People v. AA
AA was charged with driving on a revoked license. It was his fourth offense since his license was revoked for a DUI in 1999. He was eligible for a felony upgrade and the state offered 180 days in Cook County Department of Corrections. AA had no other background. His girlfriend of 6 years was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after he was arrested for this case. While the case was pending, he was coordinating her cancer care (chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, etc.), working full time as a nurse's assistant, and helping raise her three children. Bottom line, he could not do jail time and needed to figure out a way to either win the case or avoid jail somehow. Because the only two tickets issued were a seatbelt ticket and the driving on revoked and AA claimed he was wearing his seatbelt, we decided to run a motion to quash the stop. In cases like this, where the officer does not prepare an arrest report, it's hard to gauge how the hearing will go as the tickets are the only discovery available. We ran the motion and lost. We immediately proceeded to a conference with the judge to try and agree on a sentence. We tendered a letter from Illinois Cancer Centers detailing the level of care AA was providing to his girlfriend as well as a letter from her oldest daughter detailing his involvement in their family. We also argued that because the state opted not to upgrade this case to a felony, the mandatory minimums did not apply and the judge was free to use his discretion in sentencing. He did so and gave AA the option of a 14 day sentence in jail (he would serve 7 days) or 18 months to complete 400 hours of monitored community service. AA could not be happier and we are looking forward to working with him soon to reinstate his license at the Secretary of State. Cases like this, where I can find a way to help people who really need it and make a real difference in their lives are why I became a lawyer.
More and more in Cook County, people whose licenses are revoked are being upgraded to felony charges, especially where that revocation is the result of a DUI conviction. Generally, these cases are charged as a Class 4 Felony. These types of cases tend to be difficult to defend because the State only has to prove: (1) that the Defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle and (2) the Defendant's license was revoked at the time. Because of the extremely broad definition of "actual physical control" in Illinois case law, it can be an uphill battle. Really the only way to defend these types of cases is to look at the basis of the stop. If the Defendant or another witness can testify that the officer had no reason to stop the vehicle to begin with, you may prevail at a motion to quash the stop.
If charged with felony driving on revoked license, it is important to hire able counsel who can analyze your driving record and determine if there are steps you can take to clear up some suspensions or possibly revocations. We have recently handled cases where we were able to motion an old DUI back into court, obtain court supervision, and therefore remove the basis of the revocation. That is not common, but it is possible, which is why it's important to hire an attorney who is comfortable with these types of cases and can look at every possible angle to try and win the case.