Traffic violations are a very common occurrence throughout the State of Illinois. Even the most law abiding citizens and careful drivers would find themselves charged with traffic violation once in a while.
Violating traffic laws usually results in warnings and fines for first time offenders or for minor violations such as parking without a ticket. In case of a more serious violation, the offender may be taken to court. This is especially true if the offense takes place in a school district.State Legislation
Traffic violations can take many forms and the legislation is covered under multiple sections of the Illinois Criminal Statutes. For instances, the offense of DUI is laid out in 625 ILCS 5/11. Driving without a license is covered in 625 ILCS 5/6 and driving without insurance is covered in 625 ILCS 5/7 etc.
The list of Traffic violations includes the following.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
- Driving without a valid license
- Driving without insurance
- Driving without registration
- Illegal U-Turn
- Illegal Vehicle Modifications
- Leaving the scene of an accident aka hit & run
- Mechanical violations such as driving a vehicle with faulty equipment
- Parking violations
- Reckless driving that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, disfigurement or death of another person.
- Running a Red Light or Stop sign
- Seat belt or child restraint violations
- Speeding over the limit
The punishment for traffic violation can be as diverse as the range of violations itself. Going over the speed limit might result in a fine or suspension of license, but it may be elevated if the offense occurs in a school district or the driver has previous convictions.
If a traffic violation harms another person or causes damage to a property, it is classified as a misdemeanor or felony. In the most serious cases, a traffic violation may get charged as a Class X felony which is punishable for 6 – 30 years in prison.
For example, a person deliberately trying to run over another with the intent to kill or severely harm the victim may be charged with the highest degree of felony.
On the other hand, driving with a suspended license or without insurance can result in a Class B misdemeanor charge which is punishable by up to six months in prison.Considerations
One punishment for traffic violation is the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license. While this doesn’t necessarily mean jail time, suspension of the driving license can cause a lot of frustration for the person if their employment requires driving to and from work.
The duration for suspension or revocation of one’s driving license is based on the accumulation of points on the license. For example, points from 0 to 14 result in no penalty while points from 15 to 44 result in a two month license suspension.
A person receives points based on the severity of the traffic violation that they are accused of by the law enforcing officers. For example, driving over the speed limit by 1 to 10 miles/hour results in 5 points. Driving without a head, side or tail light results in 10 points.Examples and Court Cases
Most traffic violations are usually low profile offenses, but the charges can be escalated to a long prison term when combined with other charges.
A man was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison after a hit-and-run accident that killed a woman from Indiana last year.
Jekeb Collins 22, of Bloomington pleaded guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident and reckless homicide. The man was accused of driving a minivan over the speed limit when his vehicle struck another vehicle in which Phyllis Graver of Indiana was a passenger.
According to witness statements, the vehicle rolled over after the hit. Phyllis Graver and the unnamed driver were taken to the hospital where Graver was pronounced dead.
In a different case, a man was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated DUI and causing an accident that injured another person.
Thomas Wodarczyk 46, was driving the wrong way on a one way street when his vehicle collided head-on with another car and sent his vehicle rolling over. When the police arrived on the scene, they found Wodarczyk’s vehicle on its roof while the other vehicle, driven by a woman, had severe front-end damage.
In another case a Rock Island man was sentenced to five years in prison for failing to stop at a hit-and-run accident that caused the death of a pedestrian.
Randal Ray Brocksieck had pleaded guilty to charges of failing to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in a death and driving without insurance.
According to the police, Brocksieck hit Donovan Ray Sammn who had entered the roadway. Although the defendant was not responsible for the accident, he did fail to provide aid to the man after he had been struck.
Brocksieck admitted to stopping his vehicle and got out, but did not stay at the scene or call the police.
The judge noted that the man had two previous convictions of leaving the scene of an accident.
Finally a man from Galesburg was successful in having evidence excluded from his federal court hearing in one of his trials.
James Coleman 37, successfully won a motion to suppress hearing for charges of unlawful drug possession, unlawful possession of a firearm and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Coleman had been stopped by the police in 2016 after getting reports of shots being fired from a gold-colored car. Coleman was driving a silver car at the time.
The police officer approached Coleman and grabbed him by the arm even though he knew that a person from a different-colored car had been involved in the criminal activity nearby.
The prosecution argued that the officer had probable cause and was justified in the stop and search. The defendant argued that his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights had been violated as he had not done anything wrong to be stopped or searched.
The judge agreed with the defendant and had the evidence removed from the case and the case was dismissed.Possible Legal Defenses
Traffic violations usually result in tickets. There are a large number of defense strategies available, that can be used to challenge the ticket.
One strategy is to question the evidence or opinions presented by the police officer. For instance, an officer may issue a ticket to the driver for changing lanes in a reckless manner. The defendant can fight the ticket and argue that his or her change of lane was safe given the weather and traffic conditions at the time.
The defendant may also argue that their traffic violation was meant to avoid an accident and harm. For instance a person ticketed for speeding on a highway may argue that they had reason to believe that another car nearby was being driven by a drunk driver.
The defendant can argue that they were only speeding to put distance between their vehicle and the drunk driver in order to avoid an accident.