Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

There are a number of DUI and traffic-related proposals currently pending in the 2018 Illinois legislature. These are a few highlights of those bills, which deserve close attention:

Traffic Ticket Fine Waiver Program

Fines, fees and costs for minor traffic offenses could be excused for a defendant who is unable to pay. Upon application, the court may convert all of the obligation to community service or partially excuse payment without condition.

In addition to losing driving privileges and facing potential jail time, DUI offenders in Illinois may also have their vehicle seized through a procedure known as civil forfeiture.

Under Illinois law (see 720 ILCS 5/36-1), any vehicle may be seized and impounded by a law enforcement agency if the vehicle was driven by someone who was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and/or an intoxicating compound(s), with the knowledge and consent of the owner of the vehicle, and at the time of the offense one of the following is true:

  • the driver’s driving privileges were revoked or suspended for either:

Court supervision is a sentence available once in a person’s lifetime for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois. It is the best possible result aside from dismissal or a finding on ‘not guilty’ after trial on a misdemeanor offense. Court supervision is not an available sentencing option for felony offenses.

If completed successfully, court supervision will prevent the entry of a conviction on the defendant’s public record. Under Illinois law, 730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.1, “At the conclusion of the period of supervision, if the court determines that the defendant has successfully complied with all of the conditions of supervision, the court shall discharge the defendant and enter a judgment dismissing the charges.”

Of course, DUI can also be punished by a conviction (i.e. conditional discharge, probation, and jail time). It is important to understand that a sentence of court supervision is at the discretion of the Judge and/or prosecutor and is not guaranteed by any means simply because you are eligible.

In our previous post we explained that there are two main parts of Illinois DUI law: the Illinois Statutory Summary Suspension and the criminal charge of DUI. This post addresses the basics of the second part of a DUI case, the criminal charge for Driving Under the Influence. For more information on the Summary Suspension law, please visit our previous post.

The criminal portion of an Illinois DUI case is the DUI charge itself. Generally, if a person has submitted to, and failed testing, there will be 2 tickets (or counts) issued for DUI; one based on the test failure and the other based on the officer’s observations of the person. If testing was refused, there will typically only be one count, based on the officer’s observations of the person.

DUI is most commonly charged as a misdemeanor, but in certain situations the offense can be charged as a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, DUI carries a maximum sentence of up to 12-months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.00 plus court costs. This offense may be charged as a felony (an offense that carries a potential sentence of more than a year of incarceration) under certain circumstances, including: when the driver does not have valid driving privileges or valid insurance; the driver has two or more prior DUI offenses; or the offense involves death or serious personal injury.

Under Illinois law, there are three classes of misdemeanor offenses: A, B, and C. Class A misdemeanor penalties are the most severe, while Class C misdemeanors carry lesser potential penalties.

A Class C misdemeanor in Illinois carries a maximum penalty of up to 30 days in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,500 plus any mandatory court costs. The defendant may be placed on a period of court supervision, conditional discharge or probation for up to 2-years. Specific sentencing guidelines for Class C misdemeanors can be found under Illinois law 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-65.

Two of the most common Class C misdemeanors are Disorderly Conduct and Assault.

The DUI attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. are passionate about what they do and will provide you with both knowledgeable and aggressive representation in the courtroom. Our approach is different from other law firms because we focus on our client’s specific needs and create a personally tailored strategy for every case that we handle.

What truly distinguishes us from other DUI lawyers is our commitment to providing value for our clients. That is why we offer a free initial consultation to our prospective clients, so we can analyze your situation and advise you of your options before you pay any fees.

How can The Davis Law Group, P.C. defend my DUI case?

A Class B misdemeanor in Illinois carries a maximum penalty of up to 6 months (180 days) imprisonment in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,500 plus any mandatory court costs. The defendant may be placed on a period of court supervision, conditional discharge or probation for a maximum of 2 years. Sentencing guidelines for a Class B misdemeanor can be found under Illinois law 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-60.

Speeding 26 to 34 mph over the posted speed limit is one of the most common Class B misdemeanor offenses in Illinois. This offense is also referred to as aggravated speeding, excessive speeding or misdemeanor speeding. Overall, Class B misdemeanors are actually far less common than Class A misdemeanors in Illinois.

Although Class B misdemeanors are not as severe as Class A misdemeanors or felony offenses, they are still criminal charges carrying serious potential consequences. Any criminal conviction on your record may have long term consequences on your personal or professional life.

In order to stop a vehicle, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing a violation of Illinois law. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires that law enforcement have specific and articulable facts that a crime has been committed, or is about to be committed, to justify the stop of a vehicle. An exception to this requirement is known as the community caretaking function, which allows a police officer to investigate if the driver appears to be in need of assistance.

Of course, there are a wide variety of offenses that can justify a vehicle stop. In DUI cases, the officer does not need to have a basis to believe that the driver is under the influence at the time of the stop. Minor moving violations or even equipment violations (i.e. a burnt out taillight or cracked windshield) are valid grounds to stop a vehicle. Most Illinois DUI investigations will begin with an allegation of improper lane usage, speeding or other common moving violations under the Illinois Vehicle Code.

When conducting an Illinois DUI arrest, the police officer must have probable cause to believe that a driver is under the influence. Probable cause is a higher standard than the reasonable suspicion necessary to stop a vehicle. Once a police officer has stopped a vehicle, that officer must be able to articulate specific facts supporting a belief that the driver is under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, medical cannabis, or another intoxicating compound in order to arrest the person for DUI. This can be based on factors relating to the driver’s speech, appearance, and odor. Specifically, officers will often point to sign of impairment including bloodshot and/or glassy eyes, slurred speech, soiled clothing, unusual actions, inconsistent responses and the odor of alcohol and/or marijuana.

“Second chance probation” is a sentence in Illinois that allows certain offenders to clear a conviction from their record after serving at least two-years of probation (730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.4). This law, which became effective January 1, 2014, allows the court to sentence the defendant to probation without entering a judgement. Those who have previously been convicted (i.e. probation or conditional discharge) of any felony offense are not eligible for this sentence. In addition, this sentence is not available for violent offenders or defendants who have previously plead guilty or who have been found guilty of a violent offense. Second Chance Probation may be offered to defendants charged with certain probationable felony offenses such as possession of a controlled substance, possession of cannabis, theft, retail theft, and criminal damage to property.

When a defendant is sentenced to Second Chance Probation, the court will order a minimum period of 24-months probation and defer any further proceedings. Defendants sentenced to Second Chance Probation, in addition to other conditions, may not violate any criminal statute, may not possess a firearm, must make restitution if required, must obtain or attempt to obtain employment, must pay fines and costs, must attend educational courses, must submit to periodic drug testing, and must perform a minimum of 30 hours of community service.

If successful, the court will discharge the defendant and dismiss the proceedings. The defendant may be eligible for expungement of the arrest after 5 years.

Governor Rauner has signed into law a change to the Illinois DUI law involving driving while under the influence of cannabis (marijuana).

Until this change, it was illegal to drive with any amount of cannabis in a person’s system. It did not make any difference if the person was under the influence or impaired by the drug. Additionally, the law did not distinguish between the active ingredient in cannabis (THC) and the inactive ingredient (THC-COOH). It is only the active ingredient that causes impairment. This law was commonly referred to as a ‘zero-tolerance’ DUI law.

Under the new law, it is no longer illegal to drive with cannabis in your system unless you are impaired (under the influence) by the substance. Basically, there are two ways a person can be found guilty under the new law:

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