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Category Archives: DUI

Wheaton Marijuana Defense LawyerIllinois is one of 18 states that legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. However, that does not mean that anyone can use this substance at anytime without consequence. There are still many marijuana-related laws on the books, including laws limiting the quantity of marijuana a person can possess and where he or she can possess it. For example, Illinois law prohibits the use of cannabis in schools or on public transportation. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis.

If you or a loved one were charged with a cannabis-related offense, do not make the mistake of taking these charges lightly. While the use of marijuana is legal in certain circumstances, it is still possible to face significant criminal penalties for a marijuana offense.

Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis

THC is the component in cannabis plants responsible for the “high” or cognitive effects of the substance. Individuals under the influence of THC usually experience slowed reaction time, reduced coordination, and impaired judgement. Multiple scientific studies show the relationship between cannabis use behind the wheel and impaired driving. Consequently, it is illegal for Illinois drivers to drive while under the influence of marijuana–even if the driver has a valid medical marijuana card.

Police may arrest a driver for driving under the influence if they suspect that the driver is under the influence of cannabis. The smell of cannabis in the vehicle, drug paraphernalia, bloodshot eyes, and slowed speech may all be signs that a driver is intoxicated by cannabis. Field sobriety tests and blood tests for THC content may be used to confirm that the driver was under the influence. DUI penalties are the same for drugged drivers as they are for drunk drivers. Drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis may face license revocation, steep fines, and in some cases, jail time.

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Wheaton Criminal Defense AttorneyA misdemeanor DUI is bad enough. You could face a bit of jail time, and you will probably have your license revoked for a period of time. However, when you are facing felony charges related to a DUI, your situation is very serious. You could be facing more than a year of prison time, and it could be much longer than a year depending on the particular circumstances. Charging a DUI as a felony is an extreme way to handle extreme DUI cases. For you to be charged with a felony DUI, there must have been some fact or circumstances that made your alleged conduct much more serious than an average, run-of-the-mill drunk driving incident. If you have been charged with a DUI-related felony, it is important that you are represented by an experienced lawyer who can try to minimize the impact this case will have on your life. 

What Circumstances Turn a DUI into a Felony?

There are only a handful of situations where a felony charge will stem from a DUI. Factors that can raise a DUI to the felony level include: 

  • Young passenger - On a first DUI, you could be charged with a felony if you injured a passenger who was under 16 years old. If it is your second DUI, simply having a passenger under 16 is a Class 4 felony - or a Class 2 if the passenger was injured. 

  • Repeat offenses - A third DUI, or any DUI after the third, is automatically a felony. If you have a prior conviction for a DUI that killed someone, you could be convicted of a Class 3 felony. If this is your sixth DUI, then you could be charged with a Class X felony. This is the most serious level of criminal charge in Illinois and carries up to 30 years in prison.

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Wheaton Criminal Defense AttorneyThere are two main chemical tests used to determine a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The first is a breath test, often called a breathalyzer, that determines blood alcohol based on the amount of alcohol on the test taker’s breath. The second is a blood test that directly determines the amount of alcohol in the subject’s blood. However, these tests are not infallible. False positives and inaccurate results can be caused by human error, improper storage, defective devices, and several other issues. If you or a loved one are facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI), do not lose hope. You or your loved one may still be able to avoid conviction by discrediting the results of chemical BAC tests.

Understanding the Limits of Breath Alcohol Tests

If you have even been pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, you are probably familiar with the portable breathalyzer tests carried by police officers. These preliminary tests are used to create probable cause for a DUI arrest. However, the results of the preliminary breathalyzer are not admissible as evidence against the defendant in DUI proceedings. Typically, once an alleged drunk driver is taken to the police station, he or she is required to complete a second breath test on a device with greater accuracy. The results of this evidentiary breath test may be used as evidence in court. However, both evidentiary tests and preliminary tests can be unreliable.

Breathalyzers must be regularly calibrated and cleaned to yield accurate results. Improper test administration, conducting the test at the wrong time, and defects with the testing device may also lead to inaccurate results.  

Blood Alcohol Tests and DUI Charges in Illinois

Another way police may determine an alleged drunk driver’s BAC is through a blood test. Blood is drawn from the subject and analyzed to determine the amount of alcohol per unit of blood. However, blood alcohol tests may be faulty. There are several steps involved in blood testing. The technician must mix certain chemicals such as anticoagulants and preservatives into the sample. These chemicals must not be expired or mixed incorrectly. The blood sample must be properly identified and stored. The sample must also be free of contaminants like ethyl alcohol from an alcohol swab. Mistakes during the blood draw, blood sample storage, or analysis of the sample can discredit the blood test results making it much more difficult for the prosecution to prove that a driver was under the influence.

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Chicago DUI criminal defense attorney

A 58-year-old Illinois woman who has been charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence is not only facing the loss of her license and potential loss of freedom – she is also facing the loss of her vehicle via a civil forfeiture complaint. While many people are aware of police seizing the assets of people convicted of drug dealing and other illegal activities, is seizing the vehicle of a person who is accused of drunk driving legal under Illinois law?

BAC Four Times the Legal Limit

According to information released by law enforcement, on the night of September 14, a police officer noticed a vehicle take a right-hand turn, however, the driver failed to use their turn signal. The officer pulled the vehicle over. As he explained to the driver why he had stopped her, he noticed she had an open bottle of alcohol near her leg that she attempted to hide when the officer questioned her about it.

The driver did admit to the officer she had been drinking. The officer requested the woman step out of her vehicle, but the police report noted she had difficulty doing so. Attempts to perform field sobriety tests were noted as “very erratic and unable to follow directions.” At this point, the woman was brought to the police station and agreed to submit to a breathalyzer. Her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level registered 0.321. This is four times the legal limit under Illinois law.

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Wheaton criminal defense attorneysIf you were caught driving under the influence of alcohol in Illinois, your driver's license may have been suspended or revoked. Without a valid driver’s license, it becomes unlawful to drive a motor vehicle. Losing your ability to drive can be a massive inconvenience. Fortunately, Illinois drivers may be able to get relief through a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) or a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP). These programs allow you to get back on the road legally. There is just one catch – you must install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) in your car. Many drivers wonder, “Is there a way to cheat a BAIID?”

How a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device Works

Driving under the influence of alcohol puts the driver’s life and the lives of others at risk. Consequently, Illinois state has instituted policies to prevent drunk driving. One of these rules is the BAIID requirement. Once a BAIID is installed in your vehicle, you must successfully pass a breath alcohol test to use the vehicle. You will need to blow into the mouthpiece and submit a breath sample before starting the car. The device will instantly analyze the sample for alcohol. If the BAIID detects even a very small amount of alcohol, your car will not start. If the device does not detect alcohol on your breath, your car will start up normally. You will be prompted to submit additional breath samples by blowing in the mouthpiece as you drive.

Hacking a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device

There are many rumors about alleged methods of hacking or tricking BAIIDS. Some people say that you can hold a penny in your mouth or eat certain foods to eliminate alcohol from your breath. Others suggest brushing your teeth or using mouthwash to conceal breath alcohol. These methods do not work. In fact, most mouthwashes contain alcohol, so using mouthwash or an alcohol-containing toothpaste will only worsen your situation.

Asking a non-drinking friend to blow into the device for you will also backfire. In 2013, the Illinois Secretary of State required all BAIIDs to be equipped with a camera. The device takes a picture each time a breath sample is submitted. Driving another person’s car to avoid using the BAIID can lead to additional criminal penalties. Driving without a valid license—and a suspended or revoked license is not a valid license—is  a Class A misdemeanor punishable by jail, community service, and heavy fines. If it is your second offense, driving on a suspended or revoked license is a Class 4 felony punishable by imprisonment, feels, and an extended suspension or revocation period.

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