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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

breathalyzer, Kane County criminal defense attorneyBreathalyzers are the most commonly used form of testing used to find a driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC). Usually administered by a police officer during a traffic stop, breathalyzers are used to determine if a driver is driving under the influence of alcohol. Although they are used quite frequently, breathalyzers are not the most accurate measure of how much alcohol an individual has consumed. A blood test is much more precise, but blood tests cannot be easily administered during a traffic stop.

In most cases, a breathalyzer will only be administered if the police officer has reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol. If an individual has more than 80 mg alcohol per 100 mL of blood in their body, he or she is considered over the legal limit in Illinois.

Sources of Error

Over the years, many individuals and groups have called the accuracy of breathalyzers into question. In February, thousands of tests were thrown out in Boston after suspicion that the tests were erroneous. The machines were found to be improperly calibrated and maintained by the state of Massachusetts. Another source of error is interfering compounds found in the breath which can significantly affect the test results. Substances such as lacquer, paint remover, gasoline, cleaning fluids, and other ethers/alcohols can result in a false positive reading on some breathalyzer machines.

Diabetics have a higher amount of ether alcohol in their body which has been found to cause a false positive in some older breathalyzer machines. Those suffering from kidney disease can be at risk for inaccurate BAC readings as well. Acid reflux, belching, and alcohol trapped in dentures or dental fixtures have also been cited as causes for inaccurate BAC readings.

Breathalyzer Myths

Methods to "trick" breathalyzers have mostly been debunked. Some drivers hoping to avoid a DUI conviction have unsuccessfully tried eating breath mints or gargling mouthwash before the test. Others have touted the efficacy of putting pennies and batteries in one’s mouth before taking a breathalyzer test. Although these methods may decrease the smell of alcohol on the breath, they do not decrease the amount of alcohol in the blood. Residual mouth alcohol from mouthwash, in fact, can result in a BAC which is much higher than the actual amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream. Regardless, police are trained to wait 15-20 minutes for mouth alcohol or other possible interferences to dissipate before administering the test.

We Can Help

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, an experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney can offer the guidance and representation you need. We are prepared to challenge breathalyzer results when appropriate, and we will work hard on your behalf throughout the process. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation today.

Sources:

http://www.wcvb.com/article/thousands-of-brethalyzer-tests-thrown-out/8949508

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0379073801005345

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

bail, Kane County criminal defense attorneyBail is often mischaracterized on television and in the movies, as it seems as though a criminal defendant can simply pay some money and be released from all responsibility for their actions. A character wakes up in jail, for example, just in time for the guard to arrive saying that the character’s friend has posted bail. The episode or film then continues with no mention of the arrest again—case closed, right? Not even close.

In reality, there is virtually no situation in which posting bail will end criminal proceedings against a person charged with a crime. Bail is not a fine to be paid in lieu of a different criminal sentence. Instead, bail is intended to help ensure that a criminal defendant responds as required and that he or she is afforded the due process of law.

After an Arrest

When a person is arrested for a criminal offense, he or she has the right to a preliminary hearing, in most cases, to determine if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed. Depending on when a person is arrested, getting him or her in front of a judge may take several days or even weeks. In many cases, the defendant will waive the preliminary hearing, but he or she still has the right to a trial. Thanks to overloaded court dockets, a trial may not be possible for a number of months. In the meantime, what happens to the suspect?

Depending on a number of factors, including the severity of the crime in question, the person’s prior history, his or her standing in the community, and his or her financial situation, the court has several options. The person may be released on his or her own recognizance, which means that the defendant is fully aware of the charges and he or she agrees to attend all future proceedings as required. Defendants may also be placed on house arrest, which requires the person to wear an ankle bracelet that contains a monitoring device. The judge may also set bail, which could include cash payments or liens against the defendant’s property. Finally, the defendant may be required to stay in jail until his or her trial if the crime is particularly heinous or the judge determines that releasing the suspect presents a serious risk of flight or other danger to the community.

New Law Emphasizes Monetary Bail Alternatives

Over the last several decades, there has been growing concern that monetary bail has a disproportionate effect on the financially underprivileged. A low-income criminal defendant, advocates claim, is much more likely to sit in jail prior to trial because he or she does not have the resources to afford bail. This reality has also led to municipal and county jails overloaded with inmates who are waiting for trial or have yet to be sentenced.

Illinois lawmakers addressed these concerns earlier this year by passing a bipartisan measure that offers better bail considerations for low-income defendants charged with non-violent crimes. Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill this month, making Illinois the largest state with a presumption against monetary bail. Curfews, in-home monitoring, and in-person check-ins with a probation-type officer provide alternatives and are expected to be used as appropriate. Judges may still impose financial bail terms, but only after careful consideration of the entire situation.

Call Us for Help

If you or a loved one has been arrested and has a bail hearing upcoming, an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney can help. Contact our office today and get the guidance you need during a difficult time. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/illinois/articles/2017-06-09/illinois-governor-signs-bail-relief-legislation-in-chicago

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-bruce-rauner-bail-bill-met-0610-20170609-story.html

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Posted on in DUI

felony, Elgin criminal defense attorneyWhen you are charged with the criminal offense of driving under the influence (DUI), it has the potential to change your life forever. Regardless of whether you are ultimately convicted, your license can be suspended, leading to difficulties keeping your commitments—including work. If you are convicted, you could even spend time in jail.

Basics of DUI Offenses

Just your first DUI offense can result in the loss of driving privileges for up to six months. In many cases—especially if it is your first offense—you are likely to qualify for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit which allows you drive legally while your license is technically suspended.  Participation in this program, however, means that you must install a Breath-Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) in your vehicle. Before your car will start, you must use the BAIID to prove that your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is below the acceptable limits set by the program.

Illinois is an implied consent state which means by driving on the streets and highways of the state, you agree to submit to BAC chemical testing when you are suspected of drunk driving. If you refuse when asked, your license will automatically be suspended for the maximum time of 12 months for a first offense. While there are many factors that may come into play, the average cost of a DUI in Illinois is approximately $16,000 when all is said and done.

Felony DUI Charges  

If that seems like a devastating situation, it is hardly comparable to that of a felony DUI conviction. A felony conviction, as you might expect is even worse, bringing with it harsher punishments and higher fines in most cases.

Every year in the state of Illinois, roughly 300 people die in alcohol-related crashes. As such, it is understandable that the state would have enacted strict laws for the most serious situations. You could face charges of aggravated DUI—always a felony—if you were driving under the influence and caused an accident which resulted in serious injury or death to another person. Felony DUI charges may also be applicable if you have previous DUI convictions on your record. In Illinois, a third DUI offense is automatically a felony charge.

You could also be charged with a Class 4 felony DUI even for a first offense if a minor under the age of 16 was in the car at the time of the incident and the child was injured as a result.  If this occurs and the driver has a previous DUI conviction, the charge may be elevated to a Class 2 felony.

Seek Legal Help

If you have been charged with a DUI of any class or severity, contact an experienced Kane County DUI defense attorney. We can help you explore your options and work with you in making the best choices for your future. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

http://www.isp.state.il.us/traffic/drnkdriving.cfm

http://www.madd.org/laws/law-overview/DUI_Felony_Overview.pdf

https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a118.pdf

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Posted on in BAIID

BAIID, Elgin Criminal Defense AttorneyMost people who decide to get behind the wheel after drinking usually realize that what they are doing is illegal and dangerous. Awareness regarding the danger and irresponsibility of drunk driving has steadily increased since the early 1990s when many states began to launch serious campaigns to deter drunk drivers. Around the same time, police departments across the country focused their efforts on cracking down on drunk driving offenses.

Unfortunately, however, the problem of driving under the influence has not, in any real way, been eradicated. The numbers, in fact, tend to fluctuate with no discernable pattern from one year to the next. In 2012, for example, there was a significant increase in the number of fatalities resulting from drunk driving, that after 2011 when the death toll fell below 10,000 for the first time.

Reaction to Rising Death Numbers

That year saw a 3.3 percent increase in fatalities, causing some activists to call for ignition interlock devices to be installed in the car of every convicted drunk driver across the country. In Illinois, a person convicted of drunk driving may apply for driving relief during the period of statutory license suspension and choose to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in his/her vehicle. If a person convicted of drunk driving qualifies for the program and has the BAIID installed in his vehicle, there are no other stipulations regarding his driving rights. He or she may drive anywhere at any time and is allowed to travel, even interstate, providing that the BAIID is installed and functioning properly.

It is important to note that the state of Illinois does not force all convicted drunk drivers to install the BAIID. An offender may elect to simply not drive during the mandatory suspension period. However, if the person is then caught driving during the suspension he or she may be charged with a Class 4 felony, regardless of whether alcohol was again involved. The penalties for driving without an ignition interlock device during the period of license suspension include possible imprisonment of one to three years, a minimum of 30 days in jail or 300 hours of community service, and fines as high as $25,000.

Facing DUI Charges?

If you or a member of your family has been accused of drunk driving, seek legal help immediately. Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney in Kane County to discuss your case and your available options. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule your free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

http://www.madd.org/blog/2013/november/2012-fatality-data.html

https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/BAIID/baiid.html

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