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

February 3, 2015

First Round of Medical Marijuana Licenses Issued in Illinois

While the fate of medical marijuana licenses in Illinois was questionable amid a new governor taking office, Governor Bruce Rauner made a surprising move and awarded dozens of licenses on Monday. Letters were sent out to 18 cultivation centers and 52 retail shops confirming that they have been selected to receive the licenses. Others who have spent thousands of dollars on the application process were disappointed to find out they were not selected.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner conducted an internal review that revealed flaws in the medical marijuana license award process under former Governor Pat Quinn. In a statement made by John Barclay, Rauner's general counsel, he said that Quinn's process had created "a risk of substantial and costly litigation" to the state. While Quinn said that applications were subjected to a blind review process, Governor Rauner's review revealed that state agencies conducted a "character and fitness review" subsequent to the blind scoring.

Still under review are two applications from HealthCentral LLC, an application from strip club owner Perry Mandera, and a company part-owned by Nicholas Vita, a former Goldman Sachs executive who faced lawsuits in other states for opening medical marijuana businesses.

While it is unclear how long it will be before patients will be able to buy medical marijuana, crops could begin to be harvested as soon as this year.

Rauner announces who can grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois, www.chicago.suntimes.com, February 2, 2015

Rauner issues medical marijuana licenses after review, www.thetelegraph.com, February 2, 2015

January 22, 2015

Police Body Cameras Coming to Chicago

In the wake of highly publicized shootings by police officers across the country, there has been an increased focus on body cameras as a way to visually monitor police actions.

The Chicago Police Department has announced that Chicago police will begin wearing body cameras within two weeks, as part of a two-month pilot program. Taser International, Inc., is providing the cameras at no cost to the city or police department. The officers working the afternoon shift in the Northwest Side's Shakespeare District, which includes parts of Logan Square, West Town, and Humboldt Park will wear the 30 cameras either on their headgear, glasses or clothing.

While the cameras will be turned on during "high-risk situations," the officers will also turn the cameras on during DUI stops and foot and vehicle pursuits. The Chicago police officers will be required to inform individuals they come in contact with that they are being recorded.

The hope is that these "body cameras will strengthen police and community relations," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.

Some Chicago police will start wearing body cameras in the next two weeks, www.redeyechicago.com, January 20, 2015

Chicago police to begin wearing body cameras today, www.wgntv.com, January 21, 2015


January 13, 2015

Medical Marijuana Cultivation Centers and Dispensaries Put on Hold as Rauner Takes Office

The question of whether medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries will receive their licenses has been put into the hands of the new governor, Bruce Rauner. Governor Pat Quinn left office without issuing the contemplated licenses and it is unclear whether Rauner will issue them. Rauner showed his opposition to medical marijuana during his campaign but sources indicate that he may be reconsidering his position. A Rauner spokeswoman said his administration is "in the process of reviewing it."

While the decision to issue licenses has not been made, on Monday morning, Governor Quinn signed into law changes to the current medical marijuana program in Illinois. One significant change is that patients charged with driving under the influence of medical cannabis will have their medical marijuana card revoked and their driver's license suspended.

Also, state regulators will have the authority to fine and suspend individuals for violating existing law. Before this change, the only penalty was to revoke a violator's license. Additionally, fingerprints of owners, investors, and employees of cultivation centers and dispensaries as well as patients and caregivers will be checked against state and federal databases.

Hundreds of businesses filed applications in September and more than $5 million dollars has already been invested in cultivation centers and dispensary licenses. In addition, more than 650 patients have already paid $100 each for their medical marijuana cards.

Patients left 'hanging' as medical marijuana decisions delayed, www.chicagotribune.com, January 13, 2015

Medical marijuana licenses in limbo as Quinn leaves office, www.bnd.com, January 12, 2015

December 30, 2014

7 New Illinois Laws You Should Know for 2015

1. The liability of parents for underage drinking no longer only applies to residences or private property. State law will be expanded in 2015 to penalize parents who allow those under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in vehicles, trailers, campers or watercrafts under their ownership or control. Parents will face a fine of up to $2,000. If a death results, parents can face a felony charge.

2. The Illinois Tollway Authority will now have the authority to increase the speed limit to 70 mph on interstates in urban areas. The law previously passed in 2013 allowed for a 70 mph speed limit only in rural areas.

3. Individuals, including children, who suffer from seizures will be permitted to be treated with medical marijuana. Although the specific rules and regulations regarding children are not finalized, it is likely that the child will be required to obtain written certification from two doctors.

4. Photo lineup procedure will change in order to help reduce wrongful convictions. The procedure will no longer allow the lineup administrator to know the identity of the suspect. An independent administrator, automated computer program, or a random folder lineup method will be among the permitted photo lineup procedures. Instead of viewing all individuals in the lineup at the same time, the new legislation will allow police departments to present each individual in the lineup separately.

5. Police department ticket quotas will be prohibited.

6. Juvenile arrests that did not result in the filing of a delinquency petition will be automatically expunged when the minor turns 18 only if the minor was not arrested within six months of the minor's most recent arrest.

7. A request for a search warrant can be made to a judge by simultaneous audio and video transmission, such as Skype. The transmission must be filed and retained in a way determined by the Chief Judge or Presiding Judge in the issuing jurisdiction.


New year brings numerous new laws to Illinois, www.buglenewspapers.com, December 29, 2014

Teen drinking, medical pot, speed limit, beer among new Illinois laws in 2015, www.rrstar.com, December 29, 2014

December 24, 2014

Beware of DUI Roadblocks this Holiday Season

In Illinois, a common practice used by police to bust drunk drivers is the use of DUI Roadblocks, otherwise referred to as Safety Checkpoints. Use of roadblocks to identify intoxicated drivers is legally permissible, only if utilized correctly by police. If you have been arrested for DUI following a roadblock stop, do not automatically assume that the stop, search, and arrest was proper, as the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution still affords citizens protection against unlawful search and seizure.

The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that, if done properly, roadblocks do not unreasonably intrude into an individual's privacy because intoxicated motorists pose a substantial risk to the safety and welfare of other motorists. With that said, police are not granted unfettered freedom of intrusion, and are still governed by principles of reasonable suspicion to stop an individual and probable cause to make an arrest.

For a roadblock to be valid, the certain requirements must be met:

1. The police agency must have made advance public notice of the roadblock.
2. The police officers conducting the roadblock must be given specific instructions for operating the traffic stops and must adhere to those standards.
3. The stop of vehicles cannot be random, but must be made in a set sequence; every other vehicle, every third vehicle, etc.
4. The use of the roadblock must be a minimal stop to check for a valid driver's license and then make brief visual observations of the interior of the car and the driver.
5. To make a more prolonged and detailed investigation of the driver, the officer must make specific and articulable observations of drug and/or alcohol use.
6. If the officer does make specific and articulable observations of drug and/or alcohol use, the officer may continue with the stop, but still must have probable cause to make an arrest.

If you have been arrested as the result of a roadblock, it is important that you consult with an attorney experienced in DUI and criminal defense. The defense attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. have years of experience handling these cases throughout Illinois including Cook, Lake and DuPage Counties.

December 17, 2014

Illinois Continues to Enforce DUI 'Trace' Law Despite Calls for Change

As part of its DUI statute, Illinois has a provision that provides that any amount of cannabis or controlled substance in a driver's system may be the basis for a DUI charge. This is the only part of Illinois DUI law that permits a charge of driving while under the influence - even if there is no evidence that the person was impaired or intoxicated.

The most commonly cited example of the law is the person who may have smoked marijuana days or weeks earlier and then is stopped for a minor moving violation or as a result of an accident. If the officer has any reason to believe that the person had smoked marijuana at some point, the officer may seek testing. Often the situation arises in the case of an accident where the person was injured, taken to a hospital and testing is conducted, revealing the presence of a by-product of marijuana, called a 'metabolite'.

The most recent example of the absurdity of the law is the case of Scott Shirey. In December 2011, Mr. Shirey was driving with his two young twin sons in his car. While driving, he was broad-sided by another vehicle and one of his children was killed and his old child was severely injured.

Mr. Shirey was transported to the hospital to be treated for his injuries. As the result of blood-testing, it was determined that he had a marijuana metabolite in his system. He admitted having smoked marijuana weeks earlier. There was no evidence or suggestion that he was impaired or under the influence of marijuana or that he was even at fault for the accident that cost the life of his son.

Despite this, Mr. Shirey was charged with felony DUI involving death and endangering the life of his children. The most serious of the charges, DUI involving death, carried a potential sentence of 3-14 years in prison. Luckily, the court in Mr. Shirey's case decided to grant him probation. Nevertheless, he has suffered the trauma of the loss of his son and he is now a convicted felon. All of this despite the fact that he was not under the influence of marijuana and was free from fault in the accident.

Illinois courts have rejected challenges to the law. As a result, The Illinois State Bar Association has supported legislation co-authored by Attorney Larry A. Davis, a principal of The Davis Law Group, P.C., to change the law to prevent injustices such as that occurred in the case of Scott Shirey.

It is our hope that this legislation will be heard in the upcoming Spring 2015 session of the Illinois legislature.

If you, a family member or friend have issues concerning a DUI case or license reinstatement issue, feel free to call the experienced attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C.

December 10, 2014

Seven DUI Arrests During Kane County's "No Refusal" Enforcement

The most recent "no refusal" crackdown in Kane County, which took place the night before Thanksgiving, resulted in seven DUI arrests. The Illinois State Police, the Kane County Sheriff's Police and thirteen municipal departments participated in the endeavor.

Drivers suspected of driving under the influence were taken to a police station and asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. If the suspect refused, the police utilized an on-call prosecutor and judge to execute a warrant to compel them to comply. During the November 26th effort, only one of the seven suspects refused until the warrant was served. Two of the suspects provided breath samples with results under a .08.

The methods used during these "no-refusal" enforcements are often criticized. Under Illinois law, while there is no specific statutory right to refuse, the police may not use physical force to obtain bodily fluids (People v. Jones, 214 Ill.2d187 (2005) and People v. Farris, 2012 IL App (3d) 100199 (2012)). How does a judge's warrant trump the right to resist?

Kane County reports 7 arrests in 'no refusal' DUI crackdown, www.chicagotribune.com, December 9, 2014

November 21, 2014

Illinois Drug-Related DUI Law Must Change

Current Illinois law allows a driver to be charged with DUI based on a trace of illegal drugs in their system. This is true regardless of impairment and even if the drug was used weeks earlier. The Illinois State Bar Association is challenging this unjust law.

Larry Davis, a principal at The Davis Law Group, P.C., helped to write the Illinois State Bar Association's proposal. The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin quoted Mr. Davis stating, "It is a bad law. It is putting people who have not really committed anything that would justify that type of treatment--putting them in prison." If the proposal is enacted into law, a driver who has marijuana in his system and is involved in a serious or fatal accident would be charged with a misdemeanor separate from the DUI charge. In order for the charge to be elevated to a felony aggravated DUI charge, prosecutors must prove impairment.

A prime example of the current, unjust law is illustrated by the case of Scott Shirey. Shirey was driving his 10 year old twins to swim practice when a pickup truck ran a red light, crashed into his car, killed one of his sons and severely injured the other. There was no allegation that he was under the influence or impaired in any way. When Shirey's blood results came back, he had trace amounts of marijuana in his system. Shirey claims he had smoked pot a month before, but he faced up to 14 years in prison for an accident in which he was not at fault. In the end, Shirey received probation. His case has sparked controversy and a call for change.

Island Lake fatal crash cited as Illinois no-tolerance DUI pot law is challenged, www.dailyherald.com, November 14, 2014

ISBA pushes for drug-related DUI change, www.chicagolawbulletin.com, November 19, 2014

November 3, 2014

Activists Rally for Increases in TVDL Appointments

Six-month wait times and four to five hour drives have Temporary Visitors Driver's License (TVDL) activists infuriated. With demand for appointments skyrocketing, residents and community groups rallied outside a West Side Driver's License Facility on Friday, October 24, in an attempt to pressure the Illinois Secretary of State to increase the number of appointments.

The Resurrection Project, a community activist group, estimates that approximately 400,000 people are currently trying to make appointments, which the group claims will take about five years to complete.

A spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State stated that increasing TVDL appointment availability in Chicagoland and Northern Illinois is being considered. However, the spokesman pointed to the fact that the program is unfunded, and has manpower and union issues. As of the end of September 2014, more than 64,600 people had received their TVDL.

Frustrated residents say TVDL application process is not fast enough, www.thegatenewspaper.com, October 24, 2014

Immigrant Rights Groups: Demand Oustrips Slots For Driver's Licenses, www.wuis.org, October 27, 2014

September 29, 2014

Actress Amanda Bynes Charged with DUI

The California Highway Patrol arrested actress Amanda Bynes at 4:10 a.m. on Sunday. Bynes, 28, was booked by the LAPD at 7 a.m. and charged with misdemeanor DUI. She was released at 12:44 p.m. Sunday on $15,000 bail.

Bynes allegedly ran a red light and stopped in the middle of an intersection in Sherman Oaks, California. The officer believed she was under the influence and noted that she was unable to complete the field sobriety tests. While at the station, Bynes was given a drug evaluation and reportedly could not complete the hand-eye coordination tests. Toxicology results are expected in 30 to 60 days.

In 2012, Bynes was arrested for DUI but plead guilty to a lesser alcohol-related offense. She did not serve jail time but was given three years probation and was required to attend a three-month alcohol education course. She is currently still on probation for this charge.

Bynes' next court date is October 23.

Amanda Bynes arrested on DUI charge, www.foxnews.com, September 29, 2014

Amanda Bynes Arrested for DUI in Los Angeles, www.nbcchicago.com, September 29, 2014

September 22, 2014

Former Harvey Superintendent Pleads Guilty to Official Misconduct

Former West Harvey-Dixmoor Elementary District 147 Superintendent, Alex Boyd Jr., 67, was sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty to two counts of official misconduct for stealing $78,000. Boyd was originally charged with 20 felony counts of theft and official misconduct. He was accused of stealing approximately $500,000 by making unauthorized purchases and withdrawals from a school district-funded life insurance policy, receiving unauthorized cash to purchase a tax-exempt annuity, and being paid for vacation and sick days that he did not have. Boyd's defense attorneys contended that his actions were permitted under his contract with the school district. Felony charges were also filed against former board secretary Mable Chapman alleging that she helped Boyd steal from the district. Today, those charges were dropped.

The investigation regarding Boyd's actions started in 2005, when the Chicago Tribune reported school board members spent $100,000 on travel and restaurants. It was later discovered that the district could not account for or misspent $2.2 million dollars in grant money. The state's attorney then seized the district's financial records and searched Boyd's home.

In Boyd's final years as superintendent, he was paid a salary of approximately $250,000. He retired in 2011 and was given a $192,000 a year pension, which is the fifth highest pension for a retiring public school teacher or administrator in Illinois.

Former Harvey schools chief gets probation for misconduct, theft of $78,000, www.chicagotribune.com, September 19, 2014

School board beefed up pension, pay for ex-superintendent now facing criminal charges, www.chicagotribune.com, September 25, 2012

September 15, 2014

Fired Hebron Officer Accused of Selling Drugs on The Job

Authorities announced today that a former McHenry County police officer, Ryszard Kopacz, of Wauconda, faces new felony charges for selling drugs while on duty. Kopacz, 30, was arrested days after beginning his job with the Richmond Police Department. He was charged with official misconduct, burglary, and possession of stolen guns.

When Kopacz was first charged in July, he was accused of going door to door in his police uniform, soliciting prescription drugs from elderly residents. Kopacz was also charged with burglarizing the Hebron Police Department, his previous employer, and possessing two stolen rifles.

As of today, Kopacz can add five additional counts of official misconduct to the list. He is accused of delivering marijuana on four separate occasions, between February and June, to an informant while "acting in his official capacity" as a Hebron police officer. He is also now charged with unlawful acquisition of a controlled substance based on the allegation that he obtained hydrocodone through "misrepresentation, deception or subterfuge."

Kopacz is free on $4,000 bond and will be back in court on October 7.

Fired officer facing additional drug-related charges, www.chicagotribune.com, September 15, 2014

Former Hebron police officer denies new drug charges, www.nwherald.com, September, 15, 2014