July 23, 2014

Schemes Target Illegal Immigrants Seeking TVDL Appointments

ABC 7's I-Team investigated the TVDL application process whereby undocumented immigrants can apply for an Illinois driver's license. According to the story, there are reports of "appointments-for-sale" schemes targeting these individuals.

All applicants are required to schedule an appointment with the Secretary of State. Due to extremely high demand, appointments are not readily available. Applicants are frequently unable to get through by phone or online. An official at the Secretary of State's office estimates that between 250,000 and 500,000 illegal immigrants are interested in applying for a TVDL. Approximately 90,000 people have either already applied or are scheduled for an appointment. The Secretary of State estimates that it may take three years to work through the pool of applicants.

The Illinois Attorney General's office is reportedly investigation complaints of driving schools charging undocumented immigrants to obtain an appointment. Would-be applicants are allegedly paying hundreds of dollars to individuals promising to obtain appointments on their behalf. The Secretary of State and Attorney General are asking for any information relating to the sale of TVDL appointments.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT LICENSE LOGJAM, SCHEMES UNCOVERED BY I-TEAM, www.abc7chicago.com, July 22, 2014

July 15, 2014

Medical Marijuana Rules Considered by Illinois Committee

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) meets today in Chicago to discuss the rules governing the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. The law has been passed, but patients are still unable to legally use the drug.

If JCAR has no objections to the proposed rules, growers, retailers and patients will be able to begin the application process. Patients are expected to be able to apply for a registry identification card beginning in September. Applications for growers are expected to be released around the same time. State officials will then begin the process of granting permits for growers and dispensaries. 60 permits are available for dispensaries, and 21 permits are available for cultivation centers. A nonrefundable application for of $5,000 for dispensaries and $25,000 for cultivation centers will be imposed by the state. If approved, the dispensary registration fee is $30,000, while the growers permit fee is $200,000.

Approved patients are expected to begin using medical marijuana early next year. The Marijuana Policy Project estimates that about 10,000 people will become registered patients. There are still concerns about the impact of the new law on cannabis-related DUI throughout Illinois.

Patients could start using medical marijuana in early 2015, www.politics.suntimes.com, July 13, 2014

June 30, 2014

Chief Keef's DUI Case Continued Around Tour Schedule

A Lake County judge agreed to schedule a court hearing around rapper Chief Keef's tour schedule. Keef, 18, must appear back in court on August 22 for his next hearing. He was previously given permission to travel out of state.

Keef, whose real name is Keith Cozart, faces DUI charges stemming from a March traffic stop made by Highland Park police. He was initially stopped for an expired registration in the 2600 block of Skokie Valley Road, and subsequently submitted to field sobriety tests. Police allege that Keef showed signed of impairment from drugs and smelled the odor of burnt cannabis in his vehicle. Keef was also charged with driving on a suspended license and without valid insurance.

Since his arrest, he was evicted from the Highland Park home he was renting after the landlord complained to the Lake County Sheriff's Department. He reportedly owed four months of rent.

Judge schedules court hearing around Chief Keef's tour, www.chicagotribune.com, June 27, 2014

Chief Keef's DUI case delayed until August, www.suntimes.com, June 27, 2014

June 16, 2014

New Illinois Law Prohibits Ticket Quotas

On Sunday, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law restricting police departments from imposing ticket quotas on officers in Illinois. The Governor stated that officers should "not be forced to ticket motorists to satisfy a quota system" and explained that the new law will "prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle." The new law applies to all ticket types including traffic tickets (i.e. speeding tickets) and parking tickets. The new law even extends to hunting and fishing citations.

Effective immediately, officers in Illinois cannot be required to issue a certain number of citations within a specific timeframe. The new law also prohibits a county or municipality from comparing the number of tickets issued by one officer to another officer for purposes of evaluating job performance. While critics argue that the law restricts departments from holding officers accountable for performance, supporters believe the law allows officers with the freedom to do their job protecting the public.

Gov. Quinn signs bill banning ticket quotas for police, www.suntimes.com, June 15, 2014

June 5, 2014

Former Police Commander Falsified DUI Arrests to Obtain Grants

Former Des Plaines police commander, Timothy Veit, accused of falsely inflating DUI arrests to obtain federal grant money, has plead guilty to a lesser charge. Veit was charged with a felony count of making false statements and faced a maximum 5 year prison sentence. He ultimately plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge involving embezzlement and theft of public money.

Veit was accused of padding DUI arrests by 122 and falsifying BAC results in conjunction with those arrests according to a written plea agreement. The increased number of arrests allowed the Des Plaines police department to receive almost $184,000 in grants from the Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program funded by the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to federal authorities, Veit personally received approximately $32,000 in overtime from the grant program. He retired from the department in 2012 after 31 years of service.

As a result of the plea, Veit must repay the overtime to IDOT. In addition, both parties agreed to a six month prison sentence and 200 hours of community service. Sentencing is scheduled for October 2.

Former police commander padded DUI arrests to obtain grants, www.chicagotribune.com, June 4, 2014

May 21, 2014

Support SB1996 Providing Relief from Illinois' Lifetime Revocation Law

I would urge those who are so inclined to contact your state representatives and senators and urge them to support SB1996, allowing a second chance to those burdened with a lifetime revocation of their driver's license in Illinois. While we have assisted the sponsor, Rep. Elaine Nekritz, with the drafting of the bill and certain technical issues, Rep. Nekritz has, through sheer will and determination, created sufficient momentum where the bill for the first time, after prior years attempts, has a chance of passage.

This legislation will only provide an opportunity for those who currently face a lifetime revocation to convince the Secretary of State that they are deserving of another chance. It is NOT a free or automatic pass to return to the road. It still requires a minimum wait time of five years, a period of abstinence/sobriety, an alcohol/drug evaluation and treatment as well as a formal administrative hearing. It DOES NOT provide for full reinstatement, it only provides for hardship relief allowing, for example, a return to gainful employment.

It provides one chance at relief. If you mess up, you ARE done for life. It is consistent with the concept of rehabilitative justice rather than being simply retributive and ignorant of the fact that certain individuals can change and deserve the opportunity to be productive citizens. It gives such individuals who would otherwise be inclined to drive illegally in order to work and support themselves and their families a different option.

We believe it is a well-considered and thought out piece of legislation deserving of passage.

May 16, 2014

Bill Eliminating Lifetime DUI Revocation Passes Out of Committee

On Wednesday, the Illinois House unanimously passed legislation out of committee that would allow those with a lifetime revocation based on DUI to apply for a restricted driving permit (RDP) before the Illinois Secretary of State. Those offenders with four DUI convictions would be eligible five years after losing their license or their release from prison. These repeat offenders would need to demonstrate three years of sobriety, complete treatment programs, and drive with a BAIID device (Breathalyzer) at all times. The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists supports the legislation, believing that legalizing drivers who may otherwise drive illegally and uninsured in order to provide for their families. The RDP would only allow the individual to drive during specific hours and for specific purposes (i.e. work). The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

Plan to ease DUI penalties advances in legislature, www.sj-r.com, May 14, 2014

May 14, 2014

Illinois' Medical Marijuana Dispensaries High Barriers to Entry

Illinois passed a bill in August legalizing medical marijuana and dispensaries are expected to open in 2015. Illinois will issue permits for 60 dispensaries throughout the state, a relatively low number of permits compared to other states. Aside from heavy competition, strict regulations and high costs are going to make it extremely difficult to survive the application process and enter the market. Applicants must have $400,000 in liquid assets, and upfront costs are expected to run approximately $60,000 including application fees, legal costs and consultants.

The applicant is also required to go through a fingerprint background check, full disclosure of previous bankruptcy, defaults on student loans, child support or alimony, and prior tax returns. Applicants must also submit a plan for all aspects of their business including patient education, security measures, and design.

Want to open a marijuana dispensary in Illinois? It will cost you, www.stltoday.com, May 13, 2014

May 5, 2014

Notification of DUI Roadblocks as 'Cheating Checkpoints'?

A Louisiana media outlet discusses the increasing use of social media to raise immediate awareness anytime a new DUI checkpoint is set up. The article describes the notification of roadblocks as 'Cheating Checkpoints'. While the Supreme Court has upheld such roadblocks (despite the lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe a crime has been committed) others would call it a public service by alerting those who have committed no crime and believe that this type of police conduct violates their civil liberties. However, the law REQUIRES that for such roadblocks to be constitutional the police must give ADVANCE NOTICE. This is a another example of media ignorance.

Cheating Checkpoints: Facebook page alerts BR drivers to DWI checkpoints, www.fox44.com, April 30, 2014

April 29, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Propose Pot Decriminalization Task Force

Democratic Illinois lawmakers are calling for the creation of a task force to pursue decriminalizing and regulating marijuana in the state. The proponents of the task force highlight the burden on the criminal justice system and the high costs of enforcing drug laws.

John Fritchey, Cook County Commissioner, says he will introduce a resolution on May 21st which will ask the General Assembly to create a task force aimed at legalizing the drug in Illinois. The task force would research the issue and eventually propose legislation to regulate the recreational use of marijuana. He notes that the process will take time and changes will not come about in weeks or months.

Starting in 2012, Chicago police have been given authority to issue citations to individuals caught with possession of up to 15 grams of pot. These changes have alleviated some burden on the Cook County jail system but more substantial changes are necessary.

Lawmakers want task force to push pot legalization, www.chicagotribune.com, April 29, 2014

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