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Stricter Distracted Driving Law Could Cause More License SuspensionsIllinois lawmakers are trying to further crack down on distracted driving by changing the state's traffic laws. Starting July 1, 2019, using an electronic communication device while driving will be a moving violation for first-time offenders. Under the current law, this offense is not a moving violation until the second time a driver commits it. This minor change to the traffic law could add up to Illinois more frequently suspending drivers’ licenses because of multiple moving violations.

Consequences

The fines remain the same for using an electronic communications device while driving. The only difference is that they will apply after the first violation instead of the second. They include:

  • $75 for a first offense;
  • $100 for a second offense;
  • $125 for a third offense; and
  • $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense.

You face consequences that are more severe than fines if you commit this violation multiple times. Illinois will suspend your driver’s license if you are ticketed for three moving violations within a year’s time. The change to the law means that your first electronic device offense will count towards that moving violation total instead of being a warning. Illinois assigns points to each moving violation, which it adds up to determine how long your suspension will last. The electronic device violation is 20 points, and committing that same violation three times within a year could result in a three-month license suspension.

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Reckless Driving Charge Needs Proof of IntentReckless driving is one of the more serious traffic offenses that you can be charged with. Illinois law defines reckless driving as a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of yourself and others. Examples of reckless driving include:

  • Traveling 35 miles per hour or more over the speed limit;
  • Swerving between lanes without signaling; and
  • Using an incline to become airborne.

A reckless driving conviction is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by as long as one year in jail and a fine of as much as $2,500. The charge becomes aggravated reckless driving — a class 4 felony — if someone is injured as a result of your reckless driving. Defending yourself against a reckless driving charge requires forcing prosecutors to provide evidence of your alleged driving behavior.

Pushing for Specifics

When you contest your reckless driving charge, prosecutors must explain what you did that constituted reckless driving and present proof of their accusations. There are typically three forms of evidence in a reckless driving case:

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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.

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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:

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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:

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