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A number of new laws went into effect on July 1, and a few of them impact criminal law proceedings in Illinois. A few of them increase the penalties that you could face for certain driving offenses, while others bring welcome change to a system that could disproportionately affect those who are financially burdened by a citation. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the new laws that went into effect and how they could impact you in the future.

New Laws To Know In Illinois

Here’s a look at some of the new laws and changes that went into effect on July 1 in Illinois.

  • Texting and Driving Penalties Increase – Public Act 101-90 increases the penalties for anyone who causes an accident with injury because they were texting and driving. Any driver who causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to another person due to being distracted by a cell phone will face a 12-month driver’s license suspension and a minimum fine of $1,000. Under the old law, the distracted party was only subject to a $75 fine.
  • Right-of-Way Injury Penalties Increase – A similar measure was enacted for someone who causes injury to another person as a result of a right-of-way violation. Any party that causes serious injury to a pedestrian at a crosswalk or in a school zone as a result of a right-of-way violation will have their driver’s license suspended for 12 months. The new law is known as Mason’s Law, and it is named for 24-year-old Mason Knorr, who was killed when a truck driver failed to yield the right of way as Mason entered a crosswalk. Under the old law, the violator was only subjected to a small fine.
  • Unpaid Fines No Longer Mean License Suspension – Unpaid traffic tickets and fines can spiral out of control quickly, especially if you are struggling to come up with the money. Not only can fines increase if they are overdue, but under the old law, it could also lead to the suspension of your driver’s license, which will only make it more difficult for you to work and come up with the necessary funds. Under the new law, the Illinois secretary of state will no longer be able to suspend a person’s driver’s license or vehicle registration for being unable to pay a fine on time.
  • Employee Discrimination Protection – The final change that impacts criminal law is one that provides more protections for employees from discrimination. Under the new change, employees will be protected from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion and other protected categories. Previously, these same protections were in place, but they only applied to businesses that employed 15 or more individuals. Now, it will apply to any company that employs one or more individuals for more than 20 weeks in a calendar year.

For more information about these changes, or if you are facing upgraded potential penalties because of a violation, reach out to Brett and the team at Appelman Lawyers today for all your legal needs.

Debunking Common DUI Myths In Illinois

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When it comes to drinking and driving, you’ve probably heard some stories that sound more like fiction than truth. Maybe you’ve heard that you can fool a breathalyzer by keeping a penny in your mouth during the test, or that you can’t get a DUI if you’re caught sleeping in your parked car. Are these facts, or are you misinformed if you take them as the truth? We explore some of the more common myths about DUIs in Illinois in today’s blog.

6 Common Misconceptions About DUIs In Illinois

Here’s a quick look at some of the myths we’ve heard about, and a quick explanation as to why they aren’t true.

  1. The Penny In The Mouth Trick – An old wives tale suggests that sticking a penny in your mouth will throw off the breathalyzer and either report your BAC as unreadable or as a zero. Unfortunately, this just simply isn’t true. Breathalyzers rely on a fuel cell that reacts with the alcohol in your breath on a sensor to indicate how much alcohol is present. The penny’s presence will not have any effect on this reaction.
  2. Sleeping It Off – If you have too many at the bar and decide you’re just going to sleep it off in your car, you’re protected from a DUI, right? Maybe not. Illinois DUI law states that you can earn a DUI as long as you are in “physical control” of the vehicle, and being in the driver’s seat can constitute physical control. Other factors will play a role in the case, like where the keys are, if the car was moved and where you were located when police found you in the vehicle. Simply put, don’t just assume you’re safe to sleep it off in your car.
  3. Safe At Home – If you drove home drunk, you might assume that you’re safe once you reach your garage. Again, this isn’t a given. If you were reported to police or you encounter a security guard at your apartment complex, they could still connect your BAC and your return trip home. If you exhibit all the signs of being impaired, and you were seen driving home or admit to recently driving, you can still be booked for DUI.
  4. Coffee Or Food Can Sober You Up – While it’s true that drinking on a full stomach can slow the metabolization of alcohol by your body compared to drinking on an empty stomach, there’s nothing you can eat or drink to lower your BAC once you’re drunk. Once you’re above the legal limit, no amount of tacos or coffee will help to reduce your BAC. Only time can get you back below the limit.
  5. You Can Only Get A DUI In A Car – You might think that DUIs only apply to cars, trucks and boats, but that’s not the case. A number of different motor vehicles qualify for the state’s DUI laws. Vehicles like ATVs, motorcycles, mopeds, lawnmowers, go karts, jet-skis and snowmobiles are all subject to DUI laws, so don’t think you’re immune if you’re on a recreational vehicle.
  6. DUI Charges Are Impossible To Beat – Our work as criminal defense attorneys will tell you that this statement is also a myth. Challenging a DUI is no easy task, but it’s certainly not impossible. If you have an experienced attorney in your corner and you follow their instructions, you can put yourself in the best position to beat a DUI charge. Considering the severe penalties that often accompany a DUI, it’s clear that you should put serious consideration into how you challenge the charges. If you do so with Brett and the team at Appelman Law by your side, we can help show you that DUI charges aren’t impossible to beat.

Shoplifting from a big box store can seem like a victimless crime, but the crime of retail theft can have significant penalties in Illinois. Whether you slip some electronics in your purse or you alter a price tag to get an item for cheaper, it doesn’t take much for you to face stiff shoplifting charges. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the penalties for shoplifting, and we cover some of the common defenses to the crime in Illinois.

Shoplifting Penalties In Illinois

We dive into the full extent of shoplifting penalties on this page, but we’ll cover a simplified version on this page as well. Basically, your shoplifting charge and potential penalties depends on the value of the goods you are alleged to have stolen. The bar for charges to be upgraded to a felony is also quite low in Illinois. In fact, we’re one of only six states that bring felony charges for instances where less than $500 worth of merchandise is stolen.

First time offenders who are alleged to have taken merchandise valued at under $300 may face a misdemeanor charge, but if you have a previous retail theft conviction, if you used an emergency exit to aid in the theft or if the goods are worth more than $300, you can face felony charges


One of the more powerful tools in a civil suit is the injunction, but it’s not without risk. Moving forward with an injunction without the right evidence can backfire and tank your case. Used effectively, an injunction can provide you immediate relief until a final decision is rendered by the judge. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at injunctions and temporary restraining orders, and how we can use them during your civil suit to help win your case.

What Is An Injunction?

At the most basic level, an injunction is a court order during a civil suit that prevents the defendant from doing something or requires them to take a specific action. The former is much more common than the latter, but they can both be used depending on the specifics of your case. Injunctions in Illinois come in three different forms. There are:

  • Temporary Restraining Orders
  • Preliminary Injunctions
  • Permanent Injunctions

Temporary restraining orders (TRO) are the most common form of injunction because of how immediate they can be instituted. They are often instituted in order to maintain the current status of a relationship until more legal steps can be taken. We find that this makes more sense if we use an example or two.


Your Rights In Illinois Traffic Court

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If you are pulled over for a traffic violation, you may end up with a citation or criminal charge depending on the circumstances. Lower level violations like speeding or rolling a stop sign typically only result in a citation that may not even require you to show up in court, but more serious traffic violations like drunk or reckless driving can result in your arrest.

If you are considering fighting your citation or arrest, it’s important that you know your rights in traffic court. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the rights guaranteed to defendants in Illinois traffic court.

You Have A Right To…

If you are considering contesting your citation or arrest in traffic court, you have the right to:


Understanding DUI Plea Options In Illinois

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We work very hard for our clients to help them achieve the best result in court, but sometimes the best option involves taking a plea deal to avoid the potential of a much more unfavorable outcome. Knowing about your plea options can help you make the best decision for your DUI case, so we want to lay out what’s available to you in today’s blog. Below, we take a closer look at your plea options if you’re facing a DUI charge in Illinois.

Three Plea Options

On the surface, there are three main ways you can plead when you’re called on in court. You can:

  1. Plead Guilty – Pleading guilty means you admit guilt to the levied charges.
  2. Plead Not Guilty – This statement suggests that you do not feel the charges are fair and you plan to contest the acquisition of guilt in court.
  3. No Contest – You are not admitting guilt for the charges, but at the same time, this admission means you are not going to contest the charges in court and the court can determine your punishment. It’s very similar to pleading guilty, but it holds its own category.

You might believe that the only time you’d need a lawyer by your side is if you planned to plead not guilty and challenge the charges in court, but that’s simply not true. A lawyer can be a great asset at any point in your case, but especially if it seems like a guilty finding is inevitable. If it seems pretty clear cut that you were in the wrong and you suspect you’ll have a tough time in court, consider working with a lawyer to see if a plea deal can be reached.


4 Defenses To Assault Charges In Illinois

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Assault sounds like a serious crime, and the way it is penalized in Illinois, it’s clear that the court feels the same way. And while some assaults can be significant and cause a good deal of physical damage, you may be surprised to learn that you can be charged and convicted of assault without ever touching another person. Because assault carries serious potential penalties, and because of the low threshold it takes to be charged with the crime, it’s imperative that you know some of the best ways to defend yourself against an assault charge. We spotlight some of the more common defenses in today’s blog.

Defenses To The Crime Of Assault

If you are charged with simple, aggravated or felony assault, it’s imperative that you contact a defense lawyer to learn about your options. Considering what’s on the line, it’s often best to hire a firm to represent you at trial. Here’s a look at some of the avenues your lawyer might pursue when working to get your assault charge dismissed.

  1. Self Defense – Arguably the most common defense to an assault charge is the claim of self defense. If the only reason you acted aggressively was to protect yourself from an imminent threat, you should be able to get the assault charge dropped. When there is conflicting testimony (which is almost guaranteed during an assault or altercation), it can be difficult to sort out who the aggressor was when the police arrive. They may initially charge you with assault, but if you can showcase that you were just defending yourself from the other party, you should be able to win the case.
  2. Lying – We’ve handled assault cases where lying was taken to an extreme level, like the alleged incident never occurred in the first place, or the victim self-harmed and then blamed an ex-boyfriend, but more commonly we see cases where the truth is embellished a little. For example, if you and your spouse get in an argument and you say “I wish you weren’t around!” but your wife interprets that as a threat on her life and tells the cops that what you said made her fear for her life, you could end up facing assault charges over a misconstrued or embellished statement. We can help prove that your language does not amount to a level of assault.
  3. Defending Others – Similar to self defense, you may be able to get the charges dropped if you can prove that you only acted in such a manner to prevent a threat to others. Now, it’s unlikely you’d face assault charges for suckerpunching a robber holding up a liquor store, but if you witnessed a bar fight and you used physical force to subdue one of the aggressors, you should be able to get the charges dropped. You need to prove that you feared for the safety of others, and that you had no choice but to use physical force to protect them.
  4. Consent – Finally, if you can prove that consent was given for the conduct, you can get the assault charges dropped. This isn’t all that common of a defense, but when it does arise, it typically involves assaults of a sexual nature. This can be a tricky defense to pull off since it will likely come down to a he said, she said version of events, so if you’re ever concerned about how consent might be interpreted, consider getting written consent if possible to help strengthen your claim.

If you are facing assault charges because of a verbal or physical altercation with another individual, don’t just hope your testimony curries leniency from the judge. Consult an assault and battery lawyer and put up a strong defense. For more information, or to set up a free strategy session for your criminal case, reach out to Brett and the team at Appelman Law today.

The easiest way to beat a DUI charge in Illinois is to avoid getting behind the wheel when you’re intoxicated in the first place, but nearly 100 people are arrested for drunk driving every day in Illinois, so we need defense strategies instead of just preventative actions. There are a number of ways to challenge the validity of your DUI arrest or the charge itself, and we want to quickly run through 15 of the most common ways we often challenge these arrests. For a more individualized plan to contest your DUI charge, reach out to our firm for a free case review session today.

Common Ways To Fight An Illinois DUI Charge

Here’s a quick look at 15 avenues we may look to explore when contesting your DUI charge.

  1. Breath Test Accuracy – We may contest the accuracy of the breath test results or work to determine that the device itself has not been serviced properly.
  2. Dash Cam Discrepancies – If the officer said you failed the field sobriety tests, but the dash cam video suggests otherwise, we’ll contest the officer’s report with this information.
  3. Testing Problems – Protocols need to be followed when collecting blood, breath or urine samples, and if they aren’t your case may be thrown out.
  4. Medical Issues – If you have certain medical issues or health problems, it can invalidate the results of your field sobriety tests.
  5. No Probable Cause – If police did not have legal cause to stop your vehicle, the evidence they collected after the stop may be inadmissible.
  6. Miranda Violation – If police didn’t read your Miranda rights, you may be able to have the case thrown out.
  7. Alcohol Absorption Accuracy – It takes your body some time to metabolise alcohol, so there’s a chance that you may have been under the legal limit at the time you were driving, but over the limit by the time you were tested.
  8. Conflicting Witness Statements – If witnesses say things that are omitted from the police report, you may have grounds to have the charges dropped.
  9. Illegal Search – Police need a warrant or consent to obtain some bodily substances, and absent of those factors, evidence collection may be invalid.
  10. Statement Inconsistencies – If officers provide differing statements, it could lead to questions about the accuracy of their testimony.
  11. Police Track Record – Some cops have a history of lying on the stand or misconduct. We’ll check into the arresting officer’s professional record to see if it could help your case.
  12. Interfering Substances – Medications and nail polish can sometimes affect a breath test, so we’ll see if your testing results could have been compromised.
  13. Due Process Violation – If you were denied due process that is guaranteed by the constitution, your charge may be thrown out.
  14. False Information – If police knowingly provide false information to a suspect, like that they have to consent to a search, this can lead to charges being dropped.
  15. Statute of Limitations – If charges are not brought in a timely manner, your case may be dropped due to a statute of limitations violation.

These are far from the only ways we can contest a DUI charge, but they are all avenues we’ve pursued to help our clients get justice. For more information, reach out to our firm today at (630) 717-7801.

The weather is warming up, and that means ATV season is beginning here in Illinois. Riding your ATV through the woods or along a secluded trail can be quite the experience, but we also get a number of calls each year from clients who run into a little trouble on their all-terrain vehicle. The most common ATV-related call we receive is about operators who have been charged with DUI on their ATV.

A driving under the influence charge is not unique to a motor vehicle like a car or a truck. In Illinois, a motorized vehicle that is primarily used for transportation can be subject to Illinois DUI laws, which means your ATV, your boat and even a golf cart are in play for a DUI. Below, we take a closer look at ATV-related DUI charges in Illinois, and what you should do if you’re facing a charge of riding while intoxicated.

DUI On An ATV In Illinois

Riding on an ATV tends to lend itself to drinking and driving more so than a standard vehicle. Many ATV trails take riders past bars or restaurants that serve alcohol, and if you’re going to be riding for a good portion of the day, you’ll likely stop to eat, and if you’re with a group of friends it doesn’t take much for a round or two of beers to be purchased.


If you have a job that requires you to have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), you know how important it is that you maintain that license, otherwise you may quickly find yourself out of a job and an income source. CDL drivers are oftentimes tasked with carrying important and even dangerous freight, so Illinois doesn’t look lightly on traffic violations from those tasked with shipping those goods. You can have your CDL suspended for as few as one or two traffic violations, so it’s important to know what to do if you ever find yourself fighting a traffic charge that threatens your commercial driver’s license.

CDL Suspension In Illinois

Under Illinois law, you can have your CDL suspended if you commit two serious traffic offenses. Serious traffic offenses include by are not limited to instances of:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Overriding a lane control device
  • Illegal passing
  • Failing to safely negotiate an accident or disabled/emergency vehicles
  • Following too closely
  • Improperly passing a school bus with its flashers on

Per the law, if you accrue two of the above citations in a three-year period, you will be subject to a 60-day suspension of your commercial driver’s license. If you accrue three serious traffic violations in a three-year period, you may have your CDL suspended for up to 120 days. However, it’s worth noting that these citations must be the result of separate traffic incidents and the offense that leads to your CDL suspension must occur in a commercial motor vehicle in order for the state to come after your license.

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