New Medical Regulations Impact Residency Programs in Illinois

Residency Programs IllinoisBeginning today, medical residency programs in Illinois are required to inform the state disciplinary board if residents fail to complete their training.

The change was due in large part to the exploits of Dr. Anthony Garcia, who has been charged with killing four people. Garcia was able to hold his medical license in Illinois for 10 years despite alarming inconsistencies with various residency programs.

According to documents obtained from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Garcia’s supervisors expressed concerns over his lengthy absences and failure to contact them. They ended his contract in 2004, but UIC did not report Garcia’s actions to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which licenses doctors throughout the state. Illinois continued to renew his permanent medical license because UIC was not required by law to report Garcia’s shortcomings to the IDFPR.

“We’ve been, obviously, aware for some time that there have been problems with clarifying whether clinical programs need to be required to notify,” said Sue Hofer, spokesperson for the state regulation department. “Dr. Garcia provided a very good example of some of those problems we had seen in the past, and this clarifies to the heads of the program that it doesn’t matter if it was mutual or the program or the participant, we need to know if there is a separation.”

New Law

Under the new regulations, postgraduate clinical training programs must report residents who leave their programs early or fail to complete their term to the IDFPR. The IDFPR can make additional inquires after they have been informed which residents are not making the standard. As it currently stands, directors do not need to disclose why a resident failed to complete his or her program, but Hofer believes directors will share the reasoning if it is pertinent.

“I expect that a brief explanation will be required so the board can decide whether they need additional information,” Hofer said.

Sean Sullivan comments

I have handled licensing issues with the IDFPR from both the prosecution side and the defense side. This is a significant change in Illinois law that medical school students need to be aware of. This will allow the IDFPR to now have some sort of control over medical students.

It is a gray area as to whether they will be able to take disciplinary action against these students if they have not yet earned their medical license. I would argue that the IDFPR would have no such jurisdiction over medical students who have not yet been granted an Illinois medical license. However, the IDFPR does retain jurisdiction over the requirements and rules that determine which medical students are eligible to even receive a medical license.

The new law will make it harder for medical students who have extended absences from their training programs to apply for their medical license by forcing them to complete additional requirements if they fail to meet the new standards.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

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New Illinois Driving Laws Go Into Effect January 1

Illinois Driving lawsThere are over 200 new laws in Illinois that will go into effect beginning January 1, 2014. Although the changes affect many different social sectors, we thought it would be a good idea to touch on some of the notable traffic changes that will begin next week. We can help you fight a driving violation, but we’d be happy if our advice kept you from getting a ticket in the first place!

Speed Changes

The first change is likely a welcomed adjustment for many motorists who want to go a little faster on rural interstates. Beginning January 1, speed limits on rural interstates will increase from 65 mph to 70 mph. Some of the more congested highways will remain at 55 mph.

Speeders may also end up facing harsher penalties under the new law. Anyone caught going more than 26 mph over the speed limit will now be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, while anyone going more than 35 mph over the speed limit will be hit with a Class A misdemeanor.

Distracted Driving

Illinois is also cracking down on distracted driving by going after drivers who like to talk on the phone. Drivers will no longer be able to use a handheld phone without the assistance of a hands-free device. Bluetooth headsets and voice commands will be permitted. Law enforcement officials and emergency responders will be exempt from this law.

Using a cell phone while driving can result in a:

  • $75 fine for a first offense
  • $100 fine for a second offense
  • $125 fine for a third offense
  • $150 for a fourth offense.

A driver who causes an accident while using a cell phone will face stricter penalties. Drivers that cause an accident can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in fines of up to $2,500 and a year in prison. Fatal accidents would be upgraded to a Class 4 felony, which means a driver could face fines of up to $25,000 and three years in prison.

The state is sending a clear message to teens by laying down stronger punishments if they cause an accident while using a handheld cell phone. Any person 19 years or under who causes an accident with injuries, even if the injuries aren’t fatal, will face a Class 4 felony charge.

Additionally, a new law has made it so DVD players and other video devices are moved away from the driver. It is now illegal to play a video device if it is visible to the driver while driving.

Disabled Parking

Disabled parking regulations will also get an overhaul next week. The goal of the new regulations is to crack down on those able-bodied motorists who abuse the system.

The new law states that any person who uses a wheelchair or who has a severe disability will be able to apply for a yellow and gray placard that will allow them to park for free at metered parking spaces throughout the state. In order to be eligible, an applicant must submit documentation from their primary care doctor showing that they qualify under the new regulations. Red and blue placards will still allow a person to park in designated handicapped spots, but they will have to pay if it is metered.

State officials believe the more stringent regulations will ensure that those individuals who truly are burdened by the process of paying for parking will still qualify, while those people who abuse the system will be unable to obtain the new placard.

The state has also increased the fines for abusing the disabled parking privileges. Unauthorized use of a disabled parking spot will result in a $600 fine, up from $500, while anyone caught making or using a counterfeit placard will face a $1,000 fine, up from $500.

Related source: ABC 7

Riverside Police Not Yet Tweeting DUI Suspect Information

TwitterAs we mentioned in our blog last week, the Riverside Police Department announced that beginning this week, they would tweet out the names, ages, and towns of residence for anyone arrested for driving under the influence, but it appears they have backed off their controversial stance.

It’s uncertain why the police department has put a hold on tweeting out the incriminating information, but it’s certainly plausible that they felt pressure from both advocacy groups and individuals.

Attorney Sean Sullivan said individuals may not like that the Riverside Police Department will share the information on social media, but the arrest data is public knowledge.

“As I have discussed in prior stories, there is a continuing impact of new technology affecting the law and the legal system,” said Sullivan. “Here we see another example of this with the police department tweeting out names of DUI offenders. I am sure most people want to know how can the police do this. The answer is simple. They are just sharing public information. This is no different than police departments publishing the names of people in a police blotter in the local paper or utilizing a ‘Mug Shot Monday’ and releasing people’s mug shots. The police departments have the right to do this. Social media is really just another public forum where Court information can be shared with the general public.”

We’ll continue to follow this story to see if the Riverside PD decides to go forward with their plan, or if they shift gears.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Riverside Police To Tweet Names Of DUI Offenders

TwitterEarlier this week, the Riverside Police Department announced they will begin tweeting the names, ages and towns of residence for any individual arrested for driving under the influence.

According to Riverside Police Chief Tow Weitzel, taking to Twitter is one way the department hopes to deter young people from drinking and driving.

“I’m hoping that seeing these names, and seeing the amount of arrests that Riverside makes, will send a message,” Weitzel said.

Weitzel added that the tweets will be sent from the account @PDRiverside.

Will It Work?

The goal of the program is to alert young adults to the dangers of drinking and driving. The reason the Riverside Police Department believes Twitter is the perfect medium to distribute their message is two-fold. According to Weitzel, drivers under the age of 30 account for the majority of drunk driving arrests, and they make up most of the department’s following on the social media site. Weitzel believes if the targeted Tweets prevent even one person from driving drunk, the campaign will be a success.

Although social media shaming has its fair share of critics, Weitzel emphasized that the department isn’t releasing any information that isn’t readily available under public information laws.

“It’s nothing that we’re not already giving out,” he said. “It’s just that we’re going to be sending it out ourselves, through our social media account.”

As noted above, the Twitter account will share the names, ages and towns of residence for anyone charged with a DUI after they post bond or make their first court appearance. The department will also tweet the names of drivers who are charged with possession of illegal drugs, and those who have been caught driving with a suspended or revoked license as a result of a previous drunk driving charge.

Weitzel announced that the tweets would begin Monday.

Lake County Police Officer Charged With Soliciting Woman For Sex

Text message trailA sheriff’s deputy in Lake County has been charged with obstruction of justice and soliciting a sex act despite attempting to cover up his tracks by deleting over 50 messages between himself and the woman in question.

Eric Francke, the deputy at the center of the case, was in court Thursday as opening arguments began. The woman in question failed to appear in court, which later resulted in the suspension of the trial, but prosecutors still laid out their argument that Francke was attempting to solicit sex. According to the prosecution, some of the deleted texts mentioned a price of $300 an hour, and Francke’s home address.

Francke’s attorney, Chris Lombardo, said much of the evidence against his client was circumstantial, and no money ever exchanged hands. According to Lombardo:

  • None of the text messages mentioned a sex act.
  • Francke never gave money to the woman.
  • The woman was never charged with a crime.
  • Prosecutors couldn’t prove that Francke deleted the texts to hide them.
  • When first questioned about the incident, Francke told investigators he had been trying to hire a masseuse to help relieve pain caused by leg cramps.

Authorities were tipped to Francke’s actions by a routine traffic stop.  According to the police report, an officer stopped a vehicle that was driving without its lights on. Two men and a woman were inside the vehicle, and the two men told the officer they had arranged for the female passenger to have sex with clients for money. They informed the officer that they had just finished up at one house, and they were on the way to the next stop, which turned out to be Francke’s address.

The woman was scheduled to appear in court Thursday, but she did not show. Court was adjourned until authorities could learn more about her whereabouts.

Attorney Sean Sullivan comments

What this goes to show is that time and again, innovations in technology are having major implications in criminal law.  Again we have a case where text messages create an electronic trail of evidence that is used to help prove someone’s guilt. The advances in technology are great – they improve our quality of life in many areas. But people need to be mindful of what they are putting out there into the world. More and more these days as a defense attorney I see text messages and social media posts being used as evidence against them in criminal proceedings.

Related source: Chicago Tribune