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Audriana T. Anderson

Illinois Traffic Ticket Defense Attorneys

Receiving a traffic citation is a fairly common occurrence for Illinois motorists, and traffic stops are the most common reason for people to interact with law enforcement.  In fact, according to a Study conducted by Mountain-Whisper-Light, Inc. and SC-B Consulting, Inc. prepared for the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were more than 2 million traffic stops reported by 793 different law enforcement agencies throughout Illinois in 2022.  Notably, this figure does not include data from roughly 200 other Illinois law enforcement agencies who did not participate in the Study.  Suffice it to say, it is incredibly likely that you or someone you know has been the subject of a traffic stop in Illinois.

While some traffic stops end without the issuance of a traffic citation (for example, you may receive a verbal or written warning from the police), many stops do result in one or more traffic citations.  Although some motorists tend to shrug off a traffic citation on the belief that it will have minimal impact on their day-to-day lives – especially if they have the option to settle the case outside of court by simply paying the associated fine – we strongly caution against this approach.  Settling a traffic case outside of court by paying a fine often results in a conviction on the person’s background and driving record.  Not only could this cause insurance rates to increase for the driver because insurance companies can easily see when a person receives a traffic conviction, it may also cause the person’s driving privileges to be suspended depending on the severity of the offense and the number of prior traffic convictions on their record.  If you have received a traffic citation, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can advise you on matters such as possible penalties, driver’s license consequences, and potential outcomes in your case.

At Anderson Attorneys & Advisors, our attorneys have no shortage of experience when it comes to assisting clients facing all types of traffic violations, and we seek out the best possible result in your case to keep the consequences minimal, the process painless, and keep you lawfully on the road.  Our attorneys also understand that traffic violations may have harsher impacts for some people, such as motorists under 21 years of age and Commercial Driver’s License (“CDL”) holders, and our familiarity with these nuances helps us to be creative in seeking outcomes that are better-suited to our clients’ individual needs.  For many people, driving is a necessity in order to provide for and take care of themselves and their loved ones, and our attorneys strive to make sure our clients can continue exercising this invaluable privilege.

Continue reading to learn more about the different types of traffic citations, sentencing options, and vacating a prior traffic conviction.

Types of Traffic Citations

Traffic citations can generally be broken down into three different categories in Illinois: Petty Offenses, Business Offenses, and Major Traffic Offenses.

  1. Petty Offenses:

Petty traffic offenses are the lowest level of traffic offense in Illinois.  Their notable characteristics are that they are punishable by a fine only (although the fine can be as high as $1,000) and a sentence of imprisonment is not an authorized disposition for these offenses.  Some petty offenses also carry mandatory minimum fines that are much higher than the minimum fine normally applicable to petty offenses.

Petty traffic offenses can be further broken down into two types: (1) moving violations, and (2) non-moving violations.  Common examples of petty moving violations include:

  • Speeding
  • Improper Lane Usage
  • Disregard Traffic Control Device
  • Failure to Reduce Speed / Driving Too Fast for Conditions

Non-moving violations, on the other hand, are often associated with equipment issues as well as situations where the vehicle is parked or not in motion.  Examples of these violations include:

  • Parking Where Prohibited
  • Excessively Loud Mufflers
  • Use and Possession of Radar/Laser Jamming Devices.
  1. Business Offenses:

Business offenses are mid-tier traffic offenses in Illinois.  Like petty offenses, business offenses are punishable by a fine only and do not qualify for a term of imprisonment.  However, business offenses differ from petty offenses in that business offenses carry higher fines that may exceed $1,000, and these offenses tend to have mandatory minimum fines.  Examples of business offenses include:

  • Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicle (also known as a “Scott’s Law” violation)
  • Failure to Yield to Construction/Maintenance Vehicle
  • Operation of Motor Vehicle When Registration Suspended for Noninsurance.

3. Major Traffic Offenses:

Major traffic offenses are the highest level of traffic offense in Illinois.  Unlike petty and business offenses, major traffic offenses are punishable by a term of imprisonment up to one year, in addition to other conditions such as higher fines and public service work.  Notably, these types of offenses are also classified as criminal misdemeanor offenses in Illinois.  In some situations, a traffic offense that would normally be a petty or business offense may also be charged as a criminal misdemeanor offense if the motorist has a prior violation of the same kind or if the violation resulted in a crash that caused bodily injury or property damage.  In any event, major traffic offenses should not be taken lightly, and judges will strongly encourage you to seek the assistance of an attorney if you do not have one because of the possibility of being sentenced up to one year in the county jail.

Some common examples of major traffic offenses include:

  • Driving While License Suspended/Revoked
  • Aggravated Speeding
    • 26-34 MPH over the speed limit = Class B Misdemeanor
    • 35+ MPH over the speed limit = Class A Misdemeanor
  • Fleeing/Attempting to Elude
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident
  • Possession of Cannabis in a Motor Vehicle

Sentencing Options:

Our attorneys’ first goal with respect to any traffic offense is to determine whether the charge is fightable by looking to see whether every element of the offense is present, whether the investigation was defective in any way, and whether any of the evidence may be suppressed in court.  For example, a driver may be charged with Unlawful Possession of Cannabis, but there may not be a valid basis for that driver to have been stopped or searched in the first place.  In situations like these, our attorneys will look at the evidence and assess whether the driver was properly stopped and whether the officer followed the correct warrantless-search procedures.  If the traffic stop or subsequent search were improper, there may be a viable basis to seek the suppression of evidence.  And if the stop and/or search was unlawful, any evidence discovered thereafter could be kept out of court, thus giving the motorist a higher chance of successfully defeating the misdemeanor charge.

However, challenging a traffic offense is a difficult task, and many motorists tend to take the path of least resistance by pleading guilty.  In these situations, our attorneys endeavor to get the lightest possible sentences for our clients – that being Court Supervision.  Court Supervision is a sentencing alternative whereby the court withholds entering a judgment of conviction conditioned upon the motorist successfully completing the terms of Supervision.  These terms may include not receiving any new violations while on Supervision, paying fines and court costs, attending a driver improvement school, among others.  Not all motorists will be eligible for Court Supervision, though.  Having been placed on Court Supervision twice within the last 12 months will disqualify you from receiving Supervision on your new moving violation, and there are some offenses that the State Legislature has expressly barred from Supervision-eligibility.  In these situations, our attorneys will look to negotiate a more favorable outcome in your case.  For example, we may try to negotiate a change in classification from a moving to a non-moving violation in order to prevent a conviction from adding points to your driving record.  Or, if you have been charged with a non-Supervision-eligible offense, we will look to get the charge reduced or amended to an offense that you may receive Court Supervision for.  If you are a CDL-holder, even Court Supervision on a petty moving violation can have devastating effects on your livelihood, in which case our attorneys will use their negotiation skills to try to work out a creative and less impactful outcome in your case.

Vacating a Prior Conviction:

Even petty traffic offenses – while relatively minor – often jeopardize motorist’s driving privileges, as our attorneys frequently see.  This is because the citations that motorists receive for these violations tend to make a court appearance non-mandatory by providing motorists with an option to pay a fine and settle the matter out of court.  But by doing so, a conviction will automatically enter on the motorist’s driving record.  For drivers 21 years of age or older, three convictions for moving violations within a 12-month span will result in a suspension of their driver’s license.  The length of the suspension will depend on total number of “points” the Secretary of State has assigned for each moving violation conviction the driver has accumulated – but 2 months is the minimum length for the suspension.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining if you have received a conviction on a moving violation by paying the fine and settling the matter out of court.  Under Illinois law, you have the right to “vacate” (i.e. undo) your guilty plea by filing a written Motion to Vacate with the court having jurisdiction over your case.  However, you must act quick because this right must be exercised within 30 days of the date you entered your guilty plea.  If you are outside this 30-day window, not all hope is lost.  The guilty plea and conviction could still be vacated, but it would take a great deal of cooperation from the prosecuting entity and acceptance from the court.  On numerous occasions, our attorneys have been able to successfully vacate convictions beyond the 30-day grace period by negotiating with prosecutors on our clients’ behalf.  However, as a word of caution, getting the prosecuting entity to agree to vacate a conviction beyond the 30-day grace period grows increasingly more difficult the more time has passed since the conviction initially entered.  Nonetheless, our attorneys are always up for the task of negotiating a better outcome in your case.

Call Anderson Attorneys & Advisors Today

If you have been charged with any type of traffic offense, we strongly encourage you to reach out to one of our experienced traffic attorneys who can help you to understand your rights and options with respect to the charge and how it may negatively impact your driver’s license.  You can contact attorney Michael R. Biggott to get the answers you need. Schedule an initial consultation by calling 630-877-5800 today. Our office serves clients facing traffic offenses all throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.