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Three Ways to Practice Responsible Firearm Ownership in Illinois

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Guns have been a hot topic in recent years in American politics. According to the Gun Violence Archive , which is a nonprofit organization that provides information about gun violence, there have been 256 mass shootings—defined as four or more people being shot or killed during a single incident—in the United States since January 1, 2018. With the rise of mass shootings in the U.S., many people have been reconsidering the validity of the Second Amendment, which guarantees American citizens the right to bear arms, but many people argue that gun owners just need to be more sensible about owning their firearms .

While owning guns is an American privilege, you can still get into trouble if you are irresponsible with your firearms. By following these three tips for responsible ownership, you can lower the chance you can reduce your chances of being subject to criminal gun charges.

#1: Educate Yourself

One of the first things you should do if you have wish to obtain a firearm ownership identification card (FOID) is educating yourself on proper firearm usage. There are many classes available covering topics such as safety, disassembly and reassembly and basic usage. Taking one or more of these classes will help you practice proper usage and safety.

#2: Practice Safe Handling
There are many ways you can practice handling or using a gun safely. Always treat a gun as if it is loaded, even if you think it is not. Safety is paramount when it comes to firearms. Never point a gun in the direction of someone else. Keep the gun pointed down or away from others until you are ready to safely shoot. Never have your finger on the trigger unless you are ready to shoot. Your finger should rest alongside the frame of the gun and outside of the trigger guard if you are holding the gun.

#3: Store Guns Securely

If you own a gun, that gun is your responsibility , even when it is being stored. You are responsible for ensuring that your firearms are stored securely and safely, and that you or other authorized users are the only ones who can access the firearms. Guns should always be stored unloaded, ideally with a gun-locking device on the firearm. You should also invest in a locked cabinet, safe, gun vault or storage case to keep your firearms when they are not in your physical possession. Ammunition should always be stored in a separate place from the firearms.

Are You Facing Criminal Gun Charges?

You could follow all of the above tips on how to be a responsible gun owner and still be facing criminal charges. Gun charges are taken very seriously these days, which is why you should contact a Joliet gun charges defense attorney , even before you are actually charged. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba can help you navigate your situation and avoid a gun charge at all costs. To discuss your case, call the office at 815-740-4025 and set up a free consultation.

First-Time Distracted Drivers Will Face Stiffer Penalties in Illinois

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Despite nearly a decade of ad campaigns and new laws intended to deter Americans from using handheld electronics while driving, bad habits persist. A recent survey found that half of US drivers still talk on handheld cellphones, 35 percent text message, and 29 percent admit to accessing the internet while driving. Distracted driving rates are even higher among drivers aged 18 to 29.

The definition of distracted driving includes talking on a handheld cellphone, texting, using the internet, or otherwise engaging with a handheld electronic device while driving. These behaviors remain a major concern for highway safety. Driver distraction plays a role in 10 percent of all fatal crashes and 15 percent of all injury crashes in the U.S., according to the latest available figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration .

Penalties for Use of an Electronic Communication Device While Driving in Illinois

In an effort to improve highway safety, the Illinois legislature has voted to increase the penalties for distracted driving, as defined in Section 12-610.2 - Electronic Communications Devices (ECD) of the Illinois Vehicle Code. The new law, signed by Governor Rauner in August 2018, will take effect July 1, 2019.

Under the existing Illinois law, which took effect in 2014, first-time offenders got a $75 fine but did not get a moving violation on their driving record. Under the new law, first-time offenders are still fined $75 but it will now be counted as a moving violation on their driving record.

Fines increase by $25 for each subsequent violation to a maximum of $150 per offense. In Illinois, most moving violations remain on your driving record for four to five years from the date of the conviction; this is how the police will know whether a given ECD violation is a first, second, third, or subsequent offense.

Texting and Driving Can Lead to Driver’s License Suspension

A person convicted of three moving violations within one year will have their driver’s license automatically suspended by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. Drivers will receive notification by mail when their license is suspended. This is a good reason to keep the address on your driver’s license up-to-date. If you do not realize your license has been suspended, and you keep driving, you could be charged with driving on a suspended license, which is a Class A misdemeanor.

You should also know that a successfully completed court supervision for a moving violation does not count as a conviction on your driving record. The Secretary of State’s office does, however, maintain records on who has received court supervisions. Illinois allows drivers no more than two court supervision sentences per year for moving violations.

Aggravated Use of an Electronic Communication Device

The penalties remain the same for the offense of aggravated use of an electronic communication device, that is, when a driver is distracted by ECD use and is involved in a motor vehicle accident that causes great bodily harm or death to another person. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor if someone is severely injured or a Class 4 felony if someone dies as a result.

Fight Back with a Will County Texting-and-Driving Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony related to use of an electronic communication device (ECD) while driving, you will want a lawyer at your side when you go to court. An experienced Joliet driver’s license reinstatement lawyer can help you fight a DUI-related suspension and also help you get a suspended license reinstated as quickly as possible. Call the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation to discuss your situation.

When Does a DUI Become Felony in Illinois?

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Most DUI charges in Illinois are only misdemeanor charges. A first-time DUI conviction is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by law with a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Each case is different and depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you charges could be bumped up to felony charges .

Class 4 Felonies

Class 4 DUI felonies include:

• A DUI committed while driving a school bus that had at least one passenger on it who was under the age of 18;

• A DUI committed while driving a vehicle used to transport passengers and at least one passenger was on board;

• A DUI that resulted in great bodily harm;

• A DUI that was committed by someone who did not have a valid driver’s license or vehicle liability insurance;

• A DUI committed in a school zone when the restricted speed limit was in effect and the person was involved in an accident that resulted in bodily harm; and

• A DUI committed by someone whose license was already revoked or suspended for a different DUI, reckless homicide or fleeing the scene of an accident.

Penalties for Class 4 felonies can vary depending on the specific charges, but they can include a possible sentence of one to three years in prison and fines up to $25,000. If you were charged with an aggravated DUI involving an injury, you could be facing up to 12 years in prison.

Class 3 Felonies

Class 3 felonies are a step up from Class 4 felonies and can include:

• A DUI committed after a previous conviction for reckless homicide while driving under the influence; and

• A DUI committed after a previous conviction for aggravated DUI involving a death.

Penalties for a Class 3 felony can result in a prison sentence of two to five years and up to $25,000 in fines.

Class 2 Felonies

Any DUI conviction that is your third or fourth conviction is automatically a Class 2 felony. In addition, Class 2 felonies can include:

• A second or subsequent DUI that was committed while transporting a child under the age of 16;

• A DUI resulting in a death;

• A third DUI

Depending on your actual charges, you could be facing a minimum of three years in prison along with up to $25,000 in fines.

Class 1 Felony

A fifth conviction of a DUI is considered a Class 1 felony and will result in the revocation of your driving privileges for life. It is a non-probationable offense, which means you will go to prison if you are found guilty. You could also be facing up to $25,000 in fines.

Class X Felony

A sixth or subsequent DUI conviction is a Class X felony, which is the most serious classification of felony . A conviction will result in a revocation of your driving privileges for the rest of your life along with a minimum of six years in prison up to a maximum of 30 years in prison, and up to $25,000 in fines.

Are You Facing Felony DUI Charges?

If you have been charged with an aggravated DUI, you should immediately contact a skilled Joliet aggravated DUI defense attorney . Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. to determine your best course of action for your case. Attorney Jack Zaremba is a former Will County prosecutor who has extensive experience with DUI cases. To schedule a free consultation, call the office at 815-740-4025

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