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April 9, 2018

5 Things You Should Do When Facing a First Offense DUI

first offense DUIImagine this scene: you're having happy hour cocktails with friends from work, and the night is winding down. You're a little buzzed, but don't feel drunk. You know you should probably not drive, but home isn't far, so you decide to go for it.

You only get a few miles down the road when you see the police lights in your rearview mirror. The next thing you know, you're being booked at the local police station for a first offense DUI.

It only takes a few critical decisions to join the ranks of 1.5 million people who are arrested for drunk driving every year.

When getting a DUI, it's important to know what steps to take to ensure your rights are protected. Here are 5 steps you should take right away.

1. Stay Level Headed

If you get pulled over, it is crucial to keep your calm. While you probably won't be able to talk your way out of a first offense DUI, being rude to the officer certainly won't help your case.

Make sure to cooperate with the officer's requests and directions. Legally, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test and the field sobriety test. Keep in mind, however, that the officer may still decide to arrest you for a DUI charge.

Refusal of these tests may eliminate certain evidence against you.

2. Contact an Attorney

After you have been charged with a first offense DUI, you will probably have to make court appearances. This is where you will face sentencing, and could be charged with fines, probation, or even prison time.

You will have the option to represent yourself in court, but this is not necessarily a good idea. An attorney will better understand your unique circumstances and can navigate the legal process.

Also, you should make sure to contact an attorney who has experience with DUI cases. Just because your buddy went to law school does not mean that they know how to help you with a DUI. With the consequences that are at stake, it is crucial to be represented by someone who knows how to get the best outcome for you.

Depending on the incident that led to the DUI, the case could go on for a long time. For instance, if there was a collision that involved another vehicle or property, you could be sued for personal injury or property damage. If this happens, the case could drag on for several years.

3. Get Your Story Straight

If you are facing a case that could take several years to resolve, you should make sure to get your story straight as soon as possible. You will likely be asked to give statements and multiple depositions. If details change from one deposition to another, it can make your testimony look weak.

Write Things Down

Do you remember what you were doing three weeks ago tonight? Probably not off the top of your head. You would likely need to consult your calendar or people who were with you.

For this reason, you should never rely on your memory to help you keep your facts straight when it comes to legal issues. You may forget minor details that seem minor to you, but that opposing counsel can latch onto.

Write things down like where you were, who you were with, what you did, etc. This will help you ensure that you are telling the truth with consistency.

Talk to Witnesses

If there were witnesses the evening you were out or in the vehicle at the time of the DUI, make sure to speak with them as well. Their testimonies will also be important.

In the best case scenario, what they remember can help you. But even in the worst-case scenario, it's better to hear a testimony that will hurt your case before the fact.

Don't Overshare

Whenever you are dealing with legal issues, it is important to be circumspect about who you share details with. For example, your coworkers do not need to know everything about your case. You should also avoid discussing details in public places.

Additionally, be mindful of what you share on social media. Even something that seems harmless, like sharing photos of nights out with your friends, could hurt your case. For instance, if your pictures frequently have alcohol in it, opposing counsel could use that as evidence against you, perhaps imply that you're an alcoholic.

4. Understand the Consequences

As you get started with your case, it is important to know what kinds of consequences are at stake. Depending on the severity of the charge, you may face hefty fines or prison time.

In most cases, your license will be suspended for some length of time. You may also need to take an alcohol education or driver education course.

If you are mandated to do these things, you should always follow through. The more compliant you are, the more smoothly the process will go.

5. Talk to Your Insurance Company

Often, after a DUI, you will see your insurance rates go up. This is because insurance rates are based on how the insurance company evaluates the risk of having you as a client. If you are charged with a DUI, that will make you seem at higher risk of causing an accident.

Reach out to your insurance company to see what kind of rate increase you can expect. Also, find out if there is anything you can do to bring your rates back down. Sometimes a driver education course may help to lower your rates again.

Know What You Should Do After First Offense DUI

Even a first offense DUI can have serious consequences. But, if you know how to navigate the next steps, you can make sure that you get your life back on track.

Need help with your DUI offense? Contact us today to speak with one of our expert attorneys about your case for a free consultation.

 

March 28, 2018

The Latest on Pot Laws in Illinois

new laws for Illinois in 2016Here at O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet, we wanted to share a bit about the latest on pot laws in Illinois. With laws changing frequently state by state, it’s easy to be confused about what’s going on here in Illinois. So, to provide clarity, medical marijuana is legal and recreational marijuana is not – that includes growing and possession.

Legal and Not Legal

Cannabis, generally known as marijuana, is illegal to grow and possess. This includes the leaves and flowers. It also includes the following forms:

Hemp, which is the mature stalks of the cannabis plant, is legal. Hemp oil and hemp fiber are also legal.

Cannabis Possession

According to pot laws in Illinois, it is illegal to carry cannabis on your person, in your car, or in your home. Luckily, the state took steps to decriminalize cannabis in 2016. Now if you’re caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana, you will face a civil citation and fine of up to $200. Prior to the change in laws, it would’ve been a Class B misdemeanor that came with jail time of up to 6 months and fine maximums of $1,500.  However, more than 10 grams will subject to a criminal charge and large amounts of cannabis can result in felony charges.

It is also illegal to sell or deliver cannabis to another person. It is additionally illegal to carry cannabis with the intent to sell, deliver, or manufacture. Actual sales or production do not have to take place in order for the activity to result in a charge.

If you or someone you know is facing a criminal cannabis charge, please contact us here at O’Dekirk Allred & Associates in Joliet for a confidential consultation.

Civil Offenses

If you are charged with a civil offense, you will generally be fined in accordance with how many times you have been caught with marijuana before. Some areas have additional laws with respect to marijuana possession. You can be fined at both a state and local level. Additionally, some local areas will fine you for possessing what is considered to be a personal amount (10 grams or less).

Paraphernalia

The various tools used to grow, produce, process, distribute, measure, or ingest marijuana are also illegal in Illinois. The pot laws in Illinois state that paraphernalia can include digital scales, grinders, zipper bags, smoking masks, bongs, pipes, products used to pass a drug test, and containers used for hiding or storing marijuana. Additional information is taken into account when determining whether an object is paraphernalia, including whether cannabis was present or near the object and whether the object can actually be used to ingest marijuana.

DUI

Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal. If you are under the influence and have more than 5 nanograms of THC in your system, you can be charged with a DUI.

The latest on pot laws in Illinois may be more lenient but can still result in serious criminal charges. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges related to cannabis, contact us here at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet for help with drug offenses.

March 18, 2018

Is a DUI a Felony in Illinois?

Is a DUI a felony in Illinois? In our state, most DUIs are a misdemeanor. Today,  O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet shares a bit about DUIs so you understand what happens if you are facing such charges. You’re also welcome to contact our attorneys to discuss your case and determine if our knowledgeable legal team can help protect your rights.

If you are pulled over and have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, you could be charged with a DUI. Though most DUIs are classified as Class A misdemeanors and come with a maximum of one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2500, there are instances where a DUI may be a felony.

When is a DUI a Felony in Illinois?

The first time you are convicted of a DUI, it is considered a misdemeanor. The second DUI conviction within 20 years is still considered a misdemeanor, but it carries tough penalties that include a 5-year loss of full driving privileges, 5 days in jail or 240 hours of community service, along with additional possible jail time and a maximum fine of $2,500. A third DUI becomes a Class 2 felony.

Class 2 Felony

There are a few additional instances in which a DUI becomes a Class 2 Felony:

If you are facing a DUI charge and need a defense attorney, contact us at O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet. We have lawyers who can help you face this difficult legal challenge.

Class 4 Felony

There are instances when an Aggravated DUI is considered a Class 4 felony. Class 4 felonies can carry a sentence of up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Here are some of the instances in which state law allows for charging someone with a Class 4 felony:

There are additional instances where a driver can be charged with a Class 4 felony as well as times where higher-class felony charges are permitted. Higher-class felony charges include longer sentences and severe long-term penalties.

Is a DUI a felony in Illinois? It absolutely can be – and come with harsh penalties. If you or someone you know is facing a possible felony conviction for a DUI, contact us at O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet for a consultation to determine your best course of action.

February 28, 2018

What Are Some of the New Illinois Laws for 2018

new laws for Illinois in 2016If you’ve been wondering about the new Illinois laws for 2018, our legal experts at O’Dekirk, Allred, & Associates in Joliet would like to share a few highlights. More than 200 new laws took effect on January 1, 2018. This may or may not affect a legal issue you’re involved with, so if anything we discuss applies to your situation, please get in touch to learn more.

Tough on Crime

In a move to support Chicago’s effort to reduce gun violence, one of the new laws will increase sentences for those who commit repeated gun crimes. Instead of being sentenced to three to 14 years in prison, the sentences will be seven to 14 years. Judges who depart from this guideline will be required to explain why.

Supporters of the new law feel that the tougher penalties will be a deterrent while critics indicate there is little evidence that longer sentences are effective. Those opposed to the law are also concerned that tougher sentences will lead to additional arrests of African-American and Latino men while having no effect on gun-traffickers.

Both sides of the aisle supported the new law because the law also included a number of provisions intended to assist with reducing the overall prison population. Lawmakers who supported the bill felt that repeat gun offenders present enough of a danger that the new sentence lengths make sense.

If you are in need of a lawyer for your criminal case, contact O’Dekirk, Allred, & Associates in Joliet. Our attorneys and staff are committed to working relentlessly on your behalf.

Hate Crimes and Sentencing

Another of the new Illinois laws for 2018 expands hate crimes to include those crimes that are committed at mosques, synagogues, churches, and other places of worship. This change was passed in response to an increase in racist graffiti and vandalism at religious spaces all over Illinois. Cyberstalking, stalking, and sending obscene messages can all also be considered hate crimes because technology has increasingly been used in these attacks.

Other changes to criminal laws included removing what has been referred to as the “gay panic” defense in murder trials and sentencing. Defendants can no longer excuse violence by indicating the crime was an act of passion upon discovering a victim was gay. Also, sexual orientation can no longer be a provocation in second-degree murder trials and sentencing.

Policing for Profit

Our state’s civil forfeiture laws are now different base on the new Illinois laws for 2018. Previously, police and prosecutors could take money, vehicles, land, and other property from suspects. The items were often auctioned off, which led to this practice being called “policing for profit” because the proceeds of the auctions funded both police and prosecutor’s offices.

Changes to the forfeiture laws now make it easier for property owners to have their case adjudicated. Additionally, the burden of proof has now shifted to officials and the threshold has been changed from probable cause to now being a preponderance of the evidence.

Organ Donors

The new Illinois laws for 2018 state that 16 and 17-year-olds are now allowed to sign up to be organ and tissue donors at the time they receive their driver’s license. However, parents and guardians can keep them off the official registry until a teen’s 18th birthday. Advocates are hoping that allowing teens to sign up earlier will prompt conversations to help parents agree to allow their teen to be a donor.

Birth Certificate Changes

Laws for transgendered people have been eased. It will now be easier for a transgendered person to change their sex designation on their birth certificates. In the past, the change could only be done if a doctor confirmed that the individual had transition surgery. Now, the law allows for a medical or mental health professional to indicate that someone has had “clinically appropriate” treatment which will allow a wider range of transition practices, such as hormone therapy, to be sufficient for a birth certificate change.

In an entirely different arena, birth certificates will now be provided free of charge to those individuals who leave state prison. This is part of an effort to make it easier for convicts to go on to lead more productive lives. This change is meant to allow them to get jobs, find housing, enroll in school, and receive medical and mental health assistance more easily.

Health Care

In response to potential federal health care changes, laws in Illinois now bar health insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. The laws also now make it illegal for employers to penalize employees who don’t want to participate in wellness programs or disclose genetic information.

Consumer Protections

There are a number of consumer protections that are effective this year. Here are a few that are now in force:

 Schools

Preschool and early childhood education programs are now prohibited from expelling students unless there are safety concerns for other children. Schools must instead find services and programs to help them resolve those issues presenting a problem. Additionally, public schools must now provide a space for breastfeeding and offer feminine hygiene products in an effort to help increase school attendance rates.

What are some of the new Illinois laws for 2018? These are just a few of them and there are over 200. If you need a lawyer to help you navigate some of these new laws, contact us here at O’Dekirk, Allred, & Associates in Joliet. We have a number of lawyers that specialize in various areas and we will use our extensive experience to help you.

January 16, 2018

Spousal Maintenance Changes for 2018

Spousal Maintenance Changes for 2018 O'Dekirk, Allred & Associates IllinoisIf you weren’t aware, there are spousal maintenance changes for 2018 that our legal team at O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet want to share with you. Changes to alimony (known as maintenance in Illinois law) became effective on January 1, 2018, so it may be important to know about these changes if you are in the middle of divorce proceedings, plan to file for divorce this year, or are looking to have an existing spousal maintenance decision adjusted.

Definition of Maintenance

In Illinois, maintenance is the court ordered financial support that is paid by one spouse to another as a part of their divorce settlement. Under the new guidelines the term “permanent maintenance” is now “indefinite maintenance” which is used to describe maintenance payments that do not have a specific expiration date. Unless the divorce specifies otherwise, indefinite maintenance continues until one spouse dies, the receiving spouse remarries, or the receiving spouse cohabitates on a continual conjugal basis.

If there is a substantial change in circumstances, spousal maintenance may be modified. However, there are divorce settlements that have explicitly non-modifiable maintenance and such maintenance cannot be adjusted no matter the circumstances.

Raised Application Amount

Under the original 2015 law, statutory maintenance guidelines were applied when the gross combined income per year was less than $250,000. This was a guideline and the Illinois courts took other circumstances into consideration, such as the total length of the marriage, ages of the spouses, and differences in assets and income. Other factors were also considered, including physical and emotional problems. These will all continue under the 2018 changes.

According to the spousal maintenance changes for 2018, the threshold for the maintenance guidelines will be raised to a combined gross income per year of $500,000 or less. This means that more couples will be subject to the statutory guidelines. For those couples whose combined income exceeds this amount, they are not necessarily subject to the guidelines, though they could still be used. Additionally, the courts can still deviate from the guidelines for those couples who should be subject, but the court will need to provide a solid rationale for doing so.

If you need the spousal maintenance changes for 2018 explained further, please contact us here at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet. We can help you with your divorce and help you determine how these new rules will affect you.

Changes to Duration of Payments

The most substantial change in the Illinois law is with respect to the calculation of the duration of the maintenance payments. In 2015, the duration of payments was decided using a basic calculation. To determine the length of the payments, the following formulas were used:

Under the spousal maintenance changes for 2018, the length of time will usually be less than it was under the old law. People married less than 5 years are subject to the same percentage as are those who happen to divorce at the end of the cutoff of the previous benchmarks (years 9, 14, and 19). Those people who stayed married for 20 years or more are also subject to the same rule as before though the wording used is different. Everyone else will find that the duration of their payments will be less than it would have been under the old law. Under the new law, the duration is calculated using the following breakdown:

Already Divorced?

The spousal maintenance changes for 2018 does not mean that couples that are already divorced can use the new rules to renegotiate the length of their existing maintenance. There must be a substantial change in circumstances for maintenance to be modified or terminated.

Unchanged Elements

Some elements of the Illinois law are unchanged. It is still the case that all spouses are not entitled to maintenance. One spouse must have a demonstrated need and the other must have an ability to pay. Additionally, Illinois is still gender-neutral when it comes to awarding maintenance. Husbands can be awarded maintenance much like wives can.

The determination of the spousal maintenance amount is still made using the same formula and takes into consideration the economic lifestyle of the couple. Additionally, if a spouse waives maintenance, the waiver is still forever binding.

If you may be affected by the spousal maintenance changes for 2018 and need a lawyer for your divorce case, contact us here at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet for your free consultation. We can discuss everything with you and help determine how these new changes may change the maintenance outcomes of your divorce.


Blogs and articles by O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC are for educational purposes only and to give you a general understanding of the law, not to provide any legal advice or be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed, professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction. The information presented may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. These materials may be changed, improved, or updated without notice. O'Dekirk, Allred and Associates, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the content of this site or for damages arising from the use or performance of this site under any circumstances.

 

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