Articles Posted in Traffic Accident

According to the Illinois Secretary of State, traffic tickets for moving violations will stay on your Illinois driving record for four to five years from the date of conviction. Moving violations include offenses such as speeding, disobeying a stop sign, disobeying a traffic control light, and improper lane usage.  The Secretary of State generally  removes these offenses at their discretion during that timeframe.

Traffic tickets that result in a suspension or revocation will stay on your driving record for at least seven years from the date of license reinstatement. Convictions for alcohol and drug-related offenses (i.e. DUI) will permanently stay on your Illinois driving record.

Only court supervision or a dismissal will prevent a traffic ticket from showing up on your public driving record in Illinois. Convictions not only count toward the suspension of your driver’s license, but can significantly effect insurance premiums. An Illinois traffic attorney can often increase the chances of keeping your driving record clean. Contact The Davis Law Group, P.C. if you have received an Illinois traffic citation.

The number of speeding tickets issued by Illinois State Police troopers has dropped significantly over the past 5 years according to a report by the State-Journal Register. The number of speeding tickets decreased by 40% from 211,857 in 2010 to 126,959 in 2015. In 2016, it is estimated that the Illinois State Police will issue approximately 104,000 speeding tickets.

The article analyzed data through Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act.

While the number of speeding tickets has declined, the number of traffic fatalities is up from 5 years ago. For the first time since 2008, the number of traffic fatalities in Illinois has surpassed 1,000. However, the number of fatalities is significantly lower than 15 years ago. In 2001, there were 1,414 fatalities and in the 1970’s, the numbers were typically around 2,000.

An electronic insurance verification program may soon be implemented in Illinois. This program will make it much easier for officers to catch those driving without car insurance. In 2014, the Illinois legislature established a committee to design the program, which will likely include a computer database that would be accessible to law enforcement during traffic stops. The system would allow officers to ensure you are up to date on your monthly insurance payments. Often, individuals make a down payment on their insurance, receive their insurance card, and do not follow up on monthly payments, allowing their coverage to lapse while retaining the card showing that they are insured. As of now, in order to ensure you are currently covered by insurance, officers must call the insurance company.

It is expected that the Secretary of State will adopt the rules for the program by 2016. The agency has estimated that of the 9 million licensed drivers in Illinois, 6% are uninsured.

Michigan has recently adopted a similar program, allowing police to access information on whether a vehicle is insured by running the license plate through their computer. Michigan insurance companies are required to transmit policy information twice a month, so the information provided to officers is reasonably accurate.

According to the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (“AAIM”), a non-profit citizens action group that has tracked Illinois DUI arrests since 1982, Lake County made the most DUI arrests in the state in 2013. The 233 officers averaged 1.49 arrests per officer, bringing the total number of arrests to 348. Right behind Lake County was Cook County. However, Cook County has more officers in their force. The statistics state that Cook County’s 487 officers made 306 arrests, which is an average of .63 arrests per officer.

AAIM determined that the Chicago Police Department, with roughly 12,000 officers, made approximately 3,400 DUI arrests. The rate of .28 arrests per officer pales in comparison to Lake County.

DUI fatalities in Illinois were down 38% from the last decade. However, the seemingly sharp decline in drunk driving may be due to the lack of arrests by some police departments. Although there is a decrease in DUI fatalities, drunk driving is still a major problem in the United States. One person was killed every 52 minutes due to DUI-related accidents in 2013 across the country.

As part of its DUI statute, Illinois has a provision that provides that any amount of cannabis or controlled substance in a driver’s system may be the basis for a DUI charge. This is the only part of Illinois DUI law that permits a charge of driving while under the influence – even if there is no evidence that the person was impaired or intoxicated.

The most commonly cited example of the law is the person who may have smoked marijuana days or weeks earlier and then is stopped for a minor moving violation or as a result of an accident. If the officer has any reason to believe that the person had smoked marijuana at some point, the officer may seek testing. Often the situation arises in the case of an accident where the person was injured, taken to a hospital and testing is conducted, revealing the presence of a by-product of marijuana, called a ‘metabolite’.

The most recent example of the absurdity of the law is the case of Scott Shirey. In December 2011, Mr. Shirey was driving with his two young twin sons in his car. While driving, he was broad-sided by another vehicle and one of his children was killed and his old child was severely injured.

Current Illinois law allows a driver to be charged with DUI based on a trace of illegal drugs in their system. This is true regardless of impairment and even if the drug was used weeks earlier. The Illinois State Bar Association is challenging this unjust law.

Larry Davis, a principal at The Davis Law Group, P.C., helped to write the Illinois State Bar Association’s proposal. The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin quoted Mr. Davis stating, “It is a bad law. It is putting people who have not really committed anything that would justify that type of treatment–putting them in prison.” If the proposal is enacted into law, a driver who has marijuana in his system and is involved in a serious or fatal accident would be charged with a misdemeanor separate from the DUI charge. In order for the charge to be elevated to a felony aggravated DUI charge, prosecutors must prove impairment.

A prime example of the current, unjust law is illustrated by the case of Scott Shirey. Shirey was driving his 10 year old twins to swim practice when a pickup truck ran a red light, crashed into his car, killed one of his sons and severely injured the other. There was no allegation that he was under the influence or impaired in any way. When Shirey’s blood results came back, he had trace amounts of marijuana in his system. Shirey claims he had smoked pot a month before, but he faced up to 14 years in prison for an accident in which he was not at fault. In the end, Shirey received probation. His case has sparked controversy and a call for change.

A new Illinois law eliminates the requirement that drivers post their license as bail for certain traffic tickets. The “Sign and Drive” law (Senate Bill 2583) permits the driver’s signature on the traffic citation to guarantee their appearance in court or payment of required fines.

Under the new law, the Secretary of State may still suspend the driving privileges of those drivers who fail to comply with the citation. Driver’s are no longer required to hand over their driver’s license, which for many is the only form of identification they carry. The new law, signed by Gov. Quinn on Saturday, is effective immediately.

Drivers won’t need to hand over license as bail for traffic offenses, www.chicagotribune.com, August 10, 2014

Former Illinois State Police Trooper Matt Mitchell was denied driving relief by the Secretary of State once again after revocation stemming from his involvement in a fatal crash. According to Mitchell’s attorney, the hearing officer recommended driving relief only to have the decision overruled by a Secretary of State official in Springfield. His attorney believes that due to the high profile nature of the case, the Secretary of State is concerned with bad publicity. Mitchell would like to find work and have the ability to drive his 11-year-old daughter to school. His attorney has filed a request for administrative review in Jefferson County court.

Mitchell was involved in a November 23, 2007 crash which resulted in the death of two sisters. Mitchell’s squad car reportedly crossed the center line into oncoming traffic on Interstate 64. An investigation determined that the vehicle had been traveling at 126 mph while Mitchell was on his cell phone and typing on an in-dash computer. He was heading to an accident scene. In 2010, Mitchell pled guilty to reckless driving and was sentenced to 30 months probation. He plans to continue to apply for reinstatement.

Mitchell’s attorney outraged his client can’t get license back, www.bnd.com, February 6, 2014

Although, as previously discussed, fatal hit-and-run crashes are increasing across the county, Illinois highway deaths are at 60-year lows according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA reports that over the past several years there has been a “historic downward trend in traffic fatalities.” The number of fatalities has decreased by approximately 26% from 2005-2011 and has continued on this pattern since that time. Illinois traffic fatalities is below the national average. Although highway deaths in Illinois have slightly increased in the most populated counties, that number has been more than offset by a decrease throughout the rest of the state.

The NHTSA does not specifically cite a basis for the decline but reasons may include DUI awareness and enforcement, vehicle design, airbags, seat belt laws and highway design. Illinois DUI-related deaths have declined 10% between 2008-2012.

NHTSA: Highway Deaths in Illinois, USA at Historic Lows, www.mystateline.com, November 19, 2013

According to crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hit-and-run crashes are on the rise in many major cities including Chicago. Nationally, the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes have increased from 1,274 in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011, which is the most recent year data is available. That is a 13.9% increase over a three year period. However, overall traffic deaths fell 4.5% during the same period. In other words, the number of overall traffic deaths is not the basis for the steady increase.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that almost one in five of all pedestrian fatalities involve hit-and-runs. The foundation believes that alcohol is a major factor in these instances. Another common factor includes individuals driving without valid driving privileges. Los Angeles reportedly has the highest rate of hit-and-run crashes. In 2009, LA Weekly reported that 48% of the city’s crashes were hit-and-run related, in contrast to 11% nationally.

Many states are continuing to enact stricter legislation and create harsher penalties. Under current Illinois law, leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years in prison). If the driver leaves the scene and does not then report the accident to a police station within 30 minutes, they may be charged with a Class 2 felony (Class 1 if the accident results in death). A conviction results in the revocation of the defendant’s driving privileges. If you are involved in a hit-and-run or charged with leaving the scene of an accident of any kind, you should contact an attorney immediately.