Can you get a DUI while flying on your broom?

Is an Illinois DUI limited to cars and trucks? No. Our DUI laws cover all “vehicles,” which are defined by our Motor Vehicle Code as:

Every device, in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway or requiring a certificate of title under Section 3-101(d) of this Code, except devices moved by human power, devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks and snowmobiles as defined in the Snowmobile Registration and Safety Act.

For the purposes of this Code, unless otherwise prescribed, a device shall be considered to be a vehicle until such time it either comes within the definition of a junk vehicle, as defined under this Code, or a junking certificate is issued for it.
I don’t think a magic broomstick works on “human power” so its possible an intoxicated witch would not get off the hook. Just to be clear, however, the Illinois Courts have not yet ruled on the matter. They have held that motorized bicycles, motorized lawnmowers, and all terrain vehicles do qualify as a “vehicle.” Snow mobiles and boats are covered by separate statutes. Also, a vehicle that is inoperable is still a “vehicle” unless and until a junking certificate has been issued. So be warned!

Jury Duty and Social Media

link: Cracking Down on Courtroom Networking

The other day I went to get an oil change. While waiting, i sat with two men who read their itablets, another played a game on his smartphone, while I was listening to a podcast and checking twitter and facebook on mine. I read how one friend was stuck in traffic, another was getting a hot dog and a third was getting an oil change (oh wait, that was me).

Today we walk around with devices that can quickly get all sorts of information. I remember a few years ago when I was in court and before a hearing i got into a disagreement with a police officer over whether a certain clinic on the west side was privately or publicly owned. I pulled out my smartphone and quickly resolved the dispute. That was the first of now many times I have reached for my phone to get a quick answer.

So it should be no surprise that jurors don’t think twice about reaching for their smartphones to resolve their unanswered questions, or to share their experience serving on a jury with their followers.

The problem is that when a juror gets information that was not entered into evidence, after it has been subject to cross-examination by opposing counsel and scrutinized by the judge, they may be looking at something that is misleading or prejudicial. For example, repairs made after the fact are not admissible in negligence cases because they can be used to imply that the defendant has impliedly admitted negligence by fixing the dangerous situation, and from a public policy standpoint this is bad because it discourages the repair from occurring until after the litigation is completed. As you can see, there are reasons for our rules of evidence.

I think that the courts should continue in their efforts to remind jurors of their responsibilities to remain fair and untainted from opinions or “outside evidence.” It is very tempting to tweet one’s experience as a juror (as it is for me as an attorney) but this is one experience where we must refrain until our duties have been discharged.

What do you think?

Why are DUIs becoming less frequent?

Why are DUIs falling?

There is no doubt that the number of DUI arrests made have dramatically fallen over the past five years. I can suggest several reasons for this:

1. The penalties for committing a DUI have gone way up; this includes vehicle forfeitures, fines 2-3 times what they were, mandatory breath ignition interlock devices, mandatory minimum sentencing and expanded eligibility for felony classification. These tough new laws have been heavily advertised.
2. Public attitudes against drunk driving continue a thirty year trend towards less and less acceptance. When is the last time that you saw a “comic drunk” in a movie or tv show?
3. Less people are going out to drink due to the economy and smoking bans. People may also be more risk-averse in these bad economic times and more unwilling to chance the financial, legal and professional costs of a DUI.
4. Less traffic stops due to less police officers on the street and the expanded use of red light and speeding cameras instead of police for traffic enforcement.
5. In Chicago, many of our top DUI officers are no longer on patrol, as many of them were caught exaggerating or making up facts. Other officers have been on an unofficial work stoppage in misplaced solidarity with these officers.

What do you think?

What is the right approach to discourage drunk driving?

What is the right approach to discourage drunk driving? In Illinois, we have been running ads emphasizing the legal consequences. In New Zealand, they are running an ad that doesn’t talk down to people, but instead talks with them.

Link courtesy of Copyranter

License Reinstatement

I often see it reported in the newspapers that someone has been convicted of a DUI and had their license “revoked for one year.” In fact, if your license is revoked as a result of a DUI conviction, your license will be revoked indefinitely. You become eligible for reinstatement after one year (if you only have one DUI conviction, its five years before being eligible if you have had two convictions, ten if you have had three, and never if you have had four or more).

I emphasize the word eligible because the Secretary of State is not obligated to return anyone’s license. They will only do so, upon application for reinstatement and after a hearing, at which time it must be determined that the person will be safe and responsible. This is not an easy thing to prove.

Today I received notification that two of my clients were granted reinstatement. One of them had been revoked since 1998 — thirteen years ago! He had not felt ready to appear before the Illinois Secretary of State and make his case for reinstatement until recently. So today’s lesson: once your license is revoked, it does not come back automatically; you have to earn it.

Welcome

I’ve been thinking of starting a blog for, oh, only about 10 years or so. As you may guess from the URL, I am an attorney who represents those accused of drunk driving. I also handle other criminal cases, as well as Secretary of State reinstatement hearings and personal injury cases. I serve as an occasional arbitrator in Cook County’s municipal division’s mandatory arbitration program and also am a member of the Chicago Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Committee. I hope to discuss legal issues, stories in the news, and other things unrelated to the law that I find interesting.