Illinois Bans Police Ticket Quotas 

Illinois Ticket QuotasGovernor Pat Quinn recently signed a bill that bans Illinois police departments from assigning ticket quotas and evaluating officers based on whether or not they meet those quotas.

Quinn said the law will allow the officer to determine whether or not a driver should receive a ticket without bias or fear of failing to meet a certain number of tickets in a month.

“Law enforcement officers should have discretion on when and where to issue traffic citations and not be forced to ticket motorists to satisfy a quota system,” the governor said in a news release. “This new law will improve safety and working conditions for police officers and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle.”

The bill, which was signed last Sunday, went into effect immediately. The new law applies to local, county, and state police precincts. Earlier this year the bill made its way through the House and Senate with ease, passing 106-9 and 57-1 respectively.

State Rep. Jay Hoffman sponsored the bill, and said he expects the law to lead to better relations between civilians and law enforcement officials.

“Arbitrary quotas on the number of tickets that have to be issued by police officers undermines the public trust in the police departments’ priorities,” said Hoffman, a Democrat from suburban St. Louis. “By eliminating these quotas, we can restore that trust and ensure that police officers are free to do their job protecting the public.”

Brett Appelman comments

This is encouraging news, as it can be difficult to prove that a person received a ticket mainly because the officer needed to reach a certain quota. You may have been speeding, but if the officer needs 10 more tickets by the day’s end to avoid a mark on his record, you can bet that you’re not getting off with a warning.

Now that your driving actions and interaction with the officer are the only influences on whether or not you receive a ticket, it may be a good time to re-read our post on five ways to avoid a traffic ticket.

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Cell Phone Driving Laws in Illinois

Cell phone drivingIncreased patrols by Illinois police aimed at ticketing drivers for using their cell phone behind the wheel led Kelly Glish to craft a blog post on the hands-free driving law that went into effect earlier this year. Below, she explains what electronics are included under the law, and the consequences of violating the statute.

The new law in Illinois requiring cell phone use to be hands-free while driving is not just for cell phone use. The current law states, “a person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an ‘electronic communication device.’” With amendments that went into effect on January 1, 2014, the hands-free cell phone use law has people asking questions.

What devices may be included under the law?

The law includes, but is not limited to:

  • Wireless telephone
  • Personal digital assistant
  • Portable/mobile computer (while being used for composing, reading, or sending an electronic message)

DOES NOT include:

  • Global positioning system (GPS)
  • Navigation System
  • A device that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle 

What are the consequences of a citation?

Those cited for violating the hands-free cell phone use law face the following consequences:

  • First time offenders: fine up to $75
  • Second offense:  fine up to $100
  • Third offense: fine up to $125
  • Fourth or Subsequent offense: fine up to $150

A violation of this law will be considered AGGRAVATED when the driver commits the violation and in doing so is involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, disfigurement, or death to another and the violation was a proximate cause of the injury or death. (Causing great bodily harm under violation of this law is a Class A Misdemeanor; causing death is a Class 4 Felony)

Who can be cited for violating the law?

Anyone operating a motor vehicle on any Illinois roadway may be cited for violating this law EXCEPT:

  • A law enforcement officer (while performing his/her official duties).
  • An operator of an emergency vehicle (while performing his/her official duties).
  • A driver using an electronic communication device for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-operated mode, which may include the use of a headset.
  • A driver of a commercial motor vehicle reading a message displayed on a permanently installed communication device designed for a commercial motor vehicle with a screen that does not exceed 10 inches tall by 10 inches wide in size.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park.
  • A driver using two-way or citizen band radio service.
  • A driver using two-way mobile radio transmitters or receivers for licensees of the Federal Communications Commission in the amateur radio service.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device capable of performing multiple functions, other than a hand-held wireless telephone or hand-held personal digital assistant (for example, a fleet management system, a citizen band radio, a music player, etc.) for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited by the law.

Tips To Avoid A Ticket

1. Pull over on shoulder and park to complete communication on your cell phone.

2. Buy a cell phone suction mount to hold your phone stationary while being used as a GPS.

3. Use Bluetooth or a similar hand-free option to communicate while driving.

4. If stopped in traffic, put car in park or neutral while sending electronic communications.

In the event that you want to challenge a citation, contact an attorney to discuss the details of your case, especially if you feel like you wrongly received the ticket. We’re here to help.

Chicago Bulls’ Brewer Pleads Not Guilty To DUI Charge

Ronnie BrewerChicago Bulls forward Ronnie Brewer pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of driving under the influence in the wake of a February traffic stop in Beverly Hills, California.

Brewer, 29, did not appear in court for the initial hearing. Brewer’s attorney entered the not guilty plea on his behalf.

Authorities allege that Brewer had a blood-alcohol concentration of .15 percent – nearly twice the legal limit – when he was pulled over by Beverly Hills police on February 19. His next hearing is scheduled for July 15.

Brett Appelman comments

Unfortunately DUI charges have become an epidemic with young, rich celebrities. Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber and multiple professional athletes have recently been charged with DUI’s. It would seem that access to money, fast cars and the feeling of being untouchable by the law fuels this epidemic. Once arrested, these celebrities can afford the most expensive lawyers, and many times are let go with little to no punishment.

Just this morning Justin Bieber’s attorney announced that his client will plead guilty to a lesser charge of Reckless Driving and will only have to attend anger management classes. Not alcohol treatment, no probation, not even the usual celebrity “sentence” of having to make a Public Service Announcement about the dangers of DUIs.

If young celebrities continue to receive almost no punishment for these DUI cases, they will continue to do the same dangerous activities that got them arrested in the first place. They should not continue to get favorable treatment by the justice system simply because they have money.

Related sources: Sports Illustrated, Reuters

Illinois Crime Drops During Chicago Bears Games

Sports CrimeA recent study by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley found that crimes of all types dropped when Chicago sports teams were playing, specifically the Chicago Bears.

The study was first prompted by a statement made by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis in 2011, who said if the NFL locked out its players and the season was cancelled, “Do this research… If we don’t have a season, watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up if you take away out game. [People have] nothing else to do.”

To determine if sports had an impact in crime rates, researchers compared crime statistics from two different time periods – The period while the sporting event was taking place, and the same time period on the same day of the week when the team was not playing. To understand which sports impacted crime rates the most, researchers compared crime data to time periods when the Bears, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox were playing. The study did not include the Blackhawks.

The study uncovered that violent crime, drug crime, and property theft crimes all saw a consistent drop when a Chicago sports team was playing. Most notably, crime dropped 15 percent when the Bears were playing on Monday Night Football, which is especially surprising considering their two MNF games came against the Packers and Cowboys, two fanbases not necessarily known for their decorum. Researchers also noted that crime fell 25 percent during the Super Bowl.

The data revealed “similar but smaller effects for NBA and MLB” games. Researchers did not specify exactly how much crime fell when the Bulls, Cubs or White Sox were playing.

“The consistent drop across all crime types — violent, property, drug and other — in conjunction with the absence of displacement before or after games, suggests the decline in crime is driven primarily by fewer potential criminals on the astreets,” the authors concluded.

Related sources: Social Science Research Network, NBC Chicago