Articles Posted in DUI

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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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It is not uncommon for a person that observes someone driving erratically to call 911 to report reckless driving. If a police officer stops a driver based on an anonymous tip, however, and the driver is subsequently charged with DUI, an issue often arises regarding whether a 911 call in and of itself is grounds for reasonable suspicion that a crime or traffic violation was committed. Despite a United States Supreme Court ruling addressing the issue of whether an anonymous tip is sufficient to warrant a traffic stop, the law largely remains unsettled throughout the country as shown by a recent Ohio case in which the court stated it would hear oral arguments regarding whether a bystander’s warning is adequate cause for effectuating a traffic stop. If you were charged with DUI in Illinois after being stopped due to a 911 call, it is prudent to speak with an assertive Illinois DUI defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Ohio Case

Allegedly, the defendant was stopped by a police officer and charged with DUI after a passerby yelled to the officer that the defendant was drunk. In response to the assertion, the officer stopped the defendant and noticed she had signs of intoxication, including slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and an odor of alcohol. The passerby was never identified. The defendant argued that the stop was not justified, as the officer was only acting on an anonymous tip of uncertain reliability and, therefore, did not have reasonable suspicion that the defendant was committing a crime. The lower courts found in favor of the defendant, noting that the tip lacked any details regarding why the passerby believed the defendant was intoxicated.

Rulings Regarding DUI Arrests Arising Out of Anonymous Tips

In Navarette v. California, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a tip provided by an anonymous source in a 911 call was sufficiently reliable to justify a traffic stop, as it provided details regarding the make and model of the car and details regarding the fact that the car was being driven erratically. The Court further stated that because the call made through the 911 system it was reliable because the calls are recorded, and people may be prosecuted for making false reports.

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One of the tenets of DUI law throughout the country is that the police must have reasonable suspicion that a person operating a vehicle committed a crime or violated a traffic law prior to effectuating a traffic stop. Thus, if an officer lacks sufficient grounds to stop a motorist, any evidence obtained during the stop may be precluded at a subsequent DUI trial. What constitutes sufficient grounds to effectuate a stop varies from State to State, but generally, more than mere suspicion is required, as demonstrated in a recent Pennsylvania case. If you live in Illinois and were stopped without just cause and subsequently charged with a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to speak with a trusted Illinois DUI attorney regarding your potential defenses.

Details of the Pennsylvania Case

Allegedly, an officer stopped the defendant due to a “hunch” that she was doing something illegal. Specifically, the officer, who was dispatched on another call, stopped the defendant because he believed she was trying to evade him because she turned several times. The officer admitted, however, that the defendant did not exhibit any signs of intoxication while driving, did not violate any traffic laws, and there were no defects on her car that would cause suspicion. Following the stop, the defendant was charged with and convicted of DUI. After her conviction, she appealed, arguing that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop her. The appellate court overturned her conviction and remanded the case to the lower court, ordering suppression of the evidence obtained during the stop.

Reasonable Suspicion Under Illinois Law

Under Illinois law, stopping a vehicle is considered a search and seizure. For a stop to be lawful, an Illinois police officer must possess a rational belief that the person stopped has committed or intends to commit a crime. The suspicion must be both articulable and reasonable. In other words, a totality of the facts present at the time of the stop must be sufficient to inspire the belief in a person of ordinary caution that the stop was appropriate, which requires more than a hunch or vague suspicion that criminal activity has occurred or is about to occur. While Illinois does not have a bright-line rule for whether a stop is reasonable, and each case is evaluated on its particular facts, it is likely that in Illinois a stop based on a hunch, with no evidence of illegal activity or a violation of a traffic law, would be deemed improper.

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect many aspects of life throughout the state and country, including driver’s rights. Many people have questions regarding how to renew their license or registration, upcoming hearings, and the removal of ignition interlock devices, and are faced with multiple conflicting sources of information. Fortunately, however, the Illinois Secretary of State recently addressed questions pertaining to driving rights that many people throughout the state have asked. If you were recently charged with or convicted of a DUI, it is advisable to consult a trusted Illinois DUI defense attorney to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect your rights.

 COVID-19 Impact on Driver’s Rights in Illinois

Many people’s driver’s licenses, commercial driver’s licenses, and vehicle registration stickers either expired before or during the COVID-19 pandemic or will expire in the near future. The Secretary of State’s office is closed due to the pandemic, however. Fortunately, the Governor extended licenses and registrations for at least 90 days after the end of the disaster. Certain people are eligible to renew their driver’s licenses online as well.

Drivers who wish to obtain a copy of their driving abstract or record during the pandemic can visit to purchase a copy. Once payment is made, the record or abstract will be available to print. Additionally, the person will receive an email with a receipt of the transaction that will allow the person to print his or her record for five days after the purchase.

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As marijuana use becomes increasingly legal throughout the country, legislatures and courts are slowly establishing laws, further defining and limiting its use. For example, an issue that keeps arising is whether the smell of marijuana emanating from a car provides probable cause for the police to believe the driver of the car is operating the vehicle while intoxicated. This issue was recently addressed by a California court that ultimately found that the smell of marijuana alone was insufficient to effectuate a stop. Conversely, the issue of whether the smell of marijuana is adequate grounds to stop a driver is before the Illinois Supreme Court, with a ruling likely to be issued in the near future. If you are faced with marijuana-related DUI charges, it is in your best interest to consult a seasoned Illinois DUI defense attorney to discuss your potential defenses.

The California Ruling

It is reported that a California appellate court recently issued a ruling stating that the smell of marijuana in a vehicle is not sufficient grounds for the police to conduct a search of the entire vehicle. In that case, the police were on DUI patrol when a car without a front license plate drove by. The police stopped the car, and after approaching the vehicle, smelled marijuana. The police questioned the driver who admitted to having marijuana in his console. The police then searched the entire vehicle and found a loaded gun under the driver’s seat. The defendant was charged with possession of an illegal weapon. During the trial, the search of the defendant’s vehicle was deemed legal, but on appeal, that ruling was overturned. The court stated that marijuana use is legal, and the only evidence the police relied on as grounds to search the car was the smell of marijuana, which the court stated was not evidence of a crime.

Illinois’s Standpoint on the Issue

The issue of whether the smell of marijuana is adequate to provide a police officer probable cause to stop a motorist and search his or her vehicle was recently argued before the Illinois Supreme Court, but a ruling has not yet been issued. That case arose under similar circumstances as the California case, in that the officer stopped the defendant because he smelled an odor of marijuana coming from the defendant’s car. The defendant’s car was searched, and during the search, the police found crack cocaine, which led to the defendant being charged with drug crimes. While the stop occurred prior to the legalization of marijuana in Illinois, the argument before the Illinois Supreme Court was held after marijuana use was legalized.

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