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Actual Physical Controls Allows DUI Charge Without DrivingDespite its name, driving is not a requirement for you to be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Illinois’ DUI law states that a person under the influence of an intoxicating substance cannot drive or be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. This means that you could be charged with DUI for merely being inside your vehicle while intoxicated. It may not matter to a court that you did not intend to drive if you had the ability to drive the vehicle at a moment’s notice.

Circumstantial Evidence

Illinois law does not define what “actual physical control” is with a vehicle. Courts will judge whether a DUI defendant had actual physical control based on the details of each case. Relevant factors include whether:

  • The vehicle was running;
  • The keys were in the ignition;
  • The defendant possessed the keys;
  • The defendant was in the driver’s seat;
  • Anyone else was inside the vehicle;
  • The defendant owned the vehicle; or
  • There was any evidence that the vehicle had recently been driven.

The evidence against you grows stronger if you were sitting behind the steering wheel or the keys were in the ignition. You are less likely to have had actual physical control if the vehicle did not belong to you or someone who was not intoxicated was inside the vehicle with you.

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Posted on in Family Law

Four Keys to Co-Parenting After DivorceYou may have filed for divorce in order to free yourself from your spouse, but both of you will remain connected as co-parents to your children. As much as you may dislike each other, you need to cooperate in raising your children. Your parenting agreement lays out the technical terms of how you will share your parental responsibilities, such as a parenting schedule and decision-making powers. On a personal level, there are four keys to making a co-parenting agreement work:

  1. Mutual Respect: You must respect your former spouse’s role as a parent to your children, who love and admire him or her. Speaking poorly of your co-parent around your children can be hurtful to them and ultimately alienate them from you. Complaining about your co-parent or contradicting his or her rules is giving your children permission to disrespect your co-parent. You should keep your opinions about your co-parent private from your children.
  2. Consistency: Your children should have consistent routines and rules in each of your households. Meals and bedtime should follow a familiar schedule. The children should have similar expectations about appropriate behavior with each parent. Consistency helps children adjust to having two homes. When one parent is too lenient with his or her discipline, it undermines the discipline that the other parent is trying to instill.
  3. Communication: You are not parenting in a vacuum. You need to know what is happening with your children when they are with your co-parent. A child may have a problem that requires you to work together. You must be able to talk to your co-parent about your children in a peaceful and constructive manner. Keep the conversations brief and focused on your children. Try communicating by email or text if having a live conversation is too difficult.
  4. Flexibility: Following the rules of your parenting agreement is important, but there are times when it is practical to allow exceptions. Your co-parent may ask to see your children on a different day than normal because of a conflict in his or her schedule. He or she may want to modify the agreement because it is not working well. Being reasonably flexible in your parenting schedule may help you when you need a favor from your co-parent. Most importantly, consider whether your parenting arrangement still works best for your children when presented with a change of circumstances.

Contact a McHenry County Family Law Attorney

It is important for co-parents to make decisions that are in the best interest of their children. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, family law attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you create a parenting agreement and modify it when your children’s needs change. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Workers' Compensation Continues, Even If Your Employer Does NotWhat will happen to your workers’ compensation claim if your employer goes out of business? This scenario does happen and leaves claimants worried about whether they will receive the benefits they need while they recover and look for a new job. Fortunately, the status of your employer will not affect your workers’ compensation claim in most cases. The process could take a little longer, but the end result should still cover your medical expenses and lost income.

Insurance Coverage

Most employers provide workers’ compensation insurance through a third-party insurance company, who is responsible for paying your benefits. Your employer going out of business does not change the insurer’s ability to cover you in the event of a successful workers’ compensation claim. However, the process can be slower if your employer is unable to help its insurer with the case. There may be no one left in your employer’s human resources department to:

  • Assist the insurer with investigating your injury; or
  • Give the insurer your wage records.

You can provide paycheck stubs or other pay records to help move the process along. In some situations, your employer being closed can help with your workers’ compensation claim. The insurer likely wants to close your case quickly because your employer is no longer a paying client. A prolonged court battle may not be worth the cost to them.

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Left-Turning Drivers Pose Threat to PedestriansA majority of the accidents that occur at intersections are the result of a vehicle making a left turn. Drivers can easily misjudge the speed of an oncoming vehicle or may not see the vehicle because of their vision being obstructed. Oncoming drivers may suffer serious injuries if they have a head-on collision with a vehicle that turns in front of them. Pedestrians in a crosswalk can also be injured when a vehicle makes a risky or illegal left turn. There are four factors that make left-turning vehicles dangerous to pedestrians:

  1. Driver Impatience: It can be frustrating to wait at an intersection for a chance to turn left, especially when there is not a left turn signal. The driver may act hastily when there is finally a gap in the oncoming traffic or the light is about to turn red. He or she may not think to look for pedestrians, who have the right-of-way to cross the street at the intersection.
  2. Quick Acceleration: Drivers must increase their speed when making left turns because of the wide turn radius. They may also rush to fit into the small window they have to make a turn against oncoming traffic. A fast-moving vehicle will have more difficulty stopping for a pedestrian and can cause greater injuries if a collision does occur.
  3. Blind Spots: A left-turning driver will likely notice a crowd of people in a crosswalk but could miss a single pedestrian who happens to be in his or her blind spot. The A-pillars on a vehicle, which hold the windshield, can obstruct a driver’s vision during a left turn. Car companies are designing wider A-pillars to store airbags and increase vehicle safety during rollovers. Unfortunately, wider A-pillars create larger blind spots for drivers.
  4. Oncoming Vehicles: A vehicle making a dangerous left turn affects the behavior of other vehicles on the road. An oncoming driver could react to a vehicle turning in front of him or her by swerving to avoid a collision, putting pedestrians at risk. A second vehicle could rear-end the oncoming vehicle, pushing it further into the intersection.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

The driver of a left-turning vehicle will likely be liable for hitting you while you are in a crosswalk. You may share contributory negligence if the crosswalk light told you to stop, but you can still receive injury compensation as long as the driver was more than half at fault. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838. 

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Hasty Mistrial Ruling Leads to Double JeopardyThe fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects a defendant from being tried more than once for the same crime, which is known as double jeopardy. The prosecution can seek a second trial with a new jury if the first attempt ended in a mistrial, which most commonly occurs when a jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict. A court may also declare a mistrial if it believes that a jury has been prejudiced to the point that it cannot reach an unbiased verdict. However, a mistrial must be the court’s last resort, after considering other options to preserve the trial. An Illinois appellate court recently ruled that the state could not start a new trial against a defendant because the trial court was not justified in declaring a mistrial in the first prosecution attempt.

Case Details

In People v. Shoevlin, a woman was charged with two counts of domestic battery for allegedly attacking her husband. The two parties were separated at the time of the alleged incident and filed for divorce afterward. The defense built its case on the idea that the husband had an incentive to lie about the incident in order to gain a majority of the parental responsibility for their children. During the closing arguments, the defense said that the man was trying to ruin the woman’s life with the charge because she would likely lose her children. After the statement, the judge privately met with the counsel for both sides, saying that it was inaccurate to claim that the state would take her children away as a condition of her conviction. After deliberating for five minutes, the judge brought the jury back in the room and declared a mistrial. The judge’s reasoning was that:

  • Telling the jury to disregard the defense counsel’s statement would not prevent prejudice; and
  • Discrediting the defense counsel would mean that the defendant would appeal a potential conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

Appeal

When prosecutors started a new trial, the defense motioned to dismiss the trial because it would be subjecting the defendant to double jeopardy. The trial court rejected the motion, but the appellate court reversed that decision. The court stated that it is important to limit a defendant’s prosecution to one trial whenever possible because having multiple trials:

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