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Distracted Driving. Will I Receive a Ticket?

joliet distracted driving
Over the past several years, the state of Illinois has taken steps to reduce the occurrence of traffic accidents caused by drivers engaging in “distracted driving.” To most drivers distracted driving means talking on one’s cell phone while operating a vehicle, but in reality, distracted driving laws apply to several other activities.

According to the Illinois State Police, if a driver engages in any of the following activities, and as a result causes a traffic accident, he or she may face criminal charges and incarceration.

● Shaving or other grooming activities such as combing one’s hair or nail maintenance
● Texting or Emailing
● Tuning or adjusting the volume on the radio
● Reading and/or writing
● Eating, drinking, or smoking
● Applying makeup
● Arguing/fighting with passengers
● Adjusting contact lenses
● Picking up an item from the floor of the vehicle
● Reaching for the glove compartment

Even those activities that one would consider quite legal could cause a licensed driver to face charges under Illinois’s distracted driving statutes .

Cell Phones Remain a Big Distraction

Illinois law allows drivers over the age of 18 to use a cell phone while driving only when doing so with a hands-free or Bluetooth-enabled device. In fact, while these exceptions are permitted, Illinois law enforcement continues to encourage individuals to pull their vehicles over when they must use their cell phones.

The following cell phone usage activities are expressly prohibited in the state of Illinois:
● ANY cell phone usage by drivers under the age of 18
● Texting while driving
● ANY cell phone usage in a construction or a school zone
● Hand-held cell phone usage when traffic comes to a standstill. You are only legally permitted to use a hand-held cell phone if your vehicle is in neutral or park

Consult a Reputable Will County Distracted Driving Lawyer

The best way to avoid being charged with distracted driving may very well be to just keep two hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. However, should you ever face charges of distracted driving, it is important to have an experienced Will County traffic defense attorney at your side to ensure you receive fair treatment under the law. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will work on your behalf to minimize any penalties you face and protect your driving privileges.

Appeals Court Upholds Drug-Induced Homicide Conviction

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With all of the talk nationwide about criminal justice reform and alternatives to imprisonment for so-called “low-level” and non-violent offenders, it is understandable that the severity of certain drug crimes can be underestimated. Of course, in most such cases, the offenses in question tend to be simple possession or the possession of drug paraphernalia. Most people realize that other drug crimes—including possession with intent to deliver, manufacturing, and trafficking—are much more serious. Perhaps the most serious drug-related offense is known as drug-induced homicide and is, for all intents and purposes, tantamount to murder.

A case involving allegations of drug-induced homicide from 2012 was recently heard by an appellate court in Illinois. A three-judge panel upheld the trial court’s finding that the defendant had committed drug-induced homicide, despite being friends with the victim.

A Quick Summary

Court records indicate that in late June of 2012, a 31-year-old Wheaton woman was released prison after completing a sentence for drug-related charges. She was spending the next day celebrating with friends and family when the defendant arrived to pick up the woman’s girlfriend from the party. The defendant, who was 32 years old at the time, also gave the recently-released woman heroin, cocaine, and a kit for using the drugs. Shortly afterward, the woman told her family she was going to take a shower. Several minutes later, she was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor and was later pronounced dead.

The friend who provided the drugs was arrested and charged with unlawful delivery and drug-induced homicide. She was found guilty at trial, but she appealed on the basis that the law was applied incorrectly and that she had not been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Her arguments, however, lacked sufficient merit and the appeals court upheld her conviction. She remains in prison serving a 9-year sentence and is eligible for parole in 2020.

Understanding Drug-Induced Homicide

Drug-induced homicide is one of the few criminal offenses in which you can be held responsible for actions taken by another person. According to Illinois law, a person commits drug-induced homicide when he or she delivers a “controlled substance to another, and any person’s death is caused by the injection, inhalation, absorption, or ingestion of any amount” of the substance that was delivered. This means that if you sell heroin to an acquaintance and he or she overdoses on the heroin you sold, you could face charges for drug-induced homicide. The charges would be applicable even if you directed your acquaintance regarding how much could be “safely” used at one time. Similarly, you could also be charged if your acquaintance shared the drugs at a party and another partygoer died.

As a class X felony, a drug-induced homicide charge carries substantial criminal penalties. Prison sentences range between six and 30 years, and fines can reach as high as $25,000.

Seek Help With Your Case

If you have been charged with any type of drug-related offense, you need skilled guidance immediately. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jack L. Zaremba understands the Illinois criminal court system, and he will work hard to protect your rights and limit the damage to your future. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.

Common Misconceptions About Your Miranda Rights

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If you have ever watched a crime-related television program, you know that most episodes end with a suspect in handcuffs and, as the screen fades to black, you can hear the arresting officer begin to say, “You have the right to remain silent.” Thanks to this type of depiction in entertainment, most people are aware of the series of statements known as Miranda rights—sometimes referred to as Miranda warnings. Unfortunately, however, there are many misunderstandings that persist about these warnings and the rights of a criminal suspect who has been placed under arrest.

What Are Your Miranda Rights?

The Miranda warnings trace back to a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case entitled Miranda v. Arizona. In that case, the suspect, Ernesto Miranda, was never informed of his constitutional right to an attorney and to avoid incriminating himself prior to being questioned by police. During a two-hour interrogation session with no lawyer present, Miranda confessed to the crimes of rape and kidnapping. The Supreme Court eventually overturned the conviction stating that suspects must be informed of certain constitutional rights before questioning or the results of the interrogation may not be admissible in court.

Following the decision, law enforcement agencies began using a brief notification of such rights which include two basic elements : the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. The suspect is also notified that he or she chooses to speak, anything that is said may be used against him or her later. Miranda warnings further let the suspect know that if he or she cannot afford an attorney, the state will appoint one.

Misunderstanding Your Miranda Rights

While the Miranda warnings are fairly straightforward, there a still a few misconceptions that many people have related to their rights, including:

Myth: Miranda warnings must be recited at the time of arrest.

Reality: While most police officers will inform a suspect of his or her Miranda rights, there is no requirement that they must be read immediately upon arrest or even read at all. The only requirement is that the suspect must be aware of his or her rights and waive those rights, before any type of questioning or interrogation can take place incident to the arrest.

Myth: Remaining silent will look bad in court.

Reality: The Constitution guarantees that you cannot be forced to incriminate yourself. Thus, judges and juries are not permitted to use your silence as a presumption of your guilt.

Myth: The right to remain silent only exists until a lawyer is present.

Reality: You have the right to remain silent throughout the entire criminal process, including at trial. An attorney can help you communicate your intent to remain silent to interrogators, but his or her presence does not forfeit your right.

Let Us Help

If you or a loved one has been arrested on criminal charges, waiving your Miranda rights without speaking to a lawyer first can be very dangerous. Contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney , and we will fight to protect your constitutional rights. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

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