Chicago Criminal Defense & Expungement Blog

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Protecting a CDL Driver's Career

Driving a truck or other commercial motor vehicle is a noble profession and is an honest way to put food on the table and help support a family.  When a CDL holder receives a ticket for a simple offense such as Improper Lane Usage the consequences are often nothing short of draconian.  In Illinois a non-CDL holder may request supervision and avoid a conviction on his record.  However, CDL drivers are not eligible for supervision, and therefore, are subject to a mandatory conviction.  This is true even if the CDL driver has not had a ticket in 20 years.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How to Beat a DUI

Individuals charged with DUI in Illinois often want to understand why some individuals are found not guilty and are able to retain their driving privileges.  I have defended hundreds of DUI cases over a 14 year period and I always feel I have a better chance at a not-guilty verdict when certain general factors are present. 

The first factor is my client's refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test.  Illinois has a per se rule that driving with a breath alcohol content above .08 is illegal and constitutes a DUI regardless of how sober the motorist may have otherwise appeared.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How to Clear (Clean up) Your Driving Record

Commonly I receive phone calls from prospective clients who are interested in "clearing" their driving record.  The most common reasons are to lower insurance rates and to make themselves a better job candidate for perspective employers.  The first thing I usually explain is that most traffic offenses are considered petty offenses and under Illinois law  you cannot expunge a petty offense, business offense or class C misdemeanor charged under the Illinois vehicle code.20 ILCS 2630/5.2(a)(1)(G).
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Your Felony Conviction May Now Be Sealable

As an attorney who has been helping clients clear their criminal records for over 14 years I am shocked that Governor Rauner's signature on the latest groundbreaking legislation has not received more media attention.  For years I received phone calls from clients who wanted to seal felony convictions but were not legally eligible.  On August 24, 2017 a new law took effect which will open the flood gates for rehabilitated individuals to make themselves employable again.  House Bill 2373 removed the general restriction that prevented most felony convictions from being sealable.  Prior to the passage of this law most individuals with felony convictions had to apply for executive clemency if they wanted a clean record.
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Monday, December 5, 2016

Motions To Quash Arrest & Suppress Evidence

The Law Office of Jason B. Stevens P.C.

102 N. Evergreen Ave Suite 220 Arlington Heights IL.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Executive Clemency

On April 13, 2016 I represented a client before the prison review board in his request for executive clemency.  Executive clemency is the last form of potential relief available when a client wants to clear his record but is not eligible for expungement or sealing.  In such a case the individual may request a pardon from the governor which, if granted, would authorize the individual to file a petition to expunge in Circuit Court.  The procedures governing the executive clemency process are set forth in 730 ILCS 5/3-3-13.  In Chicago the hearings are held at the Thompson Center.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Deferred Prosecution Programs & Criminal Defense

I recently attended an outstanding seminar offered by the Northwest Suburban Bar Association.  One of the topics discussed was the vast array of deferred prosecution programs  available in Cook County.  Generally a deferred prosecution program is a way of obtaining a dismissal at little or no risk to your client.  Programs are available and routinely offered in misdemeanor and felony Court.

As an attorney if I believe that I have a client who is a good candidate for a deferred prosecution such an outcome will generally be my primary objective.  Some of the more popular programs in Cook County include the Drug School and Theft Deterrent Programs along with the standard Misdemeanor Deferred Prosecution Program ("MDDP") and Felony Deferred Prosecution Program offered through Branch 9.  There are more specific programs aimed at deterring prostitution as well as assisting veterans. 

Anytime a defendant has little or no background and is charged with a non-violent crime in Cook County it is my professional opinion that a deferred prosecution should almost always be explored as a possible mode of obtaining a dismissal.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

When Driving While License Suspended/Revoked is a Serious Offense

The authority for the State of Illinois to charge someone with driving on a suspended or revoked license can be found in section 625 ILCS 5/6-303.  It's hard to believe that a crime as simple as driving on a suspended license has morphed into such a voluminous statute.  The statute is approximately 7 pages long when printed.  The law is inundated with numerous mandatory minimum penalties depending on how many prior offenses you have had and the reason for your current suspension.  If you are charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license the degree of trouble you are in largely depends on why your license was suspended and how many prior offenses you have had.  For example, if you were suspended due to a DUI and you get caught driving on a suspended license the consequences can be severe.  However, if you are suspended due to 3 moving violations within a 12 month period of time your punishment for your first offense may seem trivial. 

It's always a good idea to order a Court purposes driving abstract from an Illinois Secretary of State facility.  The abstract discloses everything you need to know about your driving history and you may find that you are able to clear up your driver's license suspension prior to your Court date.  In my experience judges and prosecutors are far more likely to adhere to a lenient sentence and in some cases a dismissal when you go to Court with a valid license in hand.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

When a client refuses to submit to a urine test the prosecution often relies on the results of standardized field sobriety tests to prove the charge of driving under the influence of cannabis.  One of the standardized field sobriety tests recognized by the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration ("NHTSA") is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus ("HGN") test which checks for the involuntary jerking of the eyes.  However, when defending a case of driving under the influence of cannabis defense attorneys should pay close attention to the factual findings the Illinois Supreme Court made in the case of People v. McKown, 236 Ill. 2d 278 (2010).  The McKown Court noted that Central Nervous System ("CNS") depressant drugs and alcohol affect the neural centers in the brain that control eye movements. Id. at 298.  The Court further noted that Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is a physical manifestation of CNS depression. Id. at 299.

The problem with using the HGN test to prove driving under the influence of cannabis is that Courts in other jurisdictions have concluded that cannabis does not fall in the category of drugs that are considered to be Central Nervous System depressants. See Washington v. Baity, 140 Wn 2d 1, 5; 991 P. 2d 1151; 2000 Wash. LEXIS 81 (1999) (noting that cannabis was not in the category of drugs considered Central Nervous System depressants).

Since the HGN test is only useful in detecting ingestion of Central Nervous System depressants it stands to reason that the test should not be used in cases involving drugs that are not Central Nervous System depressants.  Nonetheless, officers continue to assert that motorists are failing the HGN test in DUI cannabis cases.  Such a conclusion belies science and legal precedent. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The consequences of 2 moving violation convictions within 24 months when the motorist is under 21.

In my office it is an extremely common occurrence for a parent to contact me with the unfortunate news that his son has a suspended driver's license.  Often times a teen motorist who is cited for speeding or a red light violation elects to pay the ticket through the mail or over the internet without researching the consequences of his actions.  Section 625 ILCS 5/6-206(a)(36) of the Illinois vehicle code vests the Secretary of State's Office with the authority to suspend the driver's license of a motorist who is under 21 and has obtained 2 moving violation convictions within a 24 month period of time.  The good news is that most of the time this is a problem that can be fixed.

When a client comes to me with such a problem the first thing I do is identify which Courthouse(s) that the convictions originated from and how old they are.  So long as there are only 2 convictions the hold on the client's driver's license can be lifted by motioning one of the convictions up before a Judge and requesting that the conviction be vacated.  Most Judges are sympathetic to this situation and are often receptive to such a reasonable request.  If the Judge elects to vacate one of the convictions notice must be sent to the Illinois Secretary of State's Office.  When the Secretary of State receives notification that the motorist now only has 1 conviction in the past 24 months as opposed to 2, section 625 ILCS 5/6-206(a)(36) will no longer be applicable and the hold on the motorist's license resulting from the 2 convictions is lifted.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The BAIID law that makes no sense

Pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/11-501 there are six different types of subcategories in which someone can be charged with DUI.  Subsection (a)(1) criminalizes driving with a breath alcohol content of .08 and subsection (a)(2) criminalizes driving under the influence of alcohol.  However, three out of the four remaining DUI subcategories do not involve alcohol at all.  The problem is that if a statutory summary suspension is imposed upon a first offender motorist he must install a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device in his car if he wants to drive during the term of his summary suspension.  The BAIID rule applies even to DUIs that do not involve alcohol.

By way of example: If a first offender is charged with driving under the influence of cannabis and wants to drive during his summary suspension he must apply for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit ("MDDP") and install a BAIID device in his car.  See 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1 & 625 ILCS 5/6-206.1.  The reason this rule does not make sense is that BAIID devices only detect alcohol and do not detect the presence of cannabis.  This means that a chronic user of cannabis may continue to use cannabis undetected as he drives during the term of his summary suspension.  Assuming the motorist intended to stay clean and drive safely he would still be required to pay for the BAIID in his vehicle even if he had never consumed a drop of alcohol in his life.

The foregoing rule lumps too many offenders into the same category.  It is virtually impossible to explain to a client who does not drink and was arrested for driving under the influence of cannabis why he must install a BAIID device in his vehicle if he wants to drive during his summary suspension.   

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Law Office of Jason B. Stevens, P.C. has offices in Arlington Heights, IL and serves clients throughout the Chicago area, including: Cook, Lake, DuPage, McHenry, Kane and Will counties.

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| Phone: (847) 902-5665

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