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Drunk Driving / DUI

What Should You Do If You Are Pulled Over for a DUI?

When it comes to serious driving offenses, there are few things more devastating than being charged with a DUI. The consequences of such a charge can be life-changing, and not in a good way. That is why it is important that you understand what to do should you ever be pulled over the suspicion of driving while under the influence. There are a few things in particular that you should keep in mind in order to get out of the situation as painlessly as possible.

Do Not Incriminate Yourself

One of the main issues that people find themselves facing with regards to being pulled over under suspicion of driving while under the influence is the tendency to want to cooperate with the police. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do so. You should, of course, be respectful and polite at all times. But what you should not, under any circumstances, do is offer up information or answer questions about the stop, your driving, or your evening. Hand over your license and registration when asked, and decline to answer any questions.

Note that refusing to answer questions includes the standard “do you know why I pulled you over” query that comes standard with most traffic stops. Do not guess at the reason, simply respond with “no”. Do not answer questions about whether or not you’ve been drinking, either. You have the right to remain silent, and it’s a good idea to use it. This might be difficult, especially if the officer becomes visibly annoyed by your refusal to engage in conversation, but it the best course of action.

Understand You are being Detained

When you’re pulled over to the side of the road due to a traffic stop, you are not free to simply leave whenever you’d like. In fact, you are generally considered to be “detained”, but not yet “in custody”. This is an important distinction because as long as you are not officially in police custody, officers do not have to Mirandize you. That means that they are free to ask you incriminating questions without reminding you that you do not have to answer them. Refer to the above point for more information regarding why you should not answer questions and instead simply decline to answer.

Do Not Take Field Sobriety Tests

Much like answering the questions police officers ask you during a traffic stop, performing field sobriety tests is an optional decision. You do not have to do them, and in fact it is probably better that you do not do so. These are highly subjective and any perceived “error” can and will count against you. Politely decline to perform them – this is the best and least self-incriminating option.

About Breathalyzers and Chemical Testing

Unless you are under 21 or are on probation, you generally do not need to submit to a Breathalyzer – the test administered on the side of the road. Should you be placed under arrest, of course, then all bets are off and you should cooperate with the test.

The bottom line when it comes to DUI charges is that you do not want to treat them lightly. Find a lawyer who will be able to ensure your rights are protected.

Top Reasons You Shouldn’t Drink and Drive This Weekend

DUI Attorney Chicago

The prevalence of drinking and driving in the state of Illinois is staggering. When you consider that the penalties for a DUI charge can involve a fine, vehicle impoundment, a suspended driver’s license for a year or more as well as imprisonment, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would take the risk and get behind the wheel when they are impaired.

Nonetheless every year thousands of people in the state choose to engage in the life-threatening activity. Not only is the choice of drinking and driving harmful and self-injurious, but it can also injure and kill other people, leading to a felony offense. In the cases of driving under influence where a charge of reckless endangerment, involuntary manslaughter or repeat offenses of DUI are involved, a sentence which can include prison time is probable.

On behalf of all residents in our state of Illinois we would like to educate people on the true cost of drinking and driving or operating a vehicle while impaired. When you find yourself charged with a DUI, life can change dramatically and will discuss how it will impact your quality of life, in the hope of educating our drivers and helping them to make better choices.

DUI: Just the Stats

How serious the problem is driving under the influence in major cities like Chicago and across the state of Illinois?  Statistics show that the highest prevalence of impaired driving is with young adults aged 16 through 25 years. The next highest risk group are young professional males from the age of 25 years 35 years, who are unmarried.

Here are some other statistics consider when it comes to impaired driving, as published by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Illinois chapter:

  • From 2014 to 2015, there were 322 drunk driving fatalities in Illinois. That number represented 32.5% of all total traffic deaths for the year.
  • The total number of DUI arrests in the state of Illinois was 34,611.
  • The number of DUI conviction in the state of Illinois was 14,343.
  • The total number of individuals who refused chemical testing in suspected DUI cases was 4,215.
  • The total cost to taxpayers as a result of fatalities in Illinois from 2014 to 2015 was $1.6 billion dollars in the past year alone.

These statistics really bring the problem to the surface for discussion. If you ask the average resident of Illinois how many impaired driving charges were laid in the last 12 months they would be likely to underestimate the number. The amount of drivers who make the decision to drive while impaired is not increasing annually but it is also not decreasing, and represents significant cost in terms of loss of life, injury, and expense annually.

The Financial Cost of Impaired Driving

Most people understand the social costs involved with impaired driving, and the risk of injury to themselves or to other people which is significant when you consider the number of fatalities that are directly caused by impaired driving.  But there is another side, a hidden cost that few people realize they will incur as a result of being charged with impaired driving.

Some people refer to an impaired driving charge as a $10,000 hangover.  The reason for this is that there are number of costs associated with being charged, convicted, and incarcerated.  There are also costs involved in reinstating your license after serving a suspension.  As part of the process of reinstating your license after suspension due to impaired driving, you would be required to engage in remedial education regarding driver safety.  If you are placed under probation there may be fees for your supervision, fees for chemical testing as part of compliance for probation and suspended licensing, legal fees and much more.

Being charged with impaired driving doesn’t just cost you physically nor does it simply cost you in terms of inconvenience, but is significantly costs you money in fines, fees and mandatory programs.  And depending on the severity of your DUI charge the cost may be far greater particularly if you are required to serve a sentence in prison.

Civil Liability

In addition to facing penalties if successfully convicted of impaired driving, you may also face additional civil liability with regards to personal injury suits.  If you are in impaired driver and your vehicle has caused damage to another vehicle, property, or created injury for another individual you may be sued.  A conviction of driving while impaired is sufficient evidence to demonstrate guilt and liability in civil cases, which can result in punitive damages being awarded to victims for short term or long term damages.

With so many other alternatives including assigning a designated driver, using affordable services like Uber or even calling a cab, it’s difficult to understand why people still choose to risk themselves and the safety of others by impaired driving. It simply is not worth the risk.

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Here’s Why You Need to Hire a DUI Attorney

Hire a DUI Attorney(Image credit: www.flickr.com)

Being arrested and charged with driving under influence (DUI) can be an arduous situation for you. Worse still, your reputation could be at stake. Moreover, there is a possibility of the suspension of your driver’s license, hefty penalties and even potential jail time.

A lot of these consequences can be avoided with one person by your side – a skilled and a knowledgeable DUI attorney.

Hiring a DUI attorney is in a defendant’s best interest as not only can the defendant protect his/her legal rights in the criminal justice system, but also avoid potential damage to his/her career and life.

With the help of an attorney, fighting a DUI conviction can get quite simple. It will ensure that you have the best possible defense.

Here are four reasons that clearly state the importance of hiring a DUI attorney.

1. Get an Experienced Opinion

Once you have analyzed your case, you will need an experienced legal opinion about it. Only an experienced DUI lawyer can help you with that. Further, he/she can help you with various issues related to your case in ways such as:

  • He/she will possess extensive knowledge of the laws and know how to identify potential weaknesses and strengths of the case, and thereby assist in building a strong defense.
  • He/she will know which evidence will be helpful to your case.
  • He/she will be familiar with the validity of various field sobriety tests including breathalyzers in court.
  • He/she will protect your Constitutional rights.

There are a lot of ways to find an expert DUI attorney. If you or your close ones are pressed with DUI charges, you can ask your friends, colleagues or relatives for a reputable lawyer. Searching online is also a good way to find DUI attorneys. If you are a resident of Chicago, you can search online for drug lawyer Chicago. This will provide you with a lot of relevant results. Once you are done with shortlisting a few lawyers, you can check their reputation through online rating.

2. Help with Plea Bargain

There are certain cases in which the charges pressed against the defendant are very strong and he/she is unable to defend them due to a lack of experience in legal negotiations. In such a scenario, an expert attorney can use his/her negotiation skills and a lesser sentence can be availed for the defendant.

It is likely that the attorney may be able to plead the DUI charges to a lesser one, such as a reckless driving charge. The defendant may also be able to enter into the first-time offender program that allows him/her to avoid a criminal record. Legal DUI experts know all about such programs and can, therefore, help the defendant.

Before you plead guilty, you should learn about the various DUI penalties and fines in your state. Only then can you make an informed decision. By consulting an attorney, you can know whether or not you have the option of pleading bargain in your case.

For instance, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) shows .08, conviction is less of a certainty and a DUI attorney may be able to better plea bargain your case. Another fact to consider is that in most first-offense, non-injury DUI cases, the judgment seldom varies from one case to another.

Pleading guilty is not the only option in DUI cases. All such lesser-known details can be divulged to you by a skilled lawyer, if you are being assisted by one throughout your case.

3. Get a Better Understanding of Laws

The laws related to DUI arrests and convictions are quite complex. Each case is different; therefore they need be approached in a unique way.

A qualified and dedicated DUI attorney can assist you in the following ways:

  • Educate you on the laws related to DUI, how serious convictions can be.
  • Provide a better understanding of the nature and the severity of the criminal charges and their consequences.

4. Minimize Serious Consequences

DUI charges come with several serious repercussions such as paying fines, potential jail time and even losing the driver’s license for a certain span of time. Unlike earlier, it is now considered as a very serious criminal offense.

Depending on the state, you may be subject to a few or all of the following penalties for a first offense:

  • Temporary impounding of your vehicle
  • Fine of up to several thousand dollars
  • Installation of an ignition lock that prevents your car from starting if you’ve been drinking
  • Probation
  • Possible jail time
  • Revocation of your driver’s license
  • Community service
  • Completion of substance abuse classes at your own expense.

If you are involved in an accident or are a repeat offender, these penalties will increase significantly. In order to avoid such consequences, the best solution is to be legally represented by a highly experienced and trustworthy lawyer. By availing a lawyer’s assistance, there are high chances for achieving a lenient sentence.

  • By pointing out the positive aspects of the case or the defendant, the attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a lesser offense.
  • By being familiar with DUI cases, the procedure, and the tendencies of different judges, the attorney may be able to have the defendant’s case handled by a more lenient judge.
  • By helping the defendant prepare for the interview with the probation officer, the attorney may be able to help the defendant avoid unnecessarily burdensome probation conditions.

Moreover, an attorney can also help guiding a defendant through the process of getting his/her driving privileges reinstated.

Conclusion

Facing a DUI charge requires you to maintain your calm and patience. The charge can result in lasting damage to your driving record, give rise to a criminal record, and cast a doubt on your ability to keep up with your job. Why would you want to risk all of this and your freedom? The above reasons make very clear  how a DUI attorney can help you in resolving your case in the most reasonable and effective manner. Let the attorney handle your case and fight the DUI charge pressed against you.

What to Do If You Get Pulled over for DUI

DUI Defense Lawyer

It is crucial that you know what your rights are when you’re accused of a crime.

While the best way to prevent getting stuck with a DUI charge in Chicago is to not drive after drinking, there may come a time when you might be pulled over by a police officer over suspicion of drunken driving.

Picture this – you’re driving home after spending an evening with friends over a few laughs, good food and maybe even a glass of wine. While you’re still on your way, you get stopped by a police officer who asks for your license and registration, which you are required to provide, and begins to inquire about your alcohol consumption.

What would you do in such a scenario?

While you want to be of help, there’s no telling what consequences your words and actions could have over the outcome of your tete-a-tete with the officer. Hence, it is imperative that you act intelligently and tackle the situation cleverly until you get in touch with a criminal defense attorney.

Here’s more on that.

Pull Over Carefully

Bear in mind that as soon as you are asked to pull over from suspicion of DUI, the police officer starts making mental notes about your behavior and actions which will ultimately end up in the police report. The report can have a considerable influence upon the outcome of your hearing as well as the criminal trial.

So when you pull over, do so slowly and carefully and into a safe location to keep your report favorable.

Stay Inside Your Car

It is advised that you do not get out of your car, unless the officer asks you to do so. Police officers have a knack for getting defensive if a person hops out of their car upon being pulled over. And they have a good reason for this.

The officer doesn’t know whether the driver is armed or will suddenly flee the scene after exiting his vehicle. By staying inside your car, you minimize the chances of giving him the wrong impression of your intentions.

Plead to the Fifth

Thanks to the Fifth Amendment, you can exercise your right to remain silent when you get stopped by an officer. It protects you from self-incrimination and gives you the right to refrain from answering any questions posed by him. This means you need not reveal if you’ve even had a drink or not.

If you’re worried that the officer may put words in your mouth, or you may stammer in your nervousness, you can refrain from answering all of the interrogative questions. By not responding to the officer’s questions, you prevent him from testifying in court that you were slurring when he pulled you over.

Your silence cannot be held against you. Don’t lie, as that can be used against you in the court of law.

Say No to the Field Sobriety Test

If the officer orders you to get out of the car and perform field sobriety tests, you have the right to deny performing any of them. Be polite and tell him that you do not wish to take any tests until you speak to your DUI attorney in Chicago. Also, avoid making any sudden movements.

The officer will likely state that only guilty people refuse taking the sobriety test, but simply be unresponsive.

Field sobriety tests entail you performing certain acts that help the police check for balance and coordination in your movements and actions. This test can set you up for trouble. In most states, however, you need not comply with this demand and this refusal cannot be held against you.

Sobriety tests are subjective in nature and are performed to give the police officer more evidence if you’re under the influence. Hence, irrespective of how you fare in these ‘tests,’ they can be skewed and used against you in court. There is no point in incriminating yourself through these tests.

Refuse the Breathalyzer Test

Did you know you can say no to submit to the initial roadside breathalyzer (otherwise known as Preliminary Alcohol Screening tests or PASs) test?

They are infamously unreliable, and there are innumerable ways to manipulate their results. In fact, the results of these tests aren’t even admissible in court in most states.

Like the field sobriety tests, portable breathalyzers are only used to verify probable cause for an impaired driving arrest.

Do Take the Chemical Test

When the officer asks you to take the chemical test, a test which is used to determine your blood alcohol content, do not refuse. In several states, a refusal can result in the suspension of your license for a minimum of 7 months even if you’re not under influence.

You will be required to take the test at a police station, and you can choose between a blood test and a breath test. Most lawyers would advise you to take the breath test because it is more unreliable and hence, its result can be challenged in court.

Document Everything

This is important as the notes about the arrest will make it easier for your attorney to understand and fight the charged levied against you. Make a note of where you were, what you were doing and how much you had to drink before you drove.

Also note down how long after drinking you were arrested, how the officer behaved, what you said to the officer, where you were pulled over, if and when you were read your Miranda rights, when you took the chemical test and how long it had been since your had the drink(s).

Write down everything that you can remember, even if you think it isn’t relevant.

Contact an Attorney

You’re going to need a qualified and an experienced DUI attorney on your side if you want to get a favorable outcome. Make sure you do not compromise on any aspect when hiring a lawyer to fight for you and get yourself only the best one.

Conclusion

Driving under influence is a crime in Chicago, and hence, should be avoided. However, if you are stopped under the suspicion of DUI, it is extremely important that you know what you’re in for, what your rights are and how you can use them to protect your interests. While you cannot have an attorney with you at all times, you can surely deal with such a situation tactfully until you can contact one with the help of the above pointers.