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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

speeding, work zone, Illinois criminal defense attorneyAlong with the warm weather comes road construction. Whether it is a road requiring repair from the ravages of winter weather, or the expansion of an existing roadway, Illinois drivers can count on seeing the orange cones all over the state during the spring, summer, and fall months. They can also count on severe penalties for ignoring the state’s rules for driving in road construction zones.

Under Illinois law, a road construction zone requiring decreasing the posted speed limit is one in which either the Department of Transportation, Toll Highway Authority, or other local agency has posted signs which alert drivers that they are approaching a maintenance or construction speed zone. Such a zone also includes areas in which one of the aforementioned agencies has posted signs stating that the established posted speed limit is not safe or reasonable due to current or expected conditions in the area.

However, in order to be in compliance with the law, the signage which posting agencies use must fall within the guideline of the statute. The sign must be of an approved design and must clearly state that the driver is approaching a road construction area. The signage must also indicate what the maximum speed limit allowed in the road construction area is, as well as what the minimum fine could be for failing to comply.

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traffic violations, DUI, speeding, Illinois Defense LawyerMost drivers understand that violating traffic laws can result in citations from law enforcement, the consequences of which typically include monetary penalties and potential suspension of driving privileges. More serious offenses, such as driving under the influence, may even result in probation or prison sentences. What many may not consider, however, is that the conviction of a single traffic violation can be enough to significantly increase auto insurance rates, which can cost a driver thousands of dollars in additional premiums.

Online auto insurance marketplace insuranceQuotes.com recently released the results of study that looked at the impact moving violations can have on insurance rates across the country. The research calculated both national and state average increases for 17 of the most common traffic violations and in doing so, demonstrated the differences in auto insurance regulations among various states.

National Trends

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cell phone, traffic violations, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyOn a typical morning commute, a quick look around will reveal that people multitask behind the wheel in some pretty interesting ways. Some are eating breakfast; others could be scanning a newspaper, while still others may be shaving or putting on make-up.  Of course, among the most common sights are drivers talking on mobile phones or texting while driving.

In January, the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety released its annual report examining various factors affecting safe driving. The report represents a comprehensive survey conducted by the research group GfK, exclusively for the AAA Foundation. In preparing the 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index, researchers reviewed a wide range of safety concerns including running red lights, speeding, accident rates, and distracted driving.

For the purposes of the survey, distracted driving included the use of cell phones, both hand-held and hands-free, as well the use of mobile devices to send emails or text messages while operating a motor vehicle. Unsurprisingly, a large majority of drivers recognize the potential danger related to driving distracted, and especially to texting while driving. Almost 70 percent of participants support restrictions to hand-held cell phone use behind the wheel, and nearly 90 percent support limits on texting.

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In June 2014, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed a measure into law that prevents police departments at local, county and state levels from requiring officers to meet ticket quotas as a condition of maintaining their current jobs or as a factor for assigning promotions. Officers are no longer required to issue a certain number of driving citations over each period for designated minor traffic offenses. According to a press release from the governor's office, the Illinois ticket quota ban goes into effect January 1, 2015.

Purpose of the Illinois Ticket Quota Ban

The objective of this new initiative is to promote officer efficiency where it matters and to increase morale towards police officers in Illinois communities. Some proponents of the new law contend that residents from communities whose police departments require their officers to meet ticket quotas are more likely to distrust their police officers and see them as antagonistic force. Further mandating ticket quotas may enhance un-egalitarian enforcement of the law. When an officer feels pressured to make certain ticket numbers and she is nearing a deadline, the officer may be more likely to ticket motorists for minor offenses unlikely to cause danger or harm that are normally overlooked. At their worst, ticket quotas could even coerce desperate officers to ticket vulnerable individuals who appear to have fewer resources available to them to be able to contest a suspect driving ticket. On this view, banning ticket quotas will reduce friction between police officers and the communities they serve.

Additionally, dissatisfied residents may also view police departments in a negative light for disproportionately focusing on legal issues that are comparatively less significant. Residents and some policy makers feel that police officer time and attention would be better spent investigating the types of criminal activities that are more directly harmful towards Illinois residents, such as violent crimeslarceny, or white collar crimes such as embezzlement, in which community members may be robbed from within by their own employees. Banning ticket quotas could free up officer time to focus on issues more closely tied to resident safety. A statement released by Governor Quinn's office provided that "this law will improve safety and working conditions for police officers and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when encountering a police vehicle."

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There was celebration among Illinois drivers last month when Senate Bill 2356 was enacted into Illinois law which raised the maximum speed limit on Illinois roads to 70 miles per hour. Unfortunately, a lesser noted portion of the same bill made penalties for speeding tickets even stricter, completing a three year trend of over-criminalization of speeding violations.

Until recently, speeding up to 39 mph over the posted speed limit was a petty offense that did not result in a jail sentence. Now, merely driving in excess of 25 mph over the posted limit is a misdemeanor carrying heavy fines and jail time. And, Court Supervision is no longer an option for these tickets, which means a permanent black mark on your driving record if you are convicted of speeding in excess of 25 mph.

It began in 2000, when the legislature criminalized speeding by decreeing that driving in excess of 39 miles over the limit is a Class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors are punishable up to a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. Other examples of Class A misdemeanors include Battery, DUI, and Retail Theft. Court Supervision was a possible sentence for this offense.

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