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What Happens if I Get Caught Driving Without a License in Illinois?

Web Admin - Friday, December 13, 2013

By Colin H. Gilbert 

cgilbert@dgaalaw.com

http://www.dgaalaw.com/colin-gilbert.html

The State of Illinois takes driving without a license very seriously. The law does not view this like a mere speeding ticket or red light violation. Instead, the Illinois Vehicle Code allows the state to pursue criminal charges against drivers who get on the road without a license.

The law breaks down the seriousness of getting caught driving without a license into three separate categories depending on a variety of factors. These factors include whether or not the reason the person has a license, whether the person ever had a license, and the person’s age.

Driving without a license starts off as a petty offense. The law considers it a petty offense if the person had a license at one point in the past year, and merely let it lapse. In these cases the law limits the punishment to a $500 fine. If the person’s license expired more than a year ago, or if the driver in question is below the age to get a driver’s license then the law upgrades the crime to a class B misdemeanor. 

Class B misdemeanors can trigger punishments of up to $1,500 in fines, and 180 days in prison. However, jail time for unlicensed driving in this case is uncommon, and judges are allowed to sentence offenders to probation or community service instead. The law may also punish driving without a license as a Class A misdemeanor in the event that the driver committed the offense after the Secretary of State suspended or revoked their license. In these cases, the court may sentence the offender to up to a year in prison, along with $2,500 dollars in fines.

Additionally, people caught driving without a license face more than just criminal sanctions. The Secretary of State will also get involved by suspending their license. License suspensions can last anywhere from two months to a year depending on the number of convictions for driving without a license that a person has received. Also, license suspension affects even those people who never received a driver’s license, since they will be unable to get one for the length of their suspension. Furthermore, after a person’s fifth conviction, the Secretary of State can revoke a person’s driving privileges. In this instance, the state will not allow the person to drive until they have recovered their privileges in a formal hearing.

 

If you face criminal charges for driving without a license, you do not have to go through the process alone. Contact a Schaumburg criminal defense lawyer today. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Barrington, and other nearby communities.

Legally Possessing Medical Marijuana in Illinois

Web Admin - Friday, December 06, 2013

On August 1st, 2013, the Illinois legislature passed The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which allows the use of medical marijuana in Illinois. This bill, which goes into effect on January 1st of next year, expands access to marijuana for those with certain medical conditions. However, the law keeps it illegal for recreational purposes, and tries to maintain public safety by carefully regulating who uses the drug and how much is allowed.

Rules on Marijuana Use

The state legislature placed several restrictions on the legality of medical marijuana. The law allows people to obtain marijuana only if they have one of 33 illnesses listed in the Act. However, the law also gives the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) the authority to add new diseases to the list as they see fit. The Act further limits the use of medical marijuana to people over the age of 18 who do not have a prior felony conviction. The legislature also attempted to control the spread of marijuana by requiring an Illinois ID card or driver’s license, so that people cannot travel to Illinois from other states just to get marijuana. Additionally, the Act forbids the use of marijuana in front of minor children.

How to Obtain Medical Marijuana

The process for acquiring medical marijuana eligibility contains three steps. First, a doctor must diagnose the patient with one of the 33 listed conditions, which include, among other diseases, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, MS, and various pain disorders. Once the doctor diagnoses a patient with an eligible disorder, the patient can go to a medical marijuana clinic or other specialist to acquire a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. The patient then takes that recommendation to the IDPH who will issue them an ID card that allows them to purchase medical marijuana.

Once the patient becomes eligible for medical marijuana, they can take their ID card to one of 60 state-regulated dispensaries, and use it to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Patients should keep in mind that the state heavily controls the supply of medical marijuana, which means that it may take a few months after the bill goes into effect before the medical marijuana actually becomes available.

Legal Help

If you have questions about the legality of medical marijuana, or have been charged with a crime related to medical marijuana, contact an experienced Chicago drug defense attorney today. We serve many areas in the northwest suburbs including Schaumburg, Barrington, Des Plaines, Deer Park, Buffalo Grove, and more.

Red Light Cameras in Illinois: What You Need to Know

Web Admin - Thursday, November 21, 2013

Motorists come in contact with yellow lights at intersections daily. And while many slow to a stop to avoid a possible accident, others may risk their chances by gunning the engine through the changing lights above, often doing so with no repercussions.

Even if you avoid an accident, you may still be hit with a traffic citation for running a red light. In fact, with the proliferation of red light cameras throughout Illinois, residents in Chicagoland may find themselves being mailed tickets for allegedly running a red light and being caught on camera. Citations are sent to the registered owner of the vehicle, even if the owner was not driving at the time.

The cameras are connected to traffic signals at select intersections. There is usually a constant low-resolution video feed being recorded, and sensors are connected to crosswalk lines and stop lines. When vehicles cross those lines after a light is red, a high-resolution camera is triggered that tries to captures the vehicle license plate and an image of the entire vehicle in the intersection.

The Consequences

If you are convicted of red light camera violation, you will have clear consequences. For starters, you will owe a fine­--typically $100. But it is not only a matter of money; the citation will affect your driving record and may result in 20 “points” being added to your license record. Considering the effect that this may have down the road, it is important to think twice before automatically paying the ticket.

Defending Yourself Against Red Light Tickets in Illinois

Under Illinois law, if you receive a ticket in the mail you have the option to request a hearing to contest the violation.  

Mistakes are frequently made by these automated systems. The technology is not perfect, and many resident who lawfully enter an intersection before a light is red, or make a right turn on a red light after properly stopping, still receive citations in the mail. The same Illinois law that allows administrative hearings to contest a charge also require municipalities to provide you with access to the recorded images of your supposed violation.

In addition, there are specific state rules that prevent municipalities from issuing citations in any manner they choose. For example, the law explains that a municipality “may not use an automated traffic law enforcement system to issue violations in instances where the motor vehicle comes to a complete stop and does not enter the intersection… even if the motor vehicle stops at a point past a stop line or crosswalk where a driver is required to stop…”

For help with red light ticket legal issues throughout the Chicagoland areas, including Lake County, Will County, DuPage County, and other nearby communities, please contact an experienced Illinois traffic lawyer today. We help residents in many northwest suburban areas including Arlington Heights, Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Schaumburg, Des Plaines, McHenry, and Crystal Lake defend themselves in these situations.


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