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Posted on in Criminal Law

Consequences of Lowering the BAC LimitStates will be closely watching the effects of a new Utah law that will lower its blood alcohol concentration limit to 0.05 starting Dec. 30. Utah is the first state to set a BAC limit that is below 0.08, which has been the limit in all states for several years. There is a global precedent for the limit, with about 100 countries having a BAC limit of 0.05 or lower. Other states may follow Utah’s lead if the law corresponds with a decrease in alcohol-related traffic deaths. Critics argue that lowering the BAC limit will do more to increase the number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol than it will save lives.

Inexact Science

It is already debatable as to whether the 0.08 BAC limit accurately measures whether a driver is intoxicated. The limit attempts to quantify how much alcohol it takes to impair someone’s driving ability. Different people have different tolerances to alcohol, and not everyone will be impaired with a BAC of 0.08, let alone 0.05. People with a higher alcohol tolerance may show no signs of driving impairment with a BAC of 0.08, which helps them avoid suspicion and arrest. However, police officers may stop and question these drivers for reasons other than showing signs of impairment, such as:

  • Minor traffic violations;
  • Vehicle equipment malfunctions;
  • Sobriety checkpoints; and
  • Traffic accidents caused by another party.

A 0.05 BAC limit makes it more likely that an unimpaired driver will be arrested for DUI.

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Should You Co-Own Your Family Business with Your Former Spouse?Dividing a family business in a divorce is difficult if each spouse has equal ownership of the business. To include the business in the division of property, the spouses must:

  • Agree on who will own the business after the divorce;
  • Thoroughly assess the value of the business; and
  • Find other properties to award in exchange for the business.

Spouses can avoid these complications by choosing to remain co-owners of the business after their divorce. This is not a viable option for every divorce but can be mutually beneficial when spouses agree to it.

Valuation Process

Spouses immediately benefit during the divorce negotiations when they both keep ownership of the family business. They do not need to go through the long and complicated valuation process because they are not dividing the business. Neither spouse will have to give up valuable marital properties in exchange for total ownership of the business. The divorce agreement can presume that each spouse will receive equal value from the business as long as they are co-owners. Skipping the business valuation process saves time and money.

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Temporary Workers Have Right to Workers' CompensationTemporary workers do not receive all of the benefits that regular employees enjoy but are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when they are injured on the job. Unfortunately, some employers will tell temporary workers that they are ineligible for workers’ compensation because of the nature of their employment. Temporary workers who believe workers’ compensation is not an option may be stuck with large medical debts or decline helpful medical treatments in order to save money. The company that employs and pays a temporary worker is responsible for providing workers’ compensation insurance.

Injury Risk

Temporary workers regularly suffer workplace injuries, despite working at a place for only a limited time. There are several reasons that temporary workers can be at greater risk of injury than other workers:

  • Temporary jobs often involve heavy and sometimes dangerous labor;
  • The employer may be using temporary workers because regular employees will not take on the risky work;
  • Temporary workers are unfamiliar with the work environment and may not receive on-site training;
  • Temporary workers may be less experienced at the job than regular workers; and
  • Temporary workers have less confidence in citing safety concerns because of the tenuous nature of their employment.

Responsible Employer

A temporary worker has the right to file for workers’ compensation and receive medical benefits and payment for lost time. The staffing agency that placed the worker is likely the party responsible for the workers’ compensation insurance. The company where a temporary employee goes to work is a third-party client of the staffing agency. In many cases, the staffing agency pays the temporary workers instead of the client, making them employees of the staffing agency.

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Strict Interpretation of Snow Removal Law Benefits Injury PlaintiffsThe legal distinction between a sidewalk and other walking surfaces may determine the success of your personal injury case. The Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act states that property owners who remove snow from sidewalks abutting their properties are not liable if someone is injured because of icy conditions created by the snow removal. This legal immunity makes it difficult for people to receive personal injury compensation when they slip and fall because of an untreated accumulation of ice. However, some Illinois courts strictly interpret the law as applying only to sidewalks and not other paved surfaces.

Liability Standard

Illinois law does not require property owners to clear the snow off of their walkways or hold them liable for personal injuries on their property caused by a natural accumulation of snow or ice. Before the Snow and Ice Removal Act, personal injury victims could claim that property owners who cleared snow from their sidewalks created an unnatural accumulation of snow. The melting snow piles caused icy conditions on sidewalks. The Snow and Ice Removal Act changed the liability standard, and property owners are now liable only if:

  • They willfully or wantonly created the hazardous condition; or
  • Negligence in the condition of the property caused an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.

Thus, property owners are not liable for the melt off from a pile of snow they have created, but they may be liable if a malfunctioning gutter system caused the ice accumulation.

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Possessing Party Drugs Has Serious Criminal PenaltiesHalloween is one of the most popular party nights of the year for young adults. Before you attend this year’s bash, you should be aware of the possible criminal consequences of being caught with illegal drugs. Possession of party drugs such as hallucinogens is a felony that could result in prison for a first offense. Even if you keep yourself clean, you risk arrest by associating with people who have the drugs.

Legal Penalties

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency classifies party drugs, such as ecstasy or LSD, as Schedule 1 drugs, meaning that they have a high potential for abuse and no approved medical use. Illinois’ criminal penalties for possession of a party drug become more severe depending on how many doses you possessed:

  • Possessing 15 or fewer doses is a class 4 felony, with a possible prison sentence of 1 to 3 years;
  • Possessing 16 to 200 doses is a class 1 felony, with a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 15 years in prison; and
  • Possessing more than 200 doses is still a class 1 felony, but the minimum and maximum prison sentences increase.

Law enforcement considers party drugs to be particularly dangerous because users often do not know what ingredients are in the drug. Combining the drugs with alcohol consumption can increase the health risk for users. Some people use party drugs to sedate victims in cases of sexual assault.

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