At some point in your life, you have likely been pulled over by a police officer. Maybe the violation was minor, like rolling through a stop sign or going five miles per hour over the speed limit. Perhaps the officer suspected that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In order to measure the severity of your traffic violation, Illinois has instilled a point system that is connected to your driver’s license. This is what the officer looks at, among other things, when they ask for your license and registration and then go back to their vehicle. It is important to understand the basics of the Illinois point system and your rights as an Illinois driver to have a general idea of what your record looks like in the eyes of the law.
The Point System
Maybe you remember learning about the traffic violation point system while you were sitting in your driver’s education class as a teen, but more often than not, drivers are oblivious to how these violations are tracked and what they can do to your record. Every traffic violation that you can think of has a certain number of points assigned to them. Minor offenses have lower points while more severe penalties hold more weight in points. Common examples include:
- Speeding 1-10 miles per hour over the speed limit is 5 points.
- Disregard for a traffic light is 20 points.
- Driving with an open (alcoholic) container is 25 points.
- Reckless driving is 55 points.
As you can see, the point allocation varies greatly depending on the violation that you have been accused of. Your total points become relevant if your driver’s license is suspended. In Illinois, your license will be suspended if you are convicted for three moving traffic violations within 12 months. If you are younger than 21, you are allowed only two violations. Some violations result in an immediate suspension, such as a DUI. Your points will determine how long your suspension will last. For instance, having 15 to 44 points will result in a two-month suspension.
Know Your Rights
Many incorrectly believe that there is no way to argue against a traffic violation. Depending on the severity of the violation, you may be willing to just pay the fine and move on. However, more serious violations could land you with large fees, a revoked license, and even time behind bars. It is important to know what your rights are in the instance that you are given a traffic violation:
- The Right to an Attorney: No matter what the legal consequence, you always have the right to an attorney to defend you in court. It is especially important for you to hire an attorney if jail time is a possibility. However, an attorney is still useful if you would like to challenge minor charges and avoid a violation being added to your record or being charged the associated fees.
- The Right to Confrontation: Everyone has the right to defend themselves in court, whether that is with the help of an attorney or on their own. This can include cross-examining or questioning the arresting officer or bringing in witnesses to help your case. It is always suggested that you hire an attorney rather than fight for yourself in court since they have the relevant experience to do so.
- The Right to Remain Silent: As is the case with any arrest, you have the right to remain silent if questioned by the officer. Oftentimes, talking can actually get you into more trouble than keeping quiet, especially when you do not have an attorney present. You should always wait for your attorney to stand by your side before commenting on your case.
- The Right to an Appeal: If you believe the judge’s decision on your case was unfair or not legally sound, you can appeal their decision and ask for things to be reexamined. A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of your traffic court date’s final decision.
Contact a DuPage County Traffic Violations Lawyer
Anyone who is facing criminal charges, even something that seems as minor as a traffic violation, has a right to an attorney and legal defense. Since many people are unaware of the traffic violation disciplinary system, they may not realize that their license hangs on the precipice of suspension or revocation. Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, has over 25 years of experience defending those who are facing criminal charges, including traffic violations. He works tirelessly to help you build your defense strategy and execute it in court. For help fighting traffic violations, contact our Wheaton criminal defense attorney at 630-260-9647 to schedule your consultation.