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Oakbrook Terrace criminal defense attorney DUI

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs seriously endangers both the driver and other people on the road, and as such, it is treated as a serious offense under Illinois law. Depending on the circumstances, a first-time DUI offender may be fortunate to receive only a one-year driver’s license revocation and court supervision, but a misdemeanor conviction with fines and jail time is also possible. Additionally, certain aggravating factors can mean that even a first offense is charged as a felony. If you are facing charges of aggravated DUI, you need an attorney who can help you understand and protect your rights.

Illinois Aggravated DUI Offenses

In Illinois, a variety of actions can constitute an aggravated DUI offense, regardless of whether the offender has any prior DUI convictions. Some examples include:

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Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney marijuana DUI

Few substances have been the subject of as much confusion and controversy as cannabis. Some tout the drug as a useful medication while others see cannabis as a dangerous “gateway drug.” Adding to the general confusion about marijuana is the fact that, despite being fully legalized in 15 U.S. states, the drug is still classified as an illicit controlled substance under federal law. The recreational use of marijuana in Illinois became legal on January 1, 2020. However, the possession, sale, cultivation, and consumption of cannabis are still regulated by Illinois law. It is therefore possible to face serious criminal charges related to marijuana in Illinois.

Important Restrictions on Cannabis Use in Illinois

For a little over a year now, the recreational use of marijuana has been legal in Illinois. Individuals 21 years or older may purchase up to 30 grams of cannabis flower or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. However, it is unlawful to consume cannabis on school property or in government buildings, parks, public transportation, and where smoking is already banned under the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

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Oakbrook Terrace criminal defense attorney DUI

Drunk driving poses a severe danger in Illinois, accounting for more than 25 percent of all fatal car accidents and over 1,000 annual deaths. For this reason, the state treats driving under the influence (DUI) as a serious crime, especially for repeat offenders. If you have been arrested for DUI and you have a prior conviction on your record, you can face severe penalties. Therefore, it is more important than ever that you have a qualified criminal defense attorney who can help you protect your rights.

Penalties for Multiple DUI Convictions

In Illinois, a driver can be charged with DUI based on blood alcohol content (BAC) test results that show a BAC above 0.08 percent, or based on other evidence of the driver’s impairment. Penalties are relatively minor for a first DUI conviction, as long as no one was injured or killed and there was no passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time. A first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, which may result in imprisonment of up to one year and fines up to $2,500, along with a driver’s license revocation for one year.

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How to Get Your Illinois Driver’s License Reinstated After DUIDrunk or impaired driving is a serious criminal offense in Illinois that endangers both the driver and anyone else on or near the road. In the interest of public safety, one of the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) is the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license for a period of time. There are ways for arrested or convicted drivers to regain their driving privileges after completing their sentence, but in order for you to have your license reinstated, you must follow the necessary procedures under Illinois law.

Suspension Vs. Revocation in an Illinois DUI Arrest

If you are arrested for DUI in Illinois, you may have your license either suspended or revoked depending on the situation. Circumstances that lead to these consequences include:

  • Refusing to submit to a chemical test. If you are stopped under suspicion of DUI and refuse to submit to the officer’s blood alcohol content (BAC) or THC test, you can face a statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license for up to 12 months. This suspension is enforceable even if you are not ultimately convicted.
  • Testing above the legal limit. If you do not have a prior DUI conviction and you submit to the officer’s chemical test and are found to have a BAC above 0.08 or a THC blood level of over 5 nanograms per milliliter, you can face a summary suspension of your license for up to six months. Repeat offenses can result in longer suspensions.
  • Being convicted of DUI. If after a trial verdict or plea bargain you are found guilty of DUI and convicted, your license can be revoked for at least one year. The revocation period may be longer for repeat offenses or offenses with aggravating circumstances.

Completing the Reinstatement Process

The process of getting your license reinstated is different depending on whether it was suspended or revoked. For reinstatement after the conclusion of a summary suspension, you need only ensure that your license is not subject to any other suspensions or revocations and send a reinstatement fee of $250 to the office of the Illinois Secretary of State. This fee increases to $500 for repeat offenders.

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What Are DUI Checkpoints and How Does Illinois Use Them?Like most other states in the U.S., Illinois allows law enforcement agencies to set up DUI checkpoints, where officers can stop passing vehicles to look for signs that the driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Twelve states prohibit checkpoints, saying that they violate the drivers’ constitutional rights by stopping them without having to establish reasonable suspicion. Absent a change in Illinois’ law, you need to understand what a DUI checkpoint is and what your rights are when approaching one.

How Do DUI Checkpoints Work?

Normally, a police officer can stop a vehicle only if they have reasonable suspicion that the driver is violating the law or the driver shows signs of being a danger to him or herself or others. If an officer stopped a vehicle without a valid reason, any criminal evidence that they found would be inadmissible in the case. With a DUI checkpoint – sometimes called a sobriety checkpoint – officers set up a roadblock at a predetermined location and are allowed to stop any driver who passes through. DUI checkpoints are most common during times of the year such as holiday weekends when people are more likely to be drinking and traveling. Law enforcement departments will often publicize when they will have DUI checkpoints in order to discourage people from drunk driving.

What Are Your Rights?

If you are approaching a DUI checkpoint, it is important to remain calm. You have several rights you can exercise before you reach the point when police may arrest you for driving under the influence:

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What You Need to Know About Recreational Marijuana in IllinoisOn the first day of 2020, recreational marijuana will officially become legal in Illinois. While this is exciting news for some residents, it is important to know that the possession and use of marijuana will be heavily regulated. You cannot simply possess as much cannabis as you want or smoke it anywhere, though some of these violations will result in merely a fine. As with alcohol, it will still be illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana or to provide marijuana to someone under the age of 21. Here are the important facts you need to know before recreational marijuana becomes legal.

Possession

The amount of marijuana that you can possess will depend on its form, including:

  • No more than 30 grams in flower form
  • No more than 5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • No more than 500 milligrams of THC in cannabis-infused products

The possession limit for nonresidents of Illinois is half of these amounts. It is illegal for you to grow your own marijuana unless you are a medical marijuana user or a licensed grower. It will be illegal to possess marijuana in a school or any facility meant for childcare. Possessing marijuana in a vehicle, whether you are the driver or a passenger, will be a Class A misdemeanor unless it is sealed in a container. Finally, marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law, meaning you could be charged for possession if you are caught transporting marijuana across state lines or onto federal property.

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Should You Refuse a DUI Breath or Blood Test?Drivers who are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence often face a difficult decision when a police officer asks them to submit to chemical testing. Providing a breath or blood sample could give evidence that your blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit or that you have an illegal drug in your body. However, refusing the test will result in the suspension of your driver’s license and will not prevent prosecutors from charging you with DUI. Though there are consequences for refusal, preventing chemical testing could make it more difficult to prove that you are guilty of DUI.

Implied Consent

According to the implied consent law, Illinois drivers have already consented to chemical testing for DUI when they are driving or have actual physical control of a vehicle. If you refuse chemical testing, the police will notify the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, which will suspend your driver’s license for a year. In contrast, failing a DUI test results in a six-month license suspension, though a DUI conviction would come with worse consequences. A summary suspension is an administrative action that is separate from criminal charges. Your license can be suspended even if you are never charged with or convicted for DUI.

Rules for Chemical Testing

A court may dismiss the evidence from a chemical test if the officer did not follow the legal procedures:

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Protecting Your Rights During a Traffic StopWhen a police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop, a million thoughts may be racing through your head – and none of them are good. The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to remain calm. The officer needed to have reasonable suspicion that you violated a law in order to stop you, but that suspicion is likely limited to a traffic violation. The officer will need more evidence in order to have probable cause to arrest you. Your job during a traffic stop is to behave reasonably and not provide information that may be used against you if you are charged with a crime.

Answering Questions

Allow the police officer to do most of the talking during the stop. It is his or her responsibility to explain the reason for your stop and bring up any suspicions that he or she may have. During your interaction with the officer, you should:

  • Treat the officer with respect;
  • Talk only when the officer has asked you a direct question; and
  • Politely decline to answer any questions that may incriminate you.

Lying to a police officer could lead to additional criminal charges against you if the truth is discovered. You may raise greater suspicion by declining a question, and the officer may arrest you if he or she believes you committed a crime. However, refusing to answer a question is not an admission of guilt.

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