Chicago Speeding Attorneys
For a motorist who is traveling above the posted speed limit, flashing lights in the rearview mirror are not a welcome sight. At a bare minimum, a traffic stop for speeding will likely lead to a costly citation that will raise your insurance rates. As a result of recent changes to the law in Illinois however, a stop for excessive speeding in Chicago could lead to criminal charges being filed against you. If you were recently charged with what is commonly referred to as “aggravated speeding” in Chicago, it is imperative that you understand the potential consequences for a conviction.
Illinois Traffic Law Basics
To understand the Chicago aggravated speeding law, it helps to first gain a better understanding of basic traffic law concepts. Most traffic violations are infractions, meaning they are punishable by a fine only. Traffic violations are typically separated into two categories — moving violations and non-moving violations. Failure to yield and speeding for example, are moving violations while an expired registration or a broken taillight are non-moving violations. Although most moving violations are only punishable by the imposition of a fine, they also add “points” to your driving record. If you rack up enough convictions on your record, then the Illinois Secretary of State will calculate the number of points at that time to determine the designated period of time for which your license will be suspended or even revoked. Moving violations can also cause your insurance rates to increase.
Speeding in Chicago
Although all motorists know that driving above the posted speed limit is a violation of the traffic laws, most people think of speeding as a relatively minor violation. It’s often viewed as something that “everyone else does too.” In reality, although there is some truth to that viewpoint, recent changes to the law mean that an aggravated speeding ticket in Chicago can now result in a jail sentence. Consequently, excessive speeding is no longer just a minor violation.
Operating a motor vehicle up to 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit remains an infraction in Illinois, punishable by a fine. As of January 1, 2016 however, operating a motor vehicle 26 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit is now a misdemeanor offense in Illinois.
The Illinois Aggravated Speeding Law
n Illinois, Section 625 ILCS 5/11-601.5 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes governs what is commonly referred to as “aggravated speeding” and reads as follows
- A person who drives a vehicle upon any highway of this State at a speed that is 26 miles per hour or more but less than 35 miles per hour in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit established under this Chapter or a local ordinance commits a Class B misdemeanor.
- A person who drives a vehicle upon any highway of this State at a speed that is 35 miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit established under this Chapter or a local ordinance commits a Class A misdemeanor.
Penalties for Aggravated Speeding in Chicago
If you are charged with aggravated speeding in Chicago, it is imperative that you understand the potential penalties if convicted. If you are stopped for operating your vehicle 26 to 34 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, you will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor which carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. If you are stopped for going 35 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor which is the most serious misdemeanor offense. If convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
In addition, if convicted of either a Class B or a Class A misdemeanor the judge could also order you to serve a period of time on probation. While on probation you would remain under the court’s supervision and would likely be required to report to a probation officer along with a variety of other conditions. Those conditions could include things such as maintaining employment, random drug and alcohol testing and/or community service. Finally, you will also be required to pay any court costs as well as any fees associated with probation if convicted of either misdemeanor offense.
Keep in mind that a conviction for excessive speeding will also result in several significant non-judicial penalties as well. Arguably the most damaging of those non-judicial penalties is a criminal record. If you have never before been convicted of a criminal offense, being charged with aggravated speeding should be taken very seriously because a conviction could mean you will have a criminal record for the rest of your life. A conviction of aggravated driving may also increase the likelihood of your driver’s license being suspended and will almost certainly raise your car insurance rates.
Court Supervision for Aggravated Speeding
One alternative to a conviction for aggravated speeding is known as “Court Supervision.” If you are sentenced to Court Supervision, the court will not enter a conviction. Instead, the case will be continued for a period of time (usually one year) during which time you will be required to abide by all conditions imposed by the court. Conditions may include things such as successful completion of traffic school, paying an additional fine, and/or completing a designated number of hours of community service as well as not committing any additional traffic or criminal offenses. If you successfully complete the period of supervision, the charges against you are dismissed, meaning you will not have a criminal conviction on your permanent record. If you fail to complete the conditions of Court Supervision however, you will end up with a conviction and the judge will sentence you accordingly.
You are not eligible for Court Supervision if you have a previous conviction for aggravated speeding or you were sentenced to Court Supervision in the past for aggravated speeding. You are also ineligible for Court Supervision if you were charged with aggravated speeding in a highway-construction zone, school zone, or in an urban district.
Are There Defenses to a Charge of Excessive Speeding?
One of the biggest mistakes that motorists commonly make is assuming that a conviction for aggravated driving is a foregone conclusion when, in fact, it is not. One of the first options we typically explore is the likelihood of getting the charge reduced by amending it to a lesser offense such as speeding as an infraction. Numerous factors will go into how likely the prosecutor is to agree to reduce the charge, including how fast you were going, your driving record, and any special circumstances that make the offense more or less serious than the average aggravated speeding case. If reducing the charge isn’t an option, we may have a viable defense that makes taking the case to trial worth the risk. Every case is different, so it’s vital that your traffic attorney carefully consider whether a defense exists.
There are certain defenses however, that almost everyone has heard of, yet are hardly ever successful. For instance, there’s the old “my speedometer wasn’t calibrated properly” defense. Although this can be a legitimate defense, judges have been hearing this for excuse for as long as they’ve been judges, so they usually are somewhat resistant. The other problem with this defense is that during a trial, in order to put into evidence proof of the faulty speedometer, you the defendant will not likely be allowed to testify to this situation. That’s because you are (probably) not a certified automotive technician, and only “experts” are usually allowed to testify about technical information during a trial.
Another common defense is that you were “just keeping up with the flow of traffic”. This is really not a defense at all, for the same reason that almost everyone’s parents once told them when they were children about not following the crowd: “just because your friends jump off a building doesn’t mean you should too”. Here as well, if this defense is offered at a trial, a judge is likely to find the defendant guilty and tell them that they didn’t have to keep up with traffic. They certainly could have slowed down.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you won’t know what your options are until you sit down and speak to an experienced traffic attorney. Typically, we’ll first evaluate your case to determine whether a viable defense exists. But even in those situations where a defense has a good chance of success, before moving straight ahead into a trial, it typically doesn’t hurt to explore negotiations with the prosecutor, whether in Chicago or other court locations. Plea negotiations are not binding on the defendant, so if you don’t like the best deal “on the table”, it’s never a problem to reject the deal. On the other hand, once a trial has taken place, if your defense is not successful and you’re found guilty, there will be no negotiations or favors given by the States Attorney at that point. The case will proceed to sentencing without any chance for a reduced negotiated charge. So, negotiations are usually worth a try.
Contact a Chicago Traffic Attorney Today
If you were recently issued an aggravated speeding ticket or were arrested and charged with aggravated speeding in Chicago, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced traffic attorney as soon as possible. Contact the experienced Chicago traffic offense attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC today by calling (312) 644-0444 or by filling out our online contact form.