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Dexter

So we all know that ignorance of the law is not a defense to a crime.  However, what would be your guess if a police officer doesn’t know the law and arrests you based on law that only exists in his head?

If you guessed that would be just fine then you should become a Supreme Court Justice.

I had a case where a driver only had one functioning tail light on his car.  And, to my surprize when I looked up the law, Illinois law said that all you had to have was one functioning tail light.  The judge disagreed.  He cited that the purpose of the law was public safety and it was more dangerous to drive around with only one tail light.  Of course he made that call with no scientific basis, but that’s the way it goes in traffic court.

I had always thought that the judge got it wrong there, however it turns out that the Supreme Court just heard a very similar case from North Carolina.  And they found that it if an officer makes a “reasonable” mistake about the law, then they can stop your vehicle for that mistaken belief.

So, now I think the judge (in my case) and the Supreme Court got it wrong for this reason.  Ignorance of the law is no excuse.  If we are going to have a set of rules that we write down somewhere, and that we will allow no mistakes for us common folk not knowing what the law is, then what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.

If we choose not to have it that way, then we tacitly admit that a person, even a trained officer can’t know the law, and well if he can’t know the law then perhaps we need simpler laws.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, IL.

 

 

Alcohol

Each little hamlet in this little slice of heaven we call Illinois is now authorized to collect up to $500 in administrative fees after an arrest for DUI or driving while license suspended.  In an earlier post, I joked about the possibility of local municipalities arresting drivers and then releasing them after they paid the $500 administrative fee.  Sort of a Catch and Release program.

**Note a village may charge up to $500, one of our local municipalities: Spring Grove, only charges $350 for this fee.

The idea was that if they had probable cause for the stop, then they could keep the $500 fee, and when they dismissed the case they would save attorneys fees for prosecution of the DUI.  I also mentioned that municipalities received very little of the MASSIVE fines and fees collected by county courts for DUIs, eventhough they provided the police, the tickets and the prosecutors for those cases.

Well, it seems that one municipality may have figured out the puzzle that is DUI enforcement.  It has been said that one Village’s DUI percentage (the portion of DUIs that survive to TRIAL OR GUILTY PLEA in court) is inexplicably low.  However, their collection of the administrative fee is nearly 100%.

I think they have figured out that the real money is not in DUI enforcement, but in collection of the administrative fee.  That perhaps sheds some light on the question, “Do they arrest DUI drivers to reduce DUIs, or for the money, and the answer is …

 

I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a  DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.

 

P.S.  So what then will happen to MADD and AAIM, and DUI Counselors?

 

IMAG0884

Apparenty after netting very few “Alcohol Service to Minors” in the last sting, the enforcement authorities have adopted a new strategy.

I have heard that the new sting involves a person who presents an DL that is horizontal with an underage birthdate, which is impossible because all underage driver’s licenses are printed vertically.  The bar tender scans the ID, sees it is horizontal, which indicates the person is over 21, and serves them only to receive a ticket for serving alcohol to an underage person.

If this is in fact going on, what exactly are they trying to catch?  Bartenders trying to follow the law?

Also, our legislature has decided that this “offense” should be a strict liability offense, which means that it is not a defense to this charge if you were mistaken, or fooled by this tactic.  Perhaps you should have a chat with your local state legislator about why this is wrong.  Of course I have no confidence in the legislature fixing any problems with the law, they are there only to make problem laws.  While I guess I can dream of a day when the voters will make a change to this system, until then we are stuck with it.  But hopefully, sneaky tactics by enforcement will backfire.

We should probably rethink our alcohol laws if this is the game enforcement wants to play.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a Lake in the Hills DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.

 

Bananas have nothing to do with this post

Here at Excessive Bail (TM), we get beat up from time to time commenting on judges lowering the boom on seemingly minor criminals.  Call it the Napoleon Complex applied to judges or what have you, but we are known for making fun of judges for giving a defendant a three year sentence for stealing a candy bar. In a stunning reversal of this trend we are now going to make fun of a judge giving too light a sentence.* Earlier this month the secretary of Bernie Madoff was sentenced to six years in prison.  Now to be honest that sentence is about right if you believe that some fraudsters secretary was actively involved in the criminal fraud.  However, the judge, as many judges do, felt like sentencing someone wasn’t enough … they felt they should explain why on the record.

The prosecutor asked for 20 years

The defense attorney asked for 8 to 10

The judge gave her six.

Why? Because the defendant was short.  Literally.  4 foot six inches short. Now there are a lot of reasons to reduce a sentence.  This isn’t one of them.  If your logic is that a person is short and may be abused by the system because of their stature, then you don’t send them at all.  If you send them for six instead of 20 I think you have to explain why a short person can do six but can’t do 20. Just sayin

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock, IL.

*Query whether this is actually a reversal because we are still making fun of judges sentences.  So there’s that.

Speed_Limit_25tn

So this Lake in the Hills DUI Attorney took a look at last year’s DUI counts.

A quick review of the 2013 DUI counts shows a couple of things.  The leading municipality for our county is Bull Valley followed by Crystal Lake and then there is Lake in the Hills.

As a Lake in the Hills DUI attorney I find it interesting how the DUI numbers come out.  Last year according to AAIM, Bull Valley wrote 160 DUI tickets, Crystal Lake wrote 111, and Lake in the Hills wrote 90.

The interesting part for me is that Bull Valley has 6 officers, Crystal Lake has 65 and Lake in the Hills has 39 officers.

So doing the math, as AAIM does, arrest rate per officer sounds something like this:  Bull Valley 6.67 DUIs per officer, Crystal Lake 1.17 DUIs per officer, and Lake in the Hills 2.31.

Now this could just suggest that some smaller departments have higher ratios because they don’t have a lot of staff.  These days, commonly, even the secretary at the police station is a sworn officer (for reasons that I will never understand).

What can we draw from this?  You have some Bull Valley officers (just a few of them) writing a lot of DUI tickets.  You have a large staff at Crystal Lake.  And at Lake in the Hills, maybe the secretaries aren’t sworn officers.

In any case you would be wise to not try to make it home driving through Bull Valley.

As an interesting side note, I think most of the DUI arrests in Bull Valley arise from a speeding charge.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a Lake in the Hills DUI attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.

Alcohol

What is the Legal Limit in Illinois for DUI?

There isn’t one.  Does that surprise you?  When a person takes a Breathalyzer after a DUI stop in Illinois the law says:

1.  For those who blow over 0.08 there is a presumption that the person was under the influence.

2.  For those who blow 0.079 to 0.051, there is no presumption that the person was under the influence of alcohol.

3.  For those who blow under 0.05 there is a presumption that the person was not under the influence of alcohol.

Do you see the sneaky thing they did there?  Normally, in America a person is presumed to be not under the influence (not guilty), unless the state proves that they were under the influence at trial.  However, if you look at the middle presumption (that is that there is no presumption), the state just papered over one of your rights: to be presumed not guilty, and took it away.

Interestingly, it is the first presumption that people assume establishes a “limit” of 0.08 in Illinois.  It does not.  The jury may be told that they may presume that the person was under the influence, but that presumption may be rebutted by the defendant at trial.  Of course, that would be a pretty interesting trial where the defendant established that his alcohol tolerance was so high that at 0.08 he wasn’t under the influence.   One has to think that the jury might be predisposed to finding someone guilty who had such a big alcohol problem.  So at the very least it would be an uphill battle to say the least.

So it turns out there is no Legal Limit in Illinois, just a bunch of people who think there is one.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, is a Bull Valley attorney who represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.

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