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Illinois Motorists Can Now Legally Pass Bicycles in a No-Passing Zone

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You know it is illegal to pass a moving vehicle in a no-passing zone. But did you know that you can now pass a bicyclist in a no-passing zone under a new state traffic law that went into effect on January 1, 2018?

When Can a Motorist Pass a Bicyclist?

Drivers can now pass to the left of a bicycle in a no-passing zone if:

• The bicycle is traveling at less than half the posted speed limit;
• The driver does not exceed the speed limit; and
• There is enough space to pass safely.

The new law requires motorists to have at least three feet of clearance between their vehicle and bicyclist to safely and legally pass the rider.

For bicyclists, the law permits them to ride on the shoulders of roads – a practice already used by many bike riders for safety reasons. They also can now use red tail lights instead of the standard reflectors when riding in the dark. The tail lights should emit a steady or flashing red light which is visible from 500 feet away. These tail lights can be used in addition to reflectors or as replacements.

Improving Roadway Safety in Illinois

This new law is an effort to improve traffic flow on roads and increase safety for bike riders. It was proposed by Ride Illinois , a nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization aimed at improving rider safety across the state. “This new legislation legalizes some common motorist and bicyclist traffic practices,” said Ed Barsotti, the chief programs officer of Ride Illinois. “The intent is to make the roads safer while improving car-bicycle interactions.”

Sharing the roads with bicyclists has long been an issue for Illinois drivers, who often experienced difficulty passing bicycles legally, especially on long roads without passing zones or designated bike lanes. Since crossing over the centerline in a no-passing zone could result in a traffic violation, drivers would often try to pass too closely to bicycles, which could result in sideswipe accidents. This new law aims to reduce this type of crash by providing drivers with the ability to pass bicyclists safely and legally.

Contact a Will County Traffic Violations Attorney

If you have been charged with a traffic violation involving a bicycle, or if you have any questions about your rights as a motorist or cyclist, the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba can provide you with the answers and representation you need. Contact an experienced Joliet traffic Violations Lawyer today by calling our office at 815-740-4025.

How the Court of Public Opinion Can Influence Criminal Proceedings

joliet criminal attorney

Before television and the internet, if a person was accused of a crime, only those close to the defendant or prosecutors were aware of the allegation, in most cases. Today, we have access to virtually the entire wealth of human knowledge at the click of a button. When someone is accused of a crime, especially if that person is famous or well-known in the community, news of it can spread like wildfire. Not only can anyone have access to information about alleged criminal activity, but they can also react to it and have their reaction viewed by millions.

For example, someone who reads about a politician who has been accused of a crime can immediately write scathing comments about the individual on the internet. If that politician is found or proven to be innocent of the crime, the scathing comments remain both on the internet and in readers’ minds. The public, as a whole, is notorious for jumping to conclusions, perpetuating false information, and automatically considering an accused individual guilty.

Confirmation Bias

Many people read news or opinion pieces about alleged crimes and come to their own conclusion as to the defendant’s innocence or guilt. When it occurs on a large scale, this is sometimes referred to as “the court of public opinion.” These conclusions are often based on only partial information or are influenced by emotion instead of facts. Those who come to a conclusion about a person’s innocence or guilt rarely change their minds. Psychological studies have shown us that we are all prone to “confirmation bias,” which is the tendency to favor information which confirms our preexisting beliefs or assumptions while ignoring information which does not support our currently-held beliefs. This means that it is extremely difficult for individuals accused of a crime to overcome others’ negative perceptions of them.

The United States Constitution promises that “No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The term “due process” refers to the right that every citizen has to an unbiased trial, the opportunity to argue their case, and to be represented by qualified legal counsel. If those involved in criminal proceedings have already formed conclusions about the defendant before the trial even begins, they have made that trial biased. In these situations, it is more important than ever for the defendant to have a highly-qualified attorney.

An Attorney Who Will Fight to Protect Your Freedom

The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba has the skills and experience to handle even the most complicated cases. If you have been charged with a crime, a knowledgeable Illinois criminal defense lawyer can help you minimize the effect on your future. Call 815-740-4025 and schedule a free consultation today.

New Illinois Online Hate Crime Law for 2018

Illinois online hate crime

The prevalence of electronic communication in modern life has brought people many benefits, but it has led to consequences as well. One negative effect of the increased ease of communication is the ability for someone to harass or intimidate someone else using a variety of methods. These types of actions are criminal offenses, and in some cases, they may now be considered hate crimes. As lawmakers look to combat the trend of online harassment, Illinois law was recently updated to expand the definition of hate crimes and allow prosecution of harassers.

Online Hate Crimes

Illinois law defines a hate crime as a crime committed based on the victim’s religion, race, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation. There are a number of offenses that can be prosecuted as hate crimes, and a recent change in the law expanded this list, adding stalking, cyberstalking, intimidation, and transmission of obscene messages. This change went into effect on January 1, 2018.

A hate crime is a Class 4 felony for a first offense, and a Class 2 felony for a second or subsequent offense. In addition to a sentence of fines, imprisonment, and/or community service, the new law also allows victims to seek damages from the offender, including actual damages, such as emotional distress, as well as punitive damages. Courts may also require an offender to pay a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

The law was initiated by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who said, “We must take a stand against hate crimes that have increased at alarming levels in our communities. Hate crimes against any person or group threaten our democracy, and I am pleased to see Illinois enact stronger laws against horrible acts of hate.”

According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, 41% of Americans have experienced online harassment, and 66% have witnessed harassment directed at others. While much of this harassment may be innocuous, 18% of Americans have experienced severe harassment, such as physical threats, sexual harassment, or stalking. This new Illinois law may be able to help these victims seek justice when they experience these types of crimes.

Get Help if You Have Been Charged with a Hate Crime

While it is important to protect people’s safety and well-being, there are also many cases in which someone may be falsely accused of these types of online hate crimes. These charges are very serious, and they can not only affect your personal freedom, but they can also permanently damage your reputation and your ability to find employment. If you have been accused of a hate crime, the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba can help you understand your rights and provide you with the defense you need to reach a positive outcome in your case. Contact a Joliet criminal defense attorney today at 815-740-4025.

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