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.

New Speed Limits on Illinois Roads: Keep Speeding Penalties in Mind

Web Admin - Friday, January 17, 2014

By Colin H. Gilbert


The New Year in Illinois comes with new speed limits to match. A new Illinois law raised the rural speed limits to 70 mph. A map that the Illinois Department of Transportation recently released details exactly which highways qualify for the new limit. As it turns out, about 90 percent of the Illinois highway by mileage will get the upgraded speeds. Although the law technically went into effect at the start of the year, the speed limits will not actually change until the state’s crews change the signs on the highways, a process they expect to complete by January 17th, assuming the weather permits.

With these new limits, motorists should keep aware of the penalties that come along with speeding violations. The most obvious consequence that comes along with a speeding violation in Illinois is the fine. Simple speeding tickets are petty offenses, which come with a fine capped at $1,000. However, speeding tickets in excess of 20 mph over the posted speed limit trigger the charge of reckless driving. In Illinois, reckless driving is a Class A misdemeanor, which means that the fine can go as high as $2500. In cases of reckless driving, the judge may also sentence the offender to up to one year in prison.

In addition to the fines and jail time, speeding tickets also add points to a person’s license. The amount of points added depends upon how much the driver exceeds the posted speed limit by.

• 0-10 mph over the speed limit: 5 points
• 11-14 mph over the speed limit: 15 points
• 15-25 mph over the speed limit: 20 points
• 26 or more mph over the speed limit: 50 points
• Reckless driving: 55 points

  • The points on a driver’s license come into effect in the event that a driver receives three tickets in a 12 month period. If that happens, then the state can suspend their driver’s license for a certain amount of time, the length of which is determined by the number of points on the license.

• 15 to 44 points: 2 month suspension
• 45 to 74 points: 3 month suspension
• 75 to 89 points: 6 month suspension
• 90 to 99 points: 9 month suspension
• 100 to 109 points: 12 month suspension
• 110 points or more: revocation

If you have recently received a speeding ticket or other traffic violation, contact an Arlington Heights traffic attorney today. Their knowledge and experience can help ensure your rights are properly defended in Crystal Lake, Inverness, Deer Park, and the surrounding areas.

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