Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I have a valid NJ driving license and I moved to Illinois a week back. I rented out a car and using it. Last night near Gurnee, Lake County I was caught for ‘No Red Taillights’ 12-201(b) and ‘Failure Yield Authorized emergency vehicle’ 11-907(a) (1)’. Initially I was in the left most lane, and after seeing the flashing lights I moved to the right most lane, thinking that he was chasing someone else. Since I was not over speeding and wearing the seat-belt properly, and I yielded to my right lane, everything is good and I was driving slowly for few seconds. But even then the cop followed me behind and then I realized that he is chasing me and I pulled over, that’s why I got the second ticket. This is my first incident. What are the chances that I contest and overturn the second ticket?

A. The citation for Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicle is a very serious charge that could cause you a lot of problems on your New Jersey driver’s license. I would suggest that you appear in court with a qualified attorney. Your attorney will find out if there are any police reports or even possibly a dash cam video. The police video will show if your tail lights were actually out or not (was there reasonable grounds for a stop?) More importantly we will be able to see how fast you were traveling, how far you traveled before you pulled over and how long it took you to pull over for the police officer. These are important questions in determining if your case is defensible. I would also suggest that we obtain a copy of your driving record which will show that you are actually a very good and law abiding driver, which would be very helpful in possibly negotiating either a dismissal or a reduction of the charge of Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicle.

Q. Got arrested for my second DUI I am 24 in Lake County, IL. I did the breathalyzer and failed (I know I should of refused the test but I did it anyways) I got my first dui at 16 and received court supervision / classes / fines / community service and lost my license for 3 months! I just want to know what I’m looking at now I plan on hiring a good attorney to help me fight a conviction but I feel hopeless like there’s too much evidence 🙁 she marked down 2 different court houses at the same day and time on 2 different tickets ( I also received improper lane usage) and put 8:45 pm not am I know I was wrong but I just want to be prepared because I’m probably going to lose my license for a while 🙁 is there a chance it can get dropped down to something else ?!

A. A second lifetime DUI is a very serious problem. Providing a breath sample is always a double edged sword. If you provide a breath test you give the prosecution very serious evidence to use against you, but you receive a shorter driver’s license suspension (6 months for a breath result of .08 or higher). A refusal minimizes the State’s evidence but yields a longer driver’s license suspension (1 year for refusing the breath test). Defending a breath test case is always more difficult because we will have to dispute the breath test results, the officers claims and your performance on the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Don’t despair because there are many ways to show that the breath machine is just that, a machine that is not perfect. Many things can interfere with a breath test analysis. Was the machine certified accurate within the IL State Police guidelines? Was the machine properly operated? Did the breath tech operator have a valid license to operate that particular machine? Had the machine been removed from service for repairs either before or after your test? Was there any interfering substances that could have affected your test? Was there residual mouth alcohol? Was there any RFI (radio frequency interference)? With regard to the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests… were they properly explained? Were they properly demonstrated? Were they properly scored? Was the ground flat and level? What were the lighting conditions? What was the weather like? Windy/cold? Do you have any physical or mental challenges, disabilities or diseases that could affect your performance of these very difficult tests? As you can see a qualified attorney can often make a lot out of very little. The sooner you get a well-qualified attorney working on your case the better the outcome will be. Often times, hiring a well-known, well qualified attorney can make all the difference on your case as your attorney may be able to negotiate a reduction of the charges and save your driver’s license.

Q. All the details are found in my question, those were the final dispositions.

A. You can “seal” your “criminal arrest(s)” for DUI if you received a “Not Guilty” and a “dismissal”. However, if you received a “civil” license suspension from either DUI case that will not be sealable and will appear on your Court Purposes Drivers Abstract.

Q. I talked to a hearing officer 2 months ago and found out the decision was unfavorable. What can I do?

A. When attending a Secretary of State Hearing (both formal and informal) seeking a Restricted Driving Permit or Full Drivers License Reinstatement the burden of proof is on the petitioner to prove by clear and convincing evidence that they have resolved their problem with alcohol or drugs. The Hearing Officer relies on three things: A) the testimony of the petitioner; B) the completed alcohol and drug treatment documents; and C) your driving record. Most denials are a result of conflicting information between the testimony (what you say) and the treatment documents (what the treatment provider said). Any inconsistencies between the two and you will lose your hearing.

The best way to remedy a denial decision is to have a qualified attorney review all of the treatment documents, the denial decision and a recent driving record. In that way any inconsistent information can be identified in advance and corrected before the next hearing. Additionally, the attorney can advise you in advance of the hearing what the likely questions will be and prepare you to answer those questions in the most favorable way. Consistency and preparation are your allies in a successful hearing seeking driving privileges.

Q. Basically I was let go of a DUI and the officer didn’t even tell me what my BAC was. I went to jail and my car got towed. I’m only charged with unlawful consumption of alcohol by minor. Could it be changed to a DUI after a judge questions you? What should I expect for the penalty for underage drinking?

A. Unfortunately, it is possible that your underage drinking ticket could be elevated to a DUI. It really depends on the prosecutors review and discretion. Once your case gets to court the prosecutor will receive a police report (a written description of the occurrence) from the arresting officer. The prosecutor can also request a copy of the squad car’s dash cam video (a video made at the scene of your police stop and arrest) and a copy of the police station video (a video of you while you were present in the police station being tested and processed). Once these items are reviewed it is still possible to upgrade your case from an underage consumption ticket to a full blown DUI. The best defense to this possibility is to have a qualified DUI defense attorney act on your behalf to minimize the arrest occurrence with the prosecutor to reduce or eliminate the possibility of a DUI upgrade.

Q. I’ve completed everything the court has ordered me to complete years ago. I’ve found it impossible to get to an AA meeting or any other meeting of the soft since I am in a rural town without much support. I have a one year old and a second son on the way which requires their father to take work off for appointments resulting in us loosing days of work we can’t afford. The only option I have is a one on one counseling service I am able to walk to, is this an option? I’m not sure if my words makes a difference, but I have been sober for 2 years now , back in school
and believe that my original evaluation misrepresented my relationship with alcohol.

This is for reinstating my license or obtaining my permit. My case has been closed years ago.

A. Unfortunately being incorrectly rated by the DUI evaluator is an all too common occurrence. The DUI evaluator relies on five things in coming up with a recommended treatment level. They are: A) objective testing of the client, (not a breath or blood test), but objective questions that are put before the client in writing in a test “format”, Q & A style; B) the arrest documents from the most current DUI; C) a review of the clients past driving record; D) an oral interview with the client; E) an interview with some other family member or friend to seek verification and corroboration of certain facts. Multiple DUI’s, high BAC’s, arrests for other crimes, the display of symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse and or dependency, the client’s attitude and the client’s level of acceptance or denial is all factored into the evaluator’s decision.

If your are correctly rated a Level 3 Dependent then attendance at A.A. or some other support group will be mandatory before any hearing officer will grant driving privileges. Participation in such a group shows that you have accepted your disease and are properly addressing it. It will also help convince a hearing officer that you are actively “in recovery” and not actively in “denial”. Acceptance is the biggest and most important step of recovery. Getting a sponsor, working the 12 steps, understanding your triggers for relapse and having a relapse prevention plan at the ready will have a great positive effect on getting your driving privileges reinstated in the least amount of time.

If you feel that you are incorrectly rated Level 3 Dependent, then I would contact a qualified DUI attorney who has concentrated in this area of practice and have them review your original DUI evaluation, any DUI evaluation updates, your DUI treatment documents, a current driving record and any past hearing denials. You may have to obtain a new evaluation. The new evaluation will have to identify any past misinformation that the previous DUI evaluator relied upon in determining their incorrect rating. The new evaluator will also have to justify any change in your status with a cross reference to the incorrect information and an explanation as to why it should not be relied upon coupled with their professional opinion that justifies a different treatment level. Then, since your treatment level has changed, you would need to attend and complete the correct level of treatment before participating in a hearing seeking driving privileges.


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