115 West 55th Street, Suite 400; Clarendon Hills, Illinois 60514
Telephone:  630-654-8333 
Fax: 630-321-1430  michaeltbyrne@aol.com

 

Practice Areas: Criminal Law; Driving While Intoxicated; Drug Crimes; Felonies; Homicide; Sexual Assault; Traffic Violations; Probation Violations

 

Admitted: 1982, Illinois and U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

 

Education: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (B.S., 1978); John Marshall Law School (J.D., 1981)

 

Bar Association Memberships: Chicago and DuPage County Bar Associations.

 

Born: Evanston Illinois, December 9, 1956

 

ISLN: 908618352

 

 

 

 

Video Transcripts

Michael T. Byrne, Attorney relates summary and anecdotal experiences

defending DUI, traffic and general defense cases (video 1 of 2 on DUI advice)

 

Below Michael T. Byrne, Attorney explains wise procedures to take

immediately when you are pulled over for DUI (video 2 of 2 on DUI advice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video Transcripts: 

Michael Byrne, Illinois Dui Lawyer (Interview Transcript)
 

Rich Jacobs from myDUIattorney.com sits down with Michael T. Byrne, a criminal and DUI defense lawyer who has been practicing in the state of Illinois for 30 years. A must read for anyone charged with a DUI in Chicago or the state of Illinois.

RJ: What makes you choose to handle DUI cases, and what motivates you to be a criminal defense attorney?
MB: Iíll start out with the second part of that question, to be a criminal defense attorney is what makes our country great. It separates our country from what weíve seen go on in Northern Africa the last couple of months, where frequently you see a police state and people have no rights. In our country we have the right to due process, we have the right to a lawyer and we have the right to fair representation in a court. And without lawyers checking the police, police would get away with far more than they do.
 

RJ: What makes you choose to deal with DUI cases in particular?
MB: I found that over the last 30 years the pendulum with respect to DUIs has only swung one way. The police are becoming increasingly aggressive at arresting people for DUI, whether itís the quotas they have or the counties making money from court appearances, but they seem to arrest anyone they can for DUIs Ė they seem to try to get a certain number of arrests. So I think itís important that aggressive criminal defense lawyers step in, and frequently Iíve found that people were charged with DUI that were not under the influence or that they were improperly charged, or their rights were violated in some way.

RJ: How many DUI cases have you handled since you have been practicing law?
MB: Well, Iíve been a lawyer for just about 30 years so hard to say, but over a thousand.

RJ: Of all the clients youíve seen over the years are there any typical ones, are there more first time-offenders, more men than women, for example? Any commonalities?
MB: You know, Iíve found that both people and clients are across the board. Iíve seen people that are under the limit charged, Iíve seen people that should be legally dead charged, Iíve represented lawyers and doctors charged with DUI, Iíve seen hardworking blue-collar people charged with DUI. So Iíve found really no common theme of people charged with DUI. Or, a common theme to the type of case, which I think is important that you treat each case uniquely, because each case is different, and each case does present new possible defenses.

RJ: Do you tend to have more cases that the client is closer to the .08 limit or much higher or lower?
MB: You know again, I think the range is all over the board. Sometimes you might get a high blow but there might be some error with the machine so you canít just take the paper you see and presume that itís accurate Ė thereís many things you have to challenge on a daily basis.

RJ: What is the highest BAC level that youíve ever seen?
MB: I did see a .4 once, and it was unbelievable that the person was alive.

RJ: And out of the cases that you see, do you see a lot more alcohol or drug DUI?
MB: Iíd say that in recent years weíre seeing more and more drug DUI. And one thing that people are generally unaware of but need to keep in mind is that you can get a DUI while under the influence of prescription medication, and not even an illegal drug. But if a drug impairs your ability to drive, you can be charged with DUI.

RJ: For the cases that you see with prescription or illegal drug DUIs, are those any harder to defend versus an alcohol DUI?
MB: It really depends on the charge. They have different ways that they can charge drug DUIs in Illinois. They can charge it as a strict liability that any amount of cannabis say, you can be charged with a DUI, even if you smoked 20 days before and youíre not really impaired. So thereís different challenges to each of the ways that they charge for DUI under the influence of drugs.

RJ: So itís possible that if you smoked cannabis 20 days ago, but for some reason you got pulled over and the officer wants to compel a blood test and it shows up that you have metabolized in your system, is that called DUI, is that called something else?

MB: Yeah, it can be called DUI, and the statute in my opinion is not written fairly but we do have to fight those cases just like we have to fight the cases for people that are under the legal limit of alcohol.
RJ: What is unique if anything about the DUI laws in the counties that you serve?

MB: You know I think the one thing thatís important for anyone to consider is that they do need a lawyer because depending on how you are charged, at least in Illinois, because if you are charged by a state prosecutor or a local prosecutor, that makes a big difference. And then, depending on what courtroom you are in, as a lawyer, I know what judges are better to try cases in front of or which judges are better to plea-bargain. And same with the prosecutors, I know which ones are easier to work with and harder to work with. So I think that is the uniqueness to any jurisdiction, is to know the players and for them to know you. And I think itís important that at least with the judges that I appear in front of, if I go to trial, the judges have enough respect for me to know that I donít go to trial unless I think I have a good chance to win the case. Or at least that I have a solid defense. So you acquire a certain amount of respect from the bench and thatís helpful in practice.

RJ: That would make me feel a lot better as a client, having someone on my side that the judge and prosecution knows and respects.
MB: Familiarity is important I think that the state attorney or judge that I am working in front of or against, when they have a level of have a level of trust in me, it makes everything go smoother and it makes the likelihood of success for my client certainly be better.
 

RJ: You mentioned city prosecutors versus state prosecutors, whatís the difference?
MB: If you are charged with a local DUI in the area that I practice, the local prosecutors have a little more discretion to plea-bargain the case than the stateís attorneyís office. So you want to know who those people are and what their limits are in so far as what they are willing to do.

RJ: Whatís your best tip for someone who has been pulled over and may have had a few drinks, what should they do, what shouldnít they do?
MB: Well certainly, if youíre at all questionable about the amount of drinks you have had you do not want to provide any evidence to the police, so I always advise people to be respectful to the police, be polite, try not to open the window all the way, try to maybe open it part way so they canít maybe smell your breath, be ready with the license and insurance, Ďyes sirí, Ďno, sir/maíamí when they ask you questions, and if they ask you to get out of the car, do not get out of the car because thatís when they are able to obtain evidence. Just say ĎOfficer, with all due respect, Iíve always been advised not to get out of my vehicleí and if they have to arrest you to get you out of your vehicle, anything that happens after the arrest we can possibly suppress the evidence, and therefore weíll have a lot stronger case.

RJ: What would the police reaction be if you refused to get out of the vehicle?
MB: Well just say ĎSir, I didnít do anything wrong, Iím not going to get out of the vehicleí, and if they say, Ďyouíre under arrestí then you have to get out. They may try to intimidate you or possibly let you go Ė it really depends on what your driving infraction was to. If it was simply speeding thatís one thing, but if there was an accident then you might have different issues. But even if youíre out of the vehicle when the officer arrives, do not agree to do any field sobriety tests because thatís how they gain evidence that they can use in court against you. If you donít agree to do any tests, youíll have a better chance at trial.

RJ: So same polite refusal if they ask you to do field sobriety tests?
MB: Yes.

RJ: What kinds of help can you provide to people being prosecuted? Can you possibly reduce jail time or fines?
MB: Once again, thereís a gamit of things that could happen. It all depends on the seriousness of the allegation. If itís a situation where thereís multiple DUIs in your background and the likelihood of success for the person charged with the DUI is small, then Iím going to get into a position where we can plea-bargain. Maybe we file motions to weaken the stateís case, but weíll probably plea-bargain the case to get a better disposition than they normally would. If itís a position where we can try the case, then weíre going to try the case. It all depends on a case-by-case basis again.

RJ: What degree of success have you had in mitigating some or all of the punishments for DUI over time?
MB: As a lawyer, any client that has come to me has had some level of success. Whether itís a better sentence than they would have normally gotten, or whether itís a not guilty, but they are going to receive some level of success after they hire me.

RJ: What are the benefits of hiring a public attorney versus a public defender versus defending yourself in a DUI case?
MB: Well first of all hiring a public defender versus a private attorney, in the state of Illinois, I always tell people itís like having two charges. The DUI that the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, but you also have a statutory summons suspension. Thatís considered civil in nature, and if you indigent, and the court has to find you indigent, and you receive a public defender, they cannot address the issue of the suspension. So there will be anywhere from a six month to a three year suspension that will be imposed on you, that you will not be able to do anything about if you have a public defender. Similarly, if you represent yourself thereís so many intricacies and nuances to represent yourself that youíll never be able to give yourself a fair shake. And when you are charged with an offense you are emotionally tied to that offense in a unique way Ė even though Iím a lawyer, if I was ever charged with an offense, I would hire a lawyer even though I understand how to represent DUI charges, I would always hire someone that was not attached to the facts.

RJ: What have you learned about peopleís behavior and reaction to DUI? What human insights have you gained through all your years of practice?
MB: I would say that frequently find that with first offenders, they are mortified that they were put in that situation because theyíve never been booked before, theyíve never been fingerprinted before, itís an embarrassing situation frequently, your name ends up in the newspaper. And so I try to talk to them on two levels. I tell them that when I look back to my youth, I was fortunately never charged with a DUI, and if they were a being honest, a high percentage of the population would have to admit that they were fortunate that they were never charged with a DUI. That being said, I try to tell people that you canít go back in time, we canít go back in time, weíve got to go forward and make the best of this Ė use it as a learning tool for what not to do in the future certainly, so letís make the best of a bad situation, and letís get the best result from court and possibly get you exonerated.

RJ: Is there a particular story that people come to you with over and over?
MB: Well one thing I find frequently is that people who are charged with DUI are many times within a mile of their home, so whether itís they are just running out to get something at the store, they didnít think that just driving a mile is a problem, or whether itís they are almost home and they make a mistake, they let their defenses down, for whatever reason thereís a very high frequency of people who are charged with DUI when they are close to their home at the time.
 

RJ: Do you feel the current punishments are too harsh, or too lax and why do you feel like that?
MB: Well I certainly feel that they are too rigid, and as I was saying earlier Ė the pendulum has swung one way for 30 years. And itís popular for politicians to make stricter and new laws that punish DUI defendants, and it seems like they are more focused on DUIs then they are on more serious crimes like burglary or robbery or misdemeanor and felony charges. That being said, the thing I donít like about the laws is that thereís so much rigidity to the laws Ė thereís no flexibility, which as a lawyer it forces us frequently to try the case or to fight the suspension, which is fine, but I think to some extent they are not doing the public any good by making the law so rigid.

RJ: So because the laws are so rigid and are getting stricter do you feel like itís going to be hard to be a DUI lawyer in the future?
MB: Well I think that each year thereís been different challenges, and as a defense lawyer and a member of the defense bar, we react and adjust to the challenges that are put before us. Fortunately, the one thing they will never take away is the right to a trial and a right to a jury of your peers. So we always have trial as a defense.

RJ: What do you see as the future of DUI in terms of the punishment level, the number of offenders, etc?
MB: I certainly donít see the pendulum swinging back in any way Ė I think that it may level off for the next couple of years, but theyíre always going to figure out new and tough ways to deal with people charged with driving under the influence, which certainly makes the need for a good criminal defense lawyer very important.

RJ: What would you say makes you and your firm unique in providing defense, and what statement do you want to make to potential clients?

MB: Well, I would say that Iím a fair person, Iím personal, and Iím honest and when Iím evaluated by lawyers and judges that I practice with they have a nationwide system called Martindale-Hubbell that evaluates us, and I am evaluated as the highest of ethics and the highest of legal ability in the rating system. And I think thatís important, that whoever anyone hires, that they hire someone who has that top rating. Because that indicates that they have that level of respect from fellow judges and lawyers that is needed to practice in whatever county youíre in front of. You have to have that level of expertise and you have to have that level of respect to effectively practice. And the other thing that I think thatís important, frequently you see big or even small firms of lawyers and they donít know what lawyer is going to show up at court. And I see it in the hallway all the time, clients re-explaining facts to the new lawyer that shows up. Itís important that someone hires a sole practitioner like myself so they will get the same person in court each and every time so they get the continuity thatís necessary to practically defend a person.

RJ: I can see how that would be disconcerting to spend time with one lawyer, then another completely different one shows up in court to defend you.

MB: Yes, and I think you lose something in defense if you donít have the same person at each court date and each crucial date.
 

To hire Michael Byrne, or to receive a free consultation, you can contact him at: (630) 654-8333

 

My Philosophy:

 

Preparation Ė every case whether it is a dui or murder requires preparation.  Through subpoenas, filing motions and thoroughly investigating the case the defendant has the best chance to win or negotiate a case from a position of strength.  I believe that once a case is fully prepared it is the lawyers job to honestly assess the risks going forward and the clients job to choose how to proceed.  (bench trial, jury trial or plea)

 

Personal Attention Ė On criminal and traffic cases personal representation is optimal.  Having a client passed from associate to associate does clients a disservice.  I personally represent all my clients, to insure that nothing falls between the cracks.

 

 

 

Qualifications:

Lawyers.com has a rating system with three possible ratings for legal ability and ethics.  Lawyers and judges are surveyed to arrive at each individuals rating.  I received the highest rating for both categories Ė legal ability and ethics. 

 

DUI attorney    See Michael T Byrne, esq. at myDUIattorney.org