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While the use of marijuana is legal in many states throughout the nation, it has not been permitted for long, and the effects of the legalization of marijuana have only recently begun to be apparent. For example, Washington reporters recently assessed the consequences of the legalization of marijuana and laws regulating the use of marijuana, noting that there are pitfalls to prosecuting marijuana DUIs, and that the legalization may not have had the impact on crime rates that was anticipated. Illinois recently decriminalized the use of marijuana, though the law will not go into effect until 2020, and the results of decriminalization are likely to be the same as those experienced in Washington.  If you live in Illinois and were recently charged with a marijuana-related DUI, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Illinois DUI attorney to discuss your case.

Crime Following Washington’s Legalization of the Use of Marijuana

It is reported that Washington allows a person to be charged with a marijuana-related DUI if the person is impaired or has a whole blood THC level of 5 nanograms or higher. It appears that many prosecutors and law enforcement officers are dismayed by Washington’s current 5 nanogram limit, stating that it places pressure on them to produce test results at a trial arising out of a marijuana DUI charge, but blood tests are not administered in each case. Further, many people do not want evidence of marijuana-related impairment used as a basis for DUI, but would rather stick to the defined blood level. Marijuana is not processed the same way as alcohol, however, so testing methods that work for alcohol may not work as well for marijuana. Thus, entities in Washington continue to pursue more accurate tests.

The article also noted that not accounting for a decrease in marijuana-related arrests, crime rates in Washington did not change after marijuana was legalized. Further, there was no reduction in black market sales of marijuana. As such, studies regarding the effect of the legalization of marijuana on criminal activity were being pursued as well.

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North Carolina recently called attention to a rare but notable condition that can affect DUI cases:  auto-brewery syndrome. Although not many people suffer from the condition, it can cause unwarranted DUI arrests and convictions. While some courts throughout the country have been faced with the auto-brewery defense, it has not been widely established as a justification for a BAC above the legal limit. If you are charged with an Illinois DUI offense, it is prudent to meet with a proficient DUI defense attorney to discuss which defenses you may be able to assert.

Auto-Brewery Syndrome Explained

Reportedly, a North Carolina man was arrested in 2011 for driving while intoxicated. The man argued that he had not been drinking, but to no avail. In 2015, however, the man was diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome, which is often known as gut fermentation syndrome. In essence, the syndrome causes certain people’s digestive systems to convert carbohydrates into alcohol. Thus, if a person with auto-brewery syndrome eats pasta or bread, the food is fermented in their guts and subsequently turns into alcohol. Accordingly, a person suffering from auto-brewery syndrome may have an elevated BAC level despite not consuming any alcohol.

Doctors who have analyzed auto-brewery syndrome have noted that people with the syndrome suffer the medical and legal effects of alcoholism, including drunk driving arrests and public intoxication. It is believed that the North Carolina man developed the syndrome after he took an antibiotic for an injury. Following his diagnosis, he was treated with anti-fungal medication and probiotics, and he has been symptom-free for about 18 months.

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One of the many rights afforded to criminal defendants is the right to a trial by an impartial jury. Thus, prior to trial defense counsel and the prosecution will question potential jurors to assess whether they may be biased, and will challenge the selection of any impartial jurors. A recent case arising out of Indiana highlighted the importance of vetting jurors and protecting a criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial, as the trial court’s failure to conduct a hearing regarding a juror’s potential bias resulted in the appellate court granting a new trial. If you face DUI charges, it is important to retain a zealous Illinois DUI attorney who will fight on your behalf to protect your right to a fair trial.

Facts of the Indiana Case

Reportedly, the defendant was found unconscious behind the wheel of her vehicle by emergency personnel. She was charged with two counts of DUI, and the case proceeded to trial. The trial court gathered the potential jurors and explained the process of voir dire. After the first six jurors were questioned and selected, one of the jurors submitted a note to the bailiff that disclosed that one of her family members was killed by a drunk driver.

Allegedly, defense counsel requested that the juror be brought back for additional questioning regarding her impartiality, to which the court stated there was nothing they could do. The remaining jurors were selected, and all the jurors were sworn in. Defense counsel moved to have the juror removed. The court denied the motion, and the defendant was found guilty on both charges. The defendant appealed.

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Although most police officers are thoroughly trained in the signs of intoxication, their actions do not always comport with their training. For example, a woman in Phoenix, Arizona, was recently detained and charged with DUI despite the fact there was no evidence that she was intoxicated. The woman subsequently filed a complaint against the police department, shedding light on the concerning issue of inappropriate arrests. If you were charged with a DUI despite a lack of evidence that you were intoxicated while operating a vehicle, you should meet with a skillful Illinois DUI attorney regarding your case.

Factual Background of the Phoenix Arrest

It is reported that the Phoenix police pulled over a 29-year-old woman who was driving late at night with her boyfriend. The woman, who pulled over into a parking lot of a business, described the officer as having an intimidating attitude. The woman received a ticket for an unsafe lane change, a red light violation, and an improper turn. The officer reportedly observed an odor of alcohol coming from the car and therefore attempted to conduct a field sobriety test. The woman advised the officer that she had a severe fear of men and of the police and requested that a female officer come to the scene. The officer noted the woman’s anxiety in his report repeatedly. A female officer was not dispatched, however, but more male officers arrived.

It is alleged that the woman admitted to consuming sake four hours prior to being stopped, and a breathalyzer test indicated her blood-alcohol level was .02. Under Phoenix law, an officer cannot arrest a person with a blood-alcohol level of less than .05 unless it is suspected the person is under the influence of drugs. Thus, the officer then began questioning the woman regarding whether she consumed drugs, which she denied. The woman was ultimately arrested and charged with DUI for drugs and alcohol. The charges against her were dismissed two months later, and her case was closed, but the woman had to spend hundreds of dollars defending the claim, and the DUI arrest remains on her record. To help prevent similar occurrences in the future, the woman filed a complaint against the Phoenix police department and asked that the police receive more training in crisis prevention.

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A recent DUI case arising out of Florida illustrates how a defendant can avoid a DUI conviction if the State fails to follow proper procedures for gathering and maintaining evidence. In that case, the defendant was only convicted of a misdemeanor DUI charge despite the prosecution’s wish to charge her with DUI manslaughter, due to errors in the police investigation. If you reside in Illinois and are faced with DUI charges it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable Illinois DUI attorney to discuss your case.

Facts and Procedure of the Florida Case

Reportedly, a husband and wife went out to celebrate the husband’s birthday, leaving their daughter with a babysitter. They used a ride-sharing app to get to their destination but accepted a ride from the defendant to travel back home. The defendant failed to yield to a car traveling towards her before attempting to make a left-turn and her car was t-boned. The accident happened at 3:00 am. The defendant’s blood, which was drawn approximately three hours after the crash, was .14. The legal limit in Florida is .08.

It is alleged that the defendant was not charged with any serious crimes due to the lack of evidence. Specifically, there were no photographs taken of the intersection where the accident occurred, and the road was improperly marked during the investigation. Additionally, the photographs taken at the scene were not reviewed prior to the close of the investigation, so the deficiencies were not identified until later. The police also lacked sufficient evidence to establish the defendant’s speed at the time of the accident. Based on the lack of evidence of a more serious crime, the defendant was merely charged with a DUI misdemeanor. She was convicted and sentenced to 30 days imprisonment to be served on weekends.

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It is a well-known fact that people taken into custody by the police must be advised of their right against self-incrimination via Miranda warnings. In some instances, however, an issue arises as to what constitutes a person being taken into police custody for purposes of evaluating whether incriminating statements should be precluded. Recently, two courts tasked with addressing this issue came to different conclusions, highlighting the inconsistencies of the rulings throughout the nation. If you live in Illinois and are charged with a DUI, it is essential to retain an assertive Illinois DUI attorney to aid you in protecting your rights.

Nevada Decision Regarding Incriminating Statements

Reportedly, in a recent Nevada appellate court case, the court addressed whether a defendant’s incriminating statements should be admissible at trial. In that case, the defendant was stopped by police while he was at a convenience store because he looked like someone the police were trying to find. He was removed from the store and questioned by the police, during which he admitted to drinking and driving. He was then arrested for DUI. He filed a motion to suppress his statements, which the trial court granted. The State appealed.

On appeal, it was noted that the defendant was not advised that he was not under arrest, and the court found that he was in custody for practical purposes. Thus, he should have been read his Miranda rights. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

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As states throughout the country continue to decriminalize the use of marijuana, the laws regarding the operation of vehicles after ingesting marijuana continue to change as well. The changes in the law can drastically affect how marijuana-related DUI charges are prosecuted, as shown in a recent case arising out of an Illinois Appellate Court. If you are a resident of Illinois and are charged with a DUI arising out of your use of marijuana it is crucial to engage a proficient Illinois DUI attorney with experience handling marijuana-related DUI charges to help you set forth a defense.

Facts of the Underlying Case

Reportedly, the defendant was involved in a single-vehicle accident in which his car left the road, and his passenger was ejected from the vehicle. The passenger later died from his injuries. The defendant, who allegedly had marijuana in his system at the time of the accident, was charged with aggravated driving under the influence. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. He subsequently appealed, arguing that the DUI statute was unconstitutional, and his sentence was unjust. On appeal, the court affirmed.

At the time of the defendant’s conviction, the DUI statute prohibited a person from driving if he or she had any marijuana in his or her blood. Under the statute, any amount of marijuana use was criminal, and the State only had to prove that the defendant used marijuana prior to driving to obtain a conviction. The statute was later amended to remove marijuana-related offense, and a new provision was added that established the elements of marijuana-related DUI crimes.

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The United States Constitution grants individuals the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Recently, the United States Supreme Court held this right to include the right to be free from warrantless blood tests, in Birchfield v. North Dakota. The Birchfield ruling did not permanently resolve the issue of whether evidence obtained via a warrantless blood test is admissible, however, as courts throughout the country have carved out exceptions to the rule. This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the Nebraska Supreme Court, in which the court ruled that under the good faith exception to the Fourth Amendment, results from a warrantless blood test could be admitted into evidence. If you live in Illinois and face DUI charges due to a warrantless blood test it is imperative to retain a skilled Illinois DUI attorney to fight to protect your rights.

The Nebraska Case

Reportedly, police were called to the scene of a car accident in the early evening in August 2017. Upon arrival, they observed the defendant slumped over behind the driver’s seat of his vehicle. He was transported to the hospital via ambulance and did not submit to any chemical or field sobriety testing at the scene. One of the officers submitted an affidavit to obtain a search warrant for a blood draw from the defendant, due to the suspicion the defendant was driving under the influence. The county court issued the warrant, after which the police traveled to the hospital. The defendant willingly submitted to a breath test, which showed his BAC to be almost twice the legal limit. He was then served the search warrant, after which his blood was drawn. The defendant’s blood alcohol level was .168. Following his release from the  hospital, he was arrested for driving under the influence.

It is alleged that after the defendant was charged with driving under the influence, he filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained via the search warrant on the grounds that the warrant was invalid. Specifically, the defendant argued that the affidavit in support of the warrant failed to establish probable cause that the defendant was engaging in criminal activity. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the affidavit was sufficient. A trial was held, and the defendant was convicted, after which he appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling, and noted that the good faith exception to the Fourth Amendment applied. The defendant appealed, and the Supreme Court of Nebraska moved the case to its docket. Continue reading →

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Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling on a pressing issue in DUI cases: whether the Fourth Amendment bars states from conducting a blood draw on an unconscious person suspected of drunk driving. Prior to the decision, the states were divided as to whether drawing and testing the blood of an unconscious defendant was constitutional, with close to thirty states permitting such testing. In light of the Court’s recent decision, it is anticipated that the rights of DUI suspects who have been subjected to warrantless blood draws will be diminished. If you are charged with a DUI, you should meet with a trusted DUI attorney to discuss your options for preserving your rights.

Facts of the Underlying Case

It is alleged that the defendant in the underlying case was found covered in sand and slurring his words on a beach in Wisconsin. The police suspected the defendant of driving while intoxicated and asked him to submit to a preliminary breath test. The results of the test showed the defendant’s BAC was more than three times over the legal limit. As such, the police arrested the defendant and took him to the hospital so they could conduct a legal blood draw. Prior to arriving at the hospital, however, the defendant passed out. The blood test was conducted regardless, and the results of the test showed that the defendant’s BAC was .22. The defendant was charged with and convicted of a DUI.

It is reported that the defendant appealed, arguing that the blood draw violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. In response, the State argued that Wisconsin’s implied consent law deemed anyone driving on Wisconsin roads to consent to a blood draw, and the defendant had not withdrawn his consent. The case ultimately proceeded to the United States Supreme Court, on the issue of whether states are permitted to statutorily state that drivers impliedly consent to blood alcohol tests. In issuing its ruling, however, the Court did not answer the precise question with which it was presented. Rather, the court merely stated that when a driver is unconscious and exigent-circumstances are present, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution does not generally bar States from conducting a blood draw without a warrant.

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Following the Birchfield ruling, if a person is arrested for suspicion of DUI the arresting officer can only conduct a warrantless blood test on the person if he or she consents to the test, otherwise it constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the 4thAmendment of the United States Constitution. The Birchfield ruling has caused a ripple effect throughout the country, as courts continue to analyze how it impacts issues of consent in DUI cases. For example, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently addressed the issue of whether chemical testing that is conducted after the defendant’s consent is withdrawn constitutes an unreasonable search. If you live in Illinois and are facing DUI charges following a warrantless blood test it is crucial to retain a seasoned Illinois DUI attorney to help you formulate a defense.

Underlying Facts and Ruling

Reportedly, the defendant was arrested for operating her vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. She consented to submit to a blood test but withdrew her consent after the blood was drawn before any chemical testing was performed and demanded that the destruction of her sample. The blood was tested regardless, however. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of her drug test, arguing that the test was an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of her constitutional rights, due to the fact the testing was conducted after she withdrew her consent. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion. The State appealed the trial court’s ruling and on appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision. The State then appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, who reversed the trial court decision.

In issuing its decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court stated that there was only one search conducted, which was the blood draw to which the defendant consented. The court held that the search ended when the blood draw was completed, and the subsequent testing of the blood did not constitute a second search. Further, the court stated a defendant arrested for driving while intoxicated has no privacy interest in the amount of alcohol in a blood sample. Therefore, the court held that the defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure were not violated by the testing of her blood and reversed the trial court ruling.
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