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sign and drive, Illinois Law, Lake County criminal defense lawyerIf you are like most Illinois residents, your driver’s license is your primary form of identification. You have probably been asked to present it while cashing a check, seeking medical care, or purchasing a bottle of wine. Up until recently, however, certain traffic offenses in Illinois could require you to post your license as a bond, ensuring you would comply with the directives of the citation. Fortunately, state lawmakers recognized the inherent problem with that system and spent much of the last two years working to change it. On January 1, 2015, the change became reality as the new “sign and drive” law took effect.

Sign and Drive Legislation

The measure was introduced before the Illinois Senate by Senator Michael Noland, D-Elgin, back in May of 2013. Noland sponsored the bill as an acknowledgement that confiscating a person’s license as bond, rather than as an administrative penalty for wrongdoing created undue hardship for that person. Being found guilty of an offense, such as DUI or failing to comply with court procedures, should certainly have consequences, which may include suspended driving privileges, lawmakers contended. However, “with this bill,” Senator Noland said, “Illinois drivers will be able to keep their driver’s license which is used as a primary form of identification for receiving services related to banking, travel, education, and more.”


According to the Innocence Project, “more than half of DNA exonerations involve faulty forensic evidence from crime labs and unreliable methods such as bite-mark analysis.”

Because of these high statistics, the US Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced the first ever national commission on forensic science. This 37 member commission will include forensics practitioners, scientists, lawyers and members of law enforcement. The commission’s goal is to offer guidelines on training standards and standards in certification as required by law. The group met for the first time last week.

The NIST will also be establishing a second commission, which is being referred to as a “forensic-science standards board.” This group will offer recommendations on which standards should be set for criminal laboratories. Over the past few years, several studies which have been done on forensic practices in this country have produced critical results. In 2009, the National Research Council (NRC) announced its findings on forensic methods, concluding that almost every analytical testing technique was unreliable and contained too many variables. The study said the only reliable testing technique was DNA evidence. The goal is to create standards that will be followed by federal, state and local laboratories. Currently, there are too many differences each organization’s “standard testing” procedures, even in DNA testing. Other test reliabilities have also been questioned in past studies. In 2003, the NRC found that polygraph tests are too unreliable, but, a decade later, many law enforcement agencies still rely on those tests. Another study done in 2011 revealed that one in every 1,000 fingerprints was incorrectly matched and actual matches were missed in almost 10 percent of the examinations. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you need to contact an experienced Cook County criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights in the courtroom are protected.

In 1993, Juan Rivera was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder and served 19 years before finally being freed. The court found that coercive interrogation methods used under the authority of former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge led to the conviction. Now, a new state law hopes to put an end to wrongful criminal convictions in Illinois.

Illinois SB1006 requires that recordings be taken of interrogations as part of certain violent crime investigations. Any statements made by a suspect in cases covered under the law will be ruled inadmissible in court unless the interrogation is recorded via audio or video. The new requirements will be phased in over the next three years, according to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange as follows:

  • June 1, 2014 – Aggravated arson and predatory criminal sexual assault of a child
  • June 1, 2015 – Aggravated vehicular hijacking, home invasion, and aggravated kidnapping
  • June 1, 2016 – Aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and armed robbery.

The law is designed to offer some clarity in cases where police and suspects must recount their interrogation experiences in front of a jury. The new law will make it much more difficult for suspects to claim they were coerced, and police will be prevented from using overly-aggressive interrogation methods that may lead to a false confession. Overall, this new law provides for accountability on both sides of the table, and many lawmakers consider it to be a win-win step for both defendants and law enforcement officials.

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