Articles Posted in DUI

On June 27 of this year, the United States Supreme Court took another step toward erasing drivers’ constitutional right against warrantless searches and seizures.  In Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. _____(2019), a plurality of the Court issued an opinion which created a whole new category of “exigent circumstances” searches.  Perhaps the most frustrating part of the Court’s ruling in Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. _____(2019), is that it was unnecessary.  In a scathing dissent, Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Ginsburn, and Kagan, noted that the decision in Mitchell rested on “the false premise” that it was “necessary to spare law enforcement from a choice between attending to emergency situations and securing evidence.”  For the dissent the question was narrow: “What must police do before ordering a blood draw of a person suspected of drunk driving who has become unconscious?”  And their answer simple: “If there is time, get a warrant.”  Justice Sotomayor noted that Wisconsin had conceded that it had time to obtain a warrant and that should have been the end of the matter.  She decried the plurality for “needlessly cast[ing] aside the established protections of the warrant requirement in favor of a brand new presumption of exigent circumstances that Wisconsin [did] not urge, the state courts did not consider, and that contravenes this Court’s precedent.”

Furthermore, the dissent points out that the holdings in Schmerber and McNeely, “establish that there is no categorical exigency exception for blood draws, although exigent circumstances might justify a warrantless blood draw on the facts of a particular case.”  Additionally, from the Court’s recent ruling in Birchfield, “warrantless blood draws cannot be justified as searches incident to arrest.”  Accordingly, based on precedent, Mitchell had already been resolved and the answer was: “unless there is too little time to do so, police officers must get a warrant before ordering a blood draw.”

The plurality of the Court attempted to justify its whittling away of constitutional protections by insisting that it was answering only a very narrow question, to wit: “what police officers may do in a narrow but important category of cases: those in which the driver is unconscious and therefore cannot be given a breath test.”  The Court held “[i]n such cases…the exigent circumstances rule almost always permits a blood test without a warrant.”  The Court went on to say that “when a driver is unconscious, the general rule is that a warrant is not needed.”  This ruling is clearly a departure from its recent rulings in McNeely and Birchfield.

DUI is one of the most common criminal offenses we see.  DUI arrest knows no socio-economic boundaries and can have a serious impact on the life of those who are found to guilty.  In fact, even if the individual is not guilty of the crime the suspension of his/her license can still occur and may be more of a punishment than a conviction for the DUI itself would have been.  Having an experienced attorney is crucial to your ability to successfully defend your case.

But what types of behaviors subject an individual to potential DUI liability?

The Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-501) directs that a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in the following seven (7) circumstances:

We are criminal defense attorneys and DUI lawyers located in Springfield, Illinois and serve clients all over central Illinois.  Frequently we have clients who have never needed the services of an attorney before or who feel that they have been under-served by an attorney they have had in the past.  Hiring an attorney is one of the most important first steps any client makes in defending against charges brought against them, whether the charges are simple traffic violations or more serious felony or DUI charges.  To that end, we’d like to share with you our thoughts about what to look for, and what to expect, when hiring a lawyer to defend you against criminal charges:

  1. You should hire a lawyer you feel comfortable talking with.  Our ability to obtain the result you seek depends on many things, but one of the most important is communication.  If you do not feel that you can openly communicate with us, then it will be much more difficult for us to effectively help you.  We need you to communicate with us about your case: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We need for you to communicate with us about what resolution you want to seek for your case.  We need you to communicate with us about how potential resolutions might affect your employment, education, or home life.  We need you to communicate with us if you believe there is evidence that will help you but that the State has not gathered.  No one knows your case better than you—and we cannot begin to know your case as well as you do unless you tell us everything you know about your case.
  2. We work for the client and not for the person who may be paying the bills.  This is an important point.  We understand that our clients often have family members and friends who help pay their legal fees.  However, it is important for those family members and friends to understand that it is ultimately the client who we are working for, and thus our client calls the shots with regard to how his or her case gets resolved.

Traffic tickets.  Almost all of us have been pulled over at one time or another for some alleged traffic violation and ended up with a traffic ticket.  For some people, what starts as a routine stop for a minor traffic violation ends up becoming an arrest for a more serious violation, such as DUI, drug charges, or gun/weapon possession offenses.

It is important to know your rights if you are pulled over for any alleged traffic violation.  To that end, we have compiled a list of 10 things you should know if you are stopped by the police in central Illinois.  In addition to this list, you can also review the instructional video produced by the FBI Field Office for the Springfield, Illinois Division regarding how to conduct yourself during a traffic stop.

10 Things You Should Know: