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Notable New Illinois Criminal Laws Starting in 2020When Illinois passes new state laws, many are scheduled to go into effect at the start of the next calendar year. The legalization of recreational marijuana has rightfully garnered most of the attention among the state’s new laws for 2020. Not only will it make it legal to possess as much as 30 grams of cannabis, but many people have already been able to expunge previous marijuana possession convictions. There are other laws going into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, that relate to traffic violations in the state, as well as a law that helps protect the civil rights of people who have been arrested.

Traffic Laws

Driving offenses are among the most common reasons for interaction between police officers and civilians. Illinois often revises its driving laws to address new threats and discourage dangerous behavior by drivers. There are three such laws that will start in 2020:

  1. Watching Video: Illinois is already combating distracted driving by making it illegal to use handheld electronic devices while driving. An update to the law expands the definition to include using devices to watch or stream video. A distracted driving violation will result in a fine and count towards the three traffic tickets in 12 months that it takes to suspend your driver's license. However, distracted driving becomes a Class A misdemeanor if someone is injured and a Class 4 felony if someone dies.
  2. Fine for Passing a School Bus: It is illegal for vehicles in either direction to overtake and pass a school bus that has stopped for the purpose of picking up or dropping off passengers. Illinois has doubled the fines for these violations. A first offense is a $300 fine. A second or subsequent offense is a $1,000 fine.
  3. Scott’s Law: Scott’s Law is Illinois’ new name for the law requiring drivers to yield to emergency vehicles and use caution when approaching a stopped vehicle. Whereas a violation previously required a minimum $100 fine, the minimum fine is now $250 for a first offense and $750 for a second or subsequent offense. A violation that damages another vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor, and a violation that results in injury or death is a Class 4 felony.

Arrest Records

Illinois law has new protections for people who were arrested on suspicion of a crime but were never charged or convicted. The law states that it is a civil rights violation to use someone’s arrest record, juvenile record or criminal record that has been sealed as a reason to deny them:

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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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The warm weather months are a time for increased use of the roads by drivers and construction workers. Drivers are more likely to take road trips, while road construction crews need spring and summer to perform maintenance. When drivers and construction workers share the road, there is potential for disaster. A mistake by either side can cause serious injuries or death. Vehicle accidents in road construction zones may also result in criminal charges and personal injury claims. With all the factors involved in a construction accident, determining fault becomes complex.

Driver Liability

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, drivers are more often victims in road construction zone crashes than construction workers. Road construction can create narrowed or reduced lanes, and construction zones often have reduced speed limits for the safety of both the drivers and workers. Drivers in Illinois who neglect to slow down or avoid construction areas may face traffic charges and civil penalties:

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Posted on in Traffic Offenses

Indicators of Impairment: Part I, DUI, McHenry County DUI defense attorneys, traffic offenses, probable cause, indicators of impairmentA cornerstone principle of criminal law in Illinois is that an officer must have probable cause to believe a person has broken the law or is in the process of breaking the law before that person can be placed under arrest. This principle holds true in Illinois driving under the influence cases as well. Before placing a suspected drunk driver in handcuffs, the arresting officer must possess facts that would suggest to a reasonable person that the suspect has in fact been operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Many Illinois officers rely on the presence of one or more indicators or clues to support this probable cause finding.

Indicators of Intoxication While Driving

When asked for the facts or circumstances which justify the arrest of a suspected drunk driver, officers will routinely go back to indicators of impairment that the officer may have seen while the suspect was driving his or her vehicle. These indicators may include:

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traffic ticket, traffic offense, Crystal Lake Traffic Ticket AttorneysTraffic tickets often seem like an unavoidable part of modern life and are thought of more as an annoyance than a legitimate legal matter. After all, it would likely be difficult to find a person who does not occasionally exceed the posted speed limit or take a prohibited right turn on red every now and then. However, the truth of the matter is that anytime a person is accused of violating the law, it is a serious issue.

While the initial consequences associated with many minor speeding tickets may seem inconsequential, they can often compound and result in unexpected consequences months or even years after a ticket is paid. In addition, there are many traffic-related offenses, such as driving under the influence, that are serious matters and may result in significant legal penalties. Consequently, it is important for anyone who has been accused of a traffic offense to retain an attorney as soon as possible.

Traffic Tickets Can Result in Serious Penalties

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