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A Useful Guide for Understanding Illinois Traffic ViolationsAt some point in your life, you have likely been pulled over by a police officer. Maybe the violation was minor, like rolling through a stop sign or going five miles per hour over the speed limit. Perhaps the officer suspected that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In order to measure the severity of your traffic violation, Illinois has instilled a point system that is connected to your driver’s license. This is what the officer looks at, among other things, when they ask for your license and registration and then go back to their vehicle. It is important to understand the basics of the Illinois point system and your rights as an Illinois driver to have a general idea of what your record looks like in the eyes of the law.

The Point System

Maybe you remember learning about the traffic violation point system while you were sitting in your driver’s education class as a teen, but more often than not, drivers are oblivious to how these violations are tracked and what they can do to your record. Every traffic violation that you can think of has a certain number of points assigned to them. Minor offenses have lower points while more severe penalties hold more weight in points. Common examples include:

  • Speeding 1-10 miles per hour over the speed limit is 5 points.
  • Disregard for a traffic light is 20 points.
  • Driving with an open (alcoholic) container is 25 points.
  • Reckless driving is 55 points.

As you can see, the point allocation varies greatly depending on the violation that you have been accused of. Your total points become relevant if your driver’s license is suspended. In Illinois, your license will be suspended if you are convicted for three moving traffic violations within 12 months. If you are younger than 21, you are allowed only two violations. Some violations result in an immediate suspension, such as a DUI. Your points will determine how long your suspension will last. For instance, having 15 to 44 points will result in a two-month suspension.

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Posted by on in Criminal Law
Defending Against a Hit-And-Run ChargeFleeing the scene of a vehicle accident is a criminal charge that can compound the consequences of your case. Whether you are being charged with a traffic violation or driving under the influence, adding a hit-and-run charge implies that you were trying to evade responsibility for the incident. It can be difficult to contest a hit-and-run charge because the facts are usually unambiguous. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows strategies to cast reasonable doubt on the charge or minimize its effect on your case.

  1. Mistaken Identity: Your best defense against a hit-and-run charge is if the prosecution cannot prove that you were involved in the incident. There must be a reliable witness that identified your vehicle's appearance and license plate number. Even if it was your vehicle at the scene of the incident, you would not be criminally liable if someone else was driving it.
  2. Unaware of the Incident: You can claim that you did not knowingly flee the scene of the incident because you were not aware that the incident occurred. The court may find this difficult to believe if you were involved in a collision with a vehicle or pedestrian. You will need to give a reasonable explanation for why you did not notice the incident.
  3. Emergency Situation: There may have been an extenuating circumstance that prevented you from stopping, such as transporting someone to the hospital. The court may be more lenient with you if it knows that you were dealing with a medical emergency and under duress.
  4. Involuntary Intoxication: Though a rare situation, you may not be responsible for your actions while driving if someone drugged you without your knowledge. However, proving this defense can be difficult because you would need to identify when the drugging took place and explain how your intoxication affected your judgment.
  5. Not at Fault: You can argue that you did not commit the other traffic charges brought against you and were not the person responsible for the accident. This does not excuse you from fleeing the scene of the incident, but it will lessen your overall punishment if you are convicted.

Contact a Wheaton Criminal Defense Attorney

A hit-and-run charge is a class A misdemeanor if it involved property damage and a felony if someone was injured or killed in the incident. A felony hit-and-run carries a sentence of as long as five years in prison and a fine of as much as $25,000. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, will work to contest your hit-and-run charge or lessen the punishment. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.

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Posted by on in Criminal Law

Courts Correct Police Error on Left Turn LawMany drivers have learned that they should stay in the left-most lane after making a left turn at an intersection and onto a different street. A wider left turn that puts you into the far lane of traffic could be dangerous if an oncoming vehicle decides to make a right turn into the same lane. However, do you know whether this is a traffic law or a safe driving practice? The answer is consequential if a police officer stops you for making an illegal left turn and finds other violations that result in your arrest. An Illinois appellate court recently upheld a circuit court ruling that said that such left turns are not illegal under Illinois law.

Case Details

In the case of People v. Walker, an officer stopped the defendant for making an improper left turn because the defendant had turned into the far right lane instead of the near left lane. As a result of the stop, the driver received a ticket for driving while his license was revoked. The defendant asked the court to suppress the evidence because the officer lacked a reasonable suspicion that the defendant had committed a traffic violation before the stop. The sides were not arguing about the facts of the case but the interpretation of the Illinois traffic law, which states:

  • A driver intending to turn left should use the extreme left lane that is legally available;
  • After entering the intersection, the driver should leave the intersection by turning into a lane that is lawfully available for a vehicle heading that direction; and
  • Whenever practical, the driver should make the left turn in the portion of the intersection that is to the left of the center of the intersection.

The circuit court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence from the stop because the defendant had not violated the traffic law. On appeal, the appellate court agreed that the law clearly does not restrict which lane a driver may enter after making a left turn. Further, the officer’s misinterpretation of the law did not justify the stop or make the evidence he found admissible in court.

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Illinois Study Suggests Racial Bias Exists in Traffic StopsThe Illinois Department of Transportation is required to compile an annual study of traffic stops in order to identify whether there is racial bias in who gets stopped. Cooperating police departments throughout the state submit their traffic stop data from the previous year, including:

  • The total number of stops;
  • The reasons for stops;
  • The duration of stops; and
  • The outcomes of stops.

The drivers involved are sorted into one of six racial categories: White, African American, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian and Native Hawaiian. Researchers use the data to determine whether drivers of certain races are more likely to be stopped, issued a citation or subjected to a vehicle search. IDOT released its study of the 2016 traffic stop statistics in early July. According to the data:

  1. The total traffic stops increased by seven percent from the previous year. There were 2,022,332 stops in 2015 and 2,169,796 stops in 2016. The number of stops has been between 2 million and 2.2 million since 2013. Nine more police departments participated in the 2016 study than in 2015, which may account for some of the increase.
  2. Minority drivers are 38 percent more likely to be stopped than white drivers, which is up from 25 percent last year. White drivers made up 61 percent of the total drivers stopped in 2016, followed by African Americans at 22 percent and Hispanics at 14 percent. However, the study measures the likelihood of being stopped based on the ratio between the percentage of stops that involved minorities and what percentage of the total drivers are minorities.
  3. Traffic stops in 2016 lasted for an average of 11 minutes. African Americans and Hispanics were slightly above the average at 12 minutes. Asian and Native Hawaiian drivers averaged 10 minutes per stop.
  4. Half of Hispanic drivers who were stopped received a citation. Forty one percent of all stops resulted in a citation, which is down from 46 percent last year. Whites and African Americans were least likely to be cited, both being at 40 percent.
  5. Police were more likely to search vehicles of African American and Hispanic drivers but more likely to find contraband in the vehicles of white drivers. About one percent of all traffic stops resulted in a vehicle search. Police conducted searches in slightly more than one percent of traffic stops involving African American and Hispanic drivers, and slightly less than one percent of white drivers. Police found contraband 30 percent of the time when searching vehicles of white drivers, and 24 percent of the time with minorities.

Conclusion

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Posted by on in Traffic Violation

speeding school zone, DuPage County traffic lawyerSchool zones pose specific dangers for drivers on the road. No matter what state, driving through a school zone will require the driver to slow down considerably when school is in session, and also require the driver to be aware of and adhere to other driving laws as well. School zones were established in an effort to make the area surrounding the school safer for children walking around the premises. In many instances, school zone laws may seem archaic, as very rarely do children walk to school anymore—though the laws regarding school zones are very much still in effect.

Illinois Laws on Speeding

In Illinois, the law requires that all drivers slow down to 20 miles per hour when driving through a school zone. This stipulation is in effect from 7am until 4pm, when school is in session, though Illinois allows that drivers do not have to slow all the way down to 20 mph if all the children are inside the building for classes.

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