national trend which made the use of marijuana illegal nationally. In recent years, a new national trend has swept throughout the country which is having the opposite effect on the use of Marijuana. This trend clearly appears to be more accepting of the medical and recreational use of Marijuana. This national trend has swept into Illinois as well. In 2016, the Illinois Legislature decriminalized the possession of small amounts of Marijuana in Illinois. If you are caught with 10 grams or less of Marijuana, you will no longer be placed under arrest and subject to criminal prosecution and criminal penalties. In 2016 the State of Illinois made the possession of 10 grams or less of Marijuana a Municipal Ordinance Violation which only carries a civil penalty. The City of Chicago decriminalized the possession of small amounts of Marijuana in 2012.

In 2013, the Illinois Legislature enacted the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. This Act legalized the use of Marijuana for medical purposes under certain tight regulations. When the Medical Marijuana Act was enacted in 2013, it was considered one of the most restrictive and prohibitive Medical Marijuana programs in the United States. Recently, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law numerous changes to the Medical Marijuana program which have loosened many of the restrictions and made it possible for more people to be able to use Medical Marijuana legally in the State of Illinois.

The recent changes to the Medical Marijuana program in Illinois allows doctors to prescribe Medical Marijuana in place of opioids, for a short period of time, for patients in need of relief from pain. This change to the Medical Marijuana program is an attempt to stop the opioid epidemic from spreading. Another change to the Medical Marijuana program in Illinois removes the requirement that an applicant has to submit to a background search which required that a sample of their fingerprints be submitted with the application. This will have the effect of speeding up the process for being approved to use Medical Marijuana in Illinois. Prior to the recent changes to the Medical Marijuana program, it could take three to four months for an application to be approved. This will also make it possible for patients with a criminal record to be able to legally obtain and use Medical Marijuana. With the recent changes, once your application is accepted and payment is received, you can legally purchase Medical Marijuana at a state approved Medical Marijuana Dispensary by simply showing them your receipt from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the agency that is charged with administering the Medical Marijuana program in Illinois.

DUIIt’s that time of the year again. The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists has released its annual study that keeps track of DUI arrests throughout Illinois. Once again, Rockford and Elgin top the list of towns in Illinois reporting the most DUI arrests in 2017. In 2017, Rockford reported 490 DUI arrests compared to 459 in 2016. The 2017 figures represent a 6.8% increase over the 2016 DUI arrest figures. Elgin came in second with a total of 418 DUI arrests in 2017. Elgin had 365 DUI arrest in 2016, a 14.5% increase over 2017.

Every year, Schaumburg based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists sends out surveys to roughly 700 police departments throughout the State of Illinois. Most of the police agencies respond to the surveys and the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists releases the figures for DUI arrests throughout all of the cities and towns in Illinois and gives us a picture of which towns are more aggressive when it comes to DUI arrests.

The lengthy list of DUI arrests compiled by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists has the DUI arrest figures for virtually every town and village in the State of Illinois. I want to include the figures for local towns and villages that may be of interest to my readers. Chicago is not on this list because Chicago has far and away the most arrests and is included on a seperate list published by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. The first number in the list below is what place the town or village is in and the second number is the total number of DUI arrests in 2017:

Illinois-DUIMost drivers will never have to decide whether to take a breathalyzer test or not. But if you are driving a vehicle in Illinois, you should be aware of what could happen to you and to your license if you are ever pulled over by a police officer and asked to take a breathalyzer test.

If a police officer pulls you over and suspects that you may be under the influence of alcohol, that police officer has a right to take you down to the police station and ask that you take a breathalyzer test. If you are ever faced with a situation like this, you have to make a quick decision between two choices. Should you take a breathalyzer test or should you refuse to take a breathalyzer test? If you have not had any alcohol to drink, then the choice seems pretty clear. Taking a breathalyzer test would prove that you have no alcohol in your system. But if you have been drinking and are unsure about whether you should take a breathalyzer test, you need to be aware of what the consequences could be of refusing to take a breathalyzer test.

When a police officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test, the officer will hand you a document entitled, “Warning to Motorist” which will inform you that if you submit to a breathalyzer test and the test indicates that your blood alcohol level was .08 or above, your driver’s license will be suspended by the Illinois Secretary of State for 6 months. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be suspended for 12 months by the Illinois Secretary of State. These driver’s license suspensions will take effect on the 46th day after your arrest.