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While in many states, the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes is legal, a person may nonetheless be charged with a DUI for operating a vehicle while impaired because of the use of marijuana. The police must have grounds to arrest a person for a DUI, though, and it is unlikely that mere possession of marijuana is sufficient. This was demonstrated recently in Houston, where a driver admitted to possessing marijuana when he was pulled over for speeding tragically collided with another vehicle after he was stopped, killing a mother and three children. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is smart to speak to a dedicated Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Texas Accident

It is reported that a man in Houston was stopped by a police officer for speeding. The officer stated that during the traffic stop, he did not observe any visible signs of impairment. The driver did admit that he had marijuana, however, which he surrendered to the officer. Thirty minutes after he was stopped, he rear-ended a car at a high rate of speed. The woman in the car and her three children ultimately died due to injuries suffered in the accident. The driver was arrested, but it is unclear what charges he is facing. Authorities are reportedly testing the small amount of marijuana he relinquished, and the driver may face criminal charges pending the outcome of the testing.

Illinois DUI Charges Related to Marijuana Use

In Illinois, it is legal to use marijuana for recreational purposes. That does not mean, though, that there are no restrictions regarding its use. First, only adults are legally permitted to ingest marijuana for recreational use. Additionally, people who use marijuana and then drive may be charged with DUI crimes. Specifically, under Illinois’ DUI statute, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while impaired due to the use of marijuana, and people who do so may face DUI charges. Continue reading →

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The majority of DUI charges and convictions arise out of the results of a blood or breath test that is administered by the police during traffic stops. In many cases, the court and prosecution take for granted that the results of such tests are accurate, but that is not always the case, as improperly calibrated machines can lead to false readings. Convictions based on inaccurate breath test results may be overturned, though, as demonstrated in Massachusetts, where thousands of people recently received notices they may be eligible for new trials. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is prudent to engage a skillful Illinois DUI defense attorney to assess the sufficiency of the State’s evidence in your case.

Notices Issued in Massachusetts

Reportedly, close to thirty-thousand people in Massachusetts were recently advised that they may be eligible for new trials in their DUI cases due to problems with the evidence used against them. Notably, the notices were sent out almost a year after the underlying issue came to light. Specifically, in 2019, the State became aware that officials working in the State Police lab permitted improperly calibrated machines to be used to administer breath tests to people suspected of DUI crimes. Further, the officials then attempted to hide the full extent of the issue.

As a result, anyone who admitted to the sufficiency of facts or pleaded guilty in a DUI case between June 2011 and April 2019 may be eligible for a new trial. The notices advise the people impacted by the recent discovery that their cases may have been tainted by the devices, and they have grounds to challenge the rulings against them. Continue reading →

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Few people are as beloved in New Jersey as the entertainers that hail from the state. Thus, when news broke that a famous singer was arrested and charged with a DUI offense, it sent shock waves throughout the area. Few details have emerged regarding the offense and what information is available varies greatly, causing some question whether it was unfounded due to the absence of a reasonable suspicion that a DUI crime was committed. The DUI and reckless driving charges were ultimately dropped and the singer was merely ordered to pay a fine, but the matter it arguably highlights that it is important for people charged with a DUI offense to retain skillful DUI defense attorneys to help them fight to protect their liberties.

The Singer’s Arrest

Reportedly, two different accounts have arisen as to the facts surrounding the singer’s arrest. In the first, it is alleged that the singer was observed by a police officer consuming a shot of tequila with fans in a public park, then getting onto his motorcycle and driving away. In this version, the singer’s BAC was 0.02%, well below New Jersey’s legal limit of 0.08%.

In the second version, however, while it is reported that the singer consumed a shot of tequila and then drove his motorcycle, it is also alleged that he smelled of alcohol, admitted to consuming two shots of alcohol, was swaying, and refused to submit to a breath test. A short time after news of the arrest broke it was reported that the DUI and reckless driving charges were dropped, and a $500 fine for drinking alcohol in a closed area was imposed.  Continue reading →

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If the police stop a person for suspicion of DUI, they must establish that the search is lawful; otherwise, any evidence arising out of the search may be deemed inadmissible. In other words, the State must demonstrate that the police had reasonable suspicion that a person is under the influence prior to effectuating a stop. While typically DUI charges arise out stop to investigate erratic driving, some are the result of DUI checkpoints. Whether such a stop constitutes a reasonable search and seizure was the topic of a recent North Carolina ruling, in which the court ultimately found the stop to be illegal. If you are accused of a DUI crime arising out of a DUI checkpoint, it is in your best interest to confer with a trusted Illinois DUI defense attorney about your potential defenses.

The North Carolina Ruling

It is reported that the defendant was stopped at a DUI checkpoint in a town in North Carolina. The investigating officer smelled alcohol on the defendant’s breath, and she admitted to consuming two shots of alcohol. She submitted to field sobriety testing, which she failed, and a breathalyzer test, which resulted in a BAC of 0.11%. She was charged with DUI. Her attorney filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the stop, arguing it was unlawful, but the motion was denied.

Allegedly, the defendant appealed, and on appeal, the court ruled in her favor. Specifically, it found that the trial court had not evaluated whether the arrest met the three standards established by the State Supreme Court to determine if the arrest was constitutional: the weight of the public interest; the degree to which the arrest advances the public interest, and the severity of its interference with personal liberty. Continue reading →

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Judges and prosecutors have distinct roles in the criminal justice system, and generally, they refrain from exercising powers outside of the scope of their authority. If they do overstep their bounds, however, it may lead to unexpected outcomes. For example, a prosecutor in North Dakota recently sued a judge, arguing that the judge violated the separation of powers by refusing to approve a plea deal that would have ignored one of the defendant’s prior DUI convictions. The lawsuit, which alleges that defendants convicted of fourth DUIs are subject to less stringent penalties than those convicted of third DUIs, seeks to remedy a perceived injustice. If you are charged with a third or subsequent DUI offense, it is smart to meet with a knowledgeable Illinois DUI defense attorney to assess your rights.

The North Dakota Case

It is reported that the North Dakota legislature recently increased the penalties for repeat DUI offenders. Specifically, a person convicted of a third DUI, which is a class A misdemeanor, faces a 120-day jail sentence, while a person convicted of a fourth DUI crime, which is a Class C felony, may be imprisoned for one year and one day. The prosecutor alleges that, essentially, sentences for fourth DUIs are paper penalties, in that parties convicted of such offenses spend significantly less time in prison than those convicted of lesser crimes.

Allegedly, the prosecutor attempted to subvert the sentencing deficiencies by entering into a plea agreement with a defendant that would have reduced the number of the defendant’s prior DUI convictions, which would have resulted in a lesser sentence on paper but arguably more time in prison. When the judge refused to adopt the plea agreement, the prosecution filed suit, arguing the judge violated the separation of powers. Continue reading →

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It is not uncommon for intoxicated drivers to cause collisions, and many DUI related accidents are fatal. Thus, a person may not only be charged with a DUI crime but other, more serious, offenses. Whether a fatality caused by a drunk driving accident constitutes murder, however, is unsettled throughout the Nation. This issue was recently resolved in Nevada, though, where the Nevada Supreme Court set forth a ruling prohibiting prosecutors from charging people with second-degree murder for their involvement in DUI fatalities. While the ruling has no precedent in Illinois, it provides insight into how other courts view DUI cases involving deaths. If you were involved in a fatal DUI accident, it is in your best interest to speak with an Illinois DUI defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Nevada Ruling

It is reported that the Nevada Supreme Court recently issued an order requiring prosecutors to change the manner in which they handle DUI cases. Specifically, the court barred prosecutors from charging DUI defendants with second-degree murder. The ruling arose out of a matter in which the defendant reportedly caused a fatal crash while driving with marijuana in his system. The order, which was signed by seven justices, explained that while malice could be inferred from the facts out of which the charges arose and would support a second-degree murder charge, the legislature pre-empted such charges for matters involving unintentional vehicular homicide. It was noted that the ruling might inspire the legislature to impose stricter penalties on felony DUI cases involving deaths.

Charges for DUI Related Deaths in Illinois

In Illinois, a person can be charged with aggravated DUI (driving under the influence) if the individual was involved in an accident that resulted in a fatality. An aggravated DUI that results in the death of another person is a Class 2 felony. If only one person is killed in a DUI accident, the defendant faces a minimum sentence of three years imprisonment and a maximum sentence of fourteen years. If more than one person dies due to a DUI accident, an aggravated DUI sentence can range from six to twenty-eight years in prison.

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When people think of DUI crimes, they usually contemplate a person charged with an offense after being caught driving a car, truck, or SUV while intoxicated. In many states, though, a person can be charged with a DUI crime for operating any motorized vehicle. This was demonstrated recently in Kansas, where a man was charged with a DUI offense after operating a lawnmower while impaired due to alcohol. If you are accused of a DUI crime, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Illinois DUI defense attorney to determine your rights.

The Kansas Arrest

It is reported that police officers in Shawnee County, Kansas, pulled over a man who was driving down the shoulder of a highway. When they spoke to the man, his demeanor led them to suspect that he was intoxicated. The police administered field sobriety tests to the man, which he failed. He was then arrested and charged with DUI. While the crime was not novel, the man’s choice of vehicle was, as he was operating a lawnmower. In Kansas, though, a DUI offense can arise out of the operation of any motor vehicle while intoxicated.

DUI Offenses in Illinois

Illinois is similar to Kansas in that a person need not be driving a car to be charged with a DUI offense. Specifically, the DUI law prohibits a person from driving or being in actual physical control of any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Notably, the statute does not limit the term “vehicle” to a car, SUV, or any other automobile that is typically operated on public streets.

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In theory, police officers should only investigate crimes or make traffic stops due to a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity. Unfortunately, though, in some cases, the police may have incentives to charge people with criminal offenses other than the desire to uphold the law—for example, some cities reward officers for issuing citations or have rules establishing ticket quotas. As demonstrated in a recent Illinois ruling, such rules are likely to lead to unjust DUI arrests and other citations and are unlawful. If you were charged with a DUI offense, it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Illinois DUI defense attorney to assess your options.

The Ticket Quota

It is alleged that the City of Sparta had a policy in place that assigned points to certain activities and used the points to evaluate the performance of its officers. Under the policy, all full-time police officers were required to meet a monthly points minimum. Officers who worked the night shift were obligated to obtain 65 points, while those working the day shift needed 82 points. Different activities garnered different points, and issuing citations had a two-point value. Officers that failed to meet the minimum monthly points would be disciplined in a progressive manner. Further, points were used to determine the officer of the month and of the year.

Reportedly, the Policeman’s Benevolent Labor Committee (Union) filed a declaratory judgment action seeking an opinion that the activity-points policy established an unlawful ticket quota that violated Section 11-1-12 of the Illinois Municipal Code. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Sparta, and the Union appealed. The appellate court reversed, finding in favor of the Union. The City then appealed.

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Generally, in DUI cases, the State’s main witness will be the officer that arrested the defendant. Thus, if the officer is unavailable, the State’s case may fall apart, resulting in the dismissal of the defendant’s charges. This scenario unfolded in Albuquerque recently, when over a dozen DUI cases were dismissed after the officer-involved was fired when it was revealed that he made false statements and arrested people for DUI without cause. If you are charged with an Illinois crime, and you believe your rights may have been violated during your arrest, it is advisable to consult an experienced Illinois DUI attorney about your case.

The Albuquerque Arrests and Dismissals

It is reported that approximately nineteen DUI cases were dismissed after the officer that made the arrests in the cases was terminated for cause. Several other cases are currently under investigation to determine whether they should be dismissed as well. The officer’s termination arose after he arrested a woman for DUI without probable cause. The impetus for his false arrests was not disclosed, and he is currently appealing his termination. It was disclosed, though, that the officer violated procedure and made false statements in the course of the arrest that initially called his integrity into question. Thus, all of the pending charges in which he made the initial arrest are under scrutiny, as the evidence in those cases may be tainted as well.

DUI Arrests in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a person who operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or who drives with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher can be charged with a DUI offense. In Illinois, as in other states, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed or a traffic violation has occurred prior to stopping a driver. If an officer stops a person without just cause, the stop may be unconstitutional, and any subsequent detainment may be considered a false arrest. Further, charges that arise out of an improper arrest may constitute malicious prosecution.

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Many people convicted of criminal offenses lose their right to own firearms. While all criminal charges are a cause for concern, only convictions for serious crimes will result in the loss of the right to own a weapon, but what constitutes a serious crime is not always clear. Recently, a federal court sitting in Pennsylvania set forth an opinion addressing the issue of whether a misdemeanor DUI crime constitutes a serious crime for purposes of disarmament, ultimately ruling that it does. While the Pennsylvania ruling does not impact people in Illinois, it may illustrate how the law may be interpreted in the state in the future. If you are an Illinois resident currently charged with driving while intoxicated, it is prudent to speak with a knowledgeable Illinois DUI attorney regarding your case.

The Pennsylvania Case

It is reported that in 2002, the defendant was arrested for suspicion of DUI. A subsequent blood test determined his blood alcohol content (BAC) to be .192% at the time of the offense. He was charged with and convicted of DUI at the highest blood alcohol content, which is a misdemeanor crime. In 2016, the defendant attempted to purchase a firearm, but his efforts were denied due to his prior DUI conviction. The defendant then sued the Attorney General of the United States, arguing that the federal disarmament statute was unconstitutional as applied to him. The trial court found in favor of the Attorney General and the defendant appealed.

The court ultimately ruled that although the underlying crime was labeled a misdemeanor, it constituted a serious offense and the defendant’s loss of gun rights was proper. Specifically, the court explained that any crime that presents a possibility of the risk or danger of harm to oneself or others constitutes a serious offense.

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