City of Chicago to offer amnesty and new payment plans for old parking and red light citations

I am posting this story to spread the word for people who have suspended driver’s licenses due to unpaid tickets.  (I don’t represent people seeking to clear parking or red light tickets from their record or trying to work out payment plans, so please don’t contact me about doing that).

From a story by John Byrne in the Chicago Tribune:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is … offering an amnesty program for people who have unpaid tickets and back taxes they owe the city.

Under the program announced Friday, people or businesses with parking tickets and other vehicle violations, back taxes, and other fines or fees issued before 2012 would be eligible for amnesty.

Emanuel’s office did not give specifics on how much of a break applicants would get on the late fees and fines that have added on to their unpaid debts. The city has offered several past traffic ticket amnesty programs, so it isn’t clear how much money such a program will raise to help reduce a property tax increase of between $450 million and $550 million that Emanuel is expected to call for under the budget…

The mayor’s office said Friday that the city also plans to give motorists payment plan options to try to help them start paying for vehicle tickets before late fees accrue.

Governor signs into law bill removing waiting period for DUI driving permits

Governor Rauner has signed into law a bill (SB 0627) which removes the “hard time” waiting periods before a motorist could apply for a DUI-related driving permit.

Effective January 1, 2016, the bill will remove the 30 day waiting period before a person could obtain a Monitored Device Driving Permit (“MDDP”) after getting a first offense DUI suspension for either failing or refusing a breath, blood or urine test.

The law also removes the one year waiting time for a person whose license has been revoked for DUI to apply for a Restricted Driving Permit, and the three year wait for a person who has a summary suspension for a second offense refusal..

In addition, the law will require DUI arrestees to sign a form acknowledging that they have been warned of the license suspension consequences for either failing or refusing to take a breath test.  This is an advantage for prosecutors, who routinely lose suspension hearings on this issue when officer can’t make it to court and the defendant is able to testify that he or she wasn’t warned.

Overall, this law is a big win for both defendants and the public.  With the advent of breath interlock devices, there is no compelling reason to make people wait to obtain a driving permit when there is technology out there that will prevent them from driving drunk.

Arrest of Kane County prosecutor for DUI shows that DUIs can happen to anyone

Often when people come to consult with me about a DUI arrest, they tell me that it is not representative of the type of person that they are.  Many of my clients are highly accomplished people.  I have represented lawyers, doctors, nurses, police officers, sheriffs and many successful business people.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise to see a Kane County State’s Attorney get arrested for DUI.  In fact, just a few years ago a prominent DuPage County prosecutor lost her life while driving intoxicated.

I post this not to embarrass the prosecutor, but to emphasize how common and universal DUIs are.  While there are certainly some defendants who fit the stereotype of an alcoholic whose life has become unmanageable, most DUIs are committed by first offenders who otherwise live productive lives.

From the Daily Herald (story by Susan Sarkauskas):

A Kane County assistant state’s attorney — recently praised as part of a team that handled a murder trial — has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, according to DuPage County court records.

Kathleen Doyen, 30, was arrested at 12:34 a.m. Aug. 15 in the 600 block of North Avenue (Route 64) by Carol Stream police.

According to court documents, she was charged with DUI; DUI with .08 percent or higher blood-alcohol level; improper lane use; and speeding.

Carol Stream police say she was driving 67 mph in a 45 mph zone and weaving between lanes. She failed an on-the-scene preliminary blood-alcohol test and two field sobriety tests, police said.

At 2:28 a.m. she submitted to a Breathalyzer test, and the blood alcohol content was .165 percent. According to police, Doyen said she had consumed two to three beers and “possibly some mixed drinks” at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles.

Her driver’s license will be placed on a summary suspension for six months, according to a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.

Court documents indicated she lived in Chicago, but her driver’s license lists an address near Elgin.

She is due to appear for arraignment at 9 a.m. Sept. 14 at the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton.

She has worked for Kane County since 2011 and is in the criminal division, according to the state’s attorney’s office. When asked about her status, State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said, “This is a personnel matter,” and he would not comment further.

Doyen was one of three prosecutors McMahon publicly praised for their work earlier this year in the Shadwick King murder trial. The Geneva man was convicted of murdering his wife in 2014.

• Daily Herald staff writer Justin Kmitch contributed to this story.

Studies show DUIs decreasing, especially for younger drivers, due to UBER and LYFT

The availability of ride sharing apps is proving to be a major factor in a reduction in DUIs, especially among drivers under the age of 30.

From the Daily Mail:

The rise of app-based taxi services is leading to a drop in DUI arrests are more people decide to leave their car keys at home and instead take their cellphone to rely on they journey back.

The fall in drink-driving convictions has been so dramatic that some experts are predicting that DUI’s could become a thing of the past as access to taxi and ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft via smartphones become increasingly popular.

In the most stark evidence, police in San Francisco reported just two drink driving arrests for New Years Eve 2014 – their lowest level since 2009. 

Observers say other factors may also be contributing to the decline, but add that people are less likely to drive home drunk if they have more transport options. 

This new data corroborates evidence found by a study by Temple University that explicity shows how the introduction of Uber’s low-cost service, UberX has reduced drunk driving deaths all over California.

Analysis reveals an average 10 percent decrease in DUI arrests in Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco after the car sharing apps were introduced.

The reports authors concluded that cheap taxi-like options make it easier for people to make safer decisions and request a taxi through Uber or Lyft rather than driving home themselves…

Last summer, blogger Nate Good, a chief technology officer of a Pittsburgh event ticketing company, analyzed data from Philadelphia’s Uniform Crime Reporting system.

He found the average number of DUIs per month in Philadelphia decreased by 11 percent between April and December, 2013.

The number of DUIs among drivers under the age of 30 saw an even higher decrease of 18.5 percent, according to his blog post.

Good, a self-described ‘proponent of ride sharing services’, noted that the decrease in DUIs coincided with the launch of Uber Black, Side Car and Uber X.

However he added as a disclaimer: ‘As the famous adage goes, correlation does not equate to causation. There can always be other things in play here that are affecting these DUI trends.’

Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett backed the findings, saying a reduction in drunk driving in American cities is an unintended but welcome benefit of the company’s services.

‘Uber started really just to connect riders and drivers. A byproduct of that, as we’ve seen, are these incredible social and economic impacts that we’re seeing in different cities,’ he said,

‘It’s a very seamless and convenient way to get transportation on demand. You don’t have to go stand on a corner at two in the morning waiting for a taxi and fumbling around for cash.’

Uber released its own analysis of local crime data in May 2014 showing a 10 percent reduction in DUI rates since Uber entered the Seattle market.

‘While there is plenty of room to explore this topic in future studies,’ Uber wrote, ‘the data confirms the intuitive claim, backed up by countless anecdotes, that potential drunk drivers will choose other options, like rides with Uber, when they are convenient, affordable, and readily available.’

Gov. vetoes bill to decriminalize pot and replace zero tolerance pot DUIs with a legal limit

As you may recall, both the Illinois House and Senate passed bills that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession and amend the DUI laws to establish a “legal limit” of 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of whole blood (or proof of impairment) to prove a DUI cannabis case, as opposed to the current “any amount of cannabis” standard.

The Governor (and many police departments) felt that the 15 nanogram standard was too high.  Colorado uses a 5 nanogram standard.

However, as I blogged last June, a rigorous study by the National Institute of Drug abuse showed that 13 nanograms correlated to the 0.08 BAC standard for alcohol.

15 is a lot closer to 13 than 5.  Maybe Governor Rauner is using a “Price is Right” standard where it is better to not “go over” than be closest.

If you wonder why we should get rid of a “zero tolerance” approach, here are a couple of my past blog posts to refresh your memory:

From the Chicago Tribune (story by Monique Garcia):

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday used his veto powers to rewrite a bill aimed at decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, saying the measure that lawmakers sent him would let people carry too much pot and sets fines too low.

Rauner said while he supports the “fundamental purposes” of keeping people out of jail and cutting court costs, such a significant change in drug laws “must be made carefully and incrementally.” Sponsors of the bill pushed back, saying the changes are “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to reforming the criminal justice system and contending the governor is working against his own goal of reducing the number of prison inmates.

Under the proposal, people caught with up to 15 grams of marijuana — about the equivalent of 25 cigarette-sized joints — would not go to court but instead receive fines ranging from $55 to $125. Rauner said those standards were too lax and the threshold should be lowered to 10 grams and fines should range from $100 to $200.

The governor also took issue with a provision that would loosen the state’s zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of cannabis. Currently, a driver can be charged if any trace of marijuana is detected, even if it was ingested days or weeks before and a driver showed no signs of impairment.

The bill that lawmakers sent Rauner would have set new limits of 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Rauner again argued that standard went too far in the opposite direction, suggesting the limit instead should be 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood…

The bill now returns to lawmakers, who can vote to go along with Rauner’s changes or reject them. If lawmakers opt not to take up the changes, the bill dies. Cassidy said she would have to regroup with supporters to decide the next move.

49ers cut Aldon Smith after his third DUI arrest since 2012

From NFL.com:

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith ran into trouble again.

Smith was arrested by Santa Clara police on Thursday night for a hit and run, DUI and vandalism,the department tweeted on Friday. Online records show the 25-year-old was booked on Friday with a bail of $26,000. Smith was bailed out Friday morning, according to KTVU.

The Niners released Smith Friday.

“This organization has tried very hard to help Aldon fight his issues. Although he is no longer a member of this team, our support and concern for him will continue,” the team said in a statement.

On Friday, a Santa Clara Police Department spokesperson described the incident, which occurred around 8:50 PT Thursday night.

“As (Smith) was backing his vehicle to park his vehicle he hit another vehicle that was adjacent to his vehicle,” the spokesperson said. Smith then left the scene, but returned on foot and submitted to field sobriety testing. The SCPD spokesperson described Smith as “cooperative” with the officers but would not disclose his Blood Alcohol Content, saying that information was part of a continuing investigation. In addition to the DUI and hit and run charges, Smith faces a charge of vandalism for opening his car door and damaging an adjacent vehicle.

Smith served a nine-game suspension last season for violating the league’s policy on personal conduct and substances of abuse. In 2013 he missed five games following a DUI arrest andvoluntarily checked himself into a treatment facility.

The latest arrest, his third for DUI, is the most recent in a long list of off-field transgressions for Smith. He received a 12-day sentence and three years of probation in July following a no-contest plea to three felony weapons charges and two misdemeanor DUI charges. The weapons charges (and one of the DUI charges) were in connection to a 2012 party at Smith’s residence where he was stabbed.

Smith also made waves last year when he was accused of making a bomb threat to a TSA agent at Los Angeles International Airport, but charges weren’t filed.

Upon being released from jail Friday, Smith claimed he didn’t get a DUI.

“I want everybody to understand this wasn’t a DUI. The situation that happened could have been handled differently,” he told KTVU. “I apologize to everybody I did let down and I apologize for how it all played out.”

Thursday’s arrest ended his career in San Francisco.

Read the whole story here at:  http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000507534/article/aldon-smith-arrested-for-hit-and-run-dui-vandalism

A recap of the new laws effecting DUI license revocations

Click here to get a post on my official website to read a full recap of the two new pieces of major legislation signed into law by Governor Rauner effecting DUI revocations.

http://www.illinoisduilawyer.com/il-dui-lawyer/major-new-changes-to-license-reinstatement-laws-enacted