Articles Posted in Traffic Violations

The moral and legal implications of traffic cameras are still hotly debated, but it seems Illinois residents may as well get accustomed to these robotic enforcement mechanisms. Illinois is one of only twelve states that permits the use of both speed and red light traffic cameras for ticketing purposes. Given the questionable nature of this practice, there are a multitude of Illinois regulations and policies regarding the use of traffic cameras currently in place. It may be necessary to seek legal advice in order to decipher the jargon surrounding the use of traffic cameras if you receive a ticket in the mail from the Illinois Department of Transportation.3066426344_d78da3f025

How Traffic Cameras are Used       

Traffic cameras are present on many major Illinois roads and highways including right here in Joliet and the greater Chicago area. The most common traffic cameras currently used are to enforce red lights. These cameras work by taking a snapshot of each vehicle’s license plate who is detected driving while the traffic light is red. Though in place for public safety and traffic law enforcement, these cameras have brought criticism from citizens around the state, as to both their efficiency in targeting actual violators and their infringement on the individual rights of Illinois’ commuters.

Did you know you can be charged with a misdemeanor and be required to go to court if you are pulled over for speeding? If you are going 26 miles over any posted speed limit, you have committed a crime under Illinois law. While it may sound like a silly, small law, it can have a major impact on your life and can even require jail time. If you are facing criminal speeding charges, it is important to hire an experienced criminal traffic defense attorney.

Illinois Law

It used to be that Illinois drivers faced misdemeanor charges if caught speeding more than 30 miles over the speed limit. Since 2014, however, that law was made more stringent, and 26 miles per hour over the speed limit is now the threshold for misdemeanor speeding charges to be brought. Section 11-601.5 states that a person driving 26-34 miles per hour above the speed limit commits a Class B misdemeanor and a person driving 35 miles per hour or more over the speed limit commits a Class A misdemeanor.

A Highland Park, Illinois girl pled guilty last week to reckless homicide and was found guilty by a judge for aggravated DUI in a 2012 case that injured three and left a 5-year-old girl dead. The teen faces up to five years imprisonment on the reckless homicide case, and up to 14 years imprisonment in the DUI case. The girl had been released from drug rehab two weeks prior to the accident.

Illinois Reckless Homicide

An individual commits reckless homicide in Illinois if she “unintentionally kills an individual while driving a vehicle.” If no vehicle was involved, the death would be considered involuntary manslaughter under Illinois law.

In this case, the defendant passed out while driving her car and hit the young girl before crashing into a car. When she woke up, she backed up – hitting the girl a second time – and then, in her groggy state, ran over the girl one final time. The defendant admitted to police on the scene that she caused the crash.

In all criminal cases, an experienced attorney will strive to gain an outright dismissal or a reduction of charges. In some cases, however, where it is clear that the defendant committed the crime – as in this case, where not only did she admit her actions to police on the scene, but also there were numerous eyewitnesses – entering a guilty plea was the best defense. Because the judge can grant probation in a reckless homicide case, entering a guilty plea may be the best chance at gaining leniency from the court in sentencing.

Illinois Aggravated DUI

As admitted by the defendant and her attorney, the defendant caused the crash, which seemed to be the result of her huffing from a computer air duster while driving. The defense argued that not all inhalants are listed as intoxicants under Illinois state law, and in fact the Illinois Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act does not prohibit the use of difluoroethane, or DFE, which was the substance found in the defendant’s system at the time of her arrest.

This is not the first time the issue of whether DFE is considered an intoxicant for purposes of a DUI charge has been at issue. In 2012, the Second District Court of Appeals in Wisconsin overturned a conviction on a similar DUI charge. The court agreed with the defense that DFE was not listed in the Wisconsin statutes as a prohibited intoxicant, and that the defendant could not be found to have been in violation of the state’s DUI laws. In that case, the defendant inhaled the substance from a computer air spray can, like the one the defendant used in this case.

It is unclear from this case why the judge convicted the defendant of aggravated DUI despite the fact that DFE is clearly not listed under Illinois law as a prohibited intoxicant. The only rationale is a seeming catch-all phrase in the statute, which includes as a prohibited substance “any other substance for the purpose of inducing a condition of intoxication.”

Since DFE is not specifically listed as a prohibited substance, despite being a primary chemical in air spray cans, the assumption should be that it is not an intoxicant. In this type of case (and there is no implication that the defense in this case did not do these things), an experienced attorney could turn to a team of medical experts to look for other reasons the defendant may have passed out while driving that were unrelated to the DFE in her system.

Regardless of whether the blackout was or was not caused by the DFE, an appeal should be submitted immediately. The judge had no basis for finding that DFE was an intoxicant based on the plain language of the statute, and precedent – even though from another state – supports overturning the conviction.    Continue reading

Abortion is legal in the state of Illinois. But as a Humboldt Park woman discovered in January of this year, if you unintentionally cause the death of an unborn child, you could go to prison.

The woman was making a U-Turn from West North Avenue when she crashed in to a pregnant woman riding a scooter. The woman was tossed from the scooter, and doctors were later unable to locate the fetus’ heartbeat. The driver was charged with one count of felony reckless homicide of an unborn child and one count of aggravated DUI causing bodily harm after a DUI kit showed she had marijuana in her system.

Reckless Homicide v. Involuntary Manslaughter of Unborn Child in Illinois.  crashed-car-1148745-m

In Illinois reckless homicide of an unborn child occurs when the driver of a motor vehicle recklessly causes the death of, or great bodily harm to, the mother, which results in the unborn child’s death. The charge applies whether the person’s actions were lawful or unlawful. Reckless homicide is a Class 3 felony, punishable by two to five years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.

If a motor vehicle is not involved, the charge is involuntary manslaughter.

Defense Against Illinois Reckless Homicide Charge

It is undeniably sad when an unborn child dies. However, even if you were involved in an accident that allegedly caused the death of that child, it does not automatically mean the death was your fault.

Like any vehicular case, David L. Freidberg will first look at the crime scene evidence and the police report. Experts may be able to disprove the prosecution’s claim that you caused the accident, or that it happened in the manner they claim. Experts will look at evidence such as eyewitness statements, video surveillance footage, skid marks, estimated speed and driving conditions in an attempt to reconstruct the accident to determine if your actions were reckless. They will also look at the actions of the other driver or pedestrian to determine if you even caused the accident.

Medical experts may also examine the mother’s medical history related to the pregnancy. Stillbirth, which is the in utero death of a fetus past 20 weeks gestation, occurs in 1 out of every 160 pregnancies; miscarriage, which is the spontaneous loss of a fetus prior to 20 weeks gestation, occurs in 10–25% of all pregnancies. It is therefore possible that the unborn child had died prior to the accident, and it was just discovered during the hospital’s examination of the mother following the accident. Examination of the mother’s medical records will show whether the mother had experienced any complications, or if the unborn child had any abnormalities, that could have resulted in an in utero death days or weeks prior to the accident.

If the unborn child died following the accident, medical experts would review the mother’s medical records looking for the same information. If an autopsy of the unborn child was performed, that may have evidence of an underlying condition that could have resulted in the child’s death, rather than the accident. The fact that an unborn child died near the time of the accident does not automatically mean the accident was the cause of death, and David L. Freidberg can help uncover other possible causes of death. Continue reading

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures. Yet it is the most frequently violated civil right, and on March 20th the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that yet another police officer violated that right by conducting an illegal search and seizure. If a police officer violated your Fourth Amendment rights, it may be possible to get evidence tossed out, or the charges completely dismissed. That is why following an arrest you should immediately meet with an experienced Chicago search and seizure attorney who can help determine whether the police exceeded their authority during the arrest.

Illinois Stop, Search and Seizure Law

Illinois law permits a police officer to stop any person he reasonably believes is about to commit, is in the process of committing, or has committed, a crime of any nature. You are not required to answer any questions the police may ask, nor are you required to show identification. The officer may also perform a limited search of the person for evidence of the suspected crime. These are known as Terry stops.

The Terry stop rules apply to vehicles as well, and the police are usually permitted to ask to see the driver’s license. But not every traffic stop allows the police to request the driver’s identification. And in People v. Cummings, the Illinois Supreme Court laid out another example of when requesting the driver’s identification becomes an unlawful search and seizure.

Search and Seizure During Illinois Traffic Stop

In People v. Cummings, a police officer driving behind Mr. Cummings suspected that the vehicle’s registration had expired. A quick computer check showed that the registration was valid. However, it also showed that the car’s registered owner – a female – had an outstanding warrant. The officer pulled the vehicle over and, upon approach, immediately realized that Mr. Cummings was male. The officer asked for Mr. Cummings’ identification anyway, at which point he discovered that Mr. Cummings had a suspended license. Cummings was later charged with a Class 4 felony.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the officer violated Mr. Cumming’s right against unlawful search and seizure. Pulling the car over was valid, since the computer check showed that the car’s registered owner had an outstanding warrant. However, the search also showed that the registered owner was a female. Once the police officer realized that the car’s driver was a male, the stop should have ended immediately.

By asking Mr. Cummings for his identification, when he had no reasonable suspicion to believe that Mr. Cummings had committed, or was in the process of committing, a crime, the officer violated Mr. Cummings’ Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure. The court stated that “unless a request for identification is related to the reason for the stop, it impermissibly extends the stop and violates the Constitution.”

In this case, the purpose of the stop was to arrest the car’s registered owner on the outstanding warrant. Requesting Mr. Cummings’ identification, when he clearly was not the car’s registered owner, extended the stop beyond what the Fourth Amendment allows. If the driver had been female, requesting identification would have been acceptable – the officer did not know what the car’s registered owner looked like, and thus would have needed identification to verify her identity.

Chicago Search and Seizure Attorney

The ruling in People v. Cummings is specific to the facts of the case, which makes it very important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you were arrested following any type of police stop. If the officer’s actions exceeded their Fourth Amendment authority, it is possible to have the evidence tossed out, which may result in the charges against you being dropped. Continue reading

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