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Illinois Inconsistently Applies Juvenile Detention PolicyIllinois has amended its juvenile crime laws in recent years to try to reduce the lasting damage that the justice system can cause. It is more difficult for the state to try a juvenile as an adult and easier for juvenile offenders to seal or clear their records. However, the use of detention centers is still negatively affecting some juveniles. Even police detention after an arrest can psychologically damage a child. Juvenile advocates are challenging the detention system, saying that detention centers do not meet the goal of rehabilitating the children.

Statistics Suggest Harm

Studies of people who served time in a juvenile detention facility as children show that the use of detention facilities often correlates with:

  • Lower high school graduation rates;
  • Lower rates of employment and income potential;
  • Higher occurrences of mental illness; and
  • Greater likelihood of becoming a repeat offender.

Other studies have concluded that areas that more often offer alternatives to juvenile detention have lower rates of juvenile crime.


Illinois Limits Voluntary Intoxication as a Criminal DefenseA criminal suspect’s intoxication can be involved in offenses other than driving under the influence. For instance, being intoxicated may cause someone to act violently, which can result in an assault or battery charge. The defendant may argue that he or she was not in control of his or her actions, but Illinois does not recognize intoxication as a legal defense unless it was involuntary. There are criminal charges that require the suspect to have a specific intent, and citing intoxication may help prove that a suspect lacked the awareness to have such an intent.

Recent Case

In the case of People v. Slabon, an Illinois man was convicted of aggravated battery of a nurse and sentenced to 50 months in prison. The defendant appealed the trial court's decision, claiming that the court erred by:


Zero Tolerance Causes Automatic License Suspensions for Underage DrinkersIllinois has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking, which makes the state's driving under the influence of alcohol laws particularly stringent for teens and young adults. Drivers age 21 and older commit a DUI offense when their blood alcohol concentration is at 0.08 or higher. However, drivers who are younger than 21 have committed an offense under the zero-tolerance policy when there is any trace of alcohol in their systems. Drivers who are underage may be guilty of DUI if they have a BAC of 0.08 or greater or a BAC of 0.05 with other evidence that proves impairment.

Zero Tolerance Penalties

DUI penalties for an underage drinker apply if the suspect is convicted, but zero tolerance penalties apply upon citation for having a BAC that is greater than 0.00. Penalties under the zero-tolerance policy include:


How Marijuana Possession Can Be Both Legal and IllegalIn many states, the difference between state and federal marijuana laws creates a bizarre contradiction. Possessing marijuana can at the same time be legal and illegal, depending on which level of government you are dealing with. The federal government is strict in its ban of buying, selling and possessing marijuana. Many states are more liberal with their marijuana laws and allow possession for medicinal and recreational purposes. However, state laws will not protect you against federal charges for marijuana possession.

Drug Schedules

The federal government’s classification of drugs is based on the Controlled Substances Act, which groups drugs into five schedules:


Traffic Violation Points System Adds Up During License SuspensionMost convictions for traffic violations result in a fine and not the immediate loss of driving privileges. Contesting your traffic ticket may not seem worth the time or cost if the fine amount is inconsequential to you. However, being convicted for three traffic violations within a year's time will result in your driver’s license being suspended or revoked. Illinois has a points system for traffic offenses that determines the duration of the suspension.

Keeping Score

Serious offenses, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, require an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. For lesser offenses, a certain number of points is added to your driving record for each conviction. Illinois has a list of more than 100 traffic offenses, with point values ranging from 5 to 55. Highlights include:

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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