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Illinois Makes Driving Relief Available Sooner for First-Time DUI Offenders

Joliet Illinois Baid DUIThere is a good possibility that you know at least one person who has been negative affected by the consequences of driving under the influence, or DUI. Of course, those who suffer only the criminal and administrative penalties are the lucky ones, as DUI contributes to thousands of accidents, injuries, and deaths each year around Illinois and throughout the country. Illinois lawmakers, though, have recognized the importance of allowing first-time offenders to learn from their mistakes rather than focusing on harsh punishments. With this in mind, recent changes to Illinois law provide that first-time DUI offenders may be eligible for certain driving relief programs sooner than ever before.

Statutory Summary Suspensions

The administrative penalties associated with DUI are handled by the Office of the Secretary of State, and directly impact a suspected offender’s driving privileges. If you are pulled over and asked by law enforcement to submit to chemical testing for blood-alcohol content (BAC), refusal or failure of such a test will result in the suspension of your driving privileges. For a first offense, failing a BAC test will result in a six-month suspension, while refusing the test results in a one-year suspension. Second or subsequent failures or refusals result in significantly longer suspensions. These penalties apply regardless of whether you are actually convicted of DUI or not, and a conviction will, as you might expect, impose additional consequences.

No More 30-Day Wait

Prior to the change in the law, the first 30 days of a statutory summary suspension were considered “hard time,” meaning that there were no programs available that would allow you the ability to drive legally under any circumstances. Beginning in 2016, however, the 30-day hard time provision has been eliminated for first-time offenders. Now, if your driving privileges have been suspended, you can apply for a program immediately that could allow you to get back on the road with certain restrictions.

MDDP and BAIID

The ability to apply is not the same as automatic qualification, but most first-time offenders are approved for participation in the driving relief program. If approved, you will be issued a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP), allowing you to drive vehicles that have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed. A BAIID requires the driver to provide a breath sample at startup and periodically throughout the drive to ensure that he or she is not driving under the influence. You are responsible for having a BAIID installed on your vehicle and unapproved operation of any other vehicle will result in increased penalties and possible disqualification from the relief program.

Reliable DUI-Related Legal Advice

If you have been charged with DUI and are currently facing a statutory summary suspension of your driving privileges, it is important to speak with an experienced Joliet criminal defense lawyer right away. Our knowledgeable team will help you understand your options for driving relief and will remain at your side throughout every step of the process. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

Illinois Supreme Court Reverses Burglary Conviction in Shoplifting Case

Illinois Supreme Court Theft CaseThe Illinois Criminal Code contains provisions to address all manner of illegal activity. In many cases, there may be more than one statute that could apply to a particular situation. While some make sense and are often used in tandem, such as a reckless driving charge in connection with charges of DUI, others seem to be more of a stretch. One such example can be found in a case recently heard by the Illinois Supreme Court regarding burglary charges being brought against a defendant who stole from a Walmart during normal business hours.

Retail Theft or Burglary

Under Illinois law, there are separate statutes that deal with shoplifting, or other retail theft, and burglary. A person commits retail theft by stealing, altering prices, or otherwise failing to pay the proper price for merchandise in a retail setting. Retail theft charges range from a Class A misdemeanor up to a Class 3 felony, depending on the value and nature of the merchandise.
Burglary, by contrast, refers to a person entering or remaining without authority on the property of another with the intent to commit a theft or felony. The most basic burglary charge is a Class 2 felony.

People v. Bradford

The case before the Supreme Court involved a defendant who had been convicted at trial of burglary by remaining, for staying on the premises of a Walmart during business hours with the intent to steal merchandise. While evidence regarding the value of the merchandise was not presented, both sides agreed that the value did not exceed $300. Thus, a retail theft charge instead of burglary would have been a Class A misdemeanor under the circumstances.

The defense claimed that the defendant never accessed any off-limits areas of the store, never attempted to conceal his presence in the store, and was never asked to leave. While the defendant admitted to stealing the merchandise, the defense maintained that burglary statute was not meant to encompass retail theft or shoplifting.

Felony Conviction Reversed

Upon consideration of the evidence, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed with the defendant’s claims. The Court pointed out that the law pertaining to retail theft was enacted by the Illinois lawmakers 14 years after the statute addressing burglary. “It strains logic to presume that the legislature intended most incidents of retail theft to be prosecuted as burglaries,” the Court observed. The Supreme Court concluded that, if the defendant had exceeded his physical authority to be on the premises, burglary charges might be appropriate, but, in this case, he did not, so his felony conviction for burglary was reversed.

Facing Criminal Charges?

If you have been accused of shoplifting or burglary, it is important to work an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jack L. Zaremba fully understands the law and will help you explore your options in building a responsible defense. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation today and get the assistance you need from a lawyer you can trust.

Proposed Bill Would Ban Uploading of Fight Videos

Joliet Attorney Fight VideosAs society becomes increasingly connected, more and more people are trying to find “entertaining” things to post on social media outlets and other websites. Of course, there are photos and videos of cute children, comedic sketches, video blogs, and other, relatively harmless material all over the internet. But some have begun posting videos of violent interactions between teens and young adults, raising concerns that uploading and sharing of such fights encourages and glorifies violent behavior. Now, lawmakers in Illinois have proposed legislation that would make posting such videos illegal in the state.

Seemingly Simply Proposal

The bill was introduced by State Representative Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, after she was disturbed by an online video depicting a brutal fight between two pre-teens. The bystanders’ behavior was particularly concerning to her, as they watched and recorded the fight on their phones rather than helping or preventing the altercation. As proposed, the measure would make uploading fight videos or videos depicting other criminal activity a misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct. The proposal also limits prosecution to videos uploaded “to a social media website or social networking site” in a manner that promotes or condones the activity, and to those who refuse to provide the video to law enforcement when requested.

Potential Concerns

Critics of the well-intentioned bill point out a number of reasons that the proposal could create more problems than it solves. First, the measure lists the types of activities that cannot be recorded and uploaded to include a crime being committed, a battery committed intending to knock a victim out, a gang-related fight, or other display of violence. First, “a crime being committed” is far too vague in many people’s opinion; there are thousands of actions that technically qualify as a crime. Next, other displays of violence can be equally nebulous, as violence is not always illegal, especially when you consider the nature of many youth sports, including football, hockey, and martial arts.

The bill also only addresses social media and social networking sites, presumably to indemnify news organizations and other accepted outlets. Is a personal website or a blog a social networking site? Finally, the concepts of promoting and condoning the activity are particularly troublesome. For example, presuming the law passes as is, and a schoolyard fight video is uploaded to Facebook with the caption “Kids these days…” It is nearly impossible to determine if the post was meant to promote or condone the behavior, or simply as an observation.

Things to Consider

It is hard to imagine that prohibiting the uploading of such videos will help to solve the issues of violence in society. Charging someone else with a crime in addition to the criminal activity taking place in the video does not really address the root of the problem. Civil rights advocates also suggest that making the dissemination of such a video a crime is a clear violation of the First Amendment. There is, however, a long way to go before the proposal can become law and debate over the matter should be very interesting.

If you are facing criminal charges for your role in a fight or violent altercation, regardless of whether video footage of the incident exists, you need the assistance of a Joliet criminal defense attorney. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

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