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Happy Hour Legal Again in Illinois

Illinois Happy HourWith the stroke of a pen, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner completed the state legislature’s effort to repeal a 26-year-old ban on happy hours. After moving through the State House and Senate fairly quickly this spring, the measure has been in the hands of the governor since the end of May. Governor Rauner’s approval of the bill last week was met with mixed reactions as some bar owners celebrated the possible opportunities while others worried about the potential impact to overindulgence and drunk driving .

Previous Ban on Discounted Drinks

During the late 1980’s, a new wave of awareness regarding impaired driving and drunk driving was sweeping the country. Advertising campaigns, interest groups, and even the United States Surgeon General expressed the need to curb the dangerous practice of driving under the influence (DUI). In 1989, Illinois lawmakers took action and passed a ban on happy hours and any other discounts on alcoholic beverages. The effort was designed to decrease alcohol consumption in public places, and therefore, the likelihood of DUI.

New Regulations and Freedoms

The repeal of the ban is effective immediately, and includes requirements for bartenders and servers to undergo responsible server training. It also permits an establishment to offer discounts on drinks containing alcohol for up to 4 hours per day and up to 15 hours per week. The discounts must be clearly posted for at least one week in advance and may not extend beyond 10 pm. Two-for-one and all-you-can-drink specials are not permitted, except for limited applications in private party settings. An establishment may not give away alcoholic drinks as prizes, nor encourage or permit drinking games. Violations of the new law can result in the revocation of an establishment’s liquor license.

Mixed Reaction

The response to the happy hour ban repeal has certainly not been unanimous. A number of bar owners have welcomed the changes, recognizing the business opportunities they may present. Others have been quite vocal in their displeasure, raising concerns regarding the behavior of drunk patrons and the increased risk of impaired driving. In between the two sides, law enforcement officials, especially downstate, did not seem to be too worried, citing personal responsibility, rather than drink discounts, as the variable in question.

As happy hours spring back up in bars and restaurants around the area, you must still be aware that DUI penalties can be serious and may impact your life for years to come. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet . Our knowledgeable team will review your case and help you understand the options available under law. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your initial consultation today.

Medical Marijuana Program May Finally Get Underway

medical marijuana DUIAfter many months of bureaucratic issues, the medical marijuana pilot program in Illinois may be poised to get off the ground. Officials at a facility in the southeastern part of the state announced this week that their company has received authorization to begin producing the genetic strains that will form the basis of marijuana products for approved legal use. Located in Albion, Illinois, Ataraxia is the first company to begin state-sanctioned production of marijuana under the medical-use program that went into effect nearly 20 months ago.

Medical Use Pilot Program

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act was passed into law nearly two years ago and took effect on January 1, 2014. The Act was intended to permit medial marijuana use on essentially a trial basis for specifically approved health conditions. Patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, Rheumatoid arthritis, and various forms of cancer, among many other conditions are eligible to register for participation in the program. To date, approximately 2,600 applications have been approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Delays in Implementation

While patient applications began rolling into state offices almost immediately, guidelines and oversight for legal marijuana production were relatively slow to be established. As regulations were being put in place, the state also faced several legal challenges over the selection of production vendors. It seems, however, that Illinois has finally been able to overcome the challenges and is allowing the production process to get started.

This week’s announcement included a forecast by Ataraxia CEO George Archos estimating that a full range of products will be available by October. If the estimates are accurate, the first legally-grown marijuana for medical use will be available some 22 months after the law first took effect. Lawmakers have proposed an extension to the intended four-year pilot program to account for the delay, but Governor Bruce Rauner has yet to decide on the legislation.

Recreational Marijuana Remains Illegal

As the Illinois medical marijuana program begins to move forward, it is important to remember that unlicensed production and recreational use is against the law. Charges of possession, distribution, and manufacturing of marijuana can be extremely serious and may impact an individual’s life for years to come. If you are facing any marijuana-related offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet . We will review your case and help you take steps to minimize the effects on your future.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Minor Crime?

Jack Zaremba Criminal AttorneyEveryone makes mistakes. Some may be less serious than others, but nobody is perfect. Sometimes a momentary lapse in judgment can lead to criminal charges and, if and when that happens, you may be tempted to try to handle the situation on your own. However, no matter how insignificant the charges may seem, you need the help of a qualified lawyer to ensure your rights are fully protected.

Under Illinois law, criminal charges may range from Class C misdemeanors, including assault, disorderly conduct, and minor marijuana possession, up to Class X felonies and murder charges. Regardless of the seriousness of the charges, an attorney can help you in three primary ways:

Understanding the Process

The criminal justice system can be very confusing and stressful, particularly for a first-time offender who is unfamiliar with the process. Your lawyer can help you keep abreast of the progress of your case, remind you when your appearance is necessary, and take care of logistical details along the way. Even if you do not plan to fight the charges, an attorney can review any proposed agreements and ensure you are getting the best deal possible.

Impact to Your Future

A conviction on any criminal charge can negatively impact your life for years to come. In addition to fines, prison sentences, probation, and other criminal penalties, a conviction becomes part of your permanent record. You may also be required to cover the costs associated with getting your life back on track, including alcohol awareness classes and other diversionary programs. Qualified legal help from an attorney can often reduce or eliminate a number of the potential effects to your life and future. A lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors to minimize the negative impacts and help you move forward more quickly.

Financial Affordability

Many times, a defendant will forego legal help because he or she believes an attorney costs too much. However, the cost of a lawyer for a relatively minor charge is often less than one might think, as the court requirements and time investment for misdemeanor offenses are not particularly intensive. It is also important to remember that qualified representation can help minimize fines and other required expenses related to a conviction, which may actually result in financial savings.

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or any other type of crime, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney . At the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, we understand the challenges you may be facing and are equipped to help you through the process. Call 815-740-4025 today to schedule a free consultation and put our team to work for you.

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