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December 2013 Archives

Recognizing the Line Between Panhandling and Harassment

Question: Is panhandling considered illegal? Answer: While panhandling isn’t illegal, panhandlers’ actions in the process of asking for money could be. For example, panhandlers cannot threaten or block the sidewalk or a building entrance, or otherwise harass people. Also, if a panhandler asks for money for a specific purpose, such as a cup of coffee, and uses it to buy liquor or cigarettes, it could be considered theft because he or she took the money under false pretenses. Offenses may be classified as disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace or even battery, and legal penalties can range from a warning to jail time.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

The ISBA Lays Out Disclosure Rules for Home Sales

Question: Is there a law requiring home sellers to indicate whether someone died in the home? Answer: Under Illinois law, a seller is not obligated to disclose a death, murder or a violent act which may have occurred in the home. However, if a prospective buyer should ask whether this type of incident occurred, then the seller must respond honestly. The Illinois residential real estate property disclosure form (http://bit.ly/WVTYl1), lists 22 “yes” or “no” disclosure questions. Basically, the seller must indicate his or her awareness of any material defects, which could have a substantial adverse effect on the value of the property and which would significantly impair the health or safety of the future occupants.     For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Knowing Your Rights in an Interview -- The ISBA discusses the limits of employers' inquiries

Question: What types of questions can legally be asked about drug use during a job interview? Answer: An interviewer can ask what kind of medication you are taking that would cause positive results in a drug test. The interviewer can also ask if you use illegal drugs now or have done so within the past two years, and if you have ever been arrested or convicted of illegal drug use.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

If Student Debt is Weighing You Down, You Have Options -- The ISBA Clarifies

Question: What happens if I can’t pay my student loans after I leave school? Answer: If you fail to make loan payments, you may be reported to credit reporting agencies as “delinquent.” If you have not paid on your loans for nine months, your student loan will go from being delinquent to being in “default.” You may be granted a “deferment” in the nine months before you default on your loan. After that, your only option will be “forbearance,” when your lender reduces the amount of your payments or allows you to stop making payments for a short time. Student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, as a general rule, unless you can show that making payments creates an “undue hardship.”   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Repairing in Time for Holiday Travel -- You are Entitled to an Estimate

Question: Am I legally entitled to a written estimate before a body shop can start repairs on my car? Answer: According to the law, you are entitled to a written estimate for any repairs over $100, preferably before the work begins. Two types of estimates are possible: parts and labor, plus or minus ten percent, or a maximum price. When you get the estimate, the law says you can approve the estimate in writing, or ask for your car back “in a disassembled state.”   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Taking Care at the Holidays -- The ISBA talks about managing the health care of loved ones

Question: What are the responsibilities of a person who is named as the “agent” for a Power of Attorney for Health Care? Answer: A Power of Attorney for Health Care is a written legal document that outlines in advance who will make decisions for you if you are physically or mentally unable to make those decisions yourself. The person named as the “agent” has the authority to make all or limited decisions concerning your health care, including consent or withdrawal of medical treatment, even if doing so will result in your death. The agent can also be given the authority to make certain decisions after your death, on such things as making an anatomical gift, autopsies and the disposition of your remains. If the agent has no guidance as to your wishes, he or she takes whatever action is in your “best interest.”   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Approach the Bench: Kenneth C. Chessick M.D.


Approach the Bench- Kenneth C. Chessick.jpg
Dr. Chessick.jpgDr. Kenneth C. Chessick recently joined Clifford Law Offices as Of Counsel to the firm. His experience and education add breadth and depth to the medical malpractice team at the firm. For nearly three decades, Dr. Chessick had been the principal partner at The Law Office of Kenneth C. Chessick, M.D. He has accomplished much in that time, obtaining record setting verdicts and settlements for victims of medical malpractice - from birth injury cases to failure to diagnose cancer cases. Patients and their families turned to Dr. Chessick over the years knowing he would know the right thing to do.

Important Decisions Still in Your Hands -- The ISBA on ACA Myths

Question: Does health care reform mean that the federal government can make life-and-death decisions for me and my spouse? Answer: That is a myth. The fact is that individuals, their doctors and their families will continue to make their own life-and-death decisions under the Affordable Care Act.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

The ISBA Discusses "No-Fault" Divorces

Question: When can “no-fault” be used as grounds in a divorce? Answer: In Illinois, the no-fault grounds for divorce are based on the couple living separate and apart for a period of time, which is six months for couples who agree on the divorce, but two years for couples where only one member seeks the divorce. To file for a no-fault divorce in Illinois, at least one spouse has to have resided here for at least 90 days.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Take Care What You Share on the Phone -- The ISBA Warns About Identity Thieves

Question: A friend of mine had her identity stolen from someone who claimed to be calling about jury duty. What should people know to prevent this type of fraud from happening to them? Answer: Jury duty fraud typically consists of scammers calling people and telling them that because they failed to report for jury duty, there is a warrant out for their arrest. When the victim replies that they never received such a notice, the scammer will ask for some information for “verification purposes,” like a Social Security number or even a credit card number. Unfortunately, many victims willingly provide this information. Keep in mind that actual court officers never ask for confidential information over the phone.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Crowdfunding Legitimized by New Act -- The ISBA Confirms

Question: I have a great idea for a new business and need significant capital to get it going, but I do not have personal connections to investors. Can I use crowdfunding sites on the Internet to get equity investing? Answer: A change in federal law now allows entrepreneurs who want to finance their start-ups through equity investing (or offering shares of stock) to make the request on Internet sites without having to register shares of their company for public trading. The new law is part of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which enables businesses to raise up to $1 million a year online.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

The ISBA Lays Out New Meter Rules for Disabled Persons in 2014

Question: What are the requirements in Illinois for a disabled driver to be exempt from feeding a parking meter? Answer: Persons with permanent disabilities that cause difficulty in accessing a parking meter will be eligible for a meter-exempt permanent placard. The placard allows the holder to park in spaces reserved for persons with disabilities, and exempts him or her from parking meter fees and time limitations at meters that exceed a 30-minute time limit. To be eligible, the person with the disability must have a valid Illinois driver’s license, and a physician’s certification that the person meets the criteria. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2014.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Missing Out on Holiday Scents? -- The ISBA Discusses the Open Burning of Refuse

Question: Our neighbors burn garbage, leaves and other refuse, and the smell is not only awful but it bothers our daughter who has asthma. We complained to the town officials who haven’t done anything to stop it. Do we have legal recourse? Answer: The Illinois Environmental Protection Act prohibits the open burning of refuse.  Landscape waste generated onsite is not considered refuse under the Act, however, the burning of landscape waste may be regulated by local ordinance. Consider contacting the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency if you believe that your neighbors are burning refuse or garbage. You may also consider hiring a local pollution expert to test the air and determine if any state, federal or local laws are being broken. If laws are being violated, contact your local officials or the Illinois Attorney General with the test results. You may also want to have a lawyer send a letter to your neighbors with the results of the test, stating that you may file a lawsuit unless the burning stops.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Don't Forget Your Spouse! -- ISBA Advises About Reverse Mortgages

Question: If I take out a reverse mortgage on our home, can it be under my name alone or should it also include my spouse, who is younger? Answer: Some legal experts advise against leaving the spouse off the reverse mortgage. If the borrower dies, it may mean that the surviving spouse must pay off the mortgage or face foreclosure. Leaving the younger spouse off the mortgage may have enabled the borrower to get a larger loan, but this could put them at risk. More information is available on the National Council on Aging website (http://www.ncoa.org/) or by contacting your lawyer.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Bob Clifford Reacts to Asiana Crash NTSB Hearing That Shows Combination of Poor Piloting, Training and Airplane Systems Design

Robert A. Clifford, Senior Partner at Clifford Law Offices, Chicago, is concerned by the information revealed at yesterday's NTSB Public Hearing on the crash of Asiana Flight 214, a Boeing 777 widebody airliner.  The Hearing information indicates that poor piloting, pilot training, and airplane systems design issues likely led to the fatal crash of Asiana Flight 214.While the full NTSB report and Probable Cause statement will not come for many months, the Public Hearing revealed that the Asiana pilots selected an inappropriate flight mode for the autopilot and autothrottle for an approach to land, and then failed to take manual action to control the airspeed and flight path of the airplane until it was too late to prevent the crash.   This inappropriate combination of autopilot and autothrottle modes was neither recommended against nor prohibited by Boeing's Flight Crew Operating Manual (FCOM), and Asiana officials indicated there is no Boeing simulator or operational training for it.  In this combination of automation modes, the 777's autothrottle "wake-up" feature, which is designed to prevent airspeed from decreasing to dangerously low levels, does not function - something the Asiana flight crew apparently was not aware of.  Several years before this fatal Asiana crash, flight test pilots and safety officials from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) warned Boeing in a letter notifying Boeing that inconsistent functionality of Boeing's autothrottle "wake-up" feature could be a "strong contributor to aviation accidents" and told Boeing it would be a safety improvement if this "wake-up" feature were made functional across all Boeing modes of automation.  Boeing reportedly chose not to make any changes to their 777 systems but instead alleges that inserted language into their Flight Crew Operating Manual (FCOM) briefly discussing the issue.  The circumstances of this crash make it evident that such alleged language in the FCOM was not enough - these pilots were confused by the system, and it resulted in this crash.Clifford agrees with EASA that Boeing should have made the autothrottle "wake-up" feature functional in all automation modes. If Boeing was not willing to do that, Boeing should have, at a minimum, changed its FCOM to prohibit the use, below a reasonably safe altitude and airspeed, of any automation modes in which the autothrottle "wake-up" feature was not functional.Additionally, the 777 low airspeed alerting system that was supposed to prevent such circumstances from resulting in a crash was inadequate to alert the Asiana pilots in time.  Boeing's 777 aural low airspeed alert consists of three short beeps coming from their master caution system.  Boeing officials testified that these same short aural beeps can come from 70 to 80 other conditions unrelated to airspeed.  The NTSB hearing officials and Asiana executives appeared to take issue with Boeing officials on whether or not these three short beeps are adequate and effective aural warning for a low airspeed condition since they could mean so many different things other than low airspeed.Clifford agrees that the low airspeed alerting system on the 777 is inadequate -- as evidenced by Boeing installing a completely different, low-cost, software-driven "LOW AIRSPEED!" aural warning on all 737s in the aftermath of the fatal crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 in 2009.  As with the Asiana crash, this Turkish Airlines crash involved a trainee pilot and three other pilots onboard who all apparently expected the autothrottle to prevent their airspeed from dropping too low.  With 10 years of NTSB recommendations for low airspeed alerting systems and this recent Turkish Airlines crash, one would have expected Boeing to outfit all of their airplane models with the new "LOW AIRSPEED!" aural warning.  Instead, Boeing chose to only equip the 737.Clifford believes that until such time as Boeing adopts a more global approach to incorporating lessons learned and safety features across its fleet, it will not be surprising to see such forewarned, well-understood circumstances to continue to recur and cause further crashes.

Surrogacy Streamlined in Illinois

Question: My husband and I are thinking of using a surrogate to carry our child. What does Illinois law say about this option? Answer: The Gestational Surrogacy Act makes Illinois a popular state for couples considering this option. Illinois law states that when a gestational surrogate (one who is the carrier but not the egg provider) gives birth in Illinois, parenthood immediately passes to the intended parents, whether they are traditional or same-sex partners. The parents’ names are on the birth certificate, so there’s no need for the couple to go through the court adoption process after birth.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Sign Without Reading? -- The ISBA Advises Against It

Question:  Like many people, I often sign a contract without reading the fine print. Should I be concerned? Answer:  People often glance over a contract and sign it without knowing what their obligations are. Problems can and do arise even in the simplest of purchases where contracts were signed before the purchaser read the fine print. For example, a growing number of contracts have clauses built in that eliminate the right to a trial or the option to pursue a class action in court, and instead mandate arbitration. If you have questions about any contract, no matter what the size or nature of your purchase or agreement, it is best to consult with a lawyer before signing it.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Giving Yourself the Gift of Peace of Mind -- The ISBA Outlines When You Need an Estate Plan

Question:  At what point should someone create an estate plan? Answer:  You should have an estate plan if you are the parent of minor children, own property, and care about end-of-life health care treatment. An estate plan is composed of one or more documents used to control health care decisions, your property in the event of incapacity, and the distribution of your property in the event of death. Documents may include a Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Property, and a Living Trust. An experienced lawyer can provide further information and assist you in drawing up an estate plan.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

The Gift of Cable TV -- Your Rights and Services According to Law

Question:  What laws govern the delivery of cable and video services in Illinois? Answer:  Under Illinois’ Cable and Video Customer Protection Law, cable and video television providers must provide installation within seven days of a customer order. They must also repair service disruptions within 24 hours after being contacted by a customer, and they must provide the customer with total costs of any service and repairs before the work is performed. For other information, visit http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/rights/Understanding_Your_Rights_tv.pdf   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Feeling the Holiday Time Crunch? -- The ISBA Weighs in on Overtime for Salaried Employees

Question:  If I am paid a salary, can I still qualify for overtime pay? Answer:  Perhaps. You are paid a salary if you regularly receive a predetermined amount each pay period. An employee being paid on a salary basis is not automatically exempt from receiving overtime pay. The primary duties you perform on your job must be exempt to disqualify you for overtime pay. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website at www.dol.gov.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Recovery Plan Goes Into Action to Aid Tornado Victims

As reported in the Nov. 24, 2013 Chicago Tribune, disasters are times of incredible chaos and anxiety. The federal response plan that was formally codified in 2011 aims to mollify these aspects of a disaster and aid in a speedy recovery.  People who live in areas that have been struck by natural disaster should become familiar with this plan.  For those who recently were victims of the tornado that devastated parts of Washington, Illinois, an outpouring of kindness continues, including a benefit that was held Dec. 4 to raise money. For a full breakdown of the timeline and actions that follows a disaster read the Chicago Tribune article here: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-24/news/ct-tornado-cleanup-1123-met-20131124_1_tornado-warning-weather-tornado-sunday-morning

Boot Camp or Prison? -- The ISBA Clears Which Nonviolent Felons Can Avoid Jail

Question:  Under what circumstances can an underage offender be sentenced to boot camp instead of prison? Answer:  Under Illinois law, offenders ages 17 to 35 who commit nonviolent acts, such as robbery or burglary, can be sentenced to boot camp or probation instead of prison. But for so-called “forcible felonies,” such as armed robbery, boot camp is not an option.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Ensuring a Child is Supported, Despite Unemployment

Question:  What methods to enforce child support payments are available if the supporting parent claims to be unemployed? Answer:  Attorneys have a number of methods at their disposal to enforce court-ordered child support payments. If the supporting parent claims to be unemployed, the non-custodial party can get a court order, ensuring that the “unemployed” parent maintain a job diary. The court can also order the non-custodial parent to participate in a government-sponsored job placement service and have that parent complete a financial disclosure statement to be reviewed by the court and attorneys. Other methods to enforce support include suspending a parent’s driver’s license and the right to a U.S. passport, seizing assets of the non-custodial parent to repay child support debt, and reporting the deadbeat parent to credit reporting agencies.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

No need to fear Jack Frost in Illinois -- ISBA discusses heating laws

Question:  What laws are in place to protect residents from having their heat disconnected in cold weather? Answer:  Between December 1 and March 31, gas and electric companies cannot legally terminate heating services for non-payment unless the customer was offered and refused to enter into a payment plan, or the outdoor temperature is 32 degrees or higher. Also, the company must have notified the customer about the pending disconnection by U.S. mail at least eight days prior to the termination or delivery of a notice five days prior. Local municipalities may also have their own ordinances further outlining when heat may or may not be disconnected.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Your Rights During Foreclosure -- ISBA Info

Question:  Can a lender or property manager break into and secure a home that is in foreclosure without giving advance notice to the owner? Answer:  Property managers have the right to break into and secure homes which are in foreclosure in order to protect lenders’ interests. However, they need to give notice in advance or risk performing a criminal act. While there are clauses in many mortgage contracts that say the lender can secure the property, there is no enforceable clause that allows a property manager to enter a home without notification. There is an exception to this rule if the house has been abandoned. An experienced lawyer can provide further information.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Avoiding Identity Fraud -- The ISBA Talks Precautions

Question:  I have heard that con artists are preying on people about all the confusion over the Affordable Care Act. How can I protect myself and my loved ones from this kind of fraud? Answer:  It has been reported that some unscrupulous con artists are taking advantage of the changing health care insurance landscape by preying on individuals. To avoid becoming a victim, do not provide any personal information to a door-to-door solicitor who may claim to be a government official working for Medicaid. Be wary of marketers who push expensive add-on policies, especially to those on Medicare who don’t need the extra coverage. Also, be aware of websites that may look official but are actually “bait” set by operators who claim to be selling insurance but want your identity and your money.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Red Lights Also Apply to Texting in Illinois

Question:  If I am at a stoplight waiting for the light to turn green, am I breaking the law by sending a text message? Answer:  If your foot is on the brake pedal, writing, sending or receiving a text message is a violation of the law punishable by a citation carrying a fine. There are certain exceptions. For example, drivers may pull over to the side of the road to text, or they can shift their car into park or neutral while stopped in traffic.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

If You're Driving, Don't Drink the Eggnog -- The ISBA Weighs in on Holiday DUIs

Question:  What penalties might an intoxicated motorist face if stopped by a police officer?Answer:  The approaching holiday season typically means increased enforcement by police for motorists who drive while intoxicated. In Illinois, a DUI can lead to serious penalties including large fines, driver’s license suspension, and jail or prison time. These penalties increase if a drunk driver causes an accident or injures someone. Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are brought against any driver testing at .08 percent BAC (blood-alcohol content) or higher. Stricter penalties apply for drivers with a BAC of .20 percent or more, as well as drivers who refuse to comply with BAC testing. Drivers under the age of 21 may not have any blood-alcohol content upon being tested.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

ISBA's Take on Holiday Online Shopping

Question:  I plan to do a great deal of holiday shopping online. How can I shop safely using the Internet? Answer:  When shopping online, be sure to make your purchases through a legitimate retailer. Pay with a credit card on a website that you know is secure (one that begins with “https” and has a locked padlock icon). Keep a record of all transactions, and review your credit card bill for accuracy.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs 

The 7th Annual Clifford Law Offices CLE program: "The Ethics of Client Communications"

The Seventh Annual Clifford Law Offices continuing legal education (CLE) program will be held Feb. 20. Bob Clifford will moderate the two-hour program entitled "The Ethics of Client Communication" that offers attorneys across the state free professional responsibility CLE credit. He will be joined on the panel by Illinois Appellate Court Justice Maureen Connors, James J. Grogan, Deputy Administrator and Chief Counsel of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), and Sara Parikh, Ph.D., Managing Director at Leo Shapiro & Associates, a Chicago behavior and research firm. To register, visit the firm's website at www.CliffordLaw.com.

Illinois Law and Surrogacy

Question: My husband and I are thinking of using a surrogate to carry our child. What does Illinois law say about this option? Answer: The Gestational Surrogacy Act makes Illinois a popular state for couples considering this option. Illinois law states that when a gestational surrogate (one who is the carrier but not the egg provider) gives birth in Illinois, parenthood immediately passes to the intended parents, whether they are traditional or same-sex partners. The parents’ names are on the birth certificate, so there’s no need for the couple to go through the court adoption process after birth.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Small Claims Court -- Do You Need a Lawyer?

Question: I'm considering small claims court as a way to resolve my dispute with someone who owes me money. Will I need a lawyer? Answer:  It is totally your choice. In small claims court, you can handle your personal or business legal matters without an attorney. If, however, the other party has an attorney, you may want one as well to improve your chances of winning the case. For help in finding an attorney, contact the Illinois State Bar Association's Illinois Lawyer Finder service by calling (800) 922-8757, or visit www.IllinoisLawyerFinder.com. The service can provide the name of a lawyer in your area.  ISBA lawyers obtained through the toll-free phone call have agreed to provide a half-hour consultation for a fee of no more than $25.       For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.   Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Do Not Call Registry -- But the Calls Keep Coming

 Question: My home phone number has been registered with the donotcall.gov site for several years, yet I still receive calls from companies trying to sell me something. I’ve reported the calls but nothing seems to help. Is there anything more I can do?Answer: Unfortunately, scam artists don’t seem to care if you’re registered. The Federal Trade Commission has filed lawsuits against many of the violators and won a number of cases. Your best bet is to continue to report offenders to the Do Not Call site.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org. Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Medtronic Heart Devices Being Recalled

After four reports were filed about problems with the heart implant, the FDA mandated a recall due to possible injury and death possibilities. As reported by the AP, the problem is rooted in the occurrence of wear and the dislodging of materials that can block critical arteries. As of this time, no patient or recipient has died, but the forecasted complications could be fatal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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