April 7, 2014

Illinois Compassionate Use of Marijuana and DUI Law

Effective January 1, 2014, Illinois legalized the medical use of marijuana. In order to do so, it became necessary to change Illinois DUI law since driving with any amount of marijuana in a person's system is illegal and may subject the person to a DUI charge. Under the new law, if the person holds a registered user's permit from the Illinois Department of Public Health, that person may drive with marijuana in his or here blood or urine as long as he or she is not impaired.

However there is a significant trade-off for the right to drive after using marijuana. The police may require the registered user to submit to physical performance tests. If the person refuses or fails testing then he or she may be suspended. Non-registered users have no obligation to submit to such testing and do not face suspension for refusing or failing testing.

Attorney Larry A. Davis' article on the subject was published in the Illinois Bar Journal in March 2014. The full text is available here.

March 17, 2014

Chicago Rapper Chief Keef Arrested for DUI in Highland Park

Chief Keef (real name Keith Cozart) was charged earlier this month with driving under the influence of drugs by Highland Park police. According to authorities, on March 5 at approximately 12:40 a.m., Keef was pulled over in the 2600 block of Skokie Valley Road for an expired registration on his Jeep Grand Cherokee. Police allegedly smelled an odor of burnt cannabis during the traffic stop. Keef was charged with DUI after reportedly failing field sobriety tests.

Keef was also charged with driving on a suspended license, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and expired registration. He was released the following day after posting a $300 bond. Keef's arraignment on the new charge is scheduled for April 11 at the Waukegan Courthouse.

This incident comes after Keef recently completed a 90-day mandatory drug rehabilitation program in California.

Another arrest for Chief Keef: DUI charges in Highland Park, www.chicagotribune.com, March 17, 2014

After rehab, Chief Keep charged with DUI in Highland Park, www.suntimes.com, March 17, 2014

March 7, 2014

Man Accused of Phoning Bomb Threat While at Maywood Courthouse

Carlos Davilla, 34, of Cicero is accused of calling in a bomb threat at Maywood Courthouse prior to his appearance on a retail theft case earlier this week. According to the Cook County Sheriff's Office, Davilla made a phone call from a pay phone inside of the courthouse at around 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday. The building was searched and nothing suspicious was found.

After viewing courthouse surveillance cameras, police were able to identify Davilla as their suspect. He was found inside the courthouse and arrested. Davilla was charged with felony disorderly conduct and held on a $15,000 bond. He was then ordered to be held without bond on the pending retail theft charge.

Cops: Man phones bomb threat while in Maywood courthouse, www.chicagotribune.com, March 6, 2014

Man Accused Of Calling In Bomb Threat Before Court Hearing, www.cbslocal.com, March 6, 2014

February 20, 2014

Des Plaines to pay IDOT $92,000 for Misuse of DUI Grant

Des Plaines has settled with the Illinois Department of Transportation, agreeing to pay $92,000 for allegedly faking DUI arrest numbers to increase grant-funded overtime pay. The Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program requires that police departments submit the number of DUI arrests and the blood alcohol levels of those arrested. The department is then reimbursed for officer overtime pay, mileage and equipment. An investigation in 2012 was prompted when city leaders informed IDOT that some allegedly fraudulent DUI arrests had been submitted as part of the program. From 2009 to 2012, DUI arrests were inflated by 122 according to authorities.

Des Plaines was paid more than $115,000 in the year prior to the investigation. That amount was the third highest STEP grant in Illinois. Thirteen members of the department were penalized with suspensions and criminal charges were filed against Timothy Veit, the former commander in charge of the program. Veit pled not guilty to one felony charge of making false statements - his case is still pending.

Des Plaines to pay IDOT $92,000 to settle police grant case, www.chicagotribune.com, February 19, 2014

Des Plaines to pay back IDOT for misusing grant, www.dailyherald.com, February 19, 2014

February 7, 2014

Illinois Trooper Involved in Fatal Crash Denied License Reinstatement

Former Illinois State Police Trooper Matt Mitchell was denied driving relief by the Secretary of State once again after revocation stemming from his involvement in a fatal crash. According to Mitchell's attorney, the hearing officer recommended driving relief only to have the decision overruled by a Secretary of State official in Springfield. His attorney believes that due to the high profile nature of the case, the Secretary of State is concerned with bad publicity. Mitchell would like to find work and have the ability to drive his 11-year-old daughter to school. His attorney has filed a request for administrative review in Jefferson County court.

Mitchell was involved in a November 23, 2007 crash which resulted in the death of two sisters. Mitchell's squad car reportedly crossed the center line into oncoming traffic on Interstate 64. An investigation determined that the vehicle had been traveling at 126 mph while Mitchell was on his cell phone and typing on an in-dash computer. He was heading to an accident scene. In 2010, Mitchell pled guilty to reckless driving and was sentenced to 30 months probation. He plans to continue to apply for reinstatement.

Mitchell's attorney outraged his client can't get license back, www.bnd.com, February 6, 2014

January 15, 2014

Special Prosecutor Requested in TV Reporter's DuPage DUI

DuPage County prosecutors are asking that a special prosecutor be appointed in the DUI case of Chicago reporter Dave Savini due to a potential conflict of interest. According to a spokesman, a member of the DuPage County State's Attorney's office is a relative of Savini's. If the request is granted, a special prosecutor from outside DuPage County would be assigned to the case.

Savini, a 47 year-old investigative television reporter for Chicago's WBBM-Channel 2, was arrested January 4 after allegedly hitting a vehicle in the parking lot of a Naperville Taco Bell. According to police, when the other driver attempted to photograph Savini's license plate, Savini allegedly pushed the driver and left the scene. The driver called police and Savini was stopped shortly afterward. Two children under the age of 18 were also in the vehicle. Savini reportedly failed a field sobriety test and a breath test resulted in a .134 BAC. Savini is charged with DUI, battery, endangering the health of a child, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Outside prosecutor sought in DUI case of TV reporter Dave Savini, www.suntimes.com, January 14, 2014

December 16, 2013

Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver's License Program Expands

The Illinois temporary visitor driver's license (TVDL) program for undocumented immigrants has continued to expand. Starting today, undocumented immigrants will be able to sign up for approximately 17,000 available appointments at thirty-six locations throughout Illinois. Applicants must confirm their appointments at the Secretary of State website in order for them to be valid.

There have been recent complaints about appointments falsely appearing as booked and other technical problems. The Secretary of State recommends using computers rather than mobile devices to book the appointment if possible. Walk-in appointments are not accepted. Over 11,200 immigrants had previously signed up for appointments at the four active pilot program locations. Thirty-five successful applicants had received licenses as of Friday. The TVDL is only valid for driving within Illinois and may not be used for identification purposes.

Thousands of slots available for those seeking visitor driver's licenses, www.chicagotribune.com, December 15, 2013

December 2, 2013

Lake County Officials Prepare for Medical Marijuana

Towns across Lake County are beginning to prepare guidelines for the new Illinois medical marijuana law, which goes into effect January 1, 2014. Officials must decide how many pot-related businesses will be permitted under their various zoning codes and local ordinances. Specifics such as security, business hours, and proximity to schools must be considered. A plan for various Chicago regulations was presented at a recent City Council meeting.

Under the new law, 60 dispensaries and 22 cultivations centers are allowed throughout Illinois. The law permits doctors to prescribe up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 2 weeks to patients with specified medical conditions. Planning commissions are using California and Colorado as examples to develop their own guidelines. Lake County has created a medical marijuana task force to assist, eventually providing recommendations to the various municipalities.

Lake County towns prepare for medical pot, www.chicagotribune.com, November 28, 2013

November 29, 2013

Kohl's Retail Theft in Will County Ends with Shots Fired

Three Joliet men were arrested after a botched shoplifting attempt at Kohl's in Romeoville that resulted in the shooting of one suspect by police. Police were notified of a retail theft in progress at the local department store on Thursday around 10 p.m. According to police and witnesses, police officers waited outside to apprehend two men who were exiting the store with a shopping cart. One of the suspects, Robert Russell, 51, ran toward a vehicle and the shut the pursuing officer's arm in the vehicle's door. The driver took off, dragging the officer along with the vehicle. A second officer fired three to four shots at the driver after the he refused the officer's orders to stop. The suspects were apprehended after the driver was shot in the left arm. The third suspect, Gerald Chamberlain, 28, was arrested inside the store.

Felony charges were filed this morning against Russell and Chamberlain, both reportedly have extensive criminal records. Russell was charged and booked at the Will County Jail for attempted murder, retail theft and obstructing an officer. Chamberlain was charged with felony theft. The driver has not yet been charged. The officer was treated and released from a nearby hospital.

Charges filed after shoplifting suspect shot by police, www.chicagotribune.com, November 29, 2013

November 21, 2013

Illinois Highway Deaths at Historic Lows

Although, as previously discussed, fatal hit-and-run crashes are increasing across the county, Illinois highway deaths are at 60-year lows according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA reports that over the past several years there has been a "historic downward trend in traffic fatalities." The number of fatalities has decreased by approximately 26% from 2005-2011 and has continued on this pattern since that time. Illinois traffic fatalities is below the national average. Although highway deaths in Illinois have slightly increased in the most populated counties, that number has been more than offset by a decrease throughout the rest of the state.

The NHTSA does not specifically cite a basis for the decline but reasons may include DUI awareness and enforcement, vehicle design, airbags, seat belt laws and highway design. Illinois DUI-related deaths have declined 10% between 2008-2012.

NHTSA: Highway Deaths in Illinois, USA at Historic Lows, www.mystateline.com, November 19, 2013

November 12, 2013

Fatal Hit-and-Run Crashes Increasing Across the Country

According to crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hit-and-run crashes are on the rise in many major cities including Chicago. Nationally, the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes have increased from 1,274 in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011, which is the most recent year data is available. That is a 13.9% increase over a three year period. However, overall traffic deaths fell 4.5% during the same period. In other words, the number of overall traffic deaths is not the basis for the steady increase.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that almost one in five of all pedestrian fatalities involve hit-and-runs. The foundation believes that alcohol is a major factor in these instances. Another common factor includes individuals driving without valid driving privileges. Los Angeles reportedly has the highest rate of hit-and-run crashes. In 2009, LA Weekly reported that 48% of the city's crashes were hit-and-run related, in contrast to 11% nationally.

Many states are continuing to enact stricter legislation and create harsher penalties. Under current Illinois law, leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years in prison). If the driver leaves the scene and does not then report the accident to a police station within 30 minutes, they may be charged with a Class 2 felony (Class 1 if the accident results in death). A conviction results in the revocation of the defendant's driving privileges. If you are involved in a hit-and-run or charged with leaving the scene of an accident of any kind, you should contact an attorney immediately.

Fatal hit-and-run crashes on rise in U.S., www.usatoday.com, November 10, 2013

October 30, 2013

Woman Injured After Shoved Into Jail Cell, Skokie Officer Charged

Skokie Police Officer, Michael Hart, is charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct in connection with a DUI arrest that resulted in serious injuries to a woman after she was allegedly shoved into a jail cell. According to police reports, after Cassandra Feuerstein was transported back to the station following a DUI arrest, video reportedly shows Hart pushing her into a cell and her head striking a concrete bench. Feuerstein's head begins to bleed profusely. According to her lawyer, she broke several bones in her face and underwent facial reconstruction surgery. She previously filed a civil rights lawsuit arising out of the incident.

Cook County prosecutors said that Hart was assisting in the fingerprinting and photographing of Feuerstein. During the process, she repeatedly disregarded Hart's commands to look at a specific location on a camera lens in order to take proper booking photos. After disobeying his final command, Hart allegedly grabbed her by the arm and pulled her towards an open detention cell. At the entrance, she attempted to use both hands to grasp the sides of the doorway and request another opportunity to take the photographs. At that time, the officer allegedly put both of his hands on Feuerstein's back and pushed her forcibly into the cell. A judge set Hart's bond at $75,000 on Wednesday. If convicted, he faces a sentence of probation up to five years in prison.

Skokie Officer Charged After Shoving Woman Into Jail Cell, www.chicago.cbslocal.com, October 30, 2013

Skokie cop charged with two felonies for shoving woman, www.skokie.suntimes.com, October 30, 2013

October 23, 2013

Rules Passed for Issuance of Temporary Visitor's Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) approved the proposed regulations Tuesday for the issuance of Temporary Visitor's Driver's Licenses (TVDLs) for undocumented immigrants. The rules were passed without objection or amendment.

The Secretary of State has indicated that appointments may be requested beginning the last week of November and the licenses will be issued starting in early December. Applicants must provide documentation demonstrating the legal name, date of birth, written signature, current address and proof that they have lived in Illinois for the past 12 months or more. Documents that can be used to show proof of residency for the required period include electricity bills, telephone bills, bank statements or lease agreements. An unexpired passport or consular card must be presented.

Individuals will be able to request appointments at approximately twenty-five Secretary of State facilities throughout Illinois and appointments may be made over the internet. A Secretary of State spokesman has said that the Secretary of State does not share information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without a court order.

Fue aprobado el reglamento para expedir licencias para inmigrantes, www.vivelohoy.com, October 22, 2013

October 17, 2013

Final Warning Before Chicago Speed Camera Enforcement Begins

Final notice was given by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office Wednesday before the new automated speed cameras near parks and schools we begin issuing real tickets. Some of the cameras have been running under a grace period over the last couple of months but will soon be switching to enforcement mode as early as Wednesday. However, it is now reported that speeders will be given a second chance. The system will send a warning ticket first and the driver is only fined on a second offense.

According to city officials, a $100 fine will be imposed for speeds of 11 mph or more over the limit during the initial phase. Drivers will not yet be ticketed for driving 6 to 9 mph over the limit. Drivers traveling at exactly 10 mph over the limit may face a $35 fine at this time. The city will gradually lower the speed threshold and those speeding 6-10 mph will face a $35 fine.

During the 45-day grace period, the first nine cameras near four city parks issued 222,843 warnings. According to the Tribune, if real tickets, they would reportedly have generated $13.3 million. Projected over an entire year they would have generated $106 million. City City officials argue that revenue will drop as drivers change behavior. They cite statistics demonstrating that warnings issued by the first 9 cameras decreased by 43% within the first two weeks of operation. Enforcement hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday in school zones and from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week near parks.

The city plans to expand the cameras to a total of 100 locations by the end of the year. It is important to note that these tickets are punishable by fine only and not counted by the Secretary of State as moving violations.

Speeding drivers to get last warning before camera crackdown, www.chicagotribune.com, October 16, 2013

Speed Cameras To Begin Issuing First Tickets Today, www.chicago.cbslocal.com, October 16, 2013

October 10, 2013

Woman Sues Skokie Police Alleging Excessive Force During DUI Arrest

A Chicago woman charged with DUI filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court claiming that a Skokie Police Officer used excessive force during her arrest. According to police reports, Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after she was found parked in the middle of an intersection, slumped over inside her vehicle with her right foot resting on the brake pedal.

Once back at the station, video reportedly shows a man in a police uniform pushing her into a cell and her head striking a concrete bench. The suit states that Officer Michael Hart "used so much force that she was flung across the cell head first into a cement bench at the far side of the cell." Feuerstein's face "split open" and she began to bleed profusely. According to her lawyer, she broke several bones in her face. She underwent facial reconstruction surgery and has a titanium plate in her face. Her attorney says that she had no prior arrests or DUI charges. The lawsuit also alleges that the officer made false statements to others in the department regarding the reason he pushed Feuerstein into the cell, causing other officers to write false reports on the incident.

Feuerstein pleaded guilty to DUI and the charges for obstructing a police officer and additional traffic citations were dismissed. Feuerstein was sentenced to one year of court supervision and approximately $1,600 in fines and court costs. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. The village stated that it is "committed to reaching a full resolution in this matter." The officer involved has been placed on station duty during the investigation.

Woman sues Skokie Police, alleges cop threw her into concrete bench, www.suntimes.com, October 10, 2013

Woman sues Skokie and officer, citing injury after DUI arrest, www.chicagotribune.com, October 10, 2013