Chicago Public Schools take measures to protect children after White House Immigration Order

Per Juan Perez Jr. of cpsthe Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Public School system  is taking action against the federal governments broadened measures in detaining illegal immigrants. While no ICE agents have yet attempted to detain any students or parents in the school area, many are still  worried after some of the recent news from the White House. Protests last week targeted these policies by Trump’s cabinet and a signifiant amount of Latino students were out of school last Thursday either for fear, anger, or both according to the Tribune.  In response to this, CPS wants to ensure their students that they can feel safe and secure and not targeted. They contacted principals to let them know that any ICE agent wishing to enter a district building had to have a warrant with him and also urged parents to update emergency contact forms in the case of them or their child being detained by agents. The CPS has asserted that they are not there to provide assistance to federal officials in their business, especially since that business would be harmful to their students. The districts message was, “To be very clear, CPS does not provide assistance to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of federal civil immigration law.” In the case of an agent coming to the school the guidelines ask that they be told to wait outside while the administration deals with the Law department.

To some this seems like an extreme measure and maybe not necessary due to the lack of agents showing up at schools yet. However, it’s easy to shrug off these things when you don’t have to go through them, and for the thousands of Latino students and parents in CPS schools the recent news from Washington has been understandably very alarming.  Chicago Public School system’s rationale was to have their schools taking the steps to make sure their kids and parents feel safe.

The opinions of this post are Jake Morask’s and do not reflect the Laura Law Office in its entirety

Expungement Law Update

800px-Pink_Pearl_eraserOn January 1, 2017, several new Expungement Law Updates took effect. Among the updates was the ratification of Public Act 99-0881, which amended the Criminal Identification Act (20 ILCS 2630/5.2(b)(1)) to expand your ability to expunge your arrest from your record.  According to the Act, as of the new year, you can expunge any arrest for an expungeable offense that results in your release without charging, acquittal, dismissal, or successfully completed supervision. What’s new about that? In the past, if you had a conviction in your background, you could never again file for expungement – a prior conviction was an automatic bar to future expungement.  As of January, prior convictions will no longer stand in the way of your otherwise-expungeable arrest.

This Expungement Law Update is a good step toward reforming the way society treats people that have made mistakes, but paid back their debt to society for those mistakes.  Expungement is an effective tool to prevent certain arrests from standing in your way when it comes to getting a job and applying for a loan, for example, and the expansion of the expungement statute to include these previously-unexpungeable arrests will open new doors for many Illinoisans.

Our team of attorneys here at LauraLaw is experienced in the expugement and sealing of criminal records. Not only do we keep up with all Expungement Law Updates so that we can best serve your expungement needs, but we offer experienced and skilled criminal defense to put you in the best position to avoid an unexpungeable conviction. So if you should find yourself under arrest for any crime, or wish to have a prior arrest expunged from your record or sealed from your record, do not hesitate to contact us, and we will assist you with all of your criminal defense needs.

In the meantime, if you want more information about the expungement process, check out our 3-Part Series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) on Expungment and Sealing from 2014.

Great Tips For New Lawyers Courtesy of Lawyerist Blog

law-books-291683__180Randall Ryder of the popular Lawyerist blog  wrote an excellant blog post with some fabulous tips for new lawyers that we here at lauralaw believe are also great tips for even seasoned lawyers. We all know many a lawyer who when talking casually to opposong counsel on a phone call or in person just talk too much and in an effort to appear accomodating start “oversharing”. One of his greatest points was to sit back and listen. This is a tough skill to learn as we lawyers love to talk. I have always believed that listening and not rushing in to fill a momentary silence in a conversation is one of the best skills for any lawyer-actually everyone in general- to learn. Most people have forgotten or never learned the art of listening! At first it may really make you uncomfortable but remember people love talking about themselves. While no  one likes awkward seeming pauses if you try not rushing in with further conversation, the other person invariably will fill the void, and you will inevitably learn some nugget of information that may give you a better understanding of not only your client’s case but perhaps the attorneys’ mindset as well. Click  .https://lawyerist.com/39726/new-attorney-dont-get-intimidated-by-opposing-counsel/ to read this excellant aricle courtesy of Randall Ryder.

Illinois Justice Commission soon to announce final plans on decreasing prison population

imageBruce Rauner’s Criminal Justice Reform Commission is set to release their final recommendations on how to safely reduce the Illinois prison population by 25% by the year 2025. The Commission was formed on an Executive Order by Rauner on February 11, 2015 with the stated goal of “developing comprehensive, evidence-based strategies to meet the goal of reducing Illinois’ prison population 25 percent by 2025,” according to the Commission’s website. The group is comprised of more than two dozen criminal justice practitioners, lawmakers, and policymakers.

Research by the sentencing advising board policy and Loyola University revealed two factors that increase prison population: Admissions and increased length of stay. The Website adds “Admissions can be reduced with prison diversion initiatives and a change in parole policy to decrease the number of offenders returning to prison due to technical violations. A reduction in recidivism also could be achieved with evidence based programming in diversions, in prison, during reentry, and in the community.” The Commission talks about preventing low risk offenders from entering the prison population, which seems a humane idea to at least partly reduce prison population. Another good thing is that the Commission seems to be accepting the idea of treatment programs rather than punitive punishments. The Adult Redeploy Illinois Program allows Judges and prosecutors to divert individuals who are being sentenced to use more probation based punishments. The Commission has determined that Recidivism(defined here as a return to prison within three years of release) has been around 50% the last decade. This illustrates the unfortunate cycle many offenders are put through that prevents them from really ever regaining any semblance of their lives. Even shorter Prison terms can turn their existence into a struggle for survival. The persons economic situation and race undoubtedly and unfortunately complicates their situation as well.

When evaluating the Sheridan and Southwest Illinois Correctional Center drug programs evidence showed these programs do tend to reduce recidivism. One of the problems unfortunately is that the need for the program among drug offenders greatly succeeds the programs availability. There will need to be greater funding for these programs and maybe a reduction in the funding that contributes more to punishment or preventing crime. Because it’s becoming clear that crime programs meant to clean the streets of criminals have not worked and have overcrowded the prison population and made humane treatment of offenders much harder.

The other part of the problem mentioned before that the Commission was looking was how the length of stay affected the prison population. Finding a way to reduce length of sentences should contribute to at least partly reducing the prison population. The Commission lists four ways that the length of sentences may possibly be impacted,

  • Changing the sentence length ranges for felony classes.
  • Awarding credits for good conduct, treatment participation, etc.
  • Reducing required percentages of imprisonment in sentences handed down under Truth-in-Sentencing laws.
  • Using risk and needs assessment to guide sentencing and lengths of stay.

These measures could be ways that reduce the prison population and make it easier for offenders to deal with lives in and out of prison. I think the Commission is a good step forward in prison reform and there seems to be some genuine desire to see things change, which is nice. I would like to see more research on how prisoners are treated by guards, and maybe look at whether poor treatment of prisoners leads to a higher likelihood of recidivism. Either way, I do believe there needs to be more reform in how prisoners are looked at.

-Jake Morask

(Opinions are mine and do not represent official views of LauraLaw)

Police and Amazon Going to Battle Over Privacy Rights of Amazon Echo in Murder Case

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In an interesting twist to a first degree murder case in Bentonville, Arkansas, privacy rights and Amazon’s device, the Amazon Echo, are being roped into the investigation.  James Andrew Bates is charged with the murder of Victor Collins, who was found dead in the defendant’s bathtub.  Bates claimed that he found Collins after a night of drinking, as the two were coworkers, but the police quickly suspected foul play and the medical examiner deemed the death a homicide.  The part where Amazon (and the issue of privacy rights) comes into play is inside the defendant’s home, where Bates owned an Amazon Echo.  The Echo comes equipped with an “Ask Alexa” feature which records what the user says after they activate “Alexa.”  Amazon retains the recordings of what people say to their Echo in case people want to review them and to help with recognition purposes.  Now the Bentonville police are issuing a warrant to access Bates’s audio recordings to possibly use as evidence against him in his upcoming trial.

This creates an interesting conflict of privacy rights and Amazon has decided to stand their ground, declining to give up the information.  Prosecutor Nathan Smith doesn’t see why they should be able to do this as he makes the case that police search the contents of computers all the time.  He stated, “if Amazon has concerns about trade secrets or intellectual property rights, there are ways to excise such information from what is provided.  I don’t believe there is any rational or legal basis for concluding that one has to comply with a search warrant for one’s home or even the drawing of one’s blood, but not a computer.”  However, computers are distinguishable from the Amazon Echo in the fact that the Amazon device is always listening — though, to be fair, it is only recording when it is activated with the wake word.  But seizing and accessing a computer isn’t the same as seizing a device of a private company and violating the agreements made between that company and its buyer, and possibly violating that buyer’s privacy rights.

Bates’s attorney, Kimberly Weber, of course argues that this search would be a breach of her client’s privacy rights, reasoning that “you have an expectation of privacy in your home, and I have a big problem that law enforcement can use the technology that advances our quality of life against us.”  I’d have to side with Weber’s statement here as the Amazon echo is a fairly intimate device, and forcing the company to give up that kind of client information seems unethical.  But I also, like many others, have big problems with the state of privacy rights in the country and so do technology companies like Amazon and Apple.  Last year, the government demanded that Apple help them crack the iPhone of a mass shooter that killed 14 people, but Apple refused.  Many of the Silicon Valley tech companies stood behind them, including Amazon, as there is an increasing worry over the amount of government intrusion to people’s private information.  This tension between the ever-sophisticated personal devices and privacy rights is bound to increase as these devices proliferate.

New Illinois Laws entering 2017

judge-gavel-1461998806lqwNew Illinois laws of 2017 entered the books January 1st, so Laura Law Office thought it would be a good idea to give a rundown of the most notable ones that will affect residents. So i’ll give some brief descriptions of ten important ones and maybe a brief opinion on them as well.

 

  1. Senate Bill 2746: This bill thankfully eliminates the Sales Tax on essential feminine hygiene products such as Tampons and menstrual pads so that women aren’t forced to spend more money on products that they actually need for their health. These taxes are sometimes called “Pink Taxes” in reference to essential health products being sold as luxury items rather than you know, essential health products. Huffington Post’s Julia Craven gave a nice sum up of what these taxes are, “Pink taxes” refer to the extra funds women spend on certain products and services ― such as feminine hygiene products, razors, haircuts, insurance and even pillows ― over comparable products marketed to men.”

The Bill’s sponsor, democratic Senator Melinda Bush commented, “This is just the start of a conversation about the unfair ‘pink taxes’ women face as they buy products priced higher than similar ones marketed to men or, in this case, as they have to spend on products that men don’t.”  

It’s nice to see a Republican governor sign this bill into effect and make strides towards gender equality.

 

  1. Senate Bill 3129: This bill allows police officers the first preference to adopt retiring police dogs to make sure that the dog and the officer can remain connected even after the dog retires. If the officer doesn’t wish to adopt the dog, than another officer in the department can or the dog would be given to a no kill shelter to help the process of getting adopted by a loving family. I honestly can’t see how anyone would be against this measure, as police dogs have to go through mentally and physically exhausting work to help the force and tend to form special bonds with their commanding officer. Any help in making the dogs retirement more comfortable and loving, while also helping the police officer keep his connection with his canine should be supported.

 

  1. House Bill 4264: This Bill requires beauty professionals such as Cosmetologists, estheticians, nail technicians and hair braiders to take an hour long course every two years in domestic abuse and sexual assault education when renewing or obtaining their licenses. This encourages the beauty workers to look for possible signs of assault on their clients and be more educated on what those signs are. It doesn’t require them to submit mandated reports but rather as the Northwest Harold’s Jordyn Reiland explains “provide resources and tools to those in the field to pass along to their clients if and when they’re needed.”

I believe encouraging more awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault signs to employers who may deal with clients that are victims of them is a good thing. Many domestic violence incidents go unreported and beauty workers often provide a safe conduit to their clients to talk to as Reiland explains, “Although more than 4,700,000 women are physically abused by a partner each year, only 34 percent seek medical treatment and only 25 percent report the incident to police, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Salon managers and owners throughout McHenry County have expressed their support for the bill, citing the close relationship many employees develop with their clients on a regular basis.”

 

Reiland provided some testimonies of supporting beauty workers such as Lisa Mumford, owner of Hair Ink LLC in Mchenry County, “We’re kind of like the psychologists of hair,” Mumford said. “Your clients come in, and a lot of time they get comfortable with you to share what goes on in their lives. You just build that relationship, and they feel very trusted.”

 

Angela Henderson, manager of Hair Cuttery in Crystal Lake makes similar statements as well, “We’re not only hairdressers; we feel like counselors, psychologists,” Henderson said. “Clients feel comfortable with you, and so they tend to open up more.”

 

  1. House Bill 5576: This bill expands birth control coverage beyond what is required by the Affordable care act as the State journal registers Dean Olsen explains,The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires all health insurance plans nationwide to cover birth-control pills and other contraceptives for women with no out-of-pocket costs. But the law doesn’t require all brands and formulas of pills to be covered without cost sharing. The law also doesn’t prohibit cost sharing for all types of intrauterine and other birth-control devices. HB 5576 requires that all of those options be covered without co-payments or deductibles, at least for women covered through health plans regulated by the state and plans that cover state employees, retirees and their dependents.”

This does not affect women who are covered by self insurance plans but many see it as a step forward in providing easier contraceptive access to all women and gives Illinois “the most comprehensive contraceptive law on the books in the country,” according to EverThrive Illinois’ Kathy Waligora.

Insurance companies naturally opposed the bill citing rising costs for them and no republicans in assembly voted in favor of it. However Waligora sees this bill as a chance to save money in the long run by avoiding unintended pregnancies. She also has cited dozens of complaints by female patients claiming doctors prescribing contraceptives not covered by their insurance. Pro life institutions like the Illinois family institution have claimed that they shouldn’t be forced to cover a contraceptive because they see it as akin to abortion as their director David E Smith claimed, “”No American should be forced to pay for something that violates their deeply held religious beliefs.”

But Waligora makes the point that this isn’t mandating coverage of abortions(which is true) and will save the state in medicaid costs. The American Civil Liberties Union is in favor of the legislation as their spokesman Ed Yohnka comments, “We think that women ought to have access to the full panoply of medications.”

Planned Parenthood also is in favor with public policy director Brigid Leahy stating “This really will be beneficial all around.”

During the debate over the bill in the summer,  Republican Representative Dwight Kay was concerned over the affect on public “morality” that the bill would have  stating  “I seriously question how much promiscuity should an insurance company pay (for).”

I find that quote particularly hypocritical. Advocating against allowing abortions but then refusing affordable access to contraceptives or sexual education that could give women safe options for sex without having to worry about unwanted pregnancies makes little sense.  Kay’s comment is indicative of the very real sexism in government with him condemning women wanting to have safe sex as “Promiscuous.”

 

  1. SB 2228: This bill will finally decriminalize the penalties for Marijuana possession up to 10 grams and make getting punished for small possession punishable with fines between $100-200 rather than any chance of jail time. Previously, possession of 10 grams would be classified as a Class B felony and punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $1500 in fines. Also importantly, the bill would get rid of the ridiculous zero tolerance policy the law had for drivers who had any trace of Marijuana in their system, even if it was ingested days or weeks ago. Now there needs to be at least 5 nanogram’s of THC in a person’s blood or 10 nanogram’s in a person’s saliva before being punished. This bill is a nice step in the right direction, though it would be nice to see the provisions expand in the future to actually fully decriminalize marijuana and maybe one day fully legalize it. No person should ever have to serve time in a prison for a nonviolent marijuana offense, no matter how much the person has possessed.

 

  1. SB 2252 & 2907: I’m putting these two together because they have some similar effects on the public and were sponsored by the same Senator.  2252 will require law enforcement officials to accept cash as bail if the person charged chooses that route. According to 34th District Senator Steve Stadelman’s website, “The idea was brought to the senator by Rockford-area resident Kevin Lunsford, whose minor son was arrested for a traffic offense last year. When Lunsford arrived at the Winnebago County Juvenile Center to bail out his son, the credit card machine was broken and the county has a policy to refuse cash. Because of a technology malfunction, Lunsford’s son was forced to sit in the juvenile center the entire weekend – significantly longer than the law requires and at taxpayer expense.” This seems like a win win idea. 2907 will make it so that for a person to be charged with felony criminal property damage, the damage they inflict must exceed $500, rather than the $300 damage it was previous. There had been questions why the threshold of felony property damage was so low.

 

  1. SB 3163: This bill protects workers by banning companies from making their workers sign non-compete agreements if they’re making less than $13.50 an hour. These non compete clauses tend to restrict workers and can be especially harmful to those making around minimum wage salaries.

 

  1. HB 4259: This bill restricts lobbying groups from receiving taxpayer funded pensions so as to try to end abuse of state dollars. Seems logical enough to me.

 

  1. SB 1564: This bill updates the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience law to require that health care facilities adopt procedures to make sure faith based objections can’t jeopardize the patient’s health. According to Dean Olsen, “When dealing with patients who need services that a professional or facility doesn’t provide because of religious views, patients must receive either formal referrals to other providers or information on how to reach providers that might be able to serve the patients.”

This bill wasn’t supported by any republicans of course as pro life people see it as forcing medical professionals to go against their  religious consciences. David E Smith, who was referred to earlier opposing the comprehensive contraceptive law said this, “It is going to force pro-life doctors and nurses to violate their conscience.”

But Brigid Leahy rightfully argues it’s not forcing the doctors to do anything but their job,”This is not a violation of religious freedom. The whole purpose of this is to prevent harm. Religious rights should not be allowed to cause harm to another person.” No medical professional should ever refuse a patient access to crucial health care because of their religious beliefs. It is not fair to the patients.

“This is an important thing for every person seeking health care in Illinois,” ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka said. “I think this really will improve the provision of health care in this state.”

 

  1. HB 6162: This bill requires employers to give their workers greater flexibility in using their sick time. A company providing sick leave to employees now must allow them to use up to half their allotted time to attend to the medical needs of family members. Seems fair to me

 

The laws i’ve described here are laws that overall i’m in agreement with. Obviously there are two sides of most things but these laws feel humane and not an abuse or overreach of government power. Though that might depend on what your definition of abuse or overreach is. The full list of laws can be found here:

And  a brief review of more new laws courtesy of the Illinois State Bar Association can be found http://nprillinois.org/post/illinois-issues-new-laws-2017#stream/0

 

-Jake Morask

(Opinions are mine and don’t represent official view of Laura Law Office)

Happy New Year! 2016 Year In Review

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By:  Timothy M. Black

This time last year, I was sitting in the lobby of the Swan Hotel at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, eating a Mickey Mouse-shaped cookie, reflecting on the year that was and dreaming about the possibilities that 2016 might bring.  While 2016 certainly had it’s very low moments (from the passing of David Bowie in January to the passing of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds this week), we had another great year here at LauraLaw.

This year, we saw some comings, and we saw some goings:

IMG_0592.JPGWe welcomed Laura’s husband, Dean, to the office in March.  Dean brings with him decades of experience in Criminal Law, Juvenile Law, and Appellate Law, to name a few, in addition to a sharp suit every day.  Dean has been Of Counsel at LauraLaw since it opened, but his move from the Monadnock Building to Park Ridge marked one of the biggest moments of the year.

 

img_3450.jpgKeeping with the trend, we welcomed Laura and Dean’s son, Jake, as an intern while he was home from the University of Kansas for the summer.  Jake brought with him a serious knack for the written language, writing some of our most read blog posts, and we keep a desk open so that he can come back any time he’s home from school.

 

img_3937We also welcomed Suzanne Krause to the team this fall.  Bringing with her a decade of experience as an Assistant State’s Attorney, Suzanne is a source of not only depths of knowledge, but scores of old war stories.  We are so grateful to have her on our team.

 

 

While we are so happy to have added Dean, Jake, and Suzanne, we had to say goodbye to some old friends, too.

imageIn June, we said farewell to Jayne.  While we have desperately missed her every day since her departure, she is happy in her new post as an Associate Attorney at an asbestos litigation firm.  Jayne may have taken a new job, but she will always be a part of the LauraLaw family, and family is always welcome at office parties!

 

img_3929Then, in October, we said our good byes to Dean’s Law Clerk, Eva.  Eva took a job at the City of Chicago, where you can catch her in one of the City’s courtrooms any day of the week.  We miss Eva, the smell of her home cooking, and her sharp wit, but we know this city is in a better place with her in its employ.

 

img_159011In November, Maddy neither came nor went; Maddy stayed – and we celebrated!  That’s right, as proof that time flies when you’re having fun, we celebrated Maddy’s THIRD YEAR as our Office Manager.  We sincerely could not do this without her, and we hope that celebration was just the beginning of many anniversary celebrations.

 

People were not the only thing coming and going:  in March, we reported on the removal of lockers from the courthouse at 26th & Cal.; then, in April, we reported on the return of lockers to the courthouse at 26th & Cal.

In January, we picked our cast for Dick Wolf‘s newest installment in #OneChicago, Chicago Justice (tentatively named Chicago Law at the time), but apparently none of our choices were taken into consideration.  So instead, we shot our own video.  We brought you behind the scenes of its filming, and in true LauraLaw style, we had a red carpet office premier for the roll-out of that video.  The video contains no profanity, but more and more, legal opinions do.

The Cubs celebrate after winning the 2016 World Series.Finally, and most importantly (in my humble opinion), the Cubs had a pretty great year.  Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter, a fan ran onto the field, Tim tweeted a link to an article we wrote about why that’s illegal, and ESPN Radio personality David Kaplan re-tweeted it.  Oh, also the Cubs won the World Series — no biggie, right?

 

Finally, in 2016, more people read our blog, downloaded our app from the iTunes Store and Google Play Store, and found us on Yelp!, which allowed us to do what we came here to do – represent defendants, law enforcement officers, and professionals in criminal court, disciplinary boards, and administrative hearings.  We love what we do, we love the people with whom we do it, and we love the people we have the privilege to represent – that love manifests in truly just outcomes for our clients.  So thank you for choosing us to represent you in 2016, and we hope that you will tell your friends about us.

In the meantime, stay tuned to this blog, and just like last year, we will update you on all of the new laws that will take affect in 2017.

Over the weekend and into the New Year, remember to drink responsibly and refrain from getting behind the wheel if you’re drunk.  But if you should find yourself under arrest or investigation, do not hesitate to contact this office, and one of our skilled attorneys will be happy to assist you with your legal issue.  Until then, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy Holidays From LauraLaw; Celebrating Our Fifth Holiday in Private Practice!

imageI am sitting here on the day before Christmas Eve day about to leave the office for the next few days to enjoy time with my family. We just finished our office holiday party, a successful smash event! I cannot believe it was my fifth holiday season in private practice! Our  stalwart faithful team joined by past employees, and friends welcomed this year some new members to our staff! Here’s looking at you Jake and Suzanne! I wanted to thank all of our Law Office clients, past and present who have chosen to put their faith in our office to help them with their legal issues. We thank you for your business and we know there are a lot of choices out there these days and it can get really confusing and difficult when or if you ever need a lawyer. We put our heart and soul into each of our cases and our clients and we wish you a wonderful holiday season. To all our faithful readers and followers we cannot thank you enough and hope you enjoy this blog which you can also see on our Facebook company page at Law Offices of Laura Morask or on our app which is downloadable through the Google or Apple store and is an easy and convenient way to get acquainted with our team and our services as well as read this blog! Finally, to all my staff past and present, a huge thank you for making this a great and wonderful venture. This was my fifth Christmas in private practice since my “retirement” from Cook County and not only have those years flown by but they too have been a wonderful albeit exhausting venture. But I love coming to work and my present team is simply awesome. They take such great care of me and our clients and I wish you all the best and brightest holiday season and New Year! Love, Laura

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Why Do I Need A DUI Attorney?

img_20150620_161530While I was sitting in court this morning, waiting for my case to be called, I was shocked at the number of people who showed up for the first court date of their DUI without a DUI Attorney.  I don’t know why I was shocked; I see it all the time, but I always find it interesting when the defendant just cannot understand why the Judge is making them come back in a month with a lawyer.  People often think they can handle their case on their own; it would certainly be cheaper, and how much really goes into fighting a DUI, right?  The answer, in short – a lot!

Aside from the fact that a DUI is a civil case (the suspension of your driver’s license) and a criminal case (the Illinois Vehicle Code violation(s)) all wrapped into one, the number of factors that can lead to a favorable disposition are aplenty.  There’s the driving, the stop, the videos, the audio recordings, the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, the breathalyzer, all of the paperwork, and the discovery tendering process, not to mention the federal grants, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards, the quotas, the general orders, and the policies and practices, to name a few.  If your head is spinning, the intricacies of each of those factors would send it into a tailspin.

4446135487_4da59f6f2c_bDUI defense is laden with technicalities, and DUI defense requires a skilled DUI Attorney.  That fact was no more apparent than in the recent Illinois Appellate Court case of People v. Day.  That case pitted the technical nature of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests against a police officer’s credibility in determining whether a driver is impaired.

In Day, the defendant was driving home from a party with two of his friends, both of whom were admittedly intoxicated.  When the Police Officer pulled Mr. Day over because the light above his license plate was burned out, or excessive noises were coming from his exhaust (depending on whose version of events you believe), the Officer smelled alcohol and asked Mr. Day to step out of the car, into the rain, onto the wet pavement on the side of the road.  During Field Sobriety Tests, Mr. Day allegedly displayed several “cues,” the mistakes that officers use to form probable cause that you are drunk, and smelled like alcohol (in addition to a few other factors).  He was arrested for DUI, and forced to hire an attorney to accompany him to court.

Mr. Day is lucky he did hire a DUI Attorney, and a skilled one at that.  When he challenged the Officer’s Probable Cause to arrest him for DUI, first through the civil Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension, and later through the criminal Motion to Quash Arrest and Suppress Evidence, the trial court found a lack of probable cause under both standards.

Based on the facts above, laid out in more detail in the case, can you figure out why the Officer lacked probable cause to believe that Mr. Day was in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the intoxicating influence of alcohol?

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If you didn’t pick up on the fact that it was raining, and that the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are no longer Standardized when conducted on the rainy wet surface, making them unreliable, then you just caught a glimpse into why the judge will make you come back next time with a DUI Attorney.  (If you did pick up on the rain issue, you can submit your application here…).  All kidding aside, the Judge found that the evidence as presented was not enough so that the officer reasonably believed that Mr. Day was driving under the influence of alcohol so as to support his arrest.

This case does not say that driving drunk in the rain will mean you can never be arrested for DUI, because the Court ruled that if there were other indicators of intoxication, this arrest might have been good.  It only means that, in this case, the rain was an important factor.  As I said before, this case just highlights the reason for hiring a DUI Attorney who is experienced in contesting DUIs, and detail-oriented in their approach – something you can be sure you are getting when you hire LauraLaw.

So don’t be caught in front of the Judge at your next DUI court date without a DUI AttorneyContact us here at LauraLaw, and one of our skilled attorneys will happy to discuss your DUI Defense.  We also handle matters related to Criminal Defense, Administrative Hearings, and Police Officer Defense if you are looking for an attorney to represent you.  In the meantime, drive safely, and have a great week.

Beware of DUI Checkpoints

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As we noted last year, tonight is the biggest drinking night of the year…and the biggest night for DUI Checkpoints and DUI patrols.  And every year, like clockwork, people ignore the “Blackout Wednesday” warnings of extra DUI Patrols and DUI Checkpoints, think they can drive after a night at the bar, and end up arrested for DUI.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Beware of the DUI Checkpoints and patrols that are scheduled for your area, use ride-share services like Uber or Lyft, or use taxi cabs to get around.

If you just can’t help yourself, or overestimate your sobriety, and end up in one of the DUI Checkpoints, or in the custody of your local police department, arrested for DUI, be polite, refuse to perform field sobriety tests, refuse to blow into the breathalyzer, and contact us here at LauraLaw.  One of our experienced attorneys will be happy to help you navigate the complex world of DUI Defense in Cook County.  But the best/safest way to avoid the cost and time involved in DUI Defense is to NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.

With that said, have a happy Thanksgiving, be safe tonight, and have a peaceful Black Friday/Small Business Saturday, and beware of DUI Checkpoints.