Articles Posted in Traffic Stop

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In the summer months, police departments across the United States seem to increase their efforts to identify drunk drivers. Among other things, this often includes setting up DUI checkpoints. Many people who have encountered DUI checkpoints wonder what their rights and legal duties are in such situations. Recently, a news station in Pennsylvania reached out to the ACLU for guidance on the issue.  If you were accused of a DUI offense after you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint, it is in your best interest to meet with a skillful Illinois DUI defense lawyer to evaluate your options for protecting your interests.

What to Do When you See a DUI Checkpoint

Reportedly, a police department in Pennsylvania announced that they would set up a DUI checkpoint. The pronouncement raised the question of whether DUI checkpoints are lawful and inspired a news station to reach out to a Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU for insight. What they learned was that although many parties have voiced concerns that DUI checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, both the United States Supreme Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have deemed them lawful.

There are parameters police must comply with when setting up DUI checkpoints, however. For example, they must be suspicion free, which means, in part, that they must be conducted in a methodical manner. In other words, officers cannot use their discretion to determine who to pull over or select motorists at random. Continue reading →

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It is important for children to learn about all aspects of the criminal justice system, including the procedural rules, the rights of criminal defendants, and the penalties imposed for certain crimes. Few would agree, though, that their education should involve prosecuting school-age children in a manner similar to how criminal defendants are prosecuted by the state. In Illinois, however, some schools are ticketing children and forcing them to pay substantial fines under the threat of greater consequences. If you have questions regarding ticketing in schools, it is wise to speak to an Illinois criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Ticketing in Illinois Schools

Reportedly, Illinois law permits schools to “ticket” children for minor infractions. While the tickets do not result in criminal charges, they allege that the children violated municipal ordinances at school and require them to attend hearings in a courthouse. Not only must the children who are ticketed miss school to attend such hearings, they also must decide whether to agree to pay fines or challenge the ticket at a hearing held at a later date. They are cautioned, however, that failing to pay the fine could damage their credit scores or impact their future driving privileges.

It is alleged that the acts that lead to such tickets are typically minor: one 12-year-old student received a ticket for shoving a friend, while a 16-year-old student was cited for truancy, and a 14-year-old student was caught with a vape pen. As many as thirty students have been summoned to Illinois courthouses on any given day. 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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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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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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Language barriers frequently arise in every day life. While apps and websites that provide quick translations to and from English and other languages are convenient, they are not suitable for all purposes. In a recent case heard in the United States District Court of the District of Kansas, U.S. v. Omar Cruz-Zamora, the court ruled that Google translate was insufficient for obtaining proper consent from a non-English speaking suspect prior to searching the suspect’s vehicle. The court held the language barriers between the suspect and arresting officers were not overcome by Google translate, and therefore the consent to search a vehicle was not given freely and intelligently and was invalid. As such, the search of the car was unconstitutional and the evidence against the suspect was suppressed. While the ruling in Omar Cruz-Zamora does not have precedential value in Illinois, it may be viewed as persuasive if the issue of adequate translation arises in Illinois DUI cases.

The suspect in Omar Cruz-Zamora was stopped for a traffic violation. Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution individuals are protected against unreasonable search and seizure. As such, since the officers did not have a warrant, they were required to make sure the suspect understood he could refuse to allow them to search the vehicle and obtain the suspect’s consent to search the vehicle.  The suspect spoke very limited English and could not understand the officers’ questions. The officers did not know they had access to a live human translator and used Google translate to advise the suspect of his rights and obtain his consent. The translations provided did not accurately communicate the information the officers were trying to convey and there was no evidence the suspect understood his right to refuse to allow his vehicle to be searched or the purposes for which his consent was requested. The suspect ultimately consented to the search, and upon searching the vehicle the officers found illicit drugs and arrested the suspect.

At the trial, the suspect testified he was confused as to what the officers were asking and did not know he had the right to refuse to allow them to search the vehicle. Translators called upon to assess the accuracy of Google translate testified it often provided a literal but nonsensical translation, and therefore was not a reliable translation tool. The suspect argued that any evidence obtained during the search was obtained without his consent and should be suppressed. Upon reviewing the evidence, the court found it was clear the suspect did not understand what the officers were asking when he consented to the search. Further, the court found the good-faith exception the exclusionary rule of evidence obtained via unlawful searches did not apply because it was unreasonable for the officers to rely on Google translate. As such, the court granted the suspect’s motion to suppress.

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The State of Illinois appealed from the lower court’s granting of three co-defendants’ motions to suppress contraband found following a dog sniff of their car. This fall, the Illinois Court of Appeals for the Second District held that the dog sniff violated the Fourth Amendment because the traffic stop was illegally prolonged. This case’s analysis of the Fourth Amendment is relevant to Illinois DUI law.

The three defendants were charged with armed violence, unlawful possession of heroin with the intent to deliver, and unlawful possession of heroin. The defendants moved to suppress the evidence seized from the car that defendant 1 drove and in which defendants 2 and 3 were passengers.

One afternoon in November 2015, an Illinois officer noticed a car with Minnesota license plates closely following a tractor-trailer. In addition, some of the car’s windows were tinted heavily. Thus, the officer effectuated a traffic stop.

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