Blogs | Law Office of Jack L Zaremba


California Man Clocked at 88 M.P.H. While Driving Iconic DeLorean

Joliet Traffic Lawyer

Traffic violations are no laughing matter. They can lead to serious consequences including the suspension of your driving privileges, in some cases. A recent incident on a California highway, however, left both the driver and the police officer smiling at the unique nature of the situation in spite of the potentially costly fine.

A Dream Car

In the months and years leading up to the film’s release in 1985, the minds behind Back to the Future wanted to find a futuristic-looking vehicle to be used as a time machine—an essential part of the movie’s plot and widespread appeal. They eventually settled on the DeLorean DMC-12. The model number is a little misleading as it was the only model ever produced by the DeLorean Motor Company, but with its stainless steel body and gull-wing doors, the car that is known simply as “the DeLorean” certainly fit the bill.

In the years since the film’s release, the DeLorean has become a pop culture icon. Just over 9,000 were originally built, and they have long since become the targets of collectors, film buffs, and others with an interest in unique automobiles. Various companies have also made kits available so that owners can make their DeLoreans look like the time machine from the movie.

Testing the (Speed) Limit

About a month ago, a young man in Saugus, California finally realized his decade-long dream of owning a DeLorean. Late last week, he decided it was time to take the car out on the road with his mother in the passenger seat. According to a local news report, as he got onto the highway, he looked down and realized he was doing about 85 miles per hour, just three miles per hour shy of the threshold of 88 mph—which, in the movie, would send the vehicle through time. He pushed the accelerator a little harder and hit the “magic number” for a few seconds before seeing the lights of a California Highway Patrol vehicle behind him.

When the smiling officer approached the silver sports car and showed the driver the radar gun readout, “All of us started busting up laughing,” the driver told The Santa Clarita Valley Signal. The radar gun had clocked the car at exactly 88 miles per hour. The officer issued the driver a ticket, but not before asking whether he had a flux capacitor with him. “Maybe if I had the flux capacitor,” the driver joked, “he would have let me off.”

Dealing With Speeding Tickets?

With only a few thousand in existence, chances are good that you will never drive a DeLorean. The likelihood of being issued a speeding ticket, however, is far greater. If you have received a citation for exceeding the speed limit, running a red light, or any other type of traffic violation, contact an experienced Joliet traffic citations lawyer. Call Attorney Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today. He will help you explore your options and will work hard to protect your rights along the way.

Can You Appeal Your Criminal Conviction

Joliet Criminal Appeal

The ability to appeal a criminal conviction is a constitutionally protected right that is incredibly important to the integrity of our criminal justice system. There are various reasons you may want to appeal a criminal conviction, including:

• Ineffective assistance of counsel;
• Faulty evidentiary ruling by the court;
• Faulty jury instructions;
• Unfair or biased trial; or
• Excessive sentencing.

Appealing a criminal conviction does not automatically mean that you are going to be granted a new trial. Filing an appeal is a complex process, it is important to work closely with an attorney who can provide guidance along the way. There are deadlines, rules, and arguments that apply specifically to the appeals process and any mistakes could undermine your chances for a successful appeal.

How Does the Appeals Process Work?

The appeals process starts at the time of the original trial. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you may end up fighting the case in court. During your criminal trial, the judge will likely make several rulings based on precedent, as well as statutory law. The judge may rule on evidence, on what specific jury instructions the jury will receive, as well as about which laws apply to your specific case. Almost any ruling by the court could be subject to appeal in the future.

At your trial, you may wonder why your attorney objects to things despite being continually overruled by the judge. This is your lawyer’s job; what he or she is doing is preserving the objection in the event that your case needs to be appealed. Certain appeals can only be made if an objection was made on the record during the initial criminal trial.

When you appeal your case to an appellate court, the appeals court will not retry the case. You appeal pursuant to a matter of law. What that means is the appellate court will not decide again whether the testimony of a witness was credible; rather, it will determine if the lower court erred in allowing the testimony in the first place. Another example would be appealing the admissibility of evidence. The appellate court will not analyze the evidence itself, but whether the court erred as a matter of law in allowing the evidence during your trial.

What Happens If I Win My Appeal?

Winning an appeal may mean several different things depending on the nature of your case. It could mean getting a new trial with directions from the appellate court on what is admissible. Winning an appeal may even mean that your conviction is set aside or that a key piece of evidence is thrown out. There are different ways a lawyer can “win” your appeal that depend on what exactly is being appealed from the initial trial.

Fourth Amendment Searches Can Be Based on Reasonable Mistakes of Law

Joliet illegal search

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Heien v. North Carolina, which asked the Court to consider whether a mistake of law justifies a traffic stop and subsequent Fourth Amendment search and seizure. The Court held that it does, but only if the legal error is objectively reasonable.

The Facts of Heien

A North Carolina police officer stopped Heien for driving with a broken brake light. The officer asked Heien for permission to search the vehicle, and Heien agreed. The officer then discovered cocaine hidden in a duffle bag in the car, which led to Heien’s conviction for attempted drug trafficking. On appeal, the North Carolina appellate court found that state law only requires one working brake light. Thus, the court held that Heien did not violate the law by driving with one broken brake light, and that the officer’s mistake of law did not permit the stop.

The North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision, ruling that the officer’s mistake was reasonable and therefore did not violate the Fourth Amendment guarantee against “unreasonable” searches and seizures. Heien appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the North Carolina court’s decision.

Reasonable Mistakes of Law

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 8-1 ruling that a reasonable mistake of law justifies a Fourth Amendment search is in line with its prior ruling that a constitutional search may be based on a reasonable mistake of fact. However, the Court stressed the mistake of law reasonableness standard is not very “forgiving.” An officer cannot justify a legal error made on his own subjective understanding of the law. Rather, the mistake must be objectively reasonable. In other words, the statute must be “genuinely ambiguous” and difficult to interpret.

The lone dissenter, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, argued that a “fixed legal yardstick” would be preferable to the Court’s “reasonable” mistake of law standard.

A Private Citizen’s Mistake of Law

It is important to distinguish between a police officer’s mistake of law and a private citizen’s mistake of law. Generally, ignorance is not a valid defense for criminal offenders. If you have been charged with a crime, you will not be acquitted by claiming that you did not know your actions were criminal (although there are very limited exceptions to this rule; see Lambert v. California). Similarly, if a police officer breaks the law, he may not use ignorance of the law to excuse his criminal actions. The difference lies in upholding the law versus breaking the law. Heien allows police officers to perform Fourth Amendment searches and seizures based on their objectively reasonable mistakes of law.

Contact Us Today

Contact our Will County criminal defense attorneys today if your constitutional rights have been violated during the course of a traffic stop or during any search and seizure. We can assist those in Frankfort, Joliet and the surrounding area.


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