Most Frequent Causes of Traffic Accidents

Web Admin - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

causes of traffic accidents, Illinois Personal Injury AttorneyAnyone can find themselves involved in an automobile accident. Even a safe and courteous driver can can quickly become the victim of someone else’s negligence on the road. When an accident occurs, injured victims can suffer from any number of personal injuries or property damages. Therefore, these individuals deserve to be compensated for medical expenses, treatment, lost wages and lost property. 

Why Do Traffic Accidents Occur? 

There are several reasons why drivers are negligent behind the wheel. The most commonly cited causes for traffic accidents include the following: 

1. Distracted driving. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents in Illinois. While it is illegal to text and drive in Illinois, many drivers still do it and end up causing accidents. However, fiddling with a cellphone is not the only way that a driver could be distracted while behind the wheel. 

Drivers can be distracted by passengers (e.g., unruly pets, distracting children, talking passengers, etc.), eating or drinking while driving, or searching for items that are on the floor, in the glovebox, or are in a purse or backpack. Drivers who do not stay focused on the task at hand—driving safely—are negligent and are responsible for any accidents and injuries that they may cause. 

2. Driving while tired. All too common in large truck accidents, drivers may get behind the wheel and operate a vehicle while they are too tired to drive safely. A driver may accidentally doze off at the wheel or lose focus on the road. Droopy eyelids and inattentiveness make overly tired drivers unsafe drivers. Moreover, dozing off at the wheel is negligent driving. 

3. Speeding. Most people speed as some point when they are driving; sometimes it is to pass another vehicle and sometimes it is on accident. However, there are drivers who frequently make it a habit to drive at unsafe speeds. Additionally, speeding is commonly cited as a cause of many accidents in Illinois. 

4. Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When a driver decides to get behind the wheel while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, then he or she is exercising bad judgement and is placing himself or herself, a well as other drivers, at risk of injury or death. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is clearly negligent, and drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence should be held accountable for their poor judgement and negligent actions when others are hurt.

Speak with a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer in Illinois Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in traffic accident, then it is important that you speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer immediately. We will work to help you obtain the maximum possible recovery to which you are entitled by thoroughly examining the scope and extent of your injuries, identifying all of the potentially liable parties, and diligently investigating your claim. 

With offices located in Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness and Deer Park, our experienced Illinois personal injury attorneys are here to help ensure your best interests are met. Please call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team today.

    Ken Apicella

    About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.




Driver’s License Suspension

Web Admin - Thursday, December 03, 2015

driver’s license suspension, Crystal Lake Criminal Defense AttorneyFor many people, the ability to drive is very important. It allows individuals to travel easily to important places, like work or school, as well as to places for recreation or other leisure activities. Unfortunately, the right to drive can be taken away. When an individual has his or her license suspended, he or she may be tempted to continue to drive anyway, which can lead to significant consequences. 

Reasons for Suspension 

The Secretary of State (SOS) can suspend a person’s driver’s license for numerous reasons, including, but not limited to, the following: 

1. Three or more moving violations within a 12-month period;

2. Failure to appear in court for a traffic violation;

3. Ten or more unpaid parking violations;

4. Five or more unpaid automated traffic violations (being photographed for running a red light);

5. Failure to pay child support;

6. Failure to pay fines for five or more toll violations;

7. Causing an accident while driving without car insurance; or

8. Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, an illegal substance, or prescription medication. 

The SOS notifies an individual of a pending license suspension by mail, sent to the last address on file at the SOS. As a result, it is important to update the SOS when a change of address occurs. 

Penalties for Driving 

An individual that chooses to drive while his or her license is suspended can be subjected to various penalties, including: 

1. The suspension period being extended for the same length as was originally imposed;

2. Possible license revocation;

3. Jail time;

4. Seizure of the car’s license plates; or

5. Immobilization of the person’s vehicle. 

Under Illinois law, driving on a suspended license is a Class A misdemeanor. The length of any jail sentence or amount of community service ordered depends on the reason why the license was suspended. For example, a person who drives after he or she had their license suspended for DUI can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 10 consecutive days or 30 days of community service. 

Importantly, a second or subsequent violation becomes a Class 4 felony if the person is the proximate cause of an accident that results in personal injury or death to another person. A personal injury includes a Type A injury, which is defined as severe bleeding, distorted extremities, and any injuries that are require the person to be carried from the scene. A Class 4 felony is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years, with a minimum sentence of one year. 

It is important that you do not drive while your license is suspended—doing so can lead to serious penalties. Yet, this may be difficult, as our reliance on being able to drive our own vehicles is so strong. If you are facing charges of driving on a suspended license, please contact an experienced Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney today. Our firm provides help for individuals located in Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park.  

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.



Boating Under the Influence

Web Admin - Friday, July 10, 2015

Illinois boating DUI lawyerAs summer hits full-swing, boating becomes increasingly popular. Very often, drinking alcohol coincides with a day on the water. While this usually leads to creating a great time, it can also lead to very serious consequences. Boaters should be aware that operating a boat is treated similarly to driving a vehicle when it comes to drinking. As a result, boating under the influence (BUI) can lead to significant penalties.

What is BUI?

Under Illinois law, individuals must not control a boat or other watercraft in the state of Illinois while:

  1. 1. They have a blood or breath alcohol content of .08 or higher;
  2. 2. They have been drinking and are currently inebriated; or
  3. 3. They are intoxicated by any other drug that makes them incapable of operating the boat.
Unfortunately, many people often do not recognize that consuming alcohol or drugs and operating a boat can be equally as dangerous as driving a vehicle. Operation Dry Water, a study initiated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, found that, in 2014, alcohol was the leading factor in 21 percent of recreational boating deaths.

Penalties for BUI

Most BUI offenses are considered Class A misdemeanors. However, it may be charged as a Class 4 felony if:

  • 1. The individual has a previous conviction for BUI;
  • 2. The offense leads to an injury where someone other than the driver sustains serious bodily harm or disability or disfigurement; or
  • 3. The offense took place during a period in which the driver’s privilege to operate a watercraft is revoked or suspended due to a BUI-related offense.

If the individual is found guilty of causing great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement, the penalty is a mandatory prison sentence of one year, but not more than 12 years. BUI is considered a Class 2 felony if the violation results in the death of someone. A guilty conviction carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years, with a maximum of 14 years.

Boating is often a family activity. As a result, operators should be aware that BUI with a child under 16 on board results in a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and a mandatory minimum of five days of community service in a program that benefits children.

Finally, it is important to note that operating a boat while on the open waters of Illinois is considered consent to a chemical test or tests of blood, breath, or urine in order to determine whether the operator is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

BUI is a serious offense with potentially significant consequences. If you have been charged with this offense, you should speak to an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We can help you protect your rights. Our firm represents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, including communities such as Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Palatine, 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. 

What Happens if You Fail a Field Sobriety Test, and What Happens if You Refuse

Web Admin - Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Illinois breathalyzer fail, Barrington DUI lawyerThe State of Illinois considers drunk driving to be a serious crime, and imposes high penalties for people found guilty of it. Often, drunk drivers are caught during a traffic stop after taking a breathalyzer test or failing a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests are a battery of heuristic, qualitative examinations, like requiring the driver to stand on one foot for a certain period of time or to walk heel to toe.

However, drivers are not required to take these field sobriety tests because they qualify as a search under the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, these sorts of tests are not covered by Illinois' implied consent law. The implied consent law states that operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right, and that by driving, a person consents to have his or her breath, blood, or urine tested for alcohol. This means that, while there are penalties for refusing one of those tests, those penalties do not apply to field sobriety tests. There is one exception to this rule, however. If a person has been issued a registry card for the state's new medical marijuana program, then the implied consent law does extend to field sobriety tests.

Penalties for Failure

Courts often view failing a field sobriety test as evidence that a person was driving under the influence. This evidence can often be strengthened by the police taking a chemical test. If either test proves to the court's satisfaction that the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeded 0.08 percent, then that person triggers the DUI penalties in Illinois. A first offense comes with a maximum fine of $2,500 along with a potential jail sentence of up to one year. Additionally, a first offender's license may be suspended for a minimum of six months.

These penalties increase for repeat offenders, with the license suspension going up to a five-year minimum for a second offense. A third DUI triggers a 10-year suspension and a prison sentence of between three and seven years. Additionally, every DUI offense comes with the penalty of having an ignition interlock device installed in the offender's car, which functions as a breathalyzer test to turn the car on.

Penalties for Refusal

Refusing to take the field sobriety tests does not trigger any penalties, unless the driver has been issued a medical marijuana registry card. However, there are penalties for refusing to take a chemical test. These penalties start at a one-year summary suspension of a person's driver's license. Additionally, if a person has previously had a suspension or a DUI conviction in the past year, then the penalty increases up to a three-year suspension.

DUI charges are a serious sanction in Illinois that can have long-lasting consequences. If you have recently been charged, seek help from an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney. Our firm defends the rights of clients across the northwest suburbs, including in Barrington, Rolling Meadows, 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.

Underage DUI Penalties in Illinois

Web Admin - Tuesday, September 02, 2014

underage drunk driving DUI, Illinois DUI lawyerThe State of Illinois takes all instances of DUIs seriously, but it punishes people under the legal drinking age even more severely. This is because, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 25 percent of fatal car crashes involving teens include at least one underage drunk driver

In order to deal with this issue, the state imposes the standard DUI penalties on underage drivers, and it also tacks on extra zero tolerance penalties. These zero tolerance penalties involve suspensions of driving privileges in circumstances beyond those that would ordinarily qualify as a DUI, and may even involve penalties accruing to the parents of the driver as well.

Standard DUI Penalties

Underage drivers under the influence of alcohol are still subject to standard DUI penalties, but these penalties differ from the DUI penalties for people over the age of 21 in two important respects. First, these penalties are harsher than ordinary DUI penalties. The penalties include a possible $2,500 fine and a license revocation of at least two years, along with up to a year in prison. A second offense comes with the same penalties except that the minimum license revocation increases to five years. Second, these penalties are easier for underage drinkers to trigger. Ordinarily, a DUI charge requires a person to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of greater than .08. This is still true for underage drinkers, unless there is other evidence proving they were impaired. If such evidence exists, the required BAC drops to .05.

Zero Tolerance Penalties

In addition to the above penalties for an actual DUI charge, underage drinkers can face a host of driving-related penalties. For instance, even if an underage driver registers below a .05, they may still face penalties under zero tolerance laws. Zero tolerance penalties apply to underage drivers who register more than a .00 BAC without triggering full DUI penalties. These zero tolerance penalties include a three-month suspension of driving privileges for a first offense, and a one year suspension for a second offense. Additionally, the law doubles these penalties if the young driver refuses to consent to the necessary testing.

The law also imposes extra penalties on the parents of underage drunk drivers in certain circumstances. If death or great bodily harm results from the parents knowingly allowing underage drinking in their home, then prosecutors may charge the parents with a class 4 felony, which comes with a prison sentence ranging from one to three years and a fine of up to $25,000. Additionally, the parents may be liable for any damage that occurs because of underage drinkers leaving the premises.

If you or your child has recently been charged with a DUI or similar crime, seek help from an Illinois DUI attorney. Our skilled team of lawyers serves clients across the northwest Chicago suburbs, including in Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, and Deer Park.

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.

Protecting Your Rights During a DUI Stop

Web Admin - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

palatine illinois dui lawyerThe Fourth of July is fast approaching, and like many major holidays it is one of the busiest days of the year for police conducting DUI traffic stops. This heavy police presence makes sense since the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed federal crash report data and discovered that the Fourth of July is often the deadliest traffic day of the year. In fact, the report reveals a nearly 40 percent increase in traffic deaths during the Fourth of July over the daily average. Given the seriousness with which police view this holiday, it is important for people to be aware of their rights during a DUI stop. People have two main rights that are pertinent to traffic stops: the right to remain silent and the right not to consent to a search.

The Right to Remain Silent

A person’s right to remain silent allows them to refuse to answer police questions during a traffic stop. This means that when the officer asks if the driver has been drinking or where the driver is coming from, the driver is not under any obligation to answer. However, invoking this right involves practical issues. Refusing to cooperate with the officer is technically allowed, but may make the traffic stop more difficult. Consequently, a driver’s being polite and courteous is key, when exercising these rights.

This right extends to refusing field sobriety tests as well. Police will often request that people perform some sort of physical challenge or coordination test to determine if they are sober. While refusing these tests will likely result in a longer traffic stop, it makes it more difficult for the state to pursue a DUI conviction.

Importantly, the right to remain silent is not the same as the right to lie. While the driver does not need to answer the officer’s questions, the information they do choose to provide must be truthful. Further, the right to remain silent also has an exception. The law requires drivers to produce their driver’s license, a copy of their registration, and proof of insurance upon an officer’s request.

The Right Not to Consent to a Search

In addition to the right to remain silent, drivers also have the right to refuse to give the officer permission to search their vehicle. This is not the same as a right not to have the vehicle searched. The officer may still search the car if they have probable cause to suspect something illegal, but evidence from unconsented searches is harder for the state to use at trial.

This right not to consent to a search also affects whether a person must submit to a Breathalyzer test. People do have the right to refuse such a test, however, Illinois has an “implied consent” law, which means such a refusal could result in a driver’s license suspension. Still, that may be preferable to a DUI conviction.

If you were stopped for a DUI this holiday, seek counsel from an Illinois criminal defense attorney. Our skilled team of lawyers defends clients in many northwest suburban towns like Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Schaumburg.

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.

The Effect of Drunk Drivers on Children

Web Admin - Thursday, May 15, 2014

illinois drunk driving dui lawyerA disturbing national trend in alleged alcohol-related accidents involving children is emerging. In the U.S., approximately 20 percent of children who die in car accidents are in crashes that were caused by a drunk driver. Surprisingly, many of those children are in the impaired driver’s car. According to a study released by Dr. Kyran Quinlan, a pediatrician at the Erie Family Health Center, 65 percent of the children killed by drunk drivers are in the impaired driver’s car rather than in the one hit by the driver. Drunk driving is a dangerous crime for the perpetrator and for the victims, and it can come with serious penalties.

Alcohol impairs the functioning of a person’s brain and affects their attentiveness, decision making abilities, reaction speed, and judgment. These impairments can have a particularly serious effect on a driver since speedy reactions, clear vision, and the ability to make quick decisions are especially important on the road.

Drunk Driving Penalties

The penalties for drunk driving in Illinois can be quite serious and include fines, jail time, license suspensions and the use of an ignition interlock device, although the specifics depend on the number of offences. A first time DUI can come with up to a year in prison, along with a fine of up to $2,500 and a license suspension of at least one year. The next offense comes with the same possible penalties, except that the offender’s license will be suspended for at least five years. A third DUI would come with between three and seven years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500 and a minimum license suspension of 10 years. Additionally, after a first offense the court will mandate this installation of an ignition interlock device, a Breathalyzer-like device that will prevent the car from being started by an inebriated driver.

Additionally, drunk driving can also result in the person being charged with other crimes. If the drunk driver causes an accident that results in a death, the driver could also be charged with reckless homicide. Ordinarily, reckless homicide would be a class three felony, however if it occurs as the result of drunk driver, the law upgrades it to a class two felony. This can lead to a serious prison sentence from between three and 14 years, as well as other fines and the loss of the person’s driver’s license.

There are a variety of resources available to people who need a sober ride home after drinking. However, if you have been charged with drunk driving or involved in an accident, contact an Inverness criminal defense attorney. Our skilled team of attorneys handle cases across the northwest suburban Illinois towns like Rolling Meadows, Des Plaines, and Deer Park.

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.

License Reinstatement After Suspension or Revocation

Web Admin - Friday, October 04, 2013

License Reinstatement After Suspension or Revocation

The most common reason for having your driver’s license suspended is driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and as reported by the Illinois DUI Factbook 2013, “an average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurs every 53 minutes”

across the country. In recent years, many states have initiated extremely strict penalties for driving under the influence, and Illinois is no exception. If a person is convicted of a DUI, even if it is his first conviction of the sort, his vehicle registration is automatically suspended.

Additionally, according to the Factbook, Illinois is one of 32 states

 that require a “first-time DUI offender to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed on his/her vehicle.” Only once the BAIID is installed on the offender’s vehicle can the driver then be eligible for relief from licensesuspension. If a person is caught driving with a suspended license after receiving a DUI conviction, he or she is guilty of a Class 4 felony. A Class 4 felony can carry heavy sentences such as a revocation of driving privileges for up to two full years. At a minimum (if the license was suspended for reasons other than DUI), according to the Illinois DMV, driving with a suspended license is “considered a Class A misdemeanor with a possible fine of up to $2,500 and up to 364 days in jail.”

If your license has been suspended or revoked, understanding the reinstatement process is the first step toward recovery. The most important part of the process is to enlist the assistance of a qualified attorney. He will be able to help you determine if you qualify for Driver Relief, or Restricted Driving privileges (RDP). According to the Illinois DMV, “RDP usually only covers driving to work or school; sometimes exceptions are made for driving yourself or relatives to medical appointments.” Other types of restricted driving permits include a Judicial Driving Permit, a Probationary License, or a Family Responsibility Driving Permit. To determine if you qualify for any of these, work with your attorney and your local SOS Office.

After the period of license revocation is over, you’ll need to pay to have it reinstated. Reinstating a license after suspension in Illinois isn’t cheap. “These mandatory fees vary according to the reason your license was suspended or revoked,” according to the DMV. You’ll also have to pay for a new license. Your best bet is to work with a qualified attorney.

If you or someone you know has had her license suspended or revoked, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area attorney today.

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