Articles Posted in Traffic

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Drink drivers who cause accidents face both criminal and civil liability for their actions. Furthermore, the Illinois Transportation Department will revoke that person’s driver’s license.

Sometimes, drunk driving accident victims can sue the business or entity that sold alcohol to the driver. To recover from the party that provided the alcohol, it is necessary to show that alcohol was knowingly given to a visibly intoxicated person.

For a free consultation with an experienced attorney from the Klest Injury Law Firm, please call 866-264-7639.

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Illinois law states that “[a] nonresident who has in his immediate possession a valid license issued to him in his home state or country may operate a motor vehicle for which he is licensed for the period during which he is in this State.” 625 ILCS 5/6-102(2). This means that a foreign national visiting Illinois, who is not a resident of the State, but has a valid driver’s license from his or her home country is allowed to drive in Illinois with that driver’s license.

If the non-resident’s license is in a language other than English, it will be helpful to have it translated so that in case the non-resident is pulled over, a police officer will be able to understand the license.

An acceptable translation is usually included in an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). An IDP is not an international driver’s license, which would not be valid in Illinois. Also, an IDP is not valid on its own. A valid foreign driver’s license is still necessary.

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Scott’s Law, also known as the “Move Over Law” requires Illinois motorists to yield and/or switch lanes upon approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights. The law further requires that if changing lanes is unsafe, the motorist must proceed ‘with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle, and maintain a safe speed for road conditions.’ The law was named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department who was struck and killed by a drunk driver after responding to a crash Chicago’s Dan Ryan expressway.

While the impetus for enacting Scott’s Law may have been justified, the penalties for violation of the law are exceedingly harsh. A conviction under Scott’s Law will result in a fine ranging from $100.00 to $10,000.00 and an automatic license suspension. That’s right, an automatic license suspension. At the outset it would appear that the law is not tailored to combat the harm to which it was intended as the situation that gave rise to Scott’s Law involved an intoxicated driver. Scott’s Law, on the other hand, is applicable to all drivers in the State of Illinois. Furthermore, the license suspension penalty is especially troubling considering the fact that a motorist is expected to make a snap judgment call in changing lanes on (often) busy Chicago expressways. In this way, the law may cause more harm than good as motorists that are aware of the law are likely to make unsafe lane changes in order to protect their driving privileges (and potentially their jobs).

If you have received a citation for violating Scott’s Law, you should contact an attorney immediately to investigate your citation and protect your driving privileges. The Klest Law Firm handles Scott’s Law tickets throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

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The purported public safety justification for the installation of red light cameras throughout the State of Illinois since 2006 has been put into question as a recent Chicago Tribune article reports that nearly half of the 14 suburban intersections which carry the devices have seen an increase in vehicle accidents. According to the newspaper, car accidents rose at 7 of the 14 equipped suburban Chicago intersections since 2007 while they fell at only 5. The other two intersections showed no significant change. The Mannheim and St. Charles road intersection in Bellwood, IL, provides an example of this trend. Collisions at this intersection rose from 17 the year before the cameras were installed to 24 the year after. Oak Lawn, IL, cameras provide an even more striking example of the development as the intersection at Cicero Ave. and 95th St. has seen an increase in car accidents from 34 in 2006 to 44 in 2008. Additionally, broadside accidents, which can often result in serious personal injury or death, rose from 1 to 5 per year at that location.

A similar trend has been noticed at city of Chicago intersections equipped with the red light camera devices. Numbers compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation show that collisions have either increased or held steady at nearly 60 percent of the 47 city intersections equipped with red light camera traffic control devices.

While lawmakers and municipal officials continue to justify the use of the cameras on public safety grounds, statistics coming from the equipped intersections are telling a different story. Critics of the cameras point to the fact that the devices are heavy revenue generators. Red light camera violations cost Chicago drivers $100 per offense. Opponents of the cameras can now point to increased Chicago car accidents as a justification for curtailing red light camera use.

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A new Chicago ordinance has been passed requiring the impounding of vehicles where the driver is ticketed for driving on a suspended or revoked license. This new law will affect Chicago drivers in the pocketbook too as violators will be forced to pay the city a $500 fine and a $165 towing fee in order to recover ticketed vehicles. The law, which is set to take effect on January 1st, is intended to act principally as a deterrent to driving on a revoked or suspended license. However the revenue generating capabilities of the new ordinance are obvious. According to sponsoring City of Chicago alderman Tom Allen, “You’re not going to eradicate the $22,000-plus cases of people getting pulled over for this…but if they have to pay $665 every time, it’s going to give them pause.”

Individuals that are ticketed for driving on a suspended or revoked license will face this new financial penalty in addition to the criminal charges. Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a Class A misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail and $2,500.00 in fines.

The City of Chicago’s crackdown on suspended and revoked drivers is indicative of a statewide trend in heightening criminal penalties for these violations. If you have been ticketed for driving on a suspended or revoked license, you should retain an attorney to investigate your case and protect your rights.

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A new Illinois law will make reading, writing, or sending text messages while driving illegal. The bill, which was signed into law in August, will amend the Illinois Vehicle Code rendering the use of mobile devices for texting a moving violation. The Illinois bill reportedly does not make exceptions for drivers that pull over or otherwise park to engage in text messaging. Illinois is now joining a host of other states with similar texting bans including Oregon, New Hampshire, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

The new law is set to take effect on January 1st of 2010 and comes on the heels of both local and national tragedies linking texting to fatal accidents. The state legislature was persuaded by a fatal September 2006 bicycle accident in which a distracted driver killed a texting bicycle rider. The bicyclist was a student at the University of Illinois. National coverage of incidents related to driving while texting has also spurred the Illinois bill. This September, a California commuter train engineer failed to yield to a stop signal causing a collision that killed 25 people. An investigation of the fatal incident determined that the driver was trading text messages with a friend when the accident occurred.

The new law is also backed by studies showing that texting while driving is more dangerous than talking on, reaching for, or listening to a mobile device. The texting ban is intended to deter Illinois motorists from sending or receiving text messages while driving. If you have any questions regarding the new Illinois law, or would like to speak to a Chicago area attorney, please call 847-969-9510.

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