Federal officials have announced a new technology that they say could put an end to DUIs. The technology would automatically register the level of alcohol in the bloodstream of the driver, either by a passive set of breath sensors or touch sensitive contact-points on a starter button or gear-shift. It would prevent a driver from starting their car if the blood-alcohol content is above the legal limit. The technology is expected to start appearing in cars in five to eight years but the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said he would like to see the technology in use even sooner.

It has not been determined whether there will be a federal mandate for the devices in all new vehicles and the estimated cost per vehicle is about $150-$200. Researchers are working on how to package the technology for the passive set of sensors inside the car. They have figured out how to package the touch sensitive contact points and are now working to ensure accuracy. It is expected that touch-based sensors would be put into production sooner than the passive set of breath sensors.

New technology could put an end to drunken driving, officials say, June 4, 2015, www.washingtonpost.com

The decision to decriminalize possession of marijuana in Illinois is now in the hands of Governor Bruce Rauner. The new legislation has passed the House and the Senate despite some Republican opposition. The legislation would fine individuals $55 to $125 for possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana and any record of the ticket would be expunged after six months.

Rauner, who supports prison reform, has an opportunity to make progress on his goal of reducing the prison population by 25 percent in 10 years. However, there has been no indication from the Governor’s Office of whether he will sign the bill into law.

There is some debate over whether this bill would actually decrease the prison population. Rauner’s prison and sentencing reform task force showed there would not be a significant impact on prison populations because individuals charged with such small amount of marijuana are rarely sentenced to prison.

Decision to decriminalize pot in Illinois lies in Gov. Rauner’s hands, June 3, 2015, www.pjstar.com
Pot decriminalization decision in Illinois in Rauner’s hands, June 3, 2015, www.theherald-news.com

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House Bill 218, co-drafted by Larry A. Davis, has now passed both the House and Senate and is awaiting action by the governor. This bill will make possession up to 15 grams of cannabis punishable by fine only (up to $125.00). Additionally the bill eliminates cannabis from 11-501(a)(6), commonly referred to as the ‘trace DUI law’ which, until now, has allowed prosecutions for DUI without proof of impairment.

The new DUI provision (11-501(a)(7)) creates a per se level for cannabis impairment (15 ng/ml of whole blood and 25 ng/ml of other bodily substances). The cannabis found must be the active metabolite and testing must be performed within two hours of driving. While the science for cannabis impairment is sorely lacking, the whole blood level of 15ng/ml is three times the limit of any other State.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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