What is Considered an Unlawful Vehicle Search by Police?

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In the United States, certain limitations are placed on how and when police can search a person’s private property. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that citizens have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” and that no search warrants should be issued “but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” If evidence used against you in a criminal proceeding was obtained via an unlawful search, the evidence, or entire case, may be dismissed.

Police Can Search Your Car if You Give Them Consent

There are several ways that police have the authority to search an individual’s personal property. One of these is if the owner of the property gives the police consent or permission. For example, if you are pulled over for a traffic infraction and the police ask if they can search your vehicle and you say yes, this is a lawful search. Police may ask in a roundabout way to search your vehicle, saying something like, “You do not mind if I take a look around, do you?” Consenting to vehicle searches automatically makes them legal in the eyes of the law. Citizens do have the right to refuse an officer’s request to search their vehicle, but saying no will not necessarily stop the search from occurring.

Police Can Search Your Car if They Have Probable Cause

Even if you say no to a search, police may still search your vehicle if they have probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is in the vehicle. Police can also search the car if the driver has been arrested. It is important to note that a minor traffic violation such as speeding is not considered probable cause for a search. If the officers pull you over for a minor traffic infraction but then finds probable cause to suspect illegal items or evidence is in your vehicle, they may legally conduct a search. For example, if you are pulled over for running a red light but officers smell marijuana in your vehicle, they have probable cause to search.

Contact a Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges or believe you were victim to an unlawful search, speak with an experienced Distracted driving Will County criminal defense lawyer from the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba. Contact us at 815-740-4025 today.

Types of Driver Distractions and Consequences for Distracted Driving

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There has been much research conducted on the ability and effectiveness of humans when they multitask. Though many people still say they are good at multitasking, the consensus is that humans cannot multitask efficiently. We often make mistakes when we multitask and we have to go back to figure out what other task we were doing. When it comes to driving, we already have a plethora of tasks to do behind the wheel. Make sure you are going at an appropriate speed, periodically check your rearview and side mirrors, constantly scan the road in front of you, pay attention to other drivers -- the list goes on. When we allow other things to distract us while we are driving, that just adds one more thing to the list. Distracted driving is not tolerated in Illinois and you could face serious consequences if you are caught.

Types of Distractions

There are many types of distractions that could take away your attention from driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that they are three main type of distractions:

Visual: A visual distraction occurs when the driver takes their eyes off of the road. Visual distractions can come from objects both inside and outside of the car. Examples of visual distractions can include looking at a GPS, checking your cell phone or looking at something on the side of the road.

Manual: A manual distraction happens when the driver takes one or both hands off of the wheel for any reason. Manual distractions can include checking your cell phone, eating and drinking, adjusting audio controls and smoking.

Cognitive: Cognitive distractions happens when the driver’s mind is not focused on driving. Though it may seem harmless, thinking about things other than driving can pose a danger to yourself and others. Examples of cognitive distractions can include thinking about family issues, worrying about money and daydreaming.

Consequences for Distracted Driving

The most common type of distraction while a person is driving is from an electronic device or cell phone. In the state of Illinois, using a hand-held electronic communication device while driving is illegal. If you are age 19 and older, you are permitted to use a cell phone as long as you are using it with a Bluetooth headset, earpiece or voice activated commands. If you get into an accident as a result of being distracted while driving, you can face criminal charges ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony.

Get in Touch With a Will County Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney Today

It may seem harmless when you are sending a quick text or chatting on the phone while you are driving, but it can be extremely dangerous to take your eyes and mind off the road. If you are caught, you could face serious consequences, especially if you cause an accident. The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. can help you fight a traffic ticket or criminal charges that may stem from distracted driving. Our skilled Joliet traffic ticket defense lawyers will help you determine what your best course of action is. Call our office today at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation.

Truck Drivers at Risk of Arrest as Police Cannot Differentiate Legal Hemp from Illegal Marijuana

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Law enforcement officials across the country are struggling to adapt to the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill that differentiated hemp, now an agricultural commodity, from marijuana, which remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance. The Farm Bill legalized the regulated production of hemp as well as the interstate transport of hemp. As a result of police confusion, there have already been two highly publicized cases of confusion in early 2019. In both cases, interstate truckers were wrongfully arrested on marijuana trafficking charges when their cargo was actually legal hemp.

Differentiating Industrial Hemp from Illegal Marijuana

The main problem is that hemp and marijuana are just different strains of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, varying primarily in their THC content. Neither police officers nor drug-sniffing dogs nor quick “does it contain any THC?” roadside tests can tell the difference. Legal hemp and illegal marijuana look the same and smell the same. Chemical testing of an 18,000-pound load of hemp may take weeks, in part due to backlogs at testing labs, by which point a semitrailer of plant material worth over $500,000 may be unsaleable.

Hemp, sometimes referred to as industrial hemp, is defined as the cannabis plant and any part of it which contains less than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. THC is the psychoactive compound that makes a person “high.” By comparison, recreational marijuana strains typically contain at least 5% THC, and some varieties contain as much as 30% THC.

Wrongful Drug Arrests and Law Enforcement Concerns

Several arrests of truck drivers hauling hemp have been highly publicized in the first quarter of 2019. For example, near Boise, Idaho, state police seized 6,700 pounds of hemp that they believed was marijuana and held the truck driver in jail for four days before releasing him on a $100,000 bond. The case is now being reviewed by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both the trucking company and the buyer to whom the hemp was being delivered have filed lawsuits demanding the return of the product.

In Pawhuska, Oklahoma, a city police officer stopped a semi for running a stoplight and noticed a strong smell of marijuana. The two truck drivers and two accompanying security guards were all arrested and jailed. Subsequent testing showed that two of 11 samples tested at 0.4% to 0.5% THC, just over the legal hemp level of 0.3% but far below the level that would be considered “good” recreational marijuana.

Law enforcement officials respond with fears that drug traffickers will hide high-THC marijuana in loads of industrial hemp. The American Trucking Association has simply recommended that motor carriers “continue to exercise caution.”

Get an Aggressive Will County Criminal Defense Lawyer on Your Side

If you have been arrested on the highways of Will County for a traffic violation that led to charges of drug possession, you need a skilled Joliet criminal defense lawyer to fight for your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025; we respond to calls day or night.


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