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What Are Illinois DUI Tests Such as the One Leg Stand?

Posted on Friday, 08 March 2019 in DUI

Wheaton field sobriety test defense lawyerThe One Leg Stand (OLS) test is a standardized field sobriety test that is administered to detect impairment when a police officer suspects a driver of DUI. The test comes out of studies under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There are four possible clues the officer will look for: did the suspect (1) sway, (2) put his foot down, (3) use his arms to balance, and/or (4) hop. Any one of these clues, when combined with the Walk and Turn test, indicates impairment.

OLS is another "divided attention" test. These tests are used to see if you can do two things at once. For example, are you able to keep your balance while listening to instructions? Are you able to remember instructions after concentrating on your balance? Studies have shown people have a hard time doing two things at the same time while under the influence. 

The test itself appears simple. You are basically lifting your leg for 30 seconds. But do not be fooled; the test is designed to make you look bad.

First, the officer must determine whether you have medical issues that would prevent you from doing the test. Then, the officer must look for any debris and make sure you are on a flat surface.

The officer will then have you stand in a position with your feet together and your arms at your side. At this point, you are focusing on your balance while the officer gives you the instructions. He will also demonstrate how you are supposed to stand--again, forcing you to do two things at once--asking you to balance and watch his instructions.

After that, the officer will instruct you as follows: "When I tell you, raise one leg about six inches off the ground and hold that position. At the same time, count rapidly from 1,001 to 1,030 while watching your foot." He will demonstrate this as well.

The officer is required to ensure you understand his instructions. Then, he will tell you to start. While you are counting 1,001, 1,002, etc., the officer is counting as well. The officer is also counting to himself. At 30 seconds, he will tell you to stop.

It is important to remember that this test is not 100% accurate. Even if completed under ideal conditions, the OLS test is only about 65% accurate. This means that even if you do the test completely accurately, there is still a 35% chance you are impaired. It also means that 1/3 of those who take the test and fail are sober.

Attacking the OLS test is just one step in fighting a DUI case. A competent and knowledgeable DuPage County DUI attorney will know how to challenge this evidence in court. Most officers administer the test incorrectly, making the results unreliable in court. Call Ramsell & Kunowski, L.L.C. now at 630-665-8780 for a free consultation of your case where we can discuss the test and how it applies to your case.

Naperville DUI defense lawyer field sobriety testsIf you are stopped by a police officer on suspicion of DUI, they may ask you to take a number of field sobriety tests. While you have the right to decline field sobriety tests, many motorists perform them because they mistakenly feel they can perform them well, or they take them because they equally mistakenly believe that they cannot refuse them and must perform them simply because the officer or officers asked. One of these standard tests is the “Step, Walk and Turn.”

This test should not be given to persons 65 years of age or older or persons with back, leg, or middle ear problems, and anyone with heels greater than two inches should be offered the opportunity to take the test without shoes with high heels. Please understand this is not gender specific and applies equally to ladies with high heels ready for a night on the town surely as it does to a man with high heeled cowboy boots or ropers.

The test should be performed on a reasonably dry, hard, level, and non-slippery surface. 

The test begins in part with the instruction stage, where the officer explains that the test starts with placing the left foot in front of the right on a straight line. The test taker must show that he understands what is expected of him.

The test next proceeds in part to an actual demonstration of the heel-toe walking along the line by the officer.

Next, the test taker actually begins the test when told, and the officer scores his performance. 

If you have been arrested for drunk driving after taking a field sobriety test, you should immediately contact our DuPage County DUI defense lawyers.

DuPage County DUI lawyer field sobriety testThe Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test is an eye test done by a police officer on someone suspected of DUI. Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eye. A federal government agency called the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed the rules and procedures for “standardized” field sobriety testing. The HGN Test is typically the first standardized field sobriety test given by a police officer to someone suspected of a DUI.

Before beginning the test, police officers will look for several things to see if the test can even be performed. A police officer will first give instructions to a person to follow a stimulus (pen, finger, small light) with their eyes and to not move their head. The first thing police officers check for is equal tracking. Equal tracking means both eyes move the same direction together. Next, the officer will see if the person’s pupil sizes are the same.

Police officers are looking for three “clues” in each of your eyes during the HGN test, for a total of six possible “clues”. The first set of clues relate to “the lack of smooth pursuit.” The lack of smooth pursuit can be best compared to having the windshield wipers on for a car when it is not raining. As the windshield wipers will sort of skid and bounce, the person’s eyes may do the same if there is a “lack of smooth pursuit.” The second set of clues relate to distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation. For distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation, the police officer will place the stimulus all the way to one side of someone’s face so that there is no space in between the eyeball and white of their eye. When someone has consumed alcohol, the eyes will bounce in this maximum range looking off to the side when the police officer has kept their stimulus in one place for four or more seconds. The last set of clues relate to “onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees.”  Onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees involves the officer moving the stimulus slowly to see if the person’s eyes start bouncing before an imaginary 45 degree angle is finished.

The standards set forth by NHTSA MUST be followed when an officer performs the HGN test, or it may be inadmissible in court. For evidence purposes in Illinois, the government can only argue that a “failure” of the HGN test means that someone may have consumed alcohol. This is a result from a successful appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court handled by our office!

There are other possible causes of “nystagmus” or even clues appearing on the HGN test. Contact a knowledgeable Wheaton DUI defense attorney today to discuss the ins and outs of the HGN test!

What Can I Expect When Arrested For My 6th DUI?

Posted on Friday, 01 March 2019 in DUI

Wheaton 6th DUI lawyerIf you are arrested for DUI in Illinois for the 6th time in your life, you can expect to face serious criminal consequences, including:

DUI #6 is a Class X Felony, punishable by:

  • 6-30 years in prison served at 85% of the sentence imposed
  • Probation or conditional discharge may not be imposed
  • A $1,000 DUI Technology Fee
  • A $50 Roadside Memorial Fund Fee
  • Fines of up to $25,000
  • DASA Counseling and Victim Impact Panel
  • If your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was at least .16, the mandatory minimum fine is $5,000
  • If you had a child passenger under the age of 16 in your care, the mandatory minimum fine is $25,000 AND you must serve a mandatory 25 days of community service in a program that benefits children
  • If Great Bodily Harm, disfigurement, or disability occurred, DUI is still a Class X Felony, and it can be punished by at least 480 hours of community service up to 1-12 years in prison, and you will be required to serve at least 85% of the sentence
  • Driver’s License Revocation upon the Clerk of the Court sending notice of the Conviction to the Secretary of State.

A skilled DUI attorney can help you understand your options for avoiding some or all of these consequences!

In Illinois, every DUI case has two parts. First, a driver will face a Statutory Summary Suspension. This is a driver’s license suspension that is required by the Implied Consent Law in Illinois and by the Illinois Secretary of State. The Implied Consent Law states that a person who drives on a public road in Illinois has already provided consent to perform chemical testing if they are arrested based on the suspicion that they were driving while intoxicated. Typically, this chemical test performed at a police station using a breathalyzer, but in some cases, a person's urine and/or blood will be tested.

Drivers who have not been subject to a Statutory Summary Suspension within the previous five years and were not arrested for DUI during this period will be considered a "First Offender" by the Secretary of State, although this will ONLY apply to the first part of the DUI case. A“First Offender” is eligible to receive a restricted driving permit that will allow them to drive during the period of their Statutory Summary Suspension. Under this type of permit, a driver must have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle. This device functions as a breathalyzer, and drivers will need to perform a breath test before starting the vehicle, and they will also be required to blow into the device approximately every 15 minutes in order to continue operating their car. When using an IID, there will be no restrictions on when or where a driver is allowed to drive.

If, following a DUI arrest, a chemical test shows a BAC of at least .08 OR if any amount of a controlled substance is present is a driver's urine or blood OR if tests show that a driver has at least 5 nanograms of delta 9 THC in their blood or 10 nanograms of delta 9 THC in another bodily substance, the Statutory Summary Suspension will last six months IF the driver is a “First Offender”. A driver who refuses to submit to chemical testing will have their license suspended for 12 months. For a driver who is NOT a “First Offender,” a chemical test showing a BAC of .08 OR any amount of a controlled substance in the driver's urine or blood OR  results that show a driver has at least 5 nanograms of delta 9 THC in their blood or 10 nanograms of delta 9 THC in another bodily substance, the Statutory Summary Suspension will last for 12 months, and the driver will not be eligible for a restricted driving permit. A driver who is NOT a "First Offender" who refuses to submit to chemical testing will face a three year driver’s license suspension, and they will not be eligible for a restricted driving permit.

A driver may challenge a Statutory Summary Suspension in a hearing before a judge. While it is tied to the criminal DUI case, this hearing is a civil law proceeding, and it provides a driver with a number of options to avoid having their license suspended. With the help of an experienced DUI defense lawyer, you can challenge the suspension of your driver’s license and work to retain rights to drive without having any restrictions placed on you.

In Illinois, the second part of a DUI case is the prosecution of criminal charges. A 6th DUI in your life is INCREDIBLY serious, whether any past DUI cases took place within Illinois or in a different state. The prosecutor must show that you are guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and in a jury trial, your case will be argued before a jury of 6 or 12 people selected from your community. If you waive your right to a jury trial, you can have a bench trial in which a judge will hear your case and make the decisions about whether the prosecutor has met the burden of proof to demonstrate that you are guilty of each and every aspect of the DUI charge. For a 6th DUI, the judge who hears the criminal case will be the same judge who heard the first part of your case. 

The prosecutor is required to disclose all of the evidence which they plan to use to demonstrate your guilt. This disclosure is known as discovery, and both the prosecution and defense will be able to review all evidence before the trial, with no surprises. The process of discovery can take a great deal of time, but it is important for your DUI defense attorney to review every piece of evidence to determine your options for defense. This is especially important in a 6th DUI case, since the stakes are incredibly high!

If you are have been arrested for a 6th DUI in Illinois, you ABSOLUTELY should not attempt to go to court by yourself! Contact an experienced Wheaton DUI attorney to protect your rights and help you determine the defense strategy that will get you the best possible results!

What Are My Options When Facing a 5th DUI?

Posted on Wednesday, 27 February 2019 in DUI

Wheaton felony DUI attorneyThere are many ways to fight a 5th DUI. At this stage, the facts are much more favorable for the defendant. I say this because most offenders have learned NOT to consent to testing, or they have minimized the evidence the police may have. This already puts you at a legal advantage. So it is now more important than ever to get a good criminal defense lawyer who handles felony DUIs.

There are always two sides to every DUI – a civil and criminal side. While the civil portion stays relatively the same as a second offense, the criminal portion now becomes much more serious, as you are facing mandatory prison time.

First, it is important to note that it does not matter how old your prior DUIs are. The state of Illinois looks back over your entire lifetime. So, for example, if your last four DUIs were in the 80s and even from another state, Illinois counts them the same as if they happened just five years ago and took place in Illinois.

You are now facing a Class 1 felony. This is one of the highest and most serious of felonies in Illinois. If found guilty, you will go to prison, at minimum, for four years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The maximum, depending on your criminal history, is 15 years. You will be required to do at least 50% of those years (meaning if you get 10 years, you will serve at least 5 actual years).

A fifth DUI is also non-probationable. That means the judge MUST sentence you to prison. He cannot, no matter how rehabilitated you are, give you probation. This is unfortunate for someone who might have had a difficult past and, except for this recent mistake, lived a law-abiding life.

If you are found guilty, a felony conviction will be entered, and your driver’s license will be revoked. You will, if given the opportunity, likely have a BAIID installed on your car for the remainder of your life. However, it will take many years to even get to the point where you will be able to drive again. A fifth DUI is also expensive. The range of fines is anywhere between $1,000 and $25,000.

There are options. There are many defenses. Police officers make mistakes. As a result, prosecutors, if convinced, will sometime reduce charges. Please do not wait, and contact the DuPage County DUI defense lawyers at Ramsell & Kunowski, L.L.C. immediately to get started. Since a 5th DUI can result in severe penalties, you will probably have to fight it tooth and nail. Every little detail matters. Being found guilty of this type of offense is life-ruining, so do not delay in contacting an experienced attorney.

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