Illinois Traffic Lawyer
We are all expected to protect each other on the road by being responsible drivers. Failure to uphold these responsibilities can result in traffic tickets, fines, jail time, and a revocation of your driving privileges. Even worse, some traffic violations can result in major personal injury or wrongful death for other drivers on the roads. If you’re facing criminal and traffic-related charges, you need strong legal representation from the Law Offices of Richard Kopsick in Waukegan, IL.
Our Illinois traffic lawyers have years of experience in handling all kinds of traffic cases, including DUI defense. For more information on how we can defend you, call an Illinois traffic lawyer today at 847-623-8700.
Common Traffic Violations
A variety of irresponsible driving behaviors can result in traffic tickets or traffic violations. Possibly the most notable traffic violation out there is speeding, which naturally results in speeding tickets if someone is caught. Of course, there are many other ways to get hit with traffic tickets.
Most tickets are considered infractions, or minor offenses, but some can result in misdemeanor or felony cases. Here are some of the more common traffic violations we see as criminal defense lawyers in Lake County:
- Hit and Run: When you get into a car accident, you are expected to stay on the scene until a police officer arrives. Hitting someone and then immediately leaving the scene can result in fines and jail time.
- Reckless or Distracted Driving: Distracted driving accidents have been on the rise for the last couple of decades, mostly due to cell phone use. In fact, most states have implemented laws that strictly prohibit texting and driving because of how many lives have senselessly been lost. Driving recklessly often entails driving with complete disregard for other people’s safety and is also another major safety concern.
- Driving Without a Driver’s License: It’s illegal to drive without a driver’s license in all 50 states.
- Running a Red Light or Stop Sign: This is incredibly dangerous and can result in T-bone accidents and major, often catastrophic injuries.
- Unsafe Lane Changes: This usually occurs when a driver weaves in and out of their lane or completely changes lanes without checking their mirrors for safety. Traffic offenses like this can also result in serious car accidents and major injuries.
- Not Stopping for a School Bus: Failure to stop for a school bus may appear on your Illinois driving record forever.
- DUI: Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the most serious traffic offenses that someone can commit. DUI penalties vary across the nation, but generally, a driver can expect more than just a traffic citation for this crime.
Illinois Traffic Ticket Penalties
The consequences for Illinois traffic tickets vary depending on your driving record, the traffic offense, and whether or not your offense resulted in the death of another person.
The highest speed limit in Illinois is 70 miles per hour on highways. Meanwhile, the lowest speed limit is 20 miles per hour in school zones. Obviously, if you violate the speed limit, you may receive a speeding ticket and the consequences that come with it.
- 1 to 20 MPH over the speed limit generally results in a $120 fine in Illinois.
- 21 to 25 MPH over the speed limit may result in a $140 fine.
- 26 to 34 MPH over the speed limit may result in a Class B misdemeanor. With this type of charge, you could possibly spend up to 6 months in jail and pay $2,500 in fines.
- 35 MPH or more over the speed limit may result in a Class A misdemeanor. With this type of charge, you could possibly spend up to one year in jail and pay $2,500 in fines.
Hit and Run
Consequences for hit and run traffic violations depend on whether injuries, death, or property damage occurred.
- Crashing into an empty car in a parking lot, for example, can result in a Class A misdemeanor.
- Hit and run accidents that only cause property damage can also result in a Class A misdemeanor.
- If a hit-and-run accident causes an injury, you could face a Class 4 felony. With this charge, a driver could face three years of jail time, a maximum fine of $25,000, and a license suspension. If you don’t report the car accident to a law enforcement officer, your criminal charges will be bumped up to a Class 2 felony. With this conviction, you could face 3-7 years behind bars, a maximum fine of $25,000, and a license suspension.
- A hit and run accident that causes one or more deaths will result in a Class 4 felony. However, if you fail to contact the police about the accident, your charge will be upgraded to a Class 1 felony. With this conviction, you could face 4-15 years behind bars, a maximum fine of $25,000, and a suspended driver’s license.
Reckless or Distracted Driving
The consequences for reckless or distracted driving depend on if anyone was injured and the extent of the injuries. If no one was injured, the driver can expect a Class A misdemeanor charge, up to one year behind bars, and maximum fines of $2,500. If someone was injured due to driving recklessly, the driver could face major criminal charges.
- If a child or a crossing guard sustained minor injuries, the driver in question will likely face a Class 4 felony in Illinois.
- If a driver causes major bodily harm or even permanent disability to anyone, they will likely receive an aggravated reckless driving charge, which is also a Class 4 felony.
- If a child or a crossing guard sustains serious injuries, the driver will likely face an aggravated reckless driving charge and a Class 3 felony. Consequences for this charge are two to five years behind bars, a maximum fine of $25,000, and a maximum probation period of 30 months.
- If driving recklessly results in one or more deaths, the driver may receive a reckless homicide charge under Illinois criminal law. This conviction can result in a Class 2 or a Class 3 felony, depending on the facts of your case.
Driving Without a License
Illinois traffic law dictates that unlicensed driving will result in a Class B misdemeanor.
Running a Red Light or a Stop Sign
If a driver runs a red light or a stop sign and doesn’t injure or kill anyone while doing so, they will likely have to pay a $120 fine. Additionally, the driver may find 20 demerit points on their Illinois driving record. But if a driver runs a red light or a stop sign and injures or kills someone in the process, they may receive a reckless driving conviction under IL traffic law.
Unsafe Lane Changes
According to Illinois law, drivers who make improper or unsafe lane changes must pay a minimum fine of $150 for their first offense and a minimum fine of $300 for all subsequent traffic violations. If unsafe lane changes lead to injuries or death, drivers may earn felony charges.
Failure to Stop for a School Bus
The fines for this traffic violation used to be the same as the fines for traffic violations such as unsafe lane changes. However, Illinois lawmakers recently upgraded the consequences in 2020. According to the Illinois Vehicle Code at 625 ILCS 5/11-1414, a first offense of not stopping for a school bus will result in a $300 fine, and all subsequent offenses will result in a $1,000 fine. Additionally, failing to stop for a school bus more than once will result in a revoked license for at least a year.
First Offense: A driver can spend up to one year in prison or up to 6 months in prison if they had a passenger under the age of 16. If the driver’s BAC was higher than .16%, they may be required to complete 100 hours of community service. The minimum fine is $500 and the maximum fine is $2,500. Lastly, the driver’s license would be revoked for one year or two years if they’re under the legal drinking age.
Second Offense: A driver can spend up to 1-7 years in jail for a second DUI conviction. They could also pay $1,250 to $25,000 in fines depending on their BAC and if they had a passenger under the age of 16 inside the car. Lastly, drivers with a second DUI conviction will suffer a license revocation of 5 years.
Third Offense: A driver can spend up to 7 years in jail and pay a maximum fine of $25,000 for a third DUI conviction. Additionally, they will suffer a license revocation of 10 years.
Clearly, an Illinois driver can suffer serious criminal consequences for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, these consequences may be further elevated if their BAC was higher than .16%, they had a passenger who was under the age of 16 in the car, or if they have more than one DUI conviction on their record.
When is Court Appearance Necessary for Traffic Violations?
Some IL traffic violations require a court appearance, and some don’t. Basically, if you committed a petty offense that can be resolved with a small fine – such as speeding, lane change violations, or running a stop sign – you don’t have to appear in court. Instead, you can:
- Pay the fine, plead guilty, and receive a petty offense conviction on your driving record
- Pay the fine, plead guilty, and go to a traffic safety school
- Request a supervision order and plead guilty
If you don’t do any of those things for Lake County traffic tickets, then you must plead not guilty and then schedule a court date. Meanwhile, more serious traffic violations such as driving recklessly, driving under the influence, hit and runs, driving without a license, etc. will likely require a court appearance. If that’s the case, you need to hire a Waukegan traffic ticket attorney to defend you. The Law Offices of Richard Kopsick has extensive experience in handling traffic violations of all kinds and makes sure that you receive the best possible outcome in court.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Traffic Court?
For serious traffic violations that resulted in injuries, death, or property damage, equipping a strong traffic ticket defense lawyer is always a good idea. Even if you decide that you want to fight a minor traffic ticket, an attorney can also help you do that, too. One of the benefits of hiring a traffic ticket attorney is that you may not have to appear in court at all. In other words, your attorney will appear in court for you. At the end of the day, the decision to hire a Lake County traffic ticket attorney generally depends on the severity of the traffic violation.
How To Fight a Traffic Ticket
The first step in fighting IL traffic tickets is to hire a strong traffic ticket defense attorney. After that, you can utilize the strategies listed below for your best chance at successfully fighting a ticket.
Show Up in Court
The best thing you can do is to show up in court with your traffic defense attorney. Generally, the policeman who wrote your ticket will be there too. But if the officer doesn’t show up, the court has no choice but to give you the win and dismiss the ticket entirely.
Challenge the Officer’s Opinion
Officers will generally write traffic tickets for driving behaviors that aren’t “reasonable and prudent.” For example, Illinois has a basic speed law that outlaws driving at a speed that is “greater than is reasonable and proper with regard to traffic conditions and use of the highway.” So even if you were speeding, you could claim that your speed was still reasonable and prudent given the state of the traffic, the weather, etc. Your goal with this strategy is basically to cast significant doubt on the officer’s opinion.
Challenge the Officer’s Observations
This strategy would only work in your favor if there’s no picture or video evidence that clearly shows you committing a traffic violation. For example, if an officer wrote you a ticket for running a stop sign, and the act wasn’t caught on camera, the only evidence linking you to this violation is the officer’s observations. You could claim that the officer was simply too far away to see you running a stop sign. Or you could argue that the officer couldn’t see this traffic violation happening anyway because there’s a tree blocking that intersection. It’s best to have pictures or diagrams of the scene in order for this strategy to work in your favor.
Mistake of Fact
Mistakes happen, even on the roads. If you can say or prove that you made a reasonable mistake, a judge may conclude that you made a “mistake of fact” and dismiss your ticket altogether. For example, this strategy may work well if you couldn’t see the speed limit sign or a stop sign because a tree or a bush was in the way. So how would you know what the speed limit was or that there was supposed to be a stop sign? Judges will generally provide leeway for traffic violations like these.
Necessary Violation to Protect Yourself or Someone Else
If you truly needed to commit a traffic violation in order to protect yourself or someone else, it’s important to bring this up in court. Judges may dismiss traffic offenses caused by emergencies that the driver didn’t create. For example, maybe you had to run some stop signs or red lights in order to get to the hospital because you had a seriously injured child in the car.
Possible Outcomes for IL Traffic Ticket Cases
If you hire an experienced Illinois traffic ticket attorney, you will have more case outcomes than just pleading guilty (and therefore paying a fine) or pleading not guilty and going to court. Traffic lawyers at our law firm can study the facts of your case and fight for you to receive other case outcomes such as:
- Dismissing your traffic ticket altogether
- Changing the charge to a less serious offense
- Reducing your fine
- Allowing court supervision
- Shortening a court supervision time
- Allowing you to go to traffic safety school instead of paying a fine
- Allowing you to complete community service hours instead of paying a fine
Call the Waukegan Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Law Offices of Richard S. Kopsick Today
Regardless of how incriminating the case is against you or how dire your situation seems to be, Richard S. Kopsick and his team of skilled Waukegan criminal defense lawyers will work tirelessly to preserve your rights. Kopsick employ’s his vast knowledge and legal resources to lessen your charges or otherwise achieve the best possible result at all times. To get in touch with our top Lake County criminal attorney at The Law Offices of Richard S. Kopsick, call 847-623-8700 today.