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Auto-Brewery Syndrome Can Affect BAC TestAs odd as it may sound, it is possible for someone to ferment alcohol in their gut without having had any alcohol to drink. It is a rare condition known as auto-brewery syndrome or gut fermentation syndrome. People with this syndrome can be falsely suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol because a blood alcohol concentration test will give an inaccurately high reading. If you can prove that you have auto-brewery syndrome, you may be able to get your DUI charges dismissed, but this defense rarely applies.

How It Happens

People develop auto-brewery syndrome because of yeast or bacteria that grow in their gastrointestinal system – the same type of yeast that is used to ferment alcohol. Auto-brewery syndrome is most commonly diagnosed in people who have other conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, Crohn’s disease, and short bowel syndrome. Auto-brewery syndrome can cause the same symptoms as alcohol intoxication, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Belching
  • Disorientation

Unlike with consuming alcohol, a person with auto-brewery syndrome cannot reasonably predict when these symptoms may occur. Physicians may treat the syndrome by prescribing anti-fungal medicines and recommending that the patient goes on a low-carbohydrate diet.

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Court Rules That Portion of Illinois Stalking Law Infringes on Free SpeechAmericans regularly exercise their right to freedom of speech, which prohibits the federal, state and local governments from creating laws that would hinder free speech or create a chilling effect on free speech due to fear of punishment. However, criminal courts have established exceptions to free speech when the speech constitutes criminal activity. You can be charged for making verbal threats that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their immediate safety. It can be difficult to define the line between free speech and a criminal act, and courts are mindful of laws that may unintentionally punish people for speech that is not criminal. For instance, an Illinois appellate court recently found a section of the state’s criminal code on stalking to be unconstitutional because it was overly broad in its limits on speech.

Recent Case

In People v. Morocho, the defendant was convicted of three counts of aggravated stalking for sending threatening text messages to a woman with whom he had a child. The offense was aggravated stalking because the defendant had allegedly caused a bruise on the woman’s arm from a previous incident. Illinois defines stalking as:

  • Engaging in a course of conduct that the suspect should know would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or suffer other emotional distress
  • Following or surveilling a person on at least two occasions and threatening harm or causing someone to reasonably believe they are threatened

One of the counts that the defendant was convicted for was based on the section of the law that defines stalking as causing someone to “suffer other emotional distress.” On appeal, the defendant argued that this section of the law was overly broad and unconstitutional. The court agreed that the wording of this section could allow people to be prosecuted for lawful speech. It stated that the law separated speech causing emotional distress from speech that causes someone to fear for their safety and that someone could feel distressed from speech that clearly did not fit any definition of stalking. The court reversed the defendant’s conviction on the one count and upheld the other two counts.

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Unreasonable Seizure Can Dismiss Criminal EvidenceHow long are police allowed to wait before requesting a warrant to search a computer they have seized as criminal evidence? An Illinois court determined that eight months is too long in a recent criminal case and suppressed the evidence found on the computer. In People v. McGregory, the state accused the defendant of manufacturing fraudulent credit cards to commit identity theft, based on evidence from equipment seized during an unrelated warrant search of his home. To understand the facts of this case, it may help to start with an explanation of rules regarding searches and seizures.

Lawful Searches

The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment states that citizens shall not be subject to unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. This means police must obtain a warrant to conduct a search of someone that they have probable cause to believe has committed a crime. A warrant authorizes police to search at a specified location and seize specified items that are related to the suspected crime. However, the police may be allowed to seize unspecified items during a lawful search if:

  • They are in plain view.
  • There is probable cause to believe that the items were used in committing a crime.

In People v. McGregory, the police officer had a warrant to search for drugs and weapons but saw equipment that is used to make fake credit cards and cards that had names of people other than the defendant.

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The Consequences of Reckless Driving in IllinoisPatrons at Woodfield Mall in suburban Chicago were alarmed when an SUV drove through the indoor shopping center, damaging several displays before it came to a stop at a pillar. The vehicle did not hit anyone, though three people were taken to the hospital. As of the last reporting on the story, the driver was in custody at a behavioral health center and would not be charged until he was released. Police said they do not know if it was a planned attack or if the driver has a mental illness, which could determine what the man is charged with. At the very least, the incident seems to qualify as reckless driving.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Illinois’ criminal code defines reckless driving as:

  • Driving with a willful or wanton disregard for people or property; or
  • Intentionally using an incline to become airborne, such as a hill, bridge approach, or railroad crossing.

Traveling over the speed limit by 35 miles per hour or more is also reckless driving. The charge can become aggravated if the driver injures someone during the incident. If the driver was legally intoxicated, then the charge will be driving under the influence instead.

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Teen Suicide Prompts Illinois to Change Procedure for Juvenile InterrogationsMost teenagers cannot help but feel intimidated when a police officer questions them. They may not understand that being detained and interrogated is different from being arrested and charged with a crime. On the other side of the interrogation, a police officer may not appreciate the trauma that a teenager may experience after being questioned about a serious crime. In 2017, a 16-year-old high school student in Naperville, Illinois, committed suicide after a school resource officer had detained him for questioning at the school over an alleged recording of a sexual encounter. The teen’s parents were not aware of the allegations or the police questioning until after the teen took his own life. In response to this incident, Illinois recently enacted a new law that changes the procedure for police questioning a student on school grounds.

Parental Notification

A law enforcement officer who suspects a student younger than 18 of committing a crime must comply with the following steps if they intend to detain and question them on school grounds:

  • They must notify or attempt to notify the student’s parents or guardian;
  • They must try to allow a parent or guardian to attend the questioning;
  • If a parent or guardian is unavailable, they must allow a mental health professional to attend, such as a school psychologist or social worker; and
  • If reasonable, they must try to include a law enforcement officer who is trained in communicating with youth.

The law states that its rules apply when a student is on school property during regular school hours and when students are present.

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