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Posted on in DUI

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Waukegan DUI Defense Lawyer Matthew R. Gebhardt examines the offense of DUI and its penalties under the laws of the State of Illinois.         

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ignition interlock, summary suspension, Lake County criminal defense attorneyDrunk driving may, in some ways, be a relic of the past—it is not common for a person to get behind the wheel of car when he or she has been drinking and to not recognize that what he or she is doing is illegal and dangerous. Awareness about the danger and irresponsibility of drunk driving has steadily increased since the early 1990s when states began to launch serious campaigns to deter drunk drivers and police forces around the country cracked down on drunk driving offenses. Yet the problem has not, to any real extent, been eradicated, and in fact, numbers tend to fluctuate from year to year. In 2012, for example, there was a significant increase in the number of fatalities resulting from drunk driving, that after 2011 when the death toll fell below 10,000 for the first time.

That year saw a 3.3 percent increase in fatalities, causing some activists to call for ignition interlock devices to be installed in the car of every convicted drunk driver across the country. In Illinois, a person convicted of drunk driving may apply, during the period of statutory summary suspension of his or her driving privileges, for driving relief, and choose to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in his or her vehicle. If a person convicted of drunk driving chooses to have the BAIID installed in his vehicle during that period of license suspension, there are no other stipulations regarding his driving rights—he is allowed to travel, even interstate, providing that the BAIID is installed.

Not all convicted drunk drivers are required to install the BAIID, however. A person may opt to adhere to the mandatory suspension period. Yet if the person is then caught driving the vehicle, whether or not he has been drinking, he is guilty of a Class 4 felony. Punishment, if you are a convicted drunk driver and caught driving without an ignition interlock device during the license suspension period, includes possible imprisonment of 1–3 years, a minimum of 30 days in jail or 300 hours of community service, and fines as high as $25,000.

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Posted on in Traffic Law

traffic ticket, quota, Northbrook Criminal Defense AttorneyA new law recently signed by governor will go into effect in Illinois January 1, 2015. The new law bans police departments from issuing traffic ticket quotas to officers. It also prohibits departments from including the number of tickets an officer writes when it comes time to determine raises or promotions. The law applies to all state, county and municipal law enforcement officers.

In statements, both the governor and several lawmakers who favored the bill, pointed out that police having traffic ticket quotas often erodes the public trust and that eliminating the quotas will not only restore that trust, but allow police officers to focus on their job of protecting the public.

In his statement, Governor Quinn said, “Law enforcement officers should have discretion on when and where to issue traffic citations and not be forced to issue traffic tickets to motorists to satisfy a quota system. This new law will improve safety and working conditions for police officers and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle.”

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Thomas M. Hackney, a 40-year-old U.S. Postal Service worker “was charged with drunken driving after he crashed a mail truck while on duty and injured himself” in early July, according to the Chicago Tribune. The postman was charged with a misdemeanor for DUI, police told the Tribune, and was taken by the fire department from the scene of the crash to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital in Cook County. According to the Tribune, Hackney told police that, “another vehicle turned in front of him, causing him to swerve and the ‘next thing he knew he was at a hospital.’”

When questioned by police at the hospital regarding the crash, Hackney could not remember which road he was traveling on. He told police that the reason he smelled of alcohol and had glassy, bloodshot eyes was because he had had a “bit” to drink the night before, but when tested, his blood alcohol level proved to be more than two times the legal limit. Hackney didn’t remember whether he had dropped to mail off downtown or if he was doing pickups at the time of the crash. He will appear in court in August.

According to BrightHub, while it’s not always guaranteed (and in some cases contestable) that a person would lose his job because he was slapped with a DUI, in Hackney’s case his position will likely be up for review. “If driving a company vehicle is your main responsibility,” reports BrightHub, “driving under the influence of alcohol will automatically disqualify you for the job.” Additionally, government jobs, such as those provided by the U.S. Postal Service, tend to be less lenient on personal offenses. In New Hampshire, the Nashua Telegraph reports that “police officers, firefighters, or other public employees arrested for driving while intoxicated often endure the glare of publicity on top of everything else, and a conviction can hit them harder than the average Joe.”

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