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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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Under State and Federal law, the police typically need a warrant to enter a home or search a person. There are some exceptions, though, such as when the police are actively pursuing a suspect. There is a split among the states, though, as to whether the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement applies when the person being pursued is suspected of committing a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony. Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to rule on the issue in a case arising out of California. While the ruling on the matter will not be issued until sometime next year, it could impact people’s rights in Illinois and throughout the country. If you live in Illinois and you were subjected to a warrantless search during a DUI investigation, it is in your best interest to speak to a skillful Illinois DUI attorney to assess your rights.

The California Case

It is reported that the defendant was followed by a patrolman for violating a state traffic law. The officer activated his lights but not his sirens, but the defendant did not stop. The defendant pulled into his garage, after which the patrolman entered the garage by placing his foot under the garage door when it was closing. Once in the garage, the patrolman spoke with the defendant and noticed that his breath smelled of alcohol. The defendant was subsequently charged with DUI.

Allegedly, at trial, the defendant argued that the patrolman’s entry into his garage violated his Fourth Amendment right against warrantless searches, and therefore the evidence against him must be precluded. The court rejected this argument, stating that the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement applied, regardless of the fact that the defendant was being pursued for a misdemeanor. The matter was appealed to the Supreme Court, who decided to rule on the issue, with an oral argument scheduled for February 2021 or later.

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In most states, DUI crimes are not limited to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Rather, a person can typically be charged with a DUI offense for driving while impaired due to the use of prescription, illicit, or recreational drugs, such as marijuana. While the police usually employ chemical testing to determine if a person is impaired due to the use of alcohol, such testing must be warranted under the circumstances. This was demonstrated in a recent Illinois case in which marijuana-related DUI charges stemming from a fatal car accident were dismissed due to the lack of evidence the defendant was impaired. If you are an Illinois resident faced with marijuana-related DUI charges, it is advisable to speak with a trusted Illinois DUI attorney regarding your possible defenses.

Dismissal of DUI Charges Following Suppression of Evidence

It is reported that the defendant, who works as a truck driver, was involved in a car crash in the early morning hours in July 2017. The driver of the other vehicle in the crash ultimately died due to her injuries. When the police arrived at the scene to investigate the accident, they spoke with the defendant, who was not observed to show any signs of impairment.

Allegedly, in response to questions from the police, the defendant admitted to smoking marijuana the night before the accident. He was subsequently asked to submit to chemical testing and, based on the results of the test, charged with aggravated DUI causing death. He subsequently filed a motion to suppress his chemical test results and statements, arguing there was no probable cause to suspect him of DUI and that he was questioned without being advised of his Miranda rights. The court agreed with the defendant and granted the motion, which ultimately resulted in the dismissal of the DUI charges.

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A person convicted of a DUI offense can face significant criminal and civil penalties, such as fines, incarceration, and the loss of driving privileges. Shockingly, if a person’s vehicle is used in the commission of a DUI offense, it may result in the loss of the vehicle as well, even if the person did not commit any crime. This was demonstrated recently in Minnesota, when a woman’s car was seized by the police following the arrest of a driver the woman permitted to operate the vehicle. Similarly, under Illinois law, the police may be able to seize a person’s assets following a DUI arrest.  If you were charged with a DUI crime in Illinois or your car was seized following another person’s arrest, you should speak to a skillful Illinois DUI defense attorney to determine your options.

Minnesota’s Seizure of Assets Following DUI Arrests

Reportedly, under Minnesota law, the police have the right to seize a person’s assets and sell them, even if the person was never convicted with a crime. Additionally, the police have the right to keep the proceeds of any sale of the property they seize. While generally, the person whose property is taken at the very least is charged with a criminal offense, it is not necessary under the law, which can lead to alarming results.

For example, police in Minnesota allegedly recently seized a woman’s car following a DWI traffic stop and sold the car at an auction, pursuant to Minnesota’s forfeiture law. Incomprehensibly, however, the woman was not driving at the time of the traffic stop and was not charged with or convicted of any DWI offense. Regardless, the woman, who was able to purchase her car back for $4,000, had to place special license plates on the vehicle to indicate it had previously been involved in a DWI arrest.

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Typically, when a person who has been convicted of a crime is sentenced to probation, the sentencing court will impose certain conditions on the probation, in part to prevent the defendant from engaging in criminal activity. The court does not have boundless discretion with regards to what conditions it may impose, however. Rather, the conditions generally must bear some relationship to the underlying offense as well as to future criminality. If a condition does not fall within these parameters, it may be invalid, as demonstrated in a recent California case in which a court overturned a marijuana-related probation condition following the defendant’s conviction for car theft. If you are charged with an Illinois DUI offense, it is important to understand your rights, and you should confer with a trusted Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding your charges.

The California Case

It is alleged that the defendant was arrested for taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and receiving a stolen vehicle. He pled guilty to the first count, and the second count was dismissed. Prior to sentencing, he admitted that he smoked marijuana occasionally and had smoked it on the day of his arrest. He was sentenced to probation, and one of his probation conditions prohibited him from smoking marijuana and required him to submit to chemical testing. He appealed, arguing that the marijuana-related conditions were invalid. The appellate court agreed, noting that a condition is invalid if it has no relationship to the underlying crime, relates to conduct that is not criminal, and forbids or requires conduct that is not related to future criminality. As the defendant’s crime was not related to drug use, and it was not illegal to consume marijuana in California, the court found that he had proved each prong of the test. As such, the conditions related to marijuana were found to be improper and were stricken.

Illinois Law Regarding Probation Conditions

Similar to California, Illinois law requires that for a probation condition to be valid, it must reasonably relate to the state’s interest in rehabilitation and reformation. In other words, a condition that burdens the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right must be narrowly tailored to focus on the goal of rehabilitation. As such, a condition will be deemed overly broad if it restricts a defendant’s rights more than is necessary. Generally, this means that the condition must relate to the criminal nature of the underlying offense. While earlier cases ruled on in Illinois included marijuana-related probation conditions, they were issued for crimes committed prior to the legalization of recreational marijuana use. As such, going forward, a defendant would likely have strong arguments that a marijuana-related probation condition is invalid.

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In many states, police departments create incentive programs that award officers who arrest the highest number of people for DUI offenses. While such programs are likely meant to encourage thorough and vigilant investigations, they can lead to unwarranted arrests and unlawful activity. Recent events in Maryland highlight the dangers of incentivizing DUI arrests, as evidence came to light that showed that a state trooper faked numerous DUI arrests to bolster his career. While incentive programs are generally instituted by local police departments, Illinois law does provide for special funds to be used in the enforcement of DUI crimes that could potentially lead to increased unwarranted arrests. If you were arrested in Illinois for a DUI crime despite insufficient evidence that any unlawful activity occurred, you may be able to avoid a conviction and should speak to a dedicated Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding your rights.

Facts Regarding the Fake DUI Arrests

Reportedly, a Maryland state trooper recently pleaded guilty to misconduct and perjury charges for issuing tickets to non-existent individuals and making up DUI arrests in an attempt to elevate his statistics. Specifically, he admitted that over the course of two years, he charged six fictitious people with DUI. The evidence revealed, and the trooper conceded that in each case, not only was no actual arrest made, but there was also no traffic stop or investigation, and the people that were reportedly ticketed did not exist.

It is alleged that in four of the cases, arrest warrants were issued due to the failure of the fictitious defendants to appear in court. Ultimately, the trooper’s co-workers reported him. It appears that the impetus for the trooper’s behavior was the awards granted by the Maryland State Police for the troopers who arrested the most people for DUI crimes. The trooper was fined and received a suspended sentence of six years, followed by three years of probation. Currently, he remains employed as a trooper but is suspended without pay.

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The coronavirus pandemic has altered life as we know it in many ways, including changing the way we work and socialize. While some effects of the pandemic were foreseeable, others were arguably unexpected. For example, as shown by a recent article regarding DUI arrests in Santa Clarita Valley, the rates of many crimes, including DUI offenses, have decreased throughout the country. While DUI rates may have decreased, the State nonetheless continues to prosecute DUIs and other crimes aggressively, and it is important for people charged with driving under the influence to understand their rights. If you are an Illinois resident faced with DUI charges, therefore, you should consult a trusted Illinois DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.

Decreased DUI Rates in Santa Clarita Valley

Reportedly, the DUI rates in Santa Clarita Valley were drastically reduced in the first half of the year. Specifically, from the beginning of the year up until June 1st, there was an approximately eleven percent decline in DUI arrests from the same period in the prior year. Law enforcement agencies in the city believe that the decrease is due, at least in part, to the coronavirus pandemic. In other words, they explained that as bars and restaurants have been closed for several months, there are fewer people consuming alcohol outside of their homes and then driving.

Allegedly, due to State and local restrictions, there are also fewer social gatherings and parties. Thus, California Highway Patrol for the area also reported about an eleven percent decrease in arrests for the first part of the year. Paradoxically, though, the number of arrests over the Fourth of July weekend was double what they had been the year prior.

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In criminal cases throughout the country, the prosecution bears the burden of proving that the defendant committed the charged offense. Thus, the prosecution will typically conduct an investigation and engage in discovery to obtain any evidence that would imply or prove the defendant’s guilt. If the prosecution uncovers evidence that would exonerate the defendant, however, it must produce that as well. Unfortunately, the prosecution does not always comply with the rules, as demonstrated recently in Scottsdale, Arizona, where a prosecutor alleged he was fired for uncovering mishandling of evidence in numerous DUI cases that were handled by the prior prosecutor. If you live in Illinois and are charged with  DUI, it is critical to retain an experienced Illinois DUI defense attorney who will fight to uncover any evidence in your defense.

Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct in Scottsdale DUI Cases

It is reported that the recent termination of a Scottsdale, Arizona prosecutor lead to the disclosure of allegations that a prior prosecutor improperly handled DUI cases. The prosecutor received a letter notifying him that he had been terminated due to the city’s loss of confidence and trust in the prosecutor’s ability to fulfill the duties and expectations of his position. The city claims that an investigation was conducted into the prosecutor’s work performance by an independent entity and that it did not have the final report.

Reportedly, the prosecutor maintains, however, that he was fired for blowing the whistle on the city’s misconduct. Specifically, after hearing from an assistant prosecutor that the city previously failed to disclose evidence that was favorable to defendants in DUI cases, the prosecutor ordered an audit of all DUI cases prosecuted in the past five years. One of the claims alleged that a prosecutor failed to share evidence that a blood test revealed no drugs or alcohol in a defendant’s system after a defendant refused to submit to a breath test. The prosecutor noted that as sentences for DUI convictions increase when a defendant has prior offenses, failing to produce evidence that may exonerate a defendant may impact the defendant’s rights in the future as well.

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In cases in which a person is convicted of a DUI charge, the sentencing court will require the person to mount an ignition interlock device in his or her car. Ignition interlock devices and other devices that aim to restrict drivers from driving while intoxicated typically are reserved for instances in which a court feels a person poses a threat to society, and therefore, will impinge upon the person’s rights. Recently, however, there have been movements in several states to introduce legislature at a state and federal level that will require all drivers to be equipped with devices that are intended to prevent driving under the influence. Currently, it is unclear whether such efforts will be successful or the impact such laws could have on DUI charges. If you charged with a DUI in Illinois, though, it is in your best interest to consult an Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding your rights and the potential penalties you may face if convicted.

Recent Efforts to Prevent Drunk Driving in Michigan

Recently, a congresswoman from Michigan proposed that the Democratic House Infrastructure package include a provision mandating that the Department of Transportation install in passenger vehicles systems designed to prevent drunk driving. Those in favor of the act argued that it would diminish preventable deaths. Additionally, companion legislation promoting research and development of technology that would detect the presence of alcohol on a driver’s breath was proposed in the Senate. Proponents of both bills argue that such technology is akin to installing airbags in cars, and would not impose a significant burden. While the parameters of the proposed technology have not been defined, it is likely that it will include ignition interlock devices and cameras.

Risks of Mandatory Drunk Driving Prevention Devices

While no one is opposed to preventing harm caused by drunk driving, there are risks associated with installing interlock ignition devices and other similar apparatus in all new cars. First, such devices arguably both impose a penalty on and diminish the privacy rights of people who have not committed any crime, without just cause. Further, there is a high risk of false readings for people who have recently consumed certain non-alcoholic foods or beverages.

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