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Posted on in DUI

legal limit, Kane County DUI defense attorneyDrunk driving is a serious issue in the United States. Every year, drunk driving takes the lives of approximately 10,000 people. This works out to about 28 deaths linked to an impaired driver every single day. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes is estimated to be about $44 billion dollars. In order to mitigate the problem of drunk driving, legislators have limited the amount of alcohol a person can legally have in their body while driving. If a driver is caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.08 percent, he or she will be charged with drinking under the influence (DUI). In order to less the number of alcohol-related car accidents, some experts suggest lowering the legal limit nationwide.

Scientists Say BAC Threshold Should Be Lowered to 0.05 Percent

A panel of accomplished scientists from the National Academics of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine analyzed data from many sources and came to the conclusion that states should lower the legal BAC limit. Presently, all 50 U.S. states maintain a BAC limit of 0.08 percent. Anyone with a BAC higher than this driving a car is breaking the law. It should be noted that although the legal limit is 0.08 percent, drivers showing signs of impairment with a BAC of at least 0.05 percent can still be charged with a DUI in Illinois.

Several states are already considering legislation to lower the legal limit within their borders, and effective December 30, 2018, Utah will lower its BAC limit from 0.08 percent to 0.05. Scientists on the panel believe that all states should follow suit. The group’s report—which consisted of nearly 490 pages—recommended changing the BAC threshold from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent in order to dissuade drivers from getting behind the wheel after a few drinks.

The proposed law would affect different drivers in different ways. Blood alcohol content is affected by a number of factors, including how much the person drank, what they were drinking, their body weight, and how much food they consumed. Women tend to have a lower tolerance for alcohol than men, so a woman’s blood alcohol content may be slighter higher than a man’s even if they drank the same amount of alcohol.

Beyond lowering the BAC limit, the panel also urged states to increase the tax on alcohol and decrease the accessibility of beer, liquor, and wine in stores, restaurants, and bars. The panel predicted that if states were to double the tax on alcohol, fatal accidents involving alcohol would drop by 11 percent. Critics of the proposed changes say that police should be focusing on dangerous drivers or repeat DUI offenders instead of casual drinkers.

Have You Been Charged with a DUI or Other Alcohol-Related Crime?

As police and lawmakers crack down on drunk driving, it is more important than ever that those charged with a DUI employ the help of an experienced criminal attorney. To speak with a skilled Elgin DUI defense attorney at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola, call 847-488-0889.

Sources:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/blood-alcohol-limit-combat-drunk-driving-panel-article-1.3762568

https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving

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one-leg stand, Kane County DUI defense attorneyOver the last couple of weeks, posts on this blog have talked a little about the battery of standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These three tests are commonly used by police officers during traffic stops to help determine whether a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. If you have been arrested on drunk driving charges, you should seek help from a skilled defense attorney immediately.

Two Types, Three Tests

There are three tests that comprise the SFSTs: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand. The first test—the horizontal gaze nystagmus—is an observation of involuntary eye movements while the subject follows a pen or flashlight with his or her eyes. The other two tests are both considered "divided attention" tests, because they test the subject’s ability to hear and follow instructions while performing simple tasks. The rationale behind these tests is that a sober person, for the most part, would have little trouble completing them, while an impaired person is much more likely to struggle.

Test 3: The One-Leg Stand

As with the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test is also broken down into two phases: instruction and performance. During the instruction stage, the officer will explain to the subject what he or she is expected to do and will demonstrate the proper procedure. The officer will confirm the subject understands before moving on to the performance phase.

During the performance stage, the subject must raise one foot parallel to and about six inches off the ground. With hands remaining at the sides, the subject must look at his or her raised foot and count slowly—"one thousand one, one thousand two, etc."—until told to stop by the officer. Most tests last for about 30 seconds.

While the subject is counting, the officer will be looking for indicators of possible impairment, including:

  • Swaying from side to side;
  • Using the arms to maintain balance;
  • Hopping to regain balance; and
  • Putting the foot down.

If the subject demonstrates two or more of these indicators, the likelihood for impairment is high.

Reliability Factors

According to the NHTSA, approximately 65 percent of people who "fail" the one-leg stand test are later determined to have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit. This means that the test gives a false positive about one time in three. Age, physical condition, and middle-ear problems could all impact a subject’s ability to perform the one-leg stand, even while not impaired.

Law enforcement officials and prosecutors say that such tests are not meant to be taken on their own but as part of the three-test battery. The cumulative results, officials maintain, are much more convincing.

Call Us Today

If you or a loved one has been arrested on charges of driving under the influence, contact an experienced Kane County DUI defense attorney. We are prepared to help you challenges the results of standardized field sobriety tests, and we will work hard to protect your rights. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

https://ntl.bts.gov/DOCS/deskbk.html#AADID

http://duijusticelink.aaa.com/issues/detection/standard-field-sobriety-test-sfst-and-admissibility/

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Posted on in DUI

DUI, Kane County criminal defense attorneyWhen a person is pulled over on the suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the next step is being taken into police custody until officers feel the individual is sober enough to make it home safely. In most cases, a citation is issued upon release which includes a date for a mandatory court appearance. All too often, however, defendants appear on their required date in court only to discover that their case is not actually on the docket. How does this happen? The answer may be found in what occurs after the issuance of the citation.

Behind the Scenes

Keep in mind that a county prosecutor’s office has a multitude of cases to review each day. Your case, while extremely important to you, is just one of many being processed at any given time. The date on the citation is often an arbitrary date, generally at least a month or two months after the incident initially occurred. It is presumed that this time is sufficient to accomplish the necessary steps, including:

  • Police drafting an official report including witness statements, examination of evidence, video footage, and a written report;
  • The arresting agency filing the report with the prosecuting agency, usually the State’s Attorney’s office in the local county, and
  • If there is evidence to create a case, the prosecutor filing and sending a notification to all relevant parties including a revised court date, replacing the one on the original citation.

Statute of Limitations

If you happened to be one of the unfortunate few who arrives at your court date listed on your citation only to discover your court date has changed, you will receive a form stating that you did report as requested. You will also likely be told to wait patiently, and your new court date will arrive by mail.

While waiting and diligently checking your mailbox, you may start to breathe a sigh of relief, hoping with a small shred of optimism that perhaps they forgot and the whole incident "blew over." This situation is not likely, however, as prosecutors rarely let anything just slip through the cracks. A statute of limitations exists that allows charges to be filed for up to 18 months from the date of the original arrest. If it has been two or more years since the original arrest and you still have not heard from the court, there may be an outstanding warrant your arrest.

We Can Help

If you have been charged with DUI, you should consider consulting with a defense attorney as soon as possible. A conviction can be life-altering but may be preventable in many cases with the proper representation. Contact an experienced Elgin DUI defense lawyer. Call The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola at 847-488-0889 today.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=1876&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=5100000&SeqEnd=6000000

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warrantless, Kane County DUI defense attorneyAs we have previously discussed on this blog, refusing to comply with a law enforcement’s officers request for a blood-alcohol content (BAC) test subsequent to a DUI arrest will result in administrative penalties for the arrested driver. Illinois law makes it very clear that these consequences are not criminal charges but are administrative in nature and affect only state-issued driving privileges. In 13 other states, however, including neighboring Indiana, a refusal to submit to BAC chemical test is a crime and may be prosecuted. While the laws may be well-intentioned—reducing drunk driving is a good thing—they are being challenged in a matter now before the United States Supreme Court. Specifically, the Court must decide if refusing a warrantless chemical test should be punishable with criminal consequences.

Search and Seizure Laws

In virtually every other situation that involves collecting evidence, law enforcement must obtain a warrant prior to conducting a lawful search. There are two general exceptions: searches conducted for safety of the responding officer and those done to preserve evidence may proceed without a warrant. The United States Supreme Court has even ruled that such protections apply to an arrested suspect’s cell phone, holding that warrantless searches of electronic devices violate the Fourth Amendment. In 2013, the Supreme Court clarified that a warrant was also needed to mandate blood testing for BAC in DUI cases, a ruling that has become the basis for the current case.

Criminal Penalties and Warrantless BAC Tests

The major question at issue concerns criminal penalties for refusing a BAC test. Legal experts, along with lower courts, have identified that such penalties are necessarily linked with whether warrantless searches are permitted. If law enforcement is required to obtain a warrant, do so, and the suspect still refuses, criminal penalties are much more understandable. If an officer proceeds without a warrant, the suspect’s rights are much less clear.

Breath Test Options?

Several justices of the Supreme Court have expressed skepticism over the states’ claims that getting a warrant for a BAC test is too burdensome. With available technology, many believe that a warrant, in most cases, could be available very quickly. The Supreme Court also seems hesitant to lift the warrant requirement for a blood test, given the invasive nature of such testing and vast amount of other information that can be taken from a suspect’s blood sample.

Justices appear more open to the idea of allowing breath tests to continue without a warrant, as they are much less invasive. The data gathered by a breath test is also more directly applicable to the DUI investigation. The question that remains to be answered in that scenario, however, is whether refusing a breath test should subject a person to additional criminal prosecution.

DUI Representation

Here in Illinois, refusing a BAC test is not a crime but it can cause you problems in addition to those created by charges of DUI. If you are facing drunk driving charges, contact an experienced Kane County DUI defense lawyer. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule your free consultation at the The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/04/20/supreme-court-drunk-driving-breath-test-warrant/83286598/

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/birchfield-v-north-dakota/

http://www.fox23.com/news/us-supreme-court-tackles-dui-laws_/230521771

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