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does fault matter in a chicago hit and run case

Being involved in a hit and run accident in Chicago is certain to be a life altering experience. It is important to receive immediate legal assistance after such an event, no matter who is determined to be at fault. In actuality, fault does matter in the city of Chicago because of the lack of a mandatory uninsured motorist insurance coverage law, but we will get to that later. With hit and run accidents becoming more and more common throughout the Chicago area (with some estimates pegging it at 11 percent of the total number of accidents), it is important to consider your legal rights moving forward.

Filing a Claim With Your Own Insurance Company

All drivers in the state of Illinois must have automobile insurance. That law has been on the books for decades. Currently, limits are set at a minimum of $25,000 per person, in addition to $50,000 per accident. As mentioned, however, there is not a requirement that a driver have either personal injury protection or uninsured motorist covered.

Because of this lack of legislation, you may find it more difficult to receive financial compensation that is due to you from your insurance company after a hit and run accident. Any compensation that you do receive may be further limited by the type of policy that you have, the coverage amounts, and various other factors. This is why you will want a lawyer on your side from day one. Dealing with insurance companies can be tricky enough. However, it can be even more frustrating when there is not another party to pin the blame on because the driver was foolish enough to leave the scene of a crime.

Ironically, not all hit and run accidents are the fault of the driver that flees the scene. You might actually cause the accident, but for whatever reason the other party chooses to leave before a police report or finding of fault can be determined. Such a situation also can cause grief because your insurance company might be hesitant to close the case in the event that the other party comes forward at a later date.

What You Should Do If the Other Party Leaves the Scene of an Accident

Naturally, a hit and run accident infers that one or more drivers have fled the scene of the accident. Many people rightfully wonder what they should do in this event. In reality, you would go through many of the same actions that you would in a normal accident. That begins with contacting the police as soon as you are physically able to. Remember to make sure that yourself and any passengers are not seriously injured before doing so.

When the police arrive on the scene, make sure that they file a report. You should also request a copy of this police report, as it will be of great benefit to your lawyer as they seek assistance with your insurance claim. You will also want to immediately write down as much detail as you can about the other vehicle that was involved in the accident. Even if you were just able to record a partial license plate number, that could prove invaluable to police. It is illegal in the state of Illinois to flee the scene of a car accident, regardless of whose fault it is. The police will attempt to locate the other party, so information that you can give will prove helpful in such a situation.

Contact An Experienced Chicago Hit and Run Attorney

There will surely be multiple things going through your mind in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. You will be worried about time off work, getting your car fixed, dealing with the insurance company, and so much more. Add to this the growing uncertainty of not having the other party in the accident stepping up to accept fault and it is easy to see things spiraling out of control. Thankfully, you do not have to deal with any of this on your own.

You will want to contact an experienced lawyer right away to help you deal with the insurance companies involved and ensuring that you receive the financial compensation that is due you. A lawyer will help get a finding of fault issued, work with the insurance company to get your car fixed and get you the money that you need to get your life headed in the right direction once again. Contact our office today for a consultation and learn how we can begin assisting you immediately.

What Initial Physical and Behavioral Symptoms Do Police Officers Look for During a DUI Stop?

Police officers may identify driving patterns that lead them to believe the driver is intoxicated, so they made that vehicle pull over to investigate. Regardless how your vehicle became part of a DUI stop, these trained police officers are looking for specific behavioral patterns that will give them reasonable cause to proceed with field sobriety testing.

Understanding what initial physical and behavioral symptoms police officers look for during a DUI stop should give you a clear understanding why you were arrested and charged with being intoxicated behind the wheel.

The Smell of Alcohol – Once the officer gets close enough to the vehicle, they will be able to determine if alcohol is involved. Before the officer even speaks with the driver, there may be a strong smell of alcohol emitting from the vehicle that gives the officer reason for concern. While this could be simply the result of a situation where the driver was transporting a person who was drunk or spilled their drink, it does open the door to more investigating. When the officer smells alcohol on the breath of the driver, that is considered reasonable cause to proceed with addition questions.

The Red Flushed Face – Looking closely at the face of the driver, it might appear to be red or flushed during the conversation. There are instances where a driver could simply be embarrassed, under the weather, or reacting to medication, so normally the officer will look to see if there are other physical or behavioral symptoms to corroborate the driver may be intoxicated.

Being Difficult or Aggressive – One behavioral symptom that a police officer will look for during a DUI stop is a driver who is being difficult or aggressive. The officer may be inquiring about the driver’s name, reason for being on the road, or where they are heading, and the driver may lash out in an aggressive manner that gives the officer reasons to believe there is more going on here. When the officer asks the driver a question or instructs them to exit the vehicle for a field sobriety test and the driver becomes argumentative, it gives the officer reason for concern.

Red, Glassy, and Bloodshot Eyes – The reason the officer will shine his flashlight directly into the eyes of the driver during a DUI stop is to see if the eyes indicate the driver is impaired. The officer will be looking for eyes that are bloodshot, glassy, watery, and red. Again, one or all of these symptoms could be an indication of a medical condition, but in conjunction with other behavioral and physical symptoms, give the officer reason to believe the driver has been drinking.

Difficulty Standing Still – The officer may ask the driver to exit the vehicle for a field sobriety test when there is a clear indication the driver is intoxicated. When exiting the vehicle, the police officer will be carefully watching to see if the driver stumbles or has trouble exiting the vehicle. The officer will note if the driver is using the vehicle to lean on to maintain their balance once they have exited the vehicle.

Slurred or Incoherent Speech – Once the officer is able to speak with the driver during the DUI stop, many times they will be able to identify signs of being intoxicated just listening to how the driver speaks. The officer will interact with the driver by way of a number of questions that are designed to get the driver to engage the officer. The officer will become concerned the driver may be drunk when they see the driver mumbling, using confusing speech, being repetitive, rambling on, being incoherent, and using slurred speech.

Failing the Field Test – The officer can ask the driver at the DUI stop to perform a number of physical sobriety tests. The officer will have probable cause to request a blood or alcohol test if the driver is unable to maintain their balance on their own.

Unable to Comprehend Time – The officer will ask the driver during a DUI stop what time it is, what time they began driving, what date it is, and what day of the week it is, all in an effort to determine if the driver has their sense about them.

Your Chicago DUI attorney is well aware of what initial physical and behavioral symptoms police officers look for during a DUI stop and will be in the best position to help dispute the charge. When you believe you did not exhibit any of the symptoms that gave the officer probable cause to proceed with testing, your attorney will be able to review footage from the scene of the arrest and poke holes in the prosecution case.

What is a Chicago DUI Advisement of Rights Waiver and Plea Form?

In Illinois, drivers that are arrested under suspension of DUI are afforded many rights. When an officer has probable cause to detain the driver, those who feel they are guilty and want to waive their right to a trial can simply plead no contest. This is something that should not be entered into lightly because once you agree to forgo the criminal trial, you can not change your mind.

Before consenting to waiving your rights, it is always advised that you speak with a DUI attorney who can fully explain what is a Chicago DUI Advisement of Rights Waiver and Plea form. There may be an opportunity for an attorney to analyze the evidence and discredit the prosecution case, so proceed with extreme caution.

Protecting Your Rights in Illinois
Regardless if you were suspected of driving drunk because your vehicle exhibited driving patterns that are in line with someone under the influence, or you failed a field sobriety test, you still have the right to dispute the charge. In Illinois, it is every driver’s right to have their case heard in a court of law, then given a fair trial before being found guilty of a DUI charge. Whether the driver fails a breath, blood, or field test, they will be ordered to appear in court to answer to an criminal judge. The only way the driver can be found guilty is if the prosecution can present a case beyond a reasonable doubt the driver was in fact intoxicated at the time of the arrest, or if the defendant simply pleads no contest.

Your DUI attorney in Chicago can carefully analyze the audio and video from the arrest, and look for inconsistencies with the police report. If needed, your attorney has the ability to subpoena that officer so they have to appear at a less formal DMV hearing to answer questions about that evening. The answers could open the door for your lawyer to developing a defense that could discredit the prosecution evidence.

The Arraignment Process
The driver’s first appearance in the court to answer the charges of this DUI case is called the arraignment. The judge will read the charges to the defendant at the arraignment, and then ask if the defendant would like to enter a plea. This is the opportunity for the defendant to plead not guilty, guilty, or no content. If the defendant pleads no contest or guilty, they will be provided with the DUI Advisement of Rights Waiver and Plea form.

The defendant is asked to clearly read the form very carefully and to initial by each statement on the form. This is not something to enter into lightly because you will be subject to the full penalties of the DUI charge. A DUI attorney will not be able to dispute the charges at a later time if this form is completed.

The Details of Waiver and Plea Form
The first section of the Advisement of Rights Waiver assures the defendant is fully aware that they are going to be relinquishing their rights when pleading no contest or guilty. By signing the plea form, the defendant is in a sense confirming they have been advised of all the consequences that they still face, and that by making this admission it does not lessen or win favor with the courts, only lessens the amount of time of the hearing.

Part of the Advisement of Rights Waiver informs the defendant that they do have the right to an attorney before making this decision, and if they can not afford a DUI attorney, a public defender will be appointed to them by the court. The defendant is also informed that when signing this plea form, there are many disadvantages they face and should at the least consult with an attorney before making any decision.

DUI Advisement of Rights Waiver Charges and Codes
The next section of the Advisement of Rights Waiver form goes into detail about the many potential charges that could affect the defendant if they plead guilty or no contest to the DUI. The defendant is also informed of their Constitutional rights that are going to be forfeited by signing the plea form. Once the document is signed, the defendant in a sense gives up the right to a trial by jury, lose the right to confront witnesses, gives up the right to produce evidence to dispute the charge, and the right to self-incrimination.

The DUI Advisement of Rights Waiver form is four pages, and carries with it heavy forfeiture of many defendant rights. Your DUI attorney is your best line of defense to make certain that you understand the consequences of signing the form and perhaps to convince you to fight the charges and reduce any potential penalties.

Can I be stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol and later charged with driving under the influence of other substances in Chicago?

Being the subject of a drunk driving investigation can be a scary and confusing experience. It might surprise you to learn that law enforcement began their investigation looking for evidence of driving under the influence of alcohol only to change their investigation to a drugged driving investigation. You might wonder if it’s legal for law enforcement to change the charges against you. Here’s what you need to know about whether you can be stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol and later charged with driving under the influence of other substances:

Grounds for a valid traffic stop

In order for the police to lawfully stop you while you’re driving, they must have a reason to believe that you’re breaking the law. Their belief that you’re breaking the law must be reasonable. They aren’t allowed to rely on any law enforcement hunches by claiming they just know you’re up to something because they’re police experts.

The officer must be able to articulate their reason for stopping your vehicle. They must be able to point to how they observed you breaking the law or otherwise had reason to believe that you broke a law. The law that you break may be a crime, or it may be a civil traffic violation.

What’s a Terry stop?

A brief detention to investigate you for a violation of the law is called a Terry stop. The name comes from the U.S. Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio. In the case, the Supreme Court outlined what law enforcement must be able to show in order to detain a vehicle. They must be able to show that a reasonable person in their circumstances would believe that the driver or someone in the vehicle may be committing a crime.

When the police change their investigation

Whether the police can lawfully change the nature of their investigation after the traffic stop begins depends on how the traffic stop unfolds. If you roll down your window and the police smell marijuana coming from the car, they can lawfully change their investigation to see if you’re under the influence of marijuana. They’re allowed to investigate different offenses based on what they see and hear after a lawful traffic stop begins.

However, law enforcement doesn’t have a blanket ability to keep you until they can think of a crime that you’ve committed. In Rodriguez v. United States, the Supreme Court said that it’s unlawful for the police to hold a person for longer than necessary to investigate the grounds for the stop. If law enforcement doesn’t have a reasonable suspicion that you’re under the influence of drugs, they can’t make you wait at the traffic stop until they’re able to come up with that suspicion. Instead, they must send you on your way.

Evaluate the type of test given in your case

As a practical matter, when the police stop you for DUI with alcohol and later charge you with DUI with drugs, it’s important to look at the type of chemical test given in your case. Alcohol content can be measured by a person’s breath. When the police suspect a person of driving under the influence of alcohol, they can easily measure the person’s alcohol levels using a breath test.

However, when you’re under the influence of drugs, it doesn’t show in a breathalyzer test. You can take a breath test and still receive results that indicate you have no alcohol in your system. For the police to detect drugs, it’s most appropriate to administer a blood test or saliva test.

If you’re charged with driving under the influence of drugs, it’s important to evaluate the type of test that the police give you. It’s the police’s job to prove that you’re guilty. If they made an error in testing procedures, it’s possible that they may not have appropriately gathered the evidence against you.

Can the police change the charges in my case?

In some cases, law enforcement can stop you for driving under the influence of alcohol and later charge you with driving under the influence of drugs. In other cases, it’s inappropriate for law enforcement to detain you longer than necessary to investigate the initial reason for the stop. Whether the police acted properly in your case depends on how things unfolded.

If you’re facing a charge of DUI for any reason, it’s important to carefully evaluate the reason for the stop. You have a right to be free from unconstitutional search and seizure, and it’s important to hold law enforcement to a high standard when you’re evaluating the case against you. An experienced DUI attorney can help you examine the investigation to determine if they police acted properly. If they didn’t, your attorney can help you bring the issue to the court’s attention and request a dismissal of your case.

Do I have to appear in court if I have a Chicago criminal defense attorney?

You were arrested and charged with a DUI, and now you have more questions than answers. Unless you’ve been in this situation before, you might not know what to expect or how the DUI arrest process works. You’re going to jail, and you’re probably spending at least one night there until you are released. Driving under the influence is not a small crime, and it’s not one any court of law takes lightly. You put the lives of everyone on the road with you at risk when you get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence.

The penalties for a DUI are serious no matter where you live, and that’s why you want to contact a criminal defense attorney to handle your case. If you haven’t the financial ability to hire an attorney, the court can appoint you an attorney free of charge. You should use your right to obtain an attorney so you don’t find yourself in more trouble by not understanding legal terminology in anything you sign or anything said to you. Your best case is to hire an attorney. Once you retain an attorney, you might wonder if there you must appear before a judge or allow your attorney to do so on your behalf.

You Don’t Have to Appear

There is no law stating you must appear at your arraignment or even some of the other smaller court dates you have if you are arrested for a DUI. You can have your attorney appear on your behalf. However, you should always appear if you have a trial and you are being called on the stand to testify. However, that’s a while away.

Once you are arrested and charged with a DUI, you must appear before a judge for something called an arraignment. This is when you enter your plea and the judge releases you pending further sentencing. You aren’t required to make an appearance at this court date if you have an attorney there on your behalf. If you are representing yourself without the help of an attorney, you must be present.

Always speak to your attorney about your appearance. Your attorney will give you the best advice for your specific case. If your attorney has no problem with you skipping any hearings because you can’t leave work or you don’t have the ability to be there, they will appear for you. You must be sure your attorney knows he or she needs to be at the courthouse, however. If no one appears on your behalf, you could be held in contempt of court and an arrest warrant is issued. Now your legal problems are larger and even more expensive.

It Might Be In Your Best Interest to Appear

You aren’t required to appear for all the hearings going on right now in your DUI case, but it might be in your best interest to show up for all of them. There is no legal reason to do so, but being present at each of your hearings can show the judge presiding over your case you are serious about it. If you are there for each hearing, it could give off the impression you take this seriously and want to rectify your situation rather than allow someone else to handle it for you while you continue to live your life.

You aren’t required to appear, but it might be a good idea to do that. Your attorney’s appearance is necessary if you hire him or her, but you do need to concern yourself with the fact that it’s for convenience. Whether you appear alongside your attorney or not, you must be in close contact with your attorney so you know what’s going on and how you’re going to deal with your case. Do you want to plead guilty or not guilty and take it to court?

Your attorney can fight for you, but you need to have a strong case. This involves spending ample time discussing the facets of the investigation with your attorney and working on what you are using as your defense. Your future rides on how you work through this and what you can say to your own defense.

The arresting officer is required to read you your rights, which includes the right to an attorney. This is the best time to take them up on that offer and call an attorney. Don’t say anything else that might be used against you in a court of law. It’s your job to enact your right, get your attorney, and go from there. Listen to your attorney’s advice, and do what you can to ensure you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to clear your name and get the best possible outcome.

What are My Fourth Amendment Rights in a Southern Chicago DUI Stop?

There are many drivers in the Chicago region who get arrested for DUI and simply accept their fate and throw themselves on the mercy of the court in an effort to put this episode behind them. Years of costly fines and months without the ability to operate a motor vehicle are only some of the penalties these drivers will be subjected to.

There are many people in the southern Chicago area who have discovered that their fourth amendment rights were violated during the DUI stop and the entire case was dismissed. Here is why you want to be in contact with a Chicago DUI attorney who can show the court your rights were violated and the prosecution case must be dismissed.

Analyzing the Police Report
The reason the officer pulled your vehicle over to perform a DUI check was because they observed driving patterns that are indicative that the driver could be intoxicated. The police dash camera will reveal what caused the officer to come to that conclusion. Perhaps the officer observed that the car was swerving back and forth between the lane markers. Maybe the officer observed the vehicle traveling several miles under the posted limit. There could have been an instance where the officer saw the driver ignoring traffic signals. Although these are not clear indications the driver was drunk, it may give them reasonable cause to conduct a more thorough investigation.

Your Chicago DUI attorney clearly understands the law and knows that according to your fourth amendment rights, you are protected against unreasonable search or seizure by the police. Your attorney will try to show the officer did not have reasonable cause to begin this investigation by carefully analyzing all the audio and video from the police dash cam.

Investigating the Audio & Video DVD
One the officer had the vehicle pulled to the side of the road, they have a discussion with the driver to see if their suspicions are confirmed. During this brief question and answer session, the officer is trying to see if there are any signs that the driver is impaired and should not be operating the vehicle. The officer will ask the driver to step out the car and to perform one or more field sobriety tests in front of the dash camera. Depending on the driver and the officer, there are a number of field tests that can be administered. The officer can ask the driver to submit to a breath test, to walk a straight line, recite the alphabet, or to stand motionless with one leg in the air.

Your DUI attorney again will analyze that DVD of the traffic stop to see if the officer still had articulable suspicion that the driver broke the law. Your attorney can present evidence to the court that the officer did not ask about a medical condition or reaction to certain medication, and in a rush to judgement, asked the driver to perform tests that are challenging even for a sober individual in the middle of the night.

Subpoena the Arresting Officer
The DUI attorney can not interrogate the arresting officer in between the arrest and the criminal court date. Your attorney does understand however that the driver is entitled to a DMV hearing, but must request that hearing within ten days of the arrest. Before the hearing, the attorney can request the officer be subpoenaed and answer questions at the hearing. During the questioning, it could come to light that the officer made a mistake or did not uphold the rights of the driver, something your DUI attorney will use to break the prosecution case wide open when it eventually goes to trial.

During the interrogation of the arresting officer at the DMV hearing, the DUI attorney will try to get the officer to expand upon their reasoning for conducting the search. Although the DMV hearing has no effect on the criminal case, it allows the attorney to open the door into illegal activity and use it to help get the case dismissed in favor of the driver. According to the fourth amendment rights of the driver, the police officer in this case must have reasonable cause the motorist was breaking the law when they conducted the DUI stop. When the arresting officer can not clearly describe probable cause for stopping the vehicle, the blood alcohol test results and evidence collected during the stop could be ruled inadmissible.

When you’ve been involved in a southern Chicago DUI stop, call a local DUI attorney who can carefully analyze your case to make certain that your fourth amendment rights were upheld during the arrest process. There is a very small window of opportunity to question the arresting officer, so every second counts after you are released from police custody.

What Blood Alcohol Tests Are Required During a Chicago DUI Stop?

If you have been pulled over and a police officer has reason to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol, a variety of tests may be administered. These tests are designed to make sure that an individual is safe to drive. If a person performs poorly on those tests, he or she may be taken into custody and charged with DUI. What tests may a person be subject to?

Field Sobriety Tests May Be First

Typically, a person will first be asked to conduct a series of field sobriety tests. These may include reciting the alphabet backwards or following a light with their eyes. Individuals may also be required to stand on one leg and count to a certain number along with the officer. Other tests may include answering a series of questions that a sober person would be able to answer in an instant.

A Breathalyzer Test May Be Next

If an officer believes that there are signs of impairment, the next step will be to conduct a Breathalyzer test. The Breathalyzer test measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath, and it can be submitted as evidence in a DUI case. The legal blood alcohol content limit in the United States is .08 percent, which is roughly four drinks.

Do Drivers Have to Submit to Breathalyzer Tests?

A driver does not have to consent to a Breathalyzer test. In some cases, this may be a good decision as it removes a key piece of evidence that could be used to convict a person of the charge. However, refusing to do so does come with penalties of its own such as the loss of driving privileges for up to a year. This is because all 50 states have implied consent laws. By obtaining your drivers license, the law says that you have consented to such tests and are breaking the law by refusing to submit to them.

An Officer May Ask for a Blood Sample

Officers may ask for a blood sample to further determine how much alcohol is in a person’s blood. It is also possible that an officer would ask for a blood sample in the event that a person refused to submit to a breath test. It is important for individuals to understand that blood can only be drawn with consent or by a warrant. Otherwise, any results from such a test are generally considered invalid.

Blood Samples May Also Detect Other Substances

If a driver submits to a blood sample, it may be possible to detect substances other than alcohol. For instance, if a person has smoked marijuana or done other drugs recently, the authorities may find evidence of that. This could lead to a person facing additional charges. However, an attorney may be able to take steps to ensure that no charges are filed or that any additional consequences are kept to a minimum.

Urine Samples May Be Collected

A urine sample may be collected in the event that a blood sample cannot be. This may happen if the police cannot get a warrant or consent for a blood draw. In some cases, it may not be safe to draw blood from an individual. There is some question as to whether a warrant is needed for a urine test, and police may attempt to get one before taking a sample. However, the sample may be included as evidence regardless depending on how a judge rules.

Are Test Results Always Accurate?

It is important to note that test results are not always accurate. A driver could have an elevated BAC because of an issue with his or her blood absorbing the alcohol. The results of a blood or urine test could also be incorrect based on how they were handled. An attorney will likely try to cast doubt on how tests were conducted in an effort to obtain a favorable case for an individual. It is important to point out that the results of field sobriety tests cannot be used as evidence a person was drunk.

Those who are stopped by police and suspected of DUI could face serious consequences if charged and convicted. Therefore, it is important that an individual understands his or her rights throughout the legal process. Talking with an attorney may help an individual learn more about those rights and develop ways to fight the charge in court.