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sign and drive, traffic violation, Illinois criminal defense attorneyWhen you have been pulled over for a traffic violation, there are probably about a dozen different thoughts going through your mind. What did I do? How much will this cost me? Will I lose my license? All of these questions are perfectly understandable in such a situation. Depending on the violation, of course, the impact to your wallet and driving record may certainly be fairly serious. However, thanks to Illinois’ new Sign and Drive law that took effect this year, your license can no longer be taken as bail during a roadside traffic stop.

Old Rules

Prior to the law taking effect, a law enforcement officer could confiscate your driver’s license on the spot if you were pulled over for most traffic violations. The old laws required drivers cited for traffic offenses to post bail ensuring they would pay their fine or appear in court to contest the ticket as necessary. This left most drivers with three options: pay $75 at a police station, present a bond card (often available from an insurance carrier), or surrender their drivers’ license. According to reports, however, some drivers were not given a choice at all, and their licenses were confiscated.

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sex crime, campus police, Illinois Criminal Defense LawyerA new measure has been proposed in the Illinois House that would change the way in which sexual assaults are investigated on college campuses. The bill was drafted in response to a number of high-profile cases involving campus sex crimes that university police and administrators have been accused of mishandling.

In late March, Representative David Harris, R-ArlingtonHeights, introduced House Bill 3520, known as the Investigations of Sexual Assault in Higher Education Act. In drafting the bill, Rep. Harris hoped to address growing concerns that police departments on public university and community college campuses may be hamstrung in their efforts to effectively investigate sex crimes occurring in their jurisdiction. His proposal would make local law enforcement officials, such as municipal police departments and county sheriffs, responsible for the investigation of such crimes.

My concern was that campus police are not as equipped, trained, and prepared to handle allegations of sexual assaults as are trained law enforcement officers, he said. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, he indicated the dangerous possibility exists that a campus police department may be more interested in protecting the school from negative publicity than seeking justice for victims. I’m not saying this happens, Harris said, but there could be a bias on the part of campus police.

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In a given year, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of pieces of legislation which make their way through the state government and end up being signed into law. Many bills set a future date on which they are set to take effect and in a large number of cases, a new year provides a convenient starting date for new laws. This year, more than 200 new or amended laws became effective on January 1, covering a wide range of issues from traffic and vehicle concerns to children and family interests to the criminal code and law enforcement, including record expungement.

While many of the new laws seem rather bureaucratic, there are several which may be of interest to the public at large.

Ban on Ticket Quotas (PA 98-0650)

It is not uncommon for a driver who has received what he or she perceives to be a questionable traffic ticket to assume the issuing officer was just trying to make his numbers. However, beginning in 2015, it is now illegal for a police department to mandate ticket minimums for its officers. Additionally, the number of citations issued by a police officer may no longer be used a job performance measure.

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First time perpetrators of a drug offense in Illinois may be able to catch a break under a change to several Illinois drug-related laws, including the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act, and the Unified Code of Corrections.

According to Illinois HB 3010, anyone who has no prior felony offenses in Illinois or any other state may be able to receive sentence of probation. This change, which took effect on January 1, 2014, applies to any felony offense of a controlled substance punishable as a Class 4 felony for which probation is a possible consequence. This includes possession of methamphetamine. Several other crimes may also be permitted to fall under this change, including:

  • Theft punishable as a Class 3 felony by property value;
  • Theft punishable as a Class 4 felony if committed at a school, place of worship, or of government property;
  • Retail theft punishable as a Class 3 felony; and
  • Criminal damage of government property punishable as a Class 4 felony.

Defendants to whom the court grants permission are assigned the second-chance probation, and will have all proceedings against them dismissed upon fulfillment of the terms of their probation. They must also obtain or attempt to obtain employment. Additionally, should the terms of their probation be violated, the court may enter a judgment on its original guilty finding and proceed with further sentencing as permitted by law. Defendants who have been found to have committed a violent crime will also be ineligible for a sentence of second-chance probation.

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