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Are DUI Checkpoints Unconstitutional?

Joliet dui checkpoint lawyers

When a popular drinking holiday falls on a weekend—such as St. Patrick’s Day this year—police departments throughout Illinois often set up sobriety checkpoints on commonly traveled roadways. As you might expect, the goal of these checkpoints is to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on the road. Some who might otherwise drink and drive may be deterred by the existence of a checkpoint on his or her way home. Others may be stopped at the checkpoint and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).

DUI sobriety checkpoints are fairly commonplace in Illinois, but their use has left many wondering about the constitutionality of stopping drivers without probable cause. At first glance, DUI checkpoints seem to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees the right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. The United States Supreme Court, however, determined in 1990 that such checkpoints were an exception to the Fourth Amendment that could be made by states in the interest of public safety.

Preventive Measures

In early 1986, the Michigan State Police launched a DUI checkpoint pilot program in which checkpoints would be established on state roads. Each vehicle that passed through would be stopped and the officer would quickly examine the driver for signs of being intoxicated. If the officer detected indicators of intoxication, the driver would be directed to pull off the road for further sobriety testing. If no indicators were observed, the driver would be permitted to continue on his or her way.

Before the first checkpoint was ever used, a licensed Michigan driver challenged the legality of such checkpoints. The State Police conducted one checkpoint operation before the courts shut the program down, and two motorists were arrested out of 126 that passed through.

Conflicting Viewpoints

The legal challenge was essentially successful at the state level, as the Michigan Supreme Court held that stopping vehicles without probable cause was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, disagreed. In a 6-3 decision, the high court ruled that sobriety checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment. The court determined that drunk driving was a serious problem and “the measure of intrusion on motorists stopped briefly sobriety checkpoints” was “slight.”

Following the court’s ruling, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a series of guidelines for sobriety checkpoints. The most important is that police departments must publish the dates, times, and location of checkpoints in advance. Each state also has the freedom to customize checkpoint programs to an extent, as long as checkpoints are not conducted in a discriminatory manner. States may also outlaw sobriety checkpoints, and a dozen states have chosen to do so—including Michigan where the original case began.

Facing DUI Charges?

If you or someone you love was arrested at a sobriety checkpoint and charged with DUI, an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney can help you explore your available options. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today. We will remain at your side and ensure that your rights are fully protected every step of the way.

Can I Be Arrested if a Child Injures Someone With My Gun?

Joliet weapons attorney

All Illinois firearm owners should be aware that, under specific circumstances, they could be charged with a crime if they leave a firearm accessible and a child injures someone with that firearm.

One such incident happened in Chicago on March 10, 2018, when a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot his 9-year-old cousin in the arm with a gun he found in a residence. For perspective, it has been estimated that 31% of U.S. households had at least one child and one gun in the home in 2012.

27 states, including Illinois, have laws aimed at preventing child access to firearms, but the specific obligations and liability of gun owners vary widely across states. Such laws are commonly referred to Child Access Prevention laws. Proponents claim these laws are effective in preventing suicides and unintentional deaths and injuries of children by firearms.

Does the Illinois Child Access Prevention Law Apply to Me?

The applicable Illinois law, which took effect in January 2000, can be found in the Illinois Criminal Code, section 24-9. This law applies to firearms owners who reasonably expect minors under the age of 14 to be on their premises. In other words, if you have children living with you, or you ever have children visiting your home, you should definitely pay attention to this law.

What Does The Law Require Me to Do?

The law requires you to secure your firearms using any one of the following means:

• Secured by a trigger lock or other device, other than the firearm safety, that renders the firearm temporarily inoperable.
• Placed in a securely locked container.
• Placed in a location that a reasonable person would believe to be secure from a minor under the age of 14 years.

What Is the Penalty If a Minor Injures Someone with My Unsecured Gun?

If a minor under the age of 14 years “causes death or great bodily harm” with a firearm that you left unsecured, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and fined not less than $1,000. A second or subsequent offense rises to a Class A misdemeanor.

This penalty does not apply if the minor uses the firearm “in a lawful act of self-defense or defense of another” or if the firearm was obtained as the result of unlawful entry of your premises.

Get the Best Defense with a Will County Weapons Charges Lawyer

If someone is injured or killed with one of your firearms, you will quickly need the advice of an attorney experienced in firearms law. Contact a knowledgeable Joliet gun charges defense lawyer for a free and confidential consultation. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025; calls are responded to 24 hours a day.

Proposed Illinois Bill Would Allow Students to Use Medical Marijuana at School

Joliet marijuana attorney

In March of 2018, an Illinois House Elementary Education Committee unanimously approved legislation which would allow school children to consume medical marijuana in school. The proposed bill would allow a parent or legal guardian to administer infused medical marijuana on school grounds and in school-owned transportation.

Medical Marijuana Prevents Student’s Seizures

House Bill 4870 was largely influenced by a lawsuit brought by parents of a child who suffers from seizures. The girl began experiencing seizures after undergoing chemotherapy treatment and receiving spinal injections, and medical marijuana is the only medication which effectively controls them. The family went through the proper channels to get her approved for the medical cannabis program in Illinois, but they faced issues in regard to the child using medical marijuana products in school.

The parents filed a lawsuit against the school district because they were not allowed to change their daughter’s medical marijuana patch or administer medical marijuana oil under her tongue on school grounds. As the law currently stands, a school nurse could lose his or her license if they administered medical marijuana to a student – even if the student has a valid medical marijuana card. Although it is unlikely, students and parents could face criminal prosecution for sending a student to school with a medical marijuana patch. Advocates of the bill say that this is unacceptable.

Limited Application

The proposed legislation would not allow students to smoke marijuana in the schools. Parents would only be allowed to administer marijuana-infused products to their children. This includes food, oils, or other products which contain marijuana extracts but are not smoked. If the bill passes the full House and is eventually signed by the governor, schools will be required to allow parents and legal guardians to administer medical marijuana to their children in school. Children must have a valid pre-approved medical marijuana card in order to qualify for this opportunity.

The measure is sponsored by State Representative Lou Lang. He said of the bill, "It's important to understand that tots won't be toking up in class. Discreet, private locations in a school will set aside for parents to administer the product and have no impact on anyone else in the building." Colorado, New Jersey, Maine and Washington state already allow students to use medical marijuana at school.

Protecting Your Rights

As the law currently stands, marijuana is not permitted on school grounds in any form, and it is possible to face criminal prosecution for possession of the drug. If you or your child has been charged with any marijuana-related crime, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.

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