Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on stopping red-light cameras

This Chicago DUI attorney was frustrated today.  She was behind a truck that stopped at a green light.  No, there wasn’t anything in front of the truck that caused it to stop.  It was a stale green light at a River North intersection that has a red light camera.  Luckily, there was not an accident.  Thankfully, at least some are re-considering whether these cameras are a good idea.

 Cook County Commissioner Timothy Schneider believes he has seized the initiative to turn back a red-light-camera program with the legal finding that the county can't arbitrarily impose it on municipalities.
County Board President Todd Stroger and Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno, both Chicago Democrats, have pushed the program by insisting that the county could press the responsibility for maintaining an intersection on any municipality that rejected placing a red-light camera there. High maintenance costs would all but force local governments to accept the controversial cameras wherever the county wanted to place them. Both Stroger and Moreno said they had the legal backing of the Cook state's attorney's office on that opinion.
Yet Schneider received a letter earlier this month from Deputy State's Attorney Patrick Driscoll Jr., liaison to the county board, stating that "no such opinion exists."
Schneider hopes the legal opinion stops the proposed county-run red-light cameras in their tracks, though the issue could come up again before the county board as soon as Tuesday.
"The written opinion only restated what we already knew, what I thought to be the case, that it did require a joint decision between the county and the local municipality to either trade roads or give up any roadways," said the Bartlett Republican. "The fact of the matter is, they had no legs to stand on."
Schneider didn't accuse Stroger and Moreno of outright lying on the issue, but he did call it "a reckless decision they came to that had no basis in fact or law."
Anyone else think the red-light cameras are more of a cash cow than a safety net for people throughout the County?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on drinking for a long life

   This Chicago DUI attorney is baffled at the latest research suggesting that heavy drinkers live longer than teetotalers.

From time.com:
 One of the most contentious issues in the vast literature about alcohol consumption has been the consistent finding that those who don't drink actually tend to die sooner than those who do. The standard Alcoholics Anonymous explanation for this finding is that many of those who show up as abstainers in such research are actually former hard-core drunks who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking.
 But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren't entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one's risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers' mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.
But why would abstaining from alcohol lead to a shorter life? It's true that those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socioeconomic classes, since drinking can be expensive. And people of lower socioeconomic status have more life stressors — job and child-care worries that might not only keep them from the bottle but also cause stress-related illnesses over long periods. (They also don't get the stress-reducing benefits of a drink or two after work.)

But even after controlling for nearly all imaginable variables — socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, number of close friends, quality of social support and so on — the researchers (a six-member team led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin) found that over a 20-year period, mortality rates were highest for those who had never been drinkers, second-highest for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderate drinkers.
Somehow, I suspect MADD will have a field day with this one.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on the stress of the economic recession on crime

This Chicago DUI attorney knows that economic hardships abound.  Still she hates to see someone probably lose their job and face criminal charges, all stemming from the stress of an economic recession.

A 65-year-old store security guard was charged after he allegedly shot at a tow truck as its occupants were about to repossess the man's car, officials said.
 Ike D. Holmes, of the 2100 block of West 119 Street, was charged with felony aggravated discharge of a weapon, misdemeanor criminal damage to property, failing to register a fire arm and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, police said.
If you are having a hard time with your auto lender and need your car for work, please call your lender and try to work out some sort of peaceful arrangement for the arrears.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on yet another celeb's subsequent DUI

This Chicago DUI attorney recently posted here about a police officer who received awards from MADD being charged with a DUI, the DUI was subsequently dropped but he still faces serious criminal charges.

Earlier this week, across the pond, George Michael pled guilty to yet another DUI.  

Singer George Michael pleaded guilty in a British courtroom Tuesday to two drug offences related to a July incident in which he smashed his car into a London camera shop.
In a 15-minute appearance at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court, Michael admitted to driving under the influence of drugs and possessing cannabis at the time of the crash.
Judge Robin McPhee banned the hitmaker behind Faith and Father Figure from driving for six months, and sternly warned he could face a prison sentence.
"It is a serious matter. Your driving was extremely poor and there was an accident," McPhee said, adding that Michael has already had one conviction.
Three years ago, Michael was found slumped over the wheel of his car, which was blocking an intersection.

While the large number of celebrities, cops, politicians, and every day people from all walks of life charged with DUI continues to increase, she still believes it’s time to address the root causes of DUI.  Let’s start with your thoughts on these questions.

Why did this happen?  

What lessons can we learn from this DUI?  

How can we avoid this happening to others?  

What happened?

I always tell my clients I hope to never see them again.  I also share with them ways to avoid a subsequent DUI arrest.  I always tell them to share that information with their friends and family.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on paying the consequences of a DUI when the company isn't charged with a DUI

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted on Diamonds Gentleman’s Clubs Dram Shop DUI woes here and here.

You may recall that this Gentleman’s Club serves no alcohol.  It does serve cups, ice, and mixers for alcoholic beverages.  In this particular case, a patron was kicked out of the club and after being given the keys to his car was in a tragic accident that left others dead.  The families of the deceased sued.  They sued the driver, but of greater import they sued the club the driver was last at prior to the accident.

A lawsuit against a West Chicago strip club, filed after two men left the establishment and then got into a drunken driving crash that killed one of them along with a pregnant woman and her unborn child, has been settled for $1 million, court records show.
Diamond's Gentlemen's Club paid $800,000 to the husband of April Simmons. The 27-year-old woman was eight months pregnant when a vehicle driven by John Homatas ran head-on into her SUV on Illinois Route 25 near South Elgin in January 2006.

The rest of the settlement went to the family of John Chiariello, 25, of St. Charles, who was riding in Homatas' car. 

Homatas and Chiariello had gotten drunk at the club and were ejected by bouncers when Homatas was found vomiting in a bathroom, the suit alleged. Diamond's employees then put Homatas in his car, and he and Chiariello drove off, running into the Yorkville woman's car about 15 minutes later.

The club does not serve alcohol, but patrons are allowed to bring in liquor. Because of those circumstances, Diamond's argued that it was not responsible for Homatas' actions. But the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in March that the club bore some accountability for the accident.

Do you think this decision will be limited to clubs that don’t serve alcohol?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on the traffic jam that has not broken records

This Chicago DUI attorney admits that there can be an awful lot of bad news in Traffic Law, even when there is a small crime, but still this traffic jam is insane.

 After 10 days of bumper-to-bumper stop-and-start congestion, a 60-mile-long, 10,000-vehicle traffic jam on a major freeway west of Beijing has been broken up, Chinese traffic authorities said on Tuesday.
The state television network CCTV said traffic had returned to normal on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou freeway, which stretches from the capital’s northwest suburbs to inner Mongolia. But traffic authorities in Zhangjiakou, about 90 miles northwest of Beijing, said the road remained crowded and that a long line of trucks was waiting at the Mongolia border for permission to enter the highway.
News reports said some drivers were trapped in the jam for days, and roadside residents, weaving on bicycles amid the stalled vehicles, made a killing by selling them food.
“The sellers come offering to sell water at crazy prices, but if you said ‘no’ or complained about the price they threaten to break your shields,” one drivertold The Telegraph.
 Thank goodness we live in America, so much for complaining about the traffic jams on the expressways here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on DUI charges being dismissed in fatal accident

This Chicago DUI attorney posted here about the Indiana former Top DUI cop being charged with a DUI in a tragic fatal accident.  She can admit to being surprised that the charges have now been dismissed against this police officer.

Why were DUI charges brought against him and then dropped?
State law requires a blood test of drivers involved in every accident involving a serious injury. Bisard took the test about two hours after the crash, a period that police and lawyers said is normal after an accident.
According to an IMPD report, investigators went to Methodist Occupational Health Facility, 1001 S. Eastern Ave., where Bisard was being treated for minor injuries to his arms and to the top of his head, to get a blood draw about 1 p.m. When that sample was later tested, the reading was 0.19. Under Indiana law, a motorist is legally drunk at 0.08.
Police officers who had been at the scene of the accident and in close proximity to Bisard said they had not smelled alcohol on him, nor did he seem drunk. Experts said it would have taken 10 drinks or more to reach a 0.19 level.
Based on the blood test, Bisard was charged with multiple felony counts of DUI and DUI resulting in a death. He was roundly condemned and faced significant prison time. 
But then the charges were suddenly dropped. Prosecutors had learned that the lab tech who drew Bisard's blood sample was not certified under Indiana's DUI laws to do such work for a criminal case. Therefore the test results would almost certainly be inadmissible in court.

It may very well be that the blood draw was faulty.  I doubt that Bisard’s colleagues would have let him respond to an emergency siren if they smelled alcohol or thought he was acting drunk.  Bisard still faces charges of reckless homicide.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on another innocent exonerated

This Chicago DUI driver has posted here and here about auto accidents.

She continues to believe that sometimes horrible things happen and it is just an accident.

 A judge ordered Thursday that Koua Fong Lee, the St. Paul man convicted of criminal vehicular homicide for a 2006 crash that killed three people, be released from prison and granted a new trial.
Less than an hour after the judge's ruling, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner announced that she won't seek a new trial, ending Lee's four-year legal odyssey.
Lee, 32, was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide after the crash, in which he hit three other cars stopped at a red light. The crash killed three people, and Lee had been serving an eight-year prison sentence.
Lee has always maintained that he tried to brake, but that his 1996 Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated, ramming into the stopped cars.
Millions of newer Toyotas have been recalled this year because of sudden acceleration problems. Lee's attorneys have argued that Lee's car had a similar problem, even though Camrys from that year weren't a part of the recent recalls.
Judge Joanne Smith cited several reasons for her decision to grant a new trial, including new information that was uncovered since the original trial. Smith cited the testimony of 11 drivers who reported unintended acceleration, and said that the prosecution's expert was mistaken about whether or not Lee's car had an anti-lock braking system.
 Do you really want to criminalize accidents?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney says you can't drive the day you win your Statutory Summary Suspension hearing

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here about Statutory Summary Suspensions.
A Statutory Summary Suspension is tied specifically to a DUI arrest in Illinois.  There are license suspensions, based solely on the DUI arrest, for those charged.  It doesn’t matter if you submit to chemical testing or not.  By law, your license will be suspended for at least six months (there are a bunch of conditions on that) and the length of suspension goes up from there. 

So what do you do about that suspension?
1)     You hire a knowledgeable DUI attorney who can best protect your driving privileges while the criminal case is pending.
2)     You have 90 days from the date of the DUI arrest to file what’s known as a Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension.
3)     You have a right to a hearing on the Statutory Summary Suspension within 30 days of filing the Petition to Rescind.
4)     When you win your Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension, you still can’t drive.

That’s right, even once you win a Petition to Rescind you cannot immediately start driving.  You can’t drive until the Secretary of State lifts the Statutory Summary Suspension and just like everything else that goes through a bureaucratic process that can take time.  In the meantime, even though you’ve won the legal right to your driving privileges please don’t drive until the Secretary of State has provided you with clearance to do so.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on the debacle at City Hall over the issuance of traffic and parking tickets

This Chicago DUI attorney posted here about the decrease in parking and traffic violations being issued.  Looks like someone didn’t do a good job of protecting their source because today, the Chair of the Department of Revenue is the fall guy for issuing such a memo noting the decrease.

August 18, Chicago, IL:
Mayor Daley suspended his revenue director Tuesday over a memo to the police department warning that ticket writing is down — calling it “stupid.”
Revenue Director Bea Reyna-Hickey was suspended for a day over the Aug. 10 memo that told police the city “will witness a dramatic decrease in annual revenues and not meet 2010 targets” if a slump in parking tickets and vehicle-compliance tickets continues.
“Stupidity. It was stupid. Just stupid. Some bureaucrat sent that out,” Daley said at an unrelated news conference. “The revenue department has nothing to do with the police department, period. They [officers] will determine whether you violated a law. No one else can. Especially revenue can’t.”
Well sort of, the officers will determine whether a violation is alleged by issuing a charging document, generally a ticket.  It’s a judge or jury, assuming you plea not guilty who decides if you violated the law.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on the City indicating not enough tickets are being written

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here about the decrease in crime.  Still she is deeply troubled by the latest news that the police aren’t issuing enough tickets according to the city.

The Aug. 10 memo, which doesn't explicitly ask police to boost tickets, tells district commanders and other supervisors that police ticket-writing dropped nearly 25 percent in July compared to the same month in 2009. It lists the five districts with the least and most tickets.
 A top police official, speaking anonymously, said the department doesn't instruct officers to write additional tickets based on city budget concerns. District lieutenants and sergeants said they don't know of any directives to write more tickets.
The memo said the department issued about 850,000 tickets in July 2009 and only about 642,000 this July.
The Revenue Department warning about lagging ticket-writing comes at a time when the city is scrounging for every available dollar to erase a record $654.7 million budget shortfall. Earlier this month, Fitch Ratings downgraded Chicago's bond rating, citing the worst shortfall in the city's history and Mayor Daley's "accelerated use of reserves to balance operations." Daley said he expected the move.
 Why is this disturbing?  It suggests that car owners need to pick up more of the burden of the City’ budget, not through the already notorious permit parking or even City Stickers but through payment of parking and traffic tickets issued to them.  Unfortunately, this suggests that tickets are being issued out of economic need, not actual violations.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on undocumented immigrants and the dilemma over driver's licenses

This Chicago DUI attorney still wonders when Illinois, and the majority of the other states, are going to permit driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.  In Illinois, you don’t have to be a citizen to get a driver’s license but you do have to have documented immigrant status, e.g. permanent resident status or even student visa, etc.
Prior to the creation of Homeland Security many states did permit immigrants to get valid driver’s license.  It made a huge difference in their lives, but it makes a large difference in our lives as well.  The bottom line is valid license or not they are going to be driving on our roads, it makes far greater sense to let them be compliant with our laws by providing them the opportunity to obtain valid driver’s licenses.

From the Olympian.com:
Carlos Hernandez packed up his family and left Arizona after the state passed its sweeping immigration crackdown. The illegal immigrant's new home in Burien offered something Arizona did not: a driver's license.
Three states – Washington, New Mexico and Utah – allow illegal immigrants to get licenses because their laws do not require proof of citizenship or legal residency. An Associated Press analysis found that those states have seen a surge in immigrants seeking IDs in recent months, a trend experts attribute to crackdowns on illegal immigration in Arizona and elsewhere.

“It’s difficult being undocumented and not having an identification,” said Hernandez, of Puebla, Mexico. “You can use the Mexican ID, but people look down on it.” An American driver’s license is also a requirement for many jobs.
 Washington granted 3,200 licenses to people from outside the U.S. through June, exceeding the pace of 5,992 for all of 2009.
• New Mexico issued 10,257 licenses to immigrants in the first six months of 2010, compared with 13,481 for all of 2009. The pace has intensified since April, when neighboring Arizona passed its immigration law. The figures include both illegal and legal immigrants.
• Utah handed out 41,000 illegal immigrant licenses for 2010 through June 7, compared with 43,429 for all of 2008.
Did you know that auto insurance will not cover a driver without a valid driver’s license, even if the driver has paid the insurance premium?  Do you want to be involved in an accident where the person’s insurance refuses to cover the damages, even if they admit fault, because while they paid each month’s premium they couldn’t get a valid driver’s license.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on the privilege of a driver's license

This Chicago DUI attorney knows the importance of a valid driver's license.  It serves as everything from  acceptable photo I.D.; to allowing one to get a job; to of course enjoying the beauty of this vast country by hitting the road when we feel like it.  

The other day her husband couldn't find his driver's license.  She tells him to hustle down to the satellite office of the Secretary of State and make sure he has his Social Security Card, Passport, our marriage license, and a current utility bill in his name.  As much as a hassle as gathering all of these forms of identification can be to get a duplicate license in Illinois, it's nothing compared to having to take the road test.

From nytimes.com:

ONLY three times in my life have I been so scared that I trembled — legs quivering, hands jittering, heart out of control. The first was at 12, when I watched “The Exorcist” before I should have. The second was at 41, when, on the kind of dare to which middle-aged men seem peculiarly vulnerable, I got into a canvas harness and prepared to jump some 250 feet into a gorge in Zambia.
The third was a few months ago, on Staten Island, when I was asked by an examiner for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to pull out of a parking spot and drive toward a nearby stoplight.
This is a cautionary tale. Like too many harried New Yorkers without cars or much cause to use them, I let my driver’s license expire — in October 2006. Then, in an unlucky development the next May, I was pick-pocketed. The double whammy of an expired license that I could not physically produce meant I could no longer right the situation with a written exam and a vision check. I was effectively 16 again, on the hook for a five-hour class and the dreaded road test, which I came to fear I’d never reach, given the labyrinth of civil-service incompetence, bureaucratic nonsense and simple misfortune I had tumbled into. Kafka could have had a field day with me.
Granted, the stakes weren’t so high. Many people don’t drive, and on most days, not having a license hardly inconvenienced me. But there were vacations and work assignments that required rental cars — and travel companions fed up with my inability to share the burden.
One friend, after 20 hours on the back roads of Italy — him stuck behind the wheel, me barking out directions and haranguing about missed turns — started calling me Miss Daisy. Another, frazzled by driving on the left side through Scotland, begged me to step in, but I had conditions.
“If we get into an accident and neither of us is too injured to move,” I told her, “we quickly bolt out of the car and change seats before the police come.”
“Deal,” she said. “I even authorize you to move me to the driver’s seat if you’re ambulatory but I’m not.”
I also cheated on visits to my brother’s family in Southern California, continuing a longstanding tradition of piling his four kids into a car for an afternoon of fun without Mom and Dad.
I was petrified all the way to the multiplex that I’d somehow attract the attentions of a police officer, be stopped and berated and maybe even arrested in front of the children. I could only imagine the therapy bills. For me and them both.
“Why are you driving so slow, Uncle Frank?” my nephew, Harrison, then 7, asked.
“I’m not,” I lied. “Other adults just drive much, much too fast.” Then I hit the brakes, stopping at a light that I merely suspected was about to turn yellow.
Many people can relate to the fear of driving without a valid license.  The fear of taking the road test and coming into compliance is often enough to just ward some people away from the DMV.  Then there are the hosts of other issues like borrowing a car to take the test if you don't already own the car and unfortunately, because the individual can't read (don't be alarmed there is a test for folks who can't read, but you have to admit to the examiner that you can't read in order to get it).  Still, this fear is just a reminder that at some level, most of us realize that we don't have a right to drive without a valid driver's license.
 For what it's worth, my husband didn't have to go to the satellite office of the Secretary of State to get a license, we found it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on MADD eating its own

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here, here, and here about cops being charged with DUI’s.  Still, she feels bad for this alleged offender:

 David Bisard, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer charged with drunken driving and killing a motorcyclist, was once one of the area's most productive cops at nailing drunk drivers.
 As a member of the Noblesville Police Department in the late 1990s, Bisard received awards two years in a row from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and won commendations four years in a row.
 Now MADD has little sympathy for its former hero.
 "An offender is an offender, and we hope he gets treated like anyone else caught driving drunk," said a MADD national spokeswoman, Dorene Englert.
As Bisard made his first appearance in court on seven felony charges Thursday, two sides emerged. One, a sobbing, inebriated patrolman -- in shock and panicked -- at the scene of a deadly accident.
 The other, described by acquaintances and outlined in police records, was of an aggressive but level-headed, fearless and productive officer who lived cleanly in high school and never showed a hint of alcohol use professionally.
Life in the canine unit suited his personality perfectly, they said.
"Those guys chase violent felons around all day," said Bill Owensby, the Fraternal Order of Police president who served in the unit for nine years and knows Bisard. "You have to be in top shape, you can't be slacking, and you have to love hunting humans."
Bisard received several awards from the department, including a medal of valor for killing a bank robbery suspect who had ambushed him with an AK-47 in April. He has recorded more than 800 arrests in nine years with IMPD, according to records.
 Before joining IMPD, Bisard was one of the most efficient members of the Noblesville police, racking up 52 drunken-driving arrests from 1996 through 2001, said spokesman Lt. Bruce Barnes.
 An “offender, is an offender” just doesn’t cut it when you are talking about a decorated officer.  Why did this happen?  What lessons can we learn from this tragedy?  How can we avoid this happening to others in law enforcement?  What happened?  This is not to belittle the loss of life, but seriously sound bites don’t fit all occasions.  MADD dropped the ball on this one.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on losing your car

This Chicago DUI attorney wants to remind you of yet another consequence of a DUI arrest.  The police can, and usually will, impound your vehicle.  The starting fees to get your vehicle back, once you or the owner has shown proof of valid insurance, is approximately $700.  That fee does not include daily storage fees if you are unable to retrieve the vehicle.

  (e) Whenever a peace officer reasonably believes that a person under arrest for a violation of Section 11-501 of this Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance is likely, upon release, to commit a subsequent violation of Section 11-501, or a similar provision of a local ordinance, the arresting officer shall have the vehicle which the person was operating at the time of the arrest impounded for a period of not more than 12 hours after the time of arrest. However, such vehicle may be released by the arresting law enforcement agency prior to the end of the impoundment period if:
        (1) the vehicle was not owned by the person under
     arrest, and the lawful owner requesting such release possesses a valid operator's license, proof of ownership, and would not, as determined by the arresting law enforcement agency, indicate a lack of ability to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner, or who would otherwise, by operating such motor vehicle, be in violation of this Code; or
        (2) the vehicle is owned by the person under arrest,
     and the person under arrest gives permission to another person to operate such vehicle, provided however, that the other person possesses a valid operator's license and would not, as determined by the arresting law enforcement agency, indicate a lack of ability to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner or who would otherwise, by operating such motor vehicle, be in violation of this Code.
    (e-5) Whenever a registered owner of a vehicle is taken into custody for operating the vehicle in violation of Section 11-501 of this Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance or Section 6-303 of this Code, a law enforcement officer may have the vehicle immediately impounded for a period not less than:
        (1) 24 hours for a second violation of Section 11-501
     of this Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance or Section 6-303 of this Code or a combination of these offenses; or
        (2) 48 hours for a third violation of Section 11-501
     of this Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance or Section 6-303 of this Code or a combination of these offenses.
    The vehicle may be released sooner if the vehicle is owned by the person under arrest and the person under arrest gives permission to another person to operate the vehicle and that other person possesses a valid operator's license and would not, as determined by the arresting law enforcement agency, indicate a lack of ability to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner or would otherwise, by operating the motor vehicle, be in violation of this Code.
 Unfortunately, in these economic times, many people are unable to retrieve their vehicles after a DUI arrest.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney knows the Constitution is a working document to protect the rights of people

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here, here, and here about wrongful arrests.

Today, she admits she didn’t feel like reminding people that an arrest doesn’t mean a person is guilty.  While that maybe true in other countries, that is not how we view democracy.

 Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
When’s the last time you thought about what these Amendments mean? 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney provides free legal advice on how to avoid meeting her

This Chicago DUI attorney wants to help you avoid meeting her. 
The number one thing you can do to avoid meeting her is to never drink a sip of alcohol and then drive a vehicle.  You don’t ever want to become the subject of the news like this do you?
Is there ever a time when a sentence of probation in a case involving a fatal DUI accident is appropriate?
I would say no.
The civil case already has been settled, with Penachio's insurance company paying $1.2 million to Baker's survivors, and Penachio himself setting up a $60,000 college fund for Baker's young daughter.
But the criminal case has languished, leading Baker's parents, Derrick and Calmette Baker, to believe that Penachio -- who has been out on a $300,000 bond -- and his lawyers have intentionally stalled these proceedings in the hope that public outrage would diminish over time.
Whatever happens to the defendant in this case won’t bring back the young woman who died tragically.  The million dollars paid out to her daughter won’t make a difference in that child’s life the way having her mother with her could.  Seriously, many of us make mistakes of judgment that have consequences far greater than we could ever imagine.  This is one area where you can control your life, and avoid meeting me; just don’t consume alcohol if you are going to drive.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on citizens' arrests and social media

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here about Big Brother. 

Here is another use of Facebook being used to "solve crimes.

From the nytimes.com:

This city is famous for its snarled traffic and infamous for its unruly drivers — aggressive rule-breakers who barrel through red lights, ignore crosswalks and veer into bicycle or bus lanes to find open routes.
 Now, the city’s overburdened traffic police officers have enlisted an unexpected weapon in the fight against dangerous driving: Facebook.
The traffic police started a Facebook page two months ago, and almost immediately residents became digital informants, posting photos of their fellow drivers violating traffic laws. As of Sunday more than 17,000 people had become fans of the page and posted almost 3,000 photographs and dozens of videos.
The online rap sheet was impressive. There are photos of people on motorcycles without helmets, cars stopped in crosswalks, drivers on cellphones, drivers in the middle of illegal turns and improperly parked vehicles.
Using the pictures, the Delhi Traffic Police have issued 665 tickets, using the license plate numbers shown in the photos to track vehicle owners, said the city’s joint commissioner of traffic, Satyendra Garg.
Despite some concerns about privacy, and the authenticity of the photos, the public’s response has been overwhelmingly positive, he said.
Is there any doubt that there will be an increase in citizens’ arrests here using the same technology?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on the lack of eye tricks when there is a video

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here on the significance of video recording in DUI arrests.

Here’s one more reason why you can’t always take the government’s witness at his word.

 Video of a DUI suspect appears to contradict the claims of the arresting officer, who is now under investigation for allegedly exaggerating his written reports in at least two incidents.
The video shows she passed parts of the field sobriety test that Officer Mullock claimed she failed. The officer wrote she missed the letters "K," "L," and "M," but the video shows she recited the letters perfectly.

Officer Mullock claimed she missed the number 85 when he asked her to count back from 100. The video shows her clearly saying "85," and Mullock even said, "Okay, great," when she counted back to 80.
"It's just funny, because when you watch the video and look at the report, they don't match up," the driver said.
The video also shows the driver never took some tests Officer Mullock said she failed.
The Sacramento County District Attorney is now reviewing every case in which Officer Mullock was a reporting witness.
Mullock has been on paid administrative leave since January due to an off-duty incident.

Yes.  This does sound an awful lot like a Chicago case.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney answers the simple question about what number gets you charged with a DUI

Earlier this week, this Chicago DUI attorney was the featured guest on the Cook County Bar Association’s call-in show.  There were lots of great questions that didn’t get answered.  Here’s one of them.

How high must an individual’s blood alcohol concentration level be for him/her to be arrested for a DUI?
This is a great question.  It has a down and dirty easy answer, but then it gets complicated.

Easy-off-the cuff-answer:  In Illinois a person is deemed over the legal limit (for purposes of a DUI) if there Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is over 0.08.

Unfortunately, you can be arrested for a DUI in any of the following scenarios as well:
1)     There is no Blood Alcohol Concentration result because there is no testing.
2)      The BAC is well under 0.08.
3)     The BAC is 0.00.

In Illinois, even if you submit to chemical testing and the result is under the legal limit of 0.08 you can be charged with a DUI. 

Additionally, you can be charged with a DUI for any amount of cannabis/marijuana in your system, or a combination of alcohol and cannabis/marijuana, or any intoxicating compound (this could very well be doctor prescribed medications).

So now you can understand why the answer to a direct question isn’t quite so simple.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on deportation, undocumented status, and DUI

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here about immigration issues and DUI. 
Still, the shrill cries for deportation of an undocumented person accused of DUI and the resulting death of a nun shouldn’t derail our justice system.
 Proponents of tougher immigration enforcement have seized on the case of a Bolivian man charged with killing a nun and critically injuring two others while driving drunk as a symbol of a badly broken immigration system.
Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano, 23, who entered the United States illegally at age 8 with his parents and sister, has been awaiting a deportation hearing after two convictions for drunken driving in 2007 and 2008. His case has been postponed three times -- and it is one of about 243,000 cases that are clogging immigration courts, according tostatistics compiled by Syracuse University.
Because of the backlog, it takes 15 months to conclude the average case. Martinelly-Montano's has dragged on for nearly two years.
immigrant advocates and groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have said that this is a case about drunken driving, not illegal immigration. The nuns' order, the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, has asked that the crash not be politicized.

But Martinelly-Montano has become Exhibit A in calls to stiffen immigration enforcement since his car swerved Sunday into the path of a vehicle carryingthree nuns who were on their way to a retreat in Prince William County. He told police he didn't remember the crash, according to the arrest warrant. Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said he intends to ask a grand jury to return a second-degree murder indictment next month.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on the guilty plea from a judge

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted about judges with DUI offenses here, here, and here.  Today, another judge joins the ranks of being the accused.

A DuPage County judge charged in a hit-and-run crash with a parked car pleaded guilty to reckless driving today while making his first court appearance.
After his guilty plea to the misdemeanor offense, Judge Kenneth Popejoy was fined $500 and sentenced to six months of conditional discharge, a type of non-reporting probation.
Popejoy declined to comment directly after the court appearance, but said in a written statement that he accepts “full and complete responsibility for my actions.’’
“I deeply regret my conduct in this matter and intend to rededicate myself to the principles and values in my life that have brought me so many blessings,’’ his statement said.
He declined to comment further because of a pending review of the crash by the state’s Judicial Inquiry Board, which has the power to discipline judges for their conduct.
Unlike many who are accused of criminal misdemeanors, the judge didn’t lose his job.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on cell phone traps

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here about distracted driving.

Apparently, the big news today is where to avoid getting caught breaking the law.

August 2, Chicago, Il
Drivers in Chicago are most likely to get ticketed for driving while talking on a cell phone if they do it downtown or on the Near North Side.
That's according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of tickets issued during the first half of this year.
Particular hot spots in those areas include stretches of Ontario, Ohio and State streets, the analysis found.

Other parts of the city where you're more likely than in most places to get a ticket for cell phone use while driving:
• The South Side's 21st Police District, which includes Hyde Park and Kenwood.
• And on the Northwest Side, the 17th District, including Sauganash and Albany Park.
Chicago neighborhoods where drivers are issued the fewest cell phone tickets? Those were mostly in high-crime areas like Englewood, where police officers say they tend to have their hands full with other crimes.
Overall, the number of tickets written for driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone since the city's ban was enacted in 2005 is on the rise. There was a dip in 2008, when the city revised its ban, to let driver's keep their licenses and pay their fine by mail and not have to go to court if they weren't cited for any traffic violation beside cell phone use.
But will handing out cell phone tickets put a dent in the number of drivers who use cell phones while driving?

Getting a ticket in Lake View last January had an impact on Scarlett Wallen. Wallen, 42, said she always uses a headset now.
"It made me more careful because I don't want to get another ticket," she said. "It wasn't cheap."
Since she got the ticket, she said, "I've told my friends to be more careful."
No one needs to remind you that you will get ticketed if you don’t have a headset on while driving and using your cell right?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on the end of the sticky situation with city stickers

This Chicago DUI attorney posted here about faulty city stickers.  City sticker enforcement starts today.  It’s not an inexpensive ticket.

August 1, Chicago, Il

Is your 2010-2011 city of Chicago vehicle sticker displayed on your car? It had better be, because starting Sunday vehicles that don't have a current sticker will be ticketed.
The traditional grace period to July 15 was extended an extra two weeks this year to allow for the replacement of stickers that had faulty adhesive.
Even if motorists who haven't yet applied the new stickers to their windshields somehow elude a ticket, they will still be subject to a late fee of $40 if they wait until Sunday or later to purchase their sticker. The price of the ticket for not having a sticker displayed is $120, according to the city clerk's office. The cost of a vehicle sticker is $75.
The City did a great job of replacing the stickers, even if you didn’t have your defective one on hand.  If you did get a replacement sticker, make sure you’ve removed the defective one and placed the new one on your vehicle.