May 21, 2015

Relief for Drivers Facing Lifetime Revocation Passes House and Senate

Today, we are pleased to announce that HB1446 passed both the Illinois House and Senate and will now be sent to the Governor for signature. We have worked hard on this issue for the last four years. This law will allow drivers who have turned their lives around and previously had no chance at driving privileges (i.e. a lifetime revocation as the result of multiple DUI convictions) the chance to apply for and obtain hardship relief. The fight will not be over until the Governor acts on the bill this summer.

Mr. Davis continues to work under the direction of the Illinois State Bar Association as lead attorney on this issue. Our office will post additional updates as they become available. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

May 21, 2015

Potential Changes in Illinois DUI & Cannabis Laws

Pending legislation could change DUI and cannabis laws throughout the state of Illinois. HB 218 would decriminalize the possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana. While decriminalization prohibits any criminal penalties for the offense, the proposed bill would impose a maximum fine of $125. The same bill would change the DUI statute, 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6) which currently provides that an individual may be charged with DUI for having a trace of marijuana in their system. This means that even if the driver smoked marijuana 30 days before the arrest, and there is no evidence of impairment, the driver may still be charged with DUI.

HB 218 would change the DUI statute to tie liability to cannabis impairment. Just as a .08 is per se impairment for alcohol-related DUIs, this bill would create per se impairment for cannabis DUIs. The bill would set the legal limit at 15 nanograms of active cannabis in the blood and 25 nanograms of cannabis in the saliva. This would be the highest legal limit in the United States. Both Washington and Colorado have 5 nanogram limits. HB218 has passed the house and is awaiting approval in the Senate. The Cook County Sherriff, the Illinois State Bar Associate, the Illinois State's Attorney's Association and the ACLU are among the vast amount of supporters of HB 218.

SB 753, which has stalled in committee, seeks to legalize the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana as well as the cultivation of five cannabis sativa plants. These provisions would only apply to those over the age of 21.

Bill would decriminalize pot possession, tie DUI to impairment, May 19, 2015, www.isba.org

May 15, 2015

DUI Checkpoints Mostly Ineffective for DUI Arrests

A Chicago Tribune investigation revealed that federally backed DUI patrols and sobriety checkpoints in Illinois usually result in ticketing drivers for minor infractions rather than drunk driving. Of the 270,000 citations issued across the state through these patrols, 93% were for less serious offenses than DUI. Records from 2008 to 2013 reveal that ten police agencies throughout the state accounted for more than half of the citations issued by these patrols. These agencies include Chicago, Skokie, Elgin, Will County, Waukegan and Illinois State Police.

The Skokie Police Department logged 14,000 citations through their drunk driving patrols, but only about 3% of the citations were for DUI. The Elgin Police Department issued around the same number of citations, but arrested more than twice as many drunk drivers as Skokie. About 7% of Will County's citations through these patrols were for DUI and about 11 percent of Waukegan police's citations were for DUI.

Last year, a Des Plaines commander padded the number of DUI arrests made by his department in an effort to collect federal grant money. At his sentencing hearing, his attorney spoke of the pressure the commander was under in meeting the department's quotas.

While there are no ticket quotas attached to the federal grant money for these patrols and checkpoints state officials have adopted quotas as a "performance measure." Illinois now prohibits ticket quotas, but grant-funded policing initiatives, including DUI patrols, are an exception.

Sobriety checkpoints yield thousands of minor citations but dew DUI arrests, May 8, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

May 7, 2015

New Program Would Allow Officers to Verify Insurance Coverage During Traffic Stops

An electronic insurance verification program may soon be implemented in Illinois. This program will make it much easier for officers to catch those driving without car insurance. In 2014, the Illinois legislature established a committee to design the program, which will likely include a computer database that would be accessible to law enforcement during traffic stops. The system would allow officers to ensure you are up to date on your monthly insurance payments. Often, individuals make a down payment on their insurance, receive their insurance card, and do not follow up on monthly payments, allowing their coverage to lapse while retaining the card showing that they are insured. As of now, in order to ensure you are currently covered by insurance, officers must call the insurance company.

It is expected that the Secretary of State will adopt the rules for the program by 2016. The agency has estimated that of the 9 million licensed drivers in Illinois, 6% are uninsured.

Michigan has recently adopted a similar program, allowing police to access information on whether a vehicle is insured by running the license plate through their computer. Michigan insurance companies are required to transmit policy information twice a month, so the information provided to officers is reasonably accurate.

UPDATE: IL law enforcement could soon use database to catch drivers without car insurance, May 5, 2015, www.wrex.com

Michigan Police Now Have Access to Check Car Insurance, March 31, 2015, www.claimsjournal.com

May 1, 2015

Update: DUI & Lifetime Revocation Legislation

For the last several years, Larry Davis has been engaged in negotiations on behalf of the Illinois State Bar Association ('ISBA') and the Illinois Lawyers and Substance Abuse Counselors Association ('ILSACA') with the Office of the Secretary of State ('SOS') regarding several proposed changes to the Illinois driver licensing laws as well changes in the Illinois DUI laws with other interested parties.

We are pleased to advise you that the SOS Traffic Safety Advisory Committee has voted to approve many these proposals. The accepted proposals include the following:

Elimination of all 'hard times' under current law. Simply put, these are statutory periods during which a driver could not obtain relief during certain periods of a statutory summary suspension ('SSS') or revocation. These include:

1. First offender SSS - Drivers will be eligible for a Monitored Device Driving Permit (MDDP) from day 1 of the suspension (currently cannot obtain a permit until the 31st day of the SSS);

2. Second offender SSS - Drivers will be eligible to apply for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) from day 1 of the suspension (currently cannot obtain any driving privileges during the entire length of the suspension - generally ranging from a period of 1-3 years. Additionally, drivers with extensions of these suspensions due to convictions for driving while suspended will also be able to apply for a RDP (they currently are not eligible to apply);

3. Individuals with 5-year and 10-year revocations will now be able to apply for a RDP from day 1 of the revocation (currently unable to apply for the first year of the revocation);

There are also other provisions which will expand the use of BAIID device.

These proposals are a matter of fairness for those drivers who have been rehabilitated and need to be able to drive to support themselves and their families and want to be productive members of society.

Legislation has been drafted to implement these proposals. It is our hope that the proposals will be enacted into law this Spring and signed by the Governor over the summer. At this time, we cannot provide you with an effective date.

Former "Lifetime Revocations" Eligible for Restricted Driving Permits Under Certain Conditions. We are also pleased to report that a separate piece of legislation that Larry Davis has authored on behalf of the ISBA and ILSACA will allow those with lifetime revocations to apply for a Restricted Driving Permit under certain conditions. Under current Illinois law, those with four (4) DUI convictions (the last arrest occurring on or after 1/1/99) are not eligible to apply for any driving relief - thus the term 'lifetime'.

This legislation has passed the House and is now awaiting action in the Senate. Although we cannot predict the outcome, we are hopeful of passage and that the Governor will see fit to sign the legislation. Again, we cannot yet provide you with an effective date.

Per Se Level for Cannabis Impairment. Pending legislation provides that absent impairment, a driver can no longer be charged with DUI just because there is a trace amount of cannabis in the person's system. The new per se law will set the cannabis level at 15 nanograms per milliliter of whole blood and 25 nanograms per milliliter of other bodily substances.

If you are wondering what you can do to help, you can call you local State senator or representative and urge them to pass these pieces of legislation.

April 23, 2015

Lawsuit Alleges Chicago Police Department Conducting "Suspicionless" Stop-And-Frisks

A federal lawsuit filed on Monday on behalf of six African-American men contends that the Chicago Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy has violated their constitutional rights. The lawsuit alleges "suspicionless" street stops led to unlawful searches and seizures as well as the use of excessive force by the police department. The suit is seeking class-action status, alleging that the constitutional rights of mostly African-Americans have been violated. The named defendants are the Chicago Police Department, superintendent Garry McCarthy as well as 14 unnamed police officers.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio permits police to make a stop when there is reasonable suspicion that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime and there is a reasonable belief that the individual is armed and imminently dangerous. In these cases, a brief patdown of the individual's outer clothing in search for weapons is permitted.

Gregory Davis, 58, is a plaintiff in the case. He alleges that in July 2014, he was waiting in his vehicle for a family member to come out of Walgreens when officers asked him why he was sitting there and demanded his driver's license and insurance information. The allegations further state after looking into his vehicle, the officers allowed him to return to his home without issuing a citation. Davis was stopped again three months later as he drove through an alley in his neighborhood. He alleges that there was no probable cause for the stop and officers took his license and registration, making him wait 20 minutes while they ran his information. Again, there was no charges or citations issued.

The suit mentions an ACLU report that came out in May that found African-Americans constituted 72% of all stops, while only 32% of the city's population. It found that African-Americans, especially in white neighborhoods, were stopped at a disproportionately higher rate than whites and Hispanics. According to the ACLU, the police made more than 250,000 stops between May and August 2014, and none of those people were arrested. The Chicago Police Department's policy requires that officers who make a stop but do not make an arrest fill out a "contact card" listing the age, address, race, time and location, any distinguishable marks/tattoos and the reason for the stop.

A spokesman for the city's Law Department said officials had no comment as they were still reviewing the lawsuit.


Chicago sued over Police Department's alleged stop-and-frisk practices, April 21, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

Lawsuit Seeks To End Police Stop and Frisk Tactics In Chicago, April 21, 2015, www.chicago.cbslocal.com

April 16, 2015

Suit Alleges Probation Officers, Chicago Cops, and FBI Conspired to Conduct Warrantless Searches

Orangelo Payne, 35, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the FBI, Chicago police, the Cook County probation department, an FBI agent as well as individual police and probation officers. He alleges that while he was on probation for a drug offense in 2013, his home was illegally searched by an FBI agent and probation officers, who found an antique shotgun. This led to 16 months in jail for Payne, before the gun charges were eventually dropped.

The lawsuit alleges that there were improper partnerships between probation officers and law enforcement agencies. Payne alleges that the probation department did not investigate or discipline these probation officers, thereby encouraging misconduct.

Less than a year ago, the Tribune ran a story alleging that the probation department's gang unit improperly worked with the FBI and other agencies to conduct warrantless and possibly illegal searches. The former Deputy Chief of the gang unit is one of the defendants in Payne's case.

The allegations arise out of different standards for the different agencies in conducting a search and arrest. Probation officers only need "reasonable suspicion" to conduct surprise searches of probationers' homes without warrants, while police departments and the FBI must have "probable cause." The Tribune revealed in their investigation that the FBI and police were acting in conjunction with the probation officers in conducting the searches, thereby surpassing their probable cause and warrant requirements.

Payne is alleging that probation officers and an FBI agent showed up at his apartment in Bronzeville and searched his home due to the fact that he was on probation. They also questioned him regarding the murder of an FBI informant who had connections to Payne's family's business. Because the antique gun was found during the search, Payne was charged with illegally possessing a gun and violating his probation.

No comment was given by any of the agencies involved.


Probation officers conspired with FBI, cops for illegal searches, suit claims, April 15, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

Report says Chicago police, FBI joined in warrantless probation searches; law firm to investigate, May 22, 2014, www.abajournal.com

April 8, 2015

Man Charged with DUI at McDonald's Drive-thru in Aurora

An Aurora man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after allegedly threatening to fight a customer in the McDonald's drive-thru line.

Just after midnight on Monday, Aurora police were called to a home after reports that someone was playing music too loudly in a maroon Jeep. When police arrived, they found Daniel Garibay sitting in the vehicle. Police reports indicate that Garibay appeared to be drunk and that officers warned him not to drive. Officers then left the residence and believed the incident to be over.

However, about an hour later, a McDonald's employee called police, stating that someone in a maroon Jeep was being disruptive in the drive-thru line. The same officers that had responded to the earlier call arrived at McDonalds and quickly realized that this was the same man they had earlier warned not to drive. Besides threatening to fight another customer, the restaurant manager stated that she believed Garibay to be drunk after he seemed confused and had trouble speaking when ordering.

This is not the first time a DUI arrest took place at a McDonald's drive-thru. Less than a month ago, a man was charged with driving while intoxicated at a Delaware McDonald's drive-thru and two months ago a man was arrested for DUI after passing out in a Kansas McDonald's drive-thru.

Aurora man gets DUI in McDonald's drive-through, April 6, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

Man charged with DWI at Oneonta McDonald's drive-thru, March 12, 2015, www.pressconnects.com

March 31, 2015

Illinois May Reduce Penalties for Possession of Cannabis

Two bills introduced so far this year would reduce penalties for possession of cannabis in Illinois.

Senate Bill 753, sponsored by Senator Michael Noland of Elgin, would decriminalize the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21. These same individuals would also be permitted to cultivate up to five cannabis plants. If under 21, the penalties would stay the same.

House Bill 218, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy of Chicago, provides that possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana be charged as a petty offense, rather than a misdemeanor. The individual would be assessed a $100 fine. It also classifies possession of 30 to 500 grams of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor for a first time offender, rather than a Class 4 felony as the statute currently provides.

An analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute says that Illinois has the fifth highest arrest rate for possession of marijuana. He explained that these changes would allow law enforcement to focus their efforts on crimes with more victims and crimes which present public safety risks.


Illinois could ease pot penalties, March 28, 2015, http://www.thetelegraph.com

Senate Bill Aims to Legalize Small Amounts of Pot, February 5, 2015, http://chicago.cbslocal.com/

March 27, 2015

Ford Announces Car That Can Prevent Your Next Speeding Ticket


Ford of Europe has announced a new technology that could help you avoid that next speeding ticket. Its new S-max car reads speed limit signs with a camera mounted on the windscreen. The car then adjusts its speed to stay within the confines of the speed limit and will slow down your car if you are driving too fast.

The new technology, known as Intelligent Speed Limiter, controls the amount of fuel delivered to the engine rather than pressing on the breaks to slow down the car. The technology may be turned on and off and pressing firmly on the gas will temporarily override the system.

This may mean that in the future, speeding tickets will be obsolete. But for now, if you receive a speeding ticket, please do not hesitate to call our office at 847-390-8500 for representation.

New Ford car automatically obeys speed limits, March 25, 2015, www.money.cnn.com

Ford Launches car that prevents you from speeding, March 24, 2015, www.cnet.com

March 11, 2015

Lake County Man Released From Prison After 20 Years For Crime He Did Not Commit

Angel Gonzalez, of Waukegan, spent 20 years behind bars before being formally exonerated of rape and abduction charges on Monday. The basis of the exoneration was DNA. While bodily fluids implicate two different men in the crime, neither DNA sample matched that of Gonzalez.

Gonzalez appeared in a Lake County courtroom, shackled at the ankles, as Judge Victoria Rossetti vacated the conviction. While the excitement was evident, Gonzalez was then sent back to prison for a 1997 charge of criminal damage to property for allegedly damaging a sink while in solitary confinement.

On Tuesday, Gonzalez's attorneys asked a Livingston County judge to vacate the charge because there was no interpreter present when Gonzalez, who speaks little English, pled guilty. Judge Jennifer Bauknecht agreed to vacate the conviction and the prosecutors then agreed to drop the charges.

Gonzalez is the fifth individual in 20 years to be exonerated of a major felony in Lake County. Two of these men, Juan Rivera and Bennie Starks, who spent years in prison, were present in the courtroom on Monday.

Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim was also present. After the hearing, he apologized to Gonzalez: "If words were enough, I'd say I'm sorry, and I am sorry."

As of Tuesday night, Gonzalez was released.

A detainer was placed on Gonzalez in 1995, which would have required that he be sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") after his release from prison. However, an ICE spokeswoman said in a statement, "Since Mr. Gonzalez has been exonerated on all charges, ICE is exercising prosecutorial discretion and has canceled his detainer." Gonzalez's immigration status is still unclear and the ICE spokeswoman referred questions to Citizenship and Immigration Services.

After 20 years in prison, Lake County clears man in rape -- but he isn't free, www.chicagotribune.com, March 9, 2015

Man cleared in '94 rape walks out of prison as 2nd case dropped, www.chicagotribune.com, March 10, 2015

Angel Gonzalez, Illinois Man Exonerated in 1994 Rape Goes Free, www.nbcnews.com, March 10, 2015

March 5, 2015

Failure to Log DUI Arrests Allows Offenders to Keep Driving

A Tribune investigation revealed that the driver's licenses of thousands of drunk drivers have not been suspended because the arrests of these drivers are not being logged into state computers. While state officials blame the police for failing to send their reports to the Illinois Secretary of State, the police departments say that they put all necessary paperwork in the mail. While the root of the problem is relatively unclear, the Tribune noted that the mistakes appear to be widespread. In fact, since 2010, more than 3,000 Chicago area drivers' arrests were not logged and as many as one in 15 DUI defendants do not have suspended licenses in DuPage County.

Police in other states are permitted to log arrests electronically, making the process more efficient and reliable. However, Illinois has not yet made this change and does not expect to for at least a year or likely longer.

In Illinois, the suspension process begins with paper forms that the officers fill out by hand which are mailed to a state office building in Springfield. The state workers then enter the information into the computer, which requires deciphering the officers' handwriting. There are many opportunities for mistakes to occur, such as the use of improper forms, forms getting lost in the mail or in Springfield and illegible handwriting.

After the Tribune investigation revealed these mistakes, a Secretary of State spokesman said that the agency will send a letter this week to all police departments to remind them that the law requires police to fill out and mail in their forms.

State will press cops to avoid DUI paperwork errors, March 3, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

DUI paperwork mistakes allow thousands of drivers back on Illinois Roads, February 28, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

February 25, 2015

Report Shows Lake County Leads State in DUI Arrests

According to the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists ("AAIM"), a non-profit citizens action group that has tracked Illinois DUI arrests since 1982, Lake County made the most DUI arrests in the state in 2013. The 233 officers averaged 1.49 arrests per officer, bringing the total number of arrests to 348. Right behind Lake County was Cook County. However, Cook County has more officers in their force. The statistics state that Cook County's 487 officers made 306 arrests, which is an average of .63 arrests per officer.

AAIM determined that the Chicago Police Department, with roughly 12,000 officers, made approximately 3,400 DUI arrests. The rate of .28 arrests per officer pales in comparison to Lake County.

DUI fatalities in Illinois were down 38% from the last decade. However, the seemingly sharp decline in drunk driving may be due to the lack of arrests by some police departments. Although there is a decrease in DUI fatalities, drunk driving is still a major problem in the United States. One person was killed every 52 minutes due to DUI-related accidents in 2013 across the country.

Lake County leads in DUI arrests, but are we safer?, www.chicagotribune.com, February 19, 2015

Top 25 Counties and Cities With The Most DUI Arrests in Illinois, www.rebootillinois.com, January 29, 2015

February 18, 2015

Freed Inmate Sues Northwestern for Unethical Conduct Leading to Double-Murder Conviction

A former Northwestern professor, a private investigator and a lawyer are accused of conspiring to frame Alstory Simon, who spent 15 years in prison, for a 1982 double-homicide in Chicago. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Simon, and seeks $40 million dollars in damages, alleging unethical conduct on the part of Northwestern University and professor David Protess. Protess founded both the Medill Innocence Project and the Chicago Innocence project, which are organizations that investigate what they believe to be wrongful convictions.

The suit alleges that Simon was framed in order to free Anthony Porter, who was on death row for the murders. Manufacturing evidence, coercing false statements from witnesses and intimidating Simon into confessing are among the allegations. The suit claims that students working with Protess gave witnesses money for drugs, lied about their identities and flirted with witnesses. Also alleged is that Simon was set up with a lawyer who coached him to plead guilty. The lawsuit claims that Simon was under duress and the influence of narcotics when he confessed.

Investigator Paul Ciolino who is implicated in the case said in a written statement that Porter was indeed unjustly convicted and denied a coerced confession by Simon. The suit accuses Ciolino of impersonating a police officer, confronting Simon while armed and showing Simon a video of an actor falsely claiming to have witnessed the killing. The lawsuit also alleges that Ciolino told Simon he could avoid the death penalty if confessed that the victims were shot in self-defense and promised Simon legal representation and large sums of money from book and movie deals if he gave the statement.

In late October, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez announced Simon would go free. While she said she was unable to determine who committed the murders, she said she had serious doubts regarding the tactics used in the case.

Porter's release played a significant role in former Governor George Ryan's decision to halt executions, which were eventually abolished in Illinois in 2011.

Northwestern declined to comment on the case, other than to say they were investigating the lawsuit. Protess could not be reached for comment.

Suit: Northwestern allowed unethical acts, leading to wrongful conviction, www.chicagotribune.com, February 17, 2015

February 13, 2015

Florida Attorney's DUI Checkpoint Advice

A Florida attorney has a recommendation for dealing with DUI checkpoints. He says that individuals should place their license and registration up to their window with a flyer saying that they have no comment, will not permit a search, and want a lawyer.

Warren Redlich and an associate, Jeff Gray, have created a website, posting videos of their interactions with police at DUI checkpoints. The video from December 31, 2014, has been viewed more than 2 million times. It was filmed at a checkpoint in Levy County, Florida. The video shows Gray stopping at the checkpoint and displaying a flyer stating, "I remain silent. No searches. I want my lawyer," along with his license, registration and insurance card in a plastic bag dangling out of the barely open window. The officer examines the documentation with his flashlight and allows Gray to drive through the checkpoint. The Broward County Sherriff's Office stated that Gray was allowed to go through the checkpoint because "he clearly was not driving while intoxicated."

Police are unhappy with the tactics being used by Redlich, and insist that drivers must speak with police at the checkpoints. However, Redlich is not backing down and has created flyers for 10 states, each slightly different due to differences in DUI laws. He says there are more flyers on the way.

Florida Lawyer Sparks Debate About Rights at DUI Checkpoints, http://abcnews.go.com, February 10, 2015