NEED A STRONG AND EFFECTIVE TRAFFIC LAWYER? Call (630) 474-8000
Illinois can impose severe penalties for traffic violations, and recent changes in state law have enhanced them even further. If you or a loved one was charged with a traffic offense and you aren’t sure where to turn, call Martin & Kent, L.L.C. You deserve to have your side of the story heard and your driving privileges and other rights protected in court.
Get our defense firm on your side today! We practice in DuPage County, Kane County, and Cook County. Call us for a free consultation at (630) 474-8000.
The Rules of the Road
When you get behind the wheel of your car, you take on an immense responsibility that includes safely following the rules of the road. Many traffic offenses can ultimately lead to expensive tickets and diminished driving privileges:
- Not obeying the speed limit (when extreme, this can reach the level of Reckless Driving/Speeding which involves a potential Suspension)
- Not following posted traffic signs, lights, and signals—including stop signs, yield signs, stoplights, and flashing signals
- Driving without a valid driver’s license
- Failing to use windshield wipers and headlights as needed or required by law
- Driving while distracted
- Driving under the influence
- Driving an unsafe vehicle
- Passing other vehicles unsafely or illegally
- Driving without regard for inclement weather or road conditions
- Driving aggressively (or with full-blown road rage)
- Driving under while exhausted or drowsy
Traffic Offenses: The Basics
If police cite you for violating a traffic law (at the state or municipal level), the ticket will include the information pertinent to your citation, including the statute that you allegedly violated and the associated fine you’re required to pay. Your ticket will include instructions for paying the associated fee and details related to any required court appearance.
Your Alleged Infraction
Typically, traffic offenses are mere infractions of the law that incur only fines. In other words, they’re usually minor offenses. If you’re accused of more serious violations, however, the charges can reach the criminal level. Furthermore, multiple traffic violations can lead to penalties that increase exponentially.
If police have never cited you for a traffic offense before and you don’t believe it will happen again, you may want to pay the ticket and get it over with. The traffic offense, however, will go on your record. If you believe the ticket does not reflect the driving incident, speak with an experienced traffic offense lawyer today. Traffic offenses can add up, and as such, lead to significant hardships for you. You could lose your job if it involves driving, for example. Your insurance premiums could escalate. Don’t think that you must simply bite the bullet when it comes to traffic citations. Your rights matter too much not to fight for the most positive resolution of your situation.
PENALTIES FOR EXCESSIVE SPEEDING
Speeding is one of the most common reasons that police pull people over. Many drivers don’t know that, in extreme circumstances, speeding can result in criminal charges. Illinois has outlined severe penalties for drivers traveling recklessly and endangering others on the road.
For example, driving 30 miles per hour more than the posted speed limit could result in:
- Class B misdemeanor charges
- Six months in jail
- $1,500 in fines
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
Driving 40 miles per hour more than the set limit could lead to:
- Class A misdemeanor charges
- One year in jail
- $2,500 in fines
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
Distracted driving is another common traffic offense, and smartphone use is the jewel in distraction’s crown. In Illinois, it’s illegal to use a handheld device, such as a smartphone, while driving. Illinois law permits those older than 19 to use hands-free technology like Bluetooth. If your distracted driving leads to a crash, you could face criminal charges and jail time.
Distracted driving is dangerous driving, and in 2016 alone, it caused 3,450 traffic fatalities in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) classifies distracted driving as driving while engaging in any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the task at hand—driving safely. Texting is the most dangerous distraction, and according to NHTSA, sending or reading a text takes about five seconds, the equivalent of driving blind for the length of an entire football field (when traveling at 55 miles per hour).
Illinois defines aggressive driving, another traffic offense, as driving in a way that puts (or is likely to put) people or property in danger. Aggressive driving can manifest itself through:
- Speeding (again, speeding is one of the most common and dangerous traffic offenses, and excessive speeding is a form of aggressive driving)
- Disobeying traffic lights, signs, and signals
- Passing on the road’s shoulder
- Cutting off other drivers
- Slamming on the brakes to scare a tailgater
- Making inappropriate aggressive gestures at other motorists
- Flashing the headlights or honking the horn repeatedly and unnecessarily
- Verbally attacking another driver
Keep your aggressive feelings in check when you drive. The road is no place to unleash your inner demons. An aggressive driving charge can lead to steep penalties and considerable consequences.
Driving under the influence of exhaustion is also dangerous and can lead to a traffic citation. When you get behind the wheel, make sure that you’re not impaired by lack of sleep. Drowsy drivers are more likely to make dangerous driving decisions.
WHEN ILLINOIS LAW CONSIDERS TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS CRIMES
Most traffic accidents are minor, and the parties and their insurance companies sort them out with few complications. In circumstances of negligence, traffic accidents can result in criminal charges. Even if law enforcement officers come to the scene of a minor accident to help the drivers and assess damage, they can arrest a driver if they have probable cause to believe the driver acted in an unlawful manner.
Elements that make traffic accidents open to criminal charges include:
- Driving while intoxicated (DUI)
- Reckless driving
- Speeding 30 miles per hour or more than the speed limit
- Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run)
- Vehicular manslaughter (when a driver or passenger dies)
Driving Under the Influence
Illinois statutes define driving under the influence. While this includes a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent, it doesn’t stop there. Illinois makes it illegal to drive or physically control a car while under the influence, which means that you don’t have to drive the vehicle for police to charge you. Furthermore, your BAC doesn’t have to reach the legal limit if police determine that the amount of alcohol you did consume rendered you unsafe to drive. In addition, any amount of another intoxicating substance (including medical marijuana) that leaves you unsafe to drive can also lead to DUI charges. Finally, driving after ingesting any amount of a controlled substance (as identified by Illinois law) can result in DUI charges. Illinois’s strict and complicated DUI laws require skilled legal counsel to navigate.
A DUI conviction can lead to serious financial and emotional consequences that can reverberate into your future. These can include exorbitant fees, loss of your driver’s license, social stigma, and diminished job opportunities. Protect your rights and your future by hiring an experienced Illinois DUI attorney.
PROTECTING YOUR DRIVING PRIVILEGES IN ILLINOIS
Even small traffic offenses can lead to serious repercussions. Your second offense in a 12-month period could subject you to court supervision. Your third in that same period of time could result in suspension or revocation of your license. Drivers younger than 21 must surrender their licenses after just two convictions in a 12-month period.
Traffic violations in Illinois include:
- Improper use of a lane
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license
- Driving without insurance or proof of insurance
- Speeding in a construction zone
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Failure to observe traffic signals
- Driving with an expired registration
See You in Court
Sometimes, the best option is fighting the traffic offense in court, and your experienced traffic offense attorney will help you determine if this is the case in your situation. In such an instance, you’ll personally appear in court at your scheduled timeslot (as it appears on your citation) and enter a plea of not guilty. The judge will then set your trial date for fighting against charges. The timing can get tight, so speak with a dedicated traffic offense lawyer as soon after receiving the ticket as you possibly can.
DON’T WAIT! CALL OUR FIRM FOR REPRESENTATION!
Always call a reliable lawyer before paying a fine for a traffic ticket. It never hurts to get legal advice, and you could save yourself from serious fines, as well as a mark on your record. If paying the fine is the right thing to do, we’ll tell you.
Call Martin & Kent, L.L.C., at (630) 474-8000 today to learn more and receive a free evaluation!
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