Julie’s Law

please slow down

If you’re known as a lead foot, you better beware and slow down. On July 1, 2013, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed Julie’s Law which places pretty heavy penalties on exceptionally speedy drivers. These penalties include license suspension, heavy fines, and potential jail time. Before this law was passed, a speeding driver going up to 40 mph over the legal speed limit could be granted court supervision by a judge repeatedly, with every speeding ticket – but not any longer. Under the new Illinois law, judges are unable to order court supervision for speeders exceeding the limit by more than 25 miles in a residential urban district, or by more than 30 miles in a rural area:
“(q) The provisions of paragraph (c) shall not apply to a defendant charged with violating subsection (b) of Section 11-601 of the Illinois Vehicle Code when the defendant was operating a vehicle, in an urban district, at a speed in excess of 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.” 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1 (a)(1)(q)[ii]

However, this is a notable change because drivers who used to be able to plea to supervision on such a ticket no longer have this option! Additionally, drivers need to realize that even with a regular non-Julie’s law speeder, or any other moving violation, the penalties and consequences to your inability to drive the legal speed limit keep increasing in Illinois. We recommend everyone become more legally savvy and cautious of your driving record by hiring an attorney familiar with traffic law defense to help you with what you may consider a simple traffic matter! In fact, while editing this post, I received a call from a potential client who received a ticket for going 30 mph over the limit and had some prior moving violations. This person seemed shocked that his license may be subject to suspension by the DMV!

For drivers under 21 years of age, two speeding convictions within a 12-month period will cause the Secretary of State to suspend a driver’s license. For drivers older than 21 years of age, 3 speeding convictions within a 12-month period will cause the driver’s license to be suspended.
Drivers over 21 years of age are potentially still eligible for two court supervisions in a 12-month period.

Court supervision is a potential option for speeding drivers only if they plead guilty to speeding and understand and approve of the specifics regarding the speeding ticket while agreeing to all terms and conditions of the court supervision. Then, if the driver keeps a clean driving record during his or her supervision term, the speeding violation will not result in a conviction. But caveat! Be aware, supervision will still remain on your driving record and can still be used to aggravate or enhance a subsequent moving violation.

Julie’s Law came into effect after Julie Gorczynski, a 17-year old high school student, was killed in a car accident by a recklessly speeding driver who was going 76 mph in a 40 mph residential area. The other driver had several court supervisions for speeding before the accident took place.

Senator Sid Mathias, who is one of the bill’s co-sponsors, is happy with the new law that has been put into action stating, “We have to basically educate people to realize that speed kills, and that we need to do something about it. And that if they lose their license in the process of that learning, then so be it.”

The end result? Slow down! You must be aware of any type of plea on your traffic record and be ready to hire yourself a decent lawyer versed in traffic court defense!

New Cell Phone and Texting Law

no texting

On January 1, 2014, a new law went into effect that prohibits drivers from using their cell phones or similar devices to talk and/or text while behind the wheel. So if you decide to fight the odds and drive around with your phone connected to your ear or text while driving, you not only are putting your life and other lives at risk, but should expect to dig into your wallet for some hefty fines.

Violators will be fined $75 for a first offense and as much as $150 for repeat offenses as well as having a moving violation on their driving record. Three moving violations within one year can cause your license to be suspended.

A separate new law increases penalties for distracted drivers found to have caused crashes. Distracted drivers causing injuries, face up to a year in prison, and up to $2,500 in fines. Drivers involved in fatal accidents face fines of up to $25,000 and three years in jail.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill on August 16, 2013 stating, “Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented. Anyone driving a car should be careful, responsive, and alert behind the wheel.” The law went into effect January 1, 2014.

Drivers can still talk on their cell phones while driving but they must do so hands-free which includes utilizing a Bluetooth, headset (see caveat below), earpiece, or speakerphone but the earpiece used must cover only one ear so as not to block your hearing altogether. If you need to use your phone for a phone call or text but can’t do so hands-free, then you are required to pull over safely and park your car before using your phone.

WHAT IS BANNED:

The new law bans drivers from using a mobile phone unless they use hands-free technology to communicate. A driver is allowed by law, however, to press a single button on a phone to begin or end a conversation.
• Drivers 18 years of age or younger are not permitted to use their smart phones while driving – regardless if hands-free or not.
• Drivers over 18 years of age must use a hands-free device while driving. Text messaging is prohibited.
• Handheld electronic devices used for communication are prohibited for all drivers to use.
• Drivers are prohibited from texting, emailing, using the Internet, taking pictures, or using their smartphone for any reason while driving.
• Drivers are not allowed to use their phones in school speed zones, construction zones, or road maintenance areas.
• Cell phones are banned from being used for any reason within 500 feet of an emergency scene while driving. This includes phone calls, taking pictures, texting, etc.

EXCEPTIONS:

The law permits exceptions on the ban during emergencies, or if a driver is parked on the shoulder. A driver will also be allowed to use a hand-held cell phone if the vehicle is in neutral or park, and if the car is stopped because normal traffic is obstructed.

AROUND THE COUNTRY:

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 12 states along with the District of Columbia prohibit using hand-held cell phones while driving. A total of 41 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

For starters, turn off your cell phone. If that’s not possible, there are a number of wireless technology solutions that allow electronic devices to connect remotely. Some newer cars have built-in systems that sync cellphones with car speakers. Owners of older vehicles can buy kits that integrate their phones and stereo systems. A driver also could use a headset, but state law mandates that it cover one ear only-not both.
Remember folks, even apart from safety concerns, legally speaking, this is a moving violation which gives police probable cause to pull you over. So if you have been out on the town for a night of imbibing, and are so addicted to your phone that you decide you have to call someone to share the latest NCAA score directly from the phone, you are not only risking lives but literally thousands of dollars for a good DUI attorney whom you better keep on speed dial for the consequences!

Chamber of Commerce’s Community Star Awards

chi-ugc-photo-nights-of-community-stars-celebrated-2014-01-26

Every year the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce recognizes outstanding members of the community with the Community Star Awards. Laura Morask gathered with other Maine Township trustees and Community Star Award winners to honor Dick Barton, one of this year’s honored community members.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/park_ridge_niles/community/chi-ugc-photo-nights-of-community-stars-celebrated-2014-01-26,0,1120342.photo

Vacation Rewind!

We all know those people…the ones who insist on coming to work with the flu, hacking their brains out because god forbid, THEY take a sick day! Or the co-worker who declares that they have 100 vacation days built up because they NEVER take a vacation! Those who act as if taking a break, whether a cup of coffee, a water cooler discussion of the latest Scandal episode, a day home from work because you are sick, or a REAL vacation, is a sign of weak character.
When you run your own practice it becomes even more difficult to take a well needed break because you are responsible for simply EVERYTHING! However, I finally realized after two years out in private practice, that a vacation is not a superfluous luxury but is essential to your well being and that of your practice! And of course staying home when you are sick is mandatory- it not only heals you but saves you from co-workers sticking pins in a voodoo doll of your likeness! And a real vacation will work wonders for your productivity and that of your office.
Your co-workers, staff, and secretary will love you for it when you return less crabby, more calm, and bearing gifts!
Your clients will love you for it, because you will return hopefully with renewed energy and brain cells to tackle even the thorniest legal issues! Those “aha!” moments of a breakthrough in solving whatever thorny issue is driving you nuts happens when you stop your brain’s incessant ruminating. You all know-those sleepless Sunday nights when the thoughts just won’t stop and you finally fall asleep 10 minutes before the alarm goes off! And God knows, for us in Chicago taking a vacation is an absolute necessity! That is, of course assuming Ohare has not shut down from ________ (fill in the blank) thirty inches of snow, freezing sleet, an ice storm, or merely a cow on the runway. (It’s really happened!)
So folks, check out the gorgeous sunset below, book that ticket, grab the bathing suit and the kids ( if you so must) and tell yourself and others if you need to that you are headed off to increase your productivity, work on that upcoming jury, or boost your sales! You won’t be sorry…that is until of course you return to -19 degrees and/or freezing rain/snow/slush etc.
And the memories of that sunset have to keep you warm through the long dark freeze we know as February!

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Top Ten Things to Keep in Mind This New Year.

  1. Don’t drive drunk! I know it seems needless to say, but DUI laws increase in severity every year. Get a designated driver or better yet a limo or a hotel room. Also Chicago provides free train rides on the CTA for New Year’s Eve to encourage celebrants to use public transportation. Your particular suburb may do the same.
  2. We all know celebrating the New Year is the best way to bring it in, but be careful! Don’t accept drinks from strangers in bars ever! Watch your drink and if it is out of your sight for any period, throw it away.  And see #1 above!
  3. Curfew still applies on New Years Eve! In Illinois, a child under the age of 17 violates curfew when he or she lingers or stays in a public place or even a private business during curfew hours. Curfew hours are from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings. Violating curfew is a petty offense carrying hefty fines ranging anywhere from $500 to $750 depending on location and a judge can hold the parent liable and order the parent to perform community service.
  4. Starting January 1st, cigarettes will be considered litter (HB 3243). Throwing them out of your vehicles is now a crime. A first time conviction is a Class B Misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1500. A second conviction is a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1500. Three or more convictions is a Class 4 felony, punishable by a fine of $25,000 and imprisonment up to three years. It’s time to get an ashtray for your car!
  5. Designated drivers (and everyone else in the car) should remember to ALWAYS wear their seatbelts! Better yet, see #1!
  6. Don’t drive on a suspended or revoked license! (SB 1735) This seems self-explanatory but every year I defend many cases involving people who do exactly this!!!
  7. Don’t forget Julie’s Law! Speeders exceeding the limit by more than 25 mph in a residential area are not eligible for court supervision. 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1.
  8. Starting in 2014, driving and holding a cell phone is against the law (HB 1247). Penalties for distracted drivers who injure others or cause fatal crashes by the use of a cell phone would face a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in fines up to $2,500 and up to a year of jail time. Drivers involved in fatal accidents could be charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries fines up to $25,000 and up to three years of jail time. Using a hands-free device such as Bluetooth is now necessary if you plan on talking on the phone while driving.
  9. Passing school buses when they’re at a stop is already illegal, but now they have cameras to capture anyone who tries (SB 0923). Along those lines, there are now speed cameras throughout the city in addition to red light cameras and just like red light cameras they are almost impossible to contest!

10. If you drive through a tollway entrance or exit without paying this is an automatic $100.00 fine and if you do it too often, your name will go onto the Illinois Tollway website for all to see (SB 1214).

 

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=85&GA=98&DocTypeId=HB&DocNum=2585&GAID=12&LegID=74387&SpecSess=&Session=

As much as I’d love your business this upcoming New Year, please follow these words of advice and stay safe!

Happy-New-Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maine Township Honored with Statewide Recognition

This year Maine Township received multiple awards from the annual conference of Township Officials of Illinois (TOI). The Township was recognized for the services given to improve the lives of residents. The awarded members include our very own Laura Morask! In addition to being a full-time criminal defense lawyer, Laura also works as an elected trustee of Maine Township.

Laura works very hard to improve the lives of the community members, especially our local youth. For many years she has educated youth on the dangers of gangs and gang violence and participates every year in the National Night Out Against Crime. In addition, Laura lead a seminar to educate the community on the dangers of hazing and bullying this past May. The event was covered by Journal & Topics newspapers and was a very successful, educational forum.

For all her hard work towards improving the lives of Maine Township’s youth, Laura was bestowed the Friend of Youth Award from the Association of Illinois Township Committees on Youth (AITCOY). Laura was recognized for her dedication to helping the community’s youth including the development of innovative programs which come at no cost to the community and will continue to do so in the future.

Things to be Thankful For!

I want to wish everyone a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Despite hating November and the weather this time of year, this is my favorite holiday. Ever since Dean and I married I claimed Thanksgiving as my holiday so I could cook (a passion of mine) and be surrounded in my home by my family and friends. I love having lots of people with whom to share the bounty. So I just wanted to take a few moments to talk about the things we have to be thankful for before the truly hectic part comes. Too often, we do forget to be grateful for what we have, particularly in this fast paced, technology driven,  sound bite world of ours. This year is particularly poignant for me as it is the first year of thanksgiving with having sent our second son off to college in September and thus suffering empty nest syndrome. Many parents love it! I am not one of them-I love being surrounded by people who need me and whom I can mother. I think that is why I love lawyering so much. So First, I am thankful l to have both my boys and their assorted friends and girlfriends home for the holiday, and grateful that they appreciate the tradition of our thanksgiving dinner traditions. Keeping in the youth tradition, I am especially grateful this year to have been honored by the Township Officials of Illinois with a “Friend to Youth Award”. I was chosen for this statewide award for the two programs that I instituted in my work as a Maine Township Trustee. This past spring I coordinated and hosted a Hazing/Bullying seminar in conjunction with Maine Township and the local newspaper; Journal &Topics . This type of behavior has unfortunately become all too frequent in our schools across the country, with horror stories making the ten o’oclock news on a regular basis. So I am grateful that I was able to touch a cord and take a small step towards coming together to combat such events as well as to give students some practical resources. To read article click here
I am thankful for my friends who keep me sane, my staff who keeps me organized and takes such good care of me and the Law Offices on a daily basis.
I am thankful for my wonderful IT guy who comes to fix my ever expanding amount of devices/computers when my negative computer energy field breaks them!
I am thankful that I found my passion at age 27 when I took the intensive trial advocacy course at Kent and fell in love with trial litigation and criminal law.
I am thankful that what I love to do turned into a career spanning 25 years as a Prosecutor and for all the people who helped and mentored me along the way. I am thankful that I was assigned to Judge Fitzgerald’s courtroom where I met and married my husband, Dean and for his love and support.
I am thankful that at age 55 I was able to forge a new and different path and open in private practice where I still get to help people with their needs and problems.
I am thankful to my clients who trust me with their most personal and pressing matters.
I am thankful that for almost 27 years now I have loved my job.
I am thankful for the 15 years I had with my mother and most of all for my father -the strongest man I know, a true self made man; concentration camp survivor to world renowned architect who raised us to have a work ethic like his.
I am thankful that my father has  always let me follow my heart and has always been there to rescue me when the heart hasn’t been so wise!
So from all of us at the Law Offices of Laura J Morask, we thank you and ask you; ‘What are you thankful for?” It sounds corny but sometimes in this nutty world it  grounds you to stop and reflect on this for a few minutes before you settle around the football game or start basting the bird or god forbid-go on a Black Friday shopping spree!
Happy Thanksgiving!

National Night Out- August 7, 2013

I’m very proud to be part of a tradition that is celebrated across the country, bringing  communities together to promote involvement in crime prevention. On August 7, 2013 Maine Township will take part in sponsoring “National Night Out”. With every year this tradition has grown and larger and larger, National Night Outbringing families together with their local Sheriff, Police, Fire and Neighborhood Outreach Programs along with several Community Business’s. This year’s event will be held at Dee Park, 9273 W Emerson, Des Plains IL, from 6:30-9:00. Join us for a night filled with fun and entertainment, games and prizes as we rally together to put a stop to crime in our neighborhood.

5 Tips for Hiring a Lawyer

Checkmark blueWhether it’s a traffic ticket or a DUI situation, hiring an attorney can be stressful.  Despite that stress, it is important to select your attorney carefully and prepare information for your first meeting.  An attorney can do a better job defending you with all the facts.

Tip #1:  Your legal health is as important as  your medical health! What do I mean by that? Research your attorney’s qualifications.  Is there experience with your type of case? Do not hire your Uncle Bob’s sister-in-law, the divorce attorney, to handle a DUI case! Chances are that she won’t have the technical/scientific/court familiarity that you need to successfully resolve your issue. What background does he or she have in going to court? Is your prospective attorney even a litigator? How many years has she or he been practicing law? If you are facing a DUI or criminal charge whether misdemeanor or felony, having an attorney with prior experience as a prosecutor can be a huge plus.  Is there a specialty in a certain type of law? Again, you do not want to hire a real estate attorney to handle your criminal or traffic matter. Your license and sometimes your freedom is at stake.  I can’t stress this enough. You would not hire a dermatologist to handle your ulcer surgery! One thing I continually stress to clients who come to me to handle a case after they are unhappy with their current attorney is that you must take the same care with your legal health as you do with your medical health. Failing to do that can and often does have dire legal consequences.   Much  information on a prospective attorney can be found on their website or in search engines or through  a phone call.

Morask hands shakingTip #2:  Prepare for your first meeting as a job interview.  Arrive 15 minutes early to fill out any paperwork and have your personal information with you. Don’t plan on going to see your attorney while on the way home from carpooling your three kids. You need to focus for this meeting. Turn off your cell phone and listen. As an early step in the lawyer/client relationship, the first impression is important.  Do not be intimidated or leave out information because you don’t think it important. Ask questions!

Tip #3:  Organize your information.  Bring all paperwork with you in a neat file.  If you have witnesses or an alibi, be sure to have their contact information with you. If you have text messages or emails that constitute correspondence relevant to your case, bring it with you.

Tip #4:  Be honest.  Your attorney needs to know all details to properly defend you.  Surprises in the courtroom are not to your benefit.  Make sure that your attorney is fully prepped on important facts.

Tip #5:  Take notes and ask questions.  Your lawyer will provide information and direction about what you need to do.  Write it down, so that you can review it later and prepare as needed.  You should also ask questions about the process:

  • What will this cost and are there payment arrangements?
  • What options do I have?
  • Do I need to go to court or do you just go?
  • Will I lose my license?
  • Do I have to attend classes?
  • Will I be able to drive to work?

By following these tips, you will have a productive partnership with your attorney.

Outside-OfficesThe Law Offices of Laura J. Morask provide full legal consultations in a rush-free, non-intimidating atmosphere.  We spend as much time as you need reviewing questions, your rights and responsibilities and what we can do for your particular legal situation.

Anti-Hazing Seminar, Eye-Opening and Valuable

Hazing prevention seminar participants:  Todd Wessell, Hannah Kline, Tom Delehanty, Darnell McCoy, Jessica Henry, Sergeant Kenneth Boudreau, Dr. Gina Lee-Olukoya, Laura Morask, B. Eliot Hopkins, Detective Gregory Jacobson

Hazing prevention seminar participants: Todd Wessell, Hannah Kline, Tom Delehanty, Darnell McCoy, Jessica Henry, Sergeant Kenneth Boudreau, Dr. Gina Lee-Olukoya, Laura Morask, B. Eliot Hopkins, Detective Gregory Jacobson

As a Maine Township trustee and a concerned parent, I am committed to working with our community. I was honored to be the moderator at the Anti-Hazing Seminar, which I feel brought much-needed attention to this ongoing problem.

In attendance were several keynote speakers that explained the repercussions of hazing and how it can affect both children and their parents. They reviewed the issue from the student’s perspective, including how the importance of belonging can cause them to accept hazing. I was deeply touched by the parents that flew in from other states to share their stories and the young people who had the courage to talk about their experiences of being bullied.

Laura Morask moderates the anti-hazing seminar.

Laura Morask (seated, moderator of the anti-hazing seminar) listens as Pam Champion speaks.

Specific ideas were offered on how to prevent and monitor hazing in our schools and community.  I want to thank the school administrators, law enforcement officials and hazing experts who participated.  An even greater thank you goes to the parents and students who had the bravery to tell their stories to support putting a stop to this troubling trend. What an honor it was to be featured on WBBM Radio and countless articles, both national and local.

Journal & Topics article