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reckless driving, Elgin criminal defense attorneyGenerally, traffic violations are considered only civil offenses. Things like driving a few miles above the speed limit, a rolling stop at a stop sign, or failing to use your turn signal can result in a ticket and associated fines but are not considered actual crimes. Motorists should know that some traffic violations are considered much more dangerous and therefore come with a much harsher penalty. If you have been charged with reckless driving, you may be facing a misdemeanor conviction and even jail time.

What is Considered Reckless Driving?

You have probably heard the phrase "reckless driving" before but may be unsure of its exact meaning. According to Illinois law, someone is reckless driving if they

  • Drive a vehicle with deliberate disregard for property and others’ safety; or
  • Intentionally use an incline in the roadway to cause a car to become airborne.

The law dictates that individuals driving in a way that is irresponsible and dangerous can be charged with reckless driving. However, the phrasing is somewhat vague. It can be difficult to know exactly what behavior might be considered reckless driving. Depending on the circumstances, police officers may cite motorists for reckless driving if the drivers:

  • Drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol;
  • Drive 20 mph or more over the speed limit;
  • Ignore a stop sign or red light;
  • Weave through traffic;
  • Tailgate;
  • Intentionally fail to yield the right-of-way;
  • Evade law enforcement;
  • Illegally pass a stopped school bus;
  • Cross a double yellow line;
  • Race another vehicle; and
  • Illegally use a cellphone while driving.

Sometimes, a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) can be decreased to the lesser offense of reckless driving as part of a plea deal.

Consequences for a Reckless Driving Conviction

Generally, reckless driving is considered a Class A misdemeanor. If charged with misdemeanor reckless driving, you can be imprisoned for up to a year and required to pay up to $2,500 in fines. Certain circumstances can make reckless driving a much more serious offense. If the driver’s negligent behavior causes bodily harm to a child or a school crossing guard at a crosswalk, the driver will be charged with a Class 3 felony. This charge carries penalties of up to five years in jail and fines up to $25,000. If the reckless driving results in the significant injury, permanent disability, or disfigurement of another person, the driver can be charged with Class 4 felony aggregated reckless driving. The penalties include imprisonment for up to three years and fines up to $25,000.

If you have been charged with reckless driving, you need an attorney who can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. To speak with an experienced Kane County reckless driving defense lawyer, call The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola at 847-488-0889.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-503

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search, Kane County criminal law attorneyMany drivers have had the sickening feeling of seeing flashing lights in their rearview mirror and knowing that they were being pulled over. There is much confusion surrounding what police officers are and are not allowed to do. This confusion has not been lessened by the recent events regarding the shooting of unarmed citizens by police officers and the following media frenzy. The right to be free from unreasonable governmental searches is guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, and it is important for you to understand your rights as a driver.

Probable Cause

The short answer to the question "Can the police search my car during a traffic stop?" is that it depends. Generally, a police officer needs a warrant in order to search someone’s property, but cars are different. A police officer cannot legally search someone’s car as a normal part of a traffic stop for a minor infraction such as speeding or a broken taillight. However, an officer can search a car if he or she has probable cause to do so.

Probable cause can include when illegal substances are in "plain view." Plain view means that an officer can search your vehicle if he or she sees an illegal substance (such as drugs) through the windows of the car. The officer may also be able to search the car if he or she smells drugs, including marijuana smoke. If an officer has reason to arrest a driver, he or she has the right to search the car after the arrest. This is called "search incident to arrest." Police officers may also search a driver’s car if they have reason to suspect that the driver has been involved in a crime. This could include seeing blood in the car or on the driver, or other evidence of a likely crime.

"Exigent circumstances," also allow an officer to search a vehicle. Exigent circumstances are "circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that entry (or other relevant prompt action) was necessary to prevent physical harm to the officers or other persons, the destruction of relevant evidence, the escape of the suspect, or some other consequence improperly frustrating legitimate law enforcement efforts."

Contact a Kane County Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges any evidence obtained in an illegal search may be inadmissible in court. That is why it is important for you to seek quality legal assistance. Contact an Elgin criminal defense attorney for a free consultation today.

Sources:

https://openjurist.org/728/f2d/1195/united-states-v-mcconney

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-rights-do-you-have-when-pulled-over-2013-11

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traffic stop, Elgin traffic violations lawyerMost adults can remember the feeling of independence that accompanied getting their driver’s license for the first time. On the other hand, most can also remember the nearly overwhelming fear that took over when they were pulled over by police for the first time. Getting stopped for a suspected traffic violation is intimidating for many drivers, including those who have been driving for decades. Younger drivers, however, often experience even more stress when they are pulled over, leading to confusing and potentially dangerous situations. Fortunately, lawmakers in Illinois have taken steps to prepare young drivers on how to handle being stopped by the police.

Helping Young Drivers Learn

Around this time last year, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bipartisan measure that requires all driver’s education classes in the state to include a section on how to behave during a traffic stop. The bill’s timing coincided with a number of horrific, headline-making examples of traffic stops that escalated and spiraled out of control—some of them resulting in tragedy. The new law went into effect on January 1, 2017, and affects driver’s education classes at public schools, private schools, and private training programs.

In many such classes, instructors ask a police officer to come in and talk to the students about traffic stops. The idea is to give drivers insight into concerns that the officer will have during the stop—something many young drivers may never have considered on their own. With a new perspective, new drivers will be better prepared if and when that first stop happens.

Quick Tips

It would be easy to list pages and pages of advice on how to handle a traffic stop, but the most important tips can be quickly summarized. If you are pulled over for a possible traffic violation:

  • Be polite and cooperative. Arguing with the officer is not going to get you anywhere. If you disagree with the officer, you can state your disagreement reasonably and politely, but do not expect the officer to change his or her mind about a ticket;
  • Keep your hands visible and move slowly. During a traffic stop, a police officer is prepared for just about anything and may be a little on edge. If you need to move to get your license or insurance card, tell the officer where it is and ask for permission to retrieve it. Moving deliberately will keep you and the officer much safer; and
  • Address any problems later. If you believe the officer conducted an illegal stop or issued a ticket for something you did not do, you will have the chance to contest the ticket later. Your best option is to allow the stop to conclude as quickly as possible, even if it means allowing the officer to do something you know is not right. Calling him or her out on it during the stop is only likely to make things worse.

If the traffic stop results in a citation that you believe is unfair or inappropriate, your next step should be to contact an experienced Kane County traffic violations attorney. We will review your case and help you explore your available options. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

http://www.illinoishomepage.net/news/capitol-news/drivers-ed-classes-could-include-traffic-stop-training/509952242

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-drivers-ed-police-stops-illinois-law-met-20160906-story.html

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Posted on in Traffic violations

CDL, Kane County traffic violations attorneyCommercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders go through a difficult process to obtain their licensure. Such drivers are held to a higher standard within the community, both on and off the clock. Whether in a company vehicle or a personal vehicle, their attention to their driving must be impeccable at the risk of losing their license, jeopardizing both their employment and their future. What are some of the top mistakes made by CDL holders that can result in traffic violations and put their licensure in danger?

Attempting a Difficult Parking Spot to Avoid the Extra Walk

Did you know that most trucking accidents occur at truck stops? Some of these do involve truckers trying to pull into a closer and tougher parking spot than utilizing the ample space often available a few feet away. Large trucks do not have a small turning radius, and because of this, you should allow yourself the proper room for maneuverability to avoid a collision. While one accident may not lose your licensure, several just might. Remember that truck and trailer often move on different tracks, and the costs of repairing someone else’s vehicle may be upwards of $15,000 depending on the amount of damage.

Taking Downhills Too Fast

This mistake is one that even seasoned truckers make on occasion. Between the weight of the truck and load and the pitch of the downhill slope, vehicles become fast-moving projectiles. Luckily, many roads prone to this issue are equipped with runaway truck ramps. However, it helps to remember that it is better to go too slow than too fast in the beginning because you can always upshift, but never downshift in a slope. Not only can this cause an accident, failing to maintain a proper speed for the road conditions can result in a citation.

Failure to Maintain Proper Following Distance

Much of this also has to do with other drivers on the road cutting off truck drivers, but it is the responsibility of the driver then to back off to maintain a reasonable stopping distance. Large 18-wheelers have the ability to haul tens of thousands of pounds, not to mention the weight of the steel truck as well. Drivers must give themselves plenty of room to stop, and it is important to be aware of open spaces at all times in case you need an escape route to avoid catastrophe or a ticket.

Improper Vehicle Maintenance

Part of operating any vehicle is to make sure that the equipment is properly cared for and is in safe operating order before every trip. During an unexpected inspection, a citation may be issued for faulty equipment. Additionally, a tire blowout can cause a disaster on the roadways. Everything from the engine to the tires and the load being carried must be in proper order to ensure that your truck is not the reason for an accident.

An Attorney Can Help

You of all people understand how much your livelihood depends on your licensure. Dependant on your company policies and regulations of drivers, one accident or citation may put your career at risk. If you have received a citation against your CDL, contact an experienced Elgin CDL violations defense attorney. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

https://www.truckinfo.net/trucking/stats.htm

https://www.truckdrivingjobs.com/faq/truck-driving-accidents.html

http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/drivers/drivers_license/CDL/cdl.html

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Posted on in Traffic violations

fleeing, Elgin criminal defense attorneyFleeing from a police officer is one of the most serious traffic offenses in Illinois. If a police officer tries to pull you over but you do not cooperate, you could face jail time and suspension of your driver’s license, as well as a permanent mark on your criminal record.

Fleeing and Eluding

To convict a person of fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer, the prosecution must show three things:

  • That the offender was driving a motor vehicle;
  • That the police officer gave the driver a visual or audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop; and
  • That the driver willfully failed to stop, increased speed, extinguished the car’s lights, or otherwise fled.

Willfully means that the prosecution must show that the fleeing was purposeful. If the driver fled or eluded the officer unintentionally, he or she cannot be convicted.

Additionally, the police officer must be in uniform. If the office is in a vehicle—marked or unmarked—he or she must use the oscillating lights and, if appropriate, the siren, because drivers sometimes may not always see the police car behind them.

Fleeing and eluding is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison, up to two years of probation, and a fine of up to $2,500. Additionally, the Secretary of State will suspend an offender’s driver’s license for up to six months. For a second offense, the license will be suspended for up to one year.

A third conviction for fleeing and eluding is a Class 4 felony, carrying penalties of one to three years in prison, up to 30 months of probation, and fine of up to $25,000.

Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding

Aggravated fleeing and eluding is a felony offense. It is committed when a driver commits fleeing and eluding, plus:

  • The driver is going at least 21 miles per hour over the posted speed limit;
  • The driver causes bodily injury to any person;
  • The driver causes over $300 in property damage;
  • The offense involves disobeying two or more official traffic control devices (e.g. a stop light or stop sign); or
  • The offense involves concealment or alteration of the vehicle’s license plate.

Aggravated fleeing is a Class 4 felony, and the offender’s license will be revoked. Additionally, a conviction may result in the forfeiture of the vehicle used in the offense. A second or subsequent offense is a Class 3 felony, which substantially increases the possible penalties.

If you have been charged with fleeing and eluding or any other traffic violation, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney right away. Call The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola at 847-488-0889 for a free consultation today.

Sources:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/CircuitCourt/CriminalJuryInstructions/CRIM%2023.00.pdf

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-204

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-204.1

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