Know Your Rights During an Illinois Traffic Stop

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

illinois traffic violations lawyerTraffic stops by police are the most common way that many people interact with law enforcement. In Illinois alone there are over two million traffic stops per year, according to a report released by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The common nature of these traffic stops means that it is important for people to understand what their traffic stop rights are, as well as what qualifies as a justifiable stop.

A Person’s Rights During a Traffic Stop

The two most important rights that people have during traffic stops are the right to remain silent and the right to refuse to consent to a search of their vehicle. The right to remain silent allows a person to refuse to answer questions the officer poses, such as, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” or “Where were you heading tonight?” However, there is a practical component to this right. Cooperation with the officer can make the traffic stop smoother and more painless, so the extent to which a person benefits from exercising this right may vary. Furthermore, the right does not extend to refusing to supply a driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration if the officer asks for it.

The right not to consent to a search of the vehicle is another important right that arises commonly during traffic stops. Though police may ask for permission to search the vehicle, a driver is not required to give it. Importantly, this may not stop them from searching the car. If the police believe that they have probable cause to search the vehicle, then they can perform a warrantless search. However, it is easier to exclude evidence from the legal process if the police found it in a warrantless search, rather than in a search to which the person consented.

The right to refuse a search also has interesting implications for breathalyzer testing. Illinois has something known as an “implied consent law,” which basically states that a person automatically consents to DUI testing based on probable cause as a condition of receiving their license. While a person could still refuse a test, this would result in a suspension of their license for at least one year, and it may not actually help prevent a DUI conviction.

Justifiable Traffic Stops

Even before the traffic stop actually occurs, people’s constitutional rights come into play. This is because a traffic stop qualifies as seizure, which means that Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure apply. Consequently, the police may not stop a person without “specific and articulable facts” that give rise to a reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct. These facts can be things like traffic violations, missing license plates, or erratic behavior. Even anonymous tips called into the police can qualify in certain circumstances.

If you are facing criminal charges following a traffic stop, contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyer today. We help accused citizens in town across the northwest suburbs, including in Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, and Des Plaines.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Results in Traffic Court: Conviction, Conditional Discharge, and Supervision

Web Admin - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

illinois traffic court lawyerFrom speeding tickets to car accidents, traffic court is one of the most common ways that people find themselves involved in the legal system. While people can sometimes avoid the hassle of going to court by simply mailing the ticket in with payment, that is often not the most prudent strategy. Mailing the ticket in with payment is equivalent to a guilty plea. This means that it will likely affect a person’s insurance rates, as well as add points to their license, which can eventually result in a license suspension or revocation if a person receives too many points over a specific a period of time. Conviction for more serious crimes, such as driving under the influence (DUI), can also have serious consequences, like impairing a person’s ability to receive professional licenses, or impacting their future employment prospects.

A better strategy for handling a traffic ticket of any magnitude is to go to the courthouse and contest it. When a person contests a traffic ticket, a few different things can happen. First, the ticket can be dropped altogether or the person can be found not guilty. While this is certainly not a common occurrence, it can happen, especially if a person has only a minor ticket, such as a speeding violation, and if their lawyer can present extreme or unusual evidence to explain why the violation occurred. More commonly, a person can receive a conditional discharge or court supervision. Those two outcomes are very different, and they can have a large impact on the ultimate cost of the traffic ticket.

Conditional Discharge Versus Court Supervision

Conditional discharges are a form of probation that the court imposes on someone after they have been convicted of a traffic violation, often along with fines or traffic school. The difference between conditional discharge and ordinary probation is that the court will monitor the person’s compliance with the particular conditions laid out in a discharge. The problem with receiving a conditional discharge is that, because it counts as a conviction, it will appear on a person’s record with the Secretary of State, which can cause an increase in insurance premiums. Those costs can be quite high, even for minor speeding tickets, which, according to Forbes, can cause insurance premiums to rise over 10 percent.

Supervision differs from a conditional discharge in that it is not technically a conviction. That means that, even though the court may impose fines or traffic school for the violation, it will not increase a person’s insurance premiums, which can add up to a savings of hundreds of dollars every year, depending on how severe the offense was.

If you recently received a traffic ticket, contact a Des Plaines traffic attorney today. Our firm serves towns across northwest suburban Cook County including Deer Park, Rolling Meadows, and Buffalo Grove. We have experience defending people accused of traffic violations, and can help you avoid the hassle and expense of a conditional discharge.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, real estate law, and corporate law. He is involved in his local Illinois community as an active member of the DuPage County Bar Association, Northwest Suburban Bar Association, and the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, Colin was nominated for 2012 Business Leader of the Year by the Chamber.

Consequences for Illinois Traffic Tickets: What You Should Know

Web Admin - Friday, November 08, 2013

Drivers in Illinois face a complex system of penalties every time they get a traffic ticket or moving violation. These penalties can include fines, points on their driving record, and even the suspension of a driver’s license. Plus, convictions for traffic offenses often increase the cost of a person’s car insurance.

Traffic Violation Consequences

One of the most immediate and noticeable results of a traffic conviction is the fine that tends to accompany them. These fines range anywhere from $50 to $350 for most offenses, while more serious violations, like DUIs, can cost $2500 for a first offender. But, Illinois imposes penalties beyond those fines for traffic tickets. The state of Illinois uses a point system to track a driver’s history of offenses. These point values range from five points for driving below the minimum speed limit all the way up to 55 points for reckless driving.

Accruing points can cause serious problems for drivers, especially if they commit three traffic offenses within a twelve month period. If that happens, the state can suspend their driver’s license for a certain amount of time (anywhere from two to 12 months) based on the number of points on the license. Additionally, if the driver has over 110 points on their license the state can revoke their license. Unlike suspensions, which end after a certain amount of time, revocations last at least one year, but may last longer and depend on the government’s discretion.

Traffic convictions also increase a driver’s insurance premiums. One study showed that convictions can raise rates by as much as 22 percent for something like reckless driving, or 11 percent for a smaller offense like speeding. To put that in perspective, the average driver pays $850 a year to insure their car, which means that a speeding ticket would cost about $85 every year on top of the fine and the risk of suspension.

What You Can Do Before Conviction

You can take several steps to avoid the consequences that come along with traffic convictions. Of course, you should always drive carefully and obey the rules of the road. Beyond that, taking a defensive driving may qualify you for a reduction in your car insurance rates. Additionally, contesting the traffic tickets can help you avoid these consequences.

Fighting the ticket in court can severely decrease, and even completely eliminate the penalties that come from traffic violations. And, you don’t have to fight it on your own. Contact an experienced Arlington Heights traffic attorney today. We help residents throughout the area, including Chicago, Crystal Lake, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Buffalo Grove.

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