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What Do I Do After a DUI in Chicago?

Illinois aggressively prosecutes drunk driving charges. After a DUI in Chicago, if you have been pulled over and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you need to act quickly to protect your legal rights. You can be found guilty of drunk driving if a breath, blood, or urine test reveals a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher or if you have any methamphetamine or cannabis present in your system.

Intoxicated driving is a crime that carries with it the potential for a jail sentence, loss of driving privileges, and expensive fines. At a minimum, a DUI criminal charge is charged as a Class A misdemeanor offense with a potential jail term of up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.00. If you're facing DUI charges in Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Kendall County, Lake County, or anywhere in Illinois, you need the legal representation of an experienced Chicago DUI criminal defense lawyer.

At Chicago DUI Defense, our Chicago DUI criminal lawyers have extensive experience defending the constitutional rights of our clients. Our criminal defense legal team understands that being charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol carries with it many legal consequences, including the suspension of your driver's license and social stigma. We provide legal advice and representation without judgment to help our clients achieve the best results possible. An effective defense strategy includes challenging the initial stop by the arresting police officer, challenging the administration of the breathalyzer or blood or urine test, and reviewing the calibration of the equipment used to render the result.

What is the Criminal Penalty for a First Time DUI in Chicago?

It’s critical to understand you aren’t alone after a drunk driving arrest. Every year in Illinois over 35,000 people are arrested for impaired driving. Although the criminal penalties of a first time DUI differ based on how your drunk driving case plays out and if your DUI criminal defense attorney gets your drunk driving charges dropped or reduced, here are the potential criminal penalties for a first-time DUI offender:

  • Because a first-time DUI offense is a Class A misdemeanor offense in Illinois, if you’re arrested and charged with this criminal charge you’ll face 365 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.
  • Rarely are first-time DUI offenders sentenced to time in jail or prison. Often, they don’t face the maximum fine; however, they must pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500. But the $500 doesn’t include other legal fees, such as surcharges, court costs, or the cost of court-ordered alcohol treatment or rehabilitation programs, including alcohol awareness courses.
  • Often, substance abuse counseling is recommended, but it’s not a mandatory criminal penalty if convicted.
  • If you were transporting a minor in your motor vehicle, the minimum fine is $1,000.
  • A first DUI offender whose blood alcohol level was 0.016% or more, must complete a minimum of 100 hours of community service.
  • A first offender who was with a passenger under the age of 16 years in their vehicle must complete 25 days of community service in a program that’s beneficial to kids.
man getting pulled over after a dui

Apart from the statutory summary suspension discussed above, a first-time DUI offender will face a license suspension for a period of one year. However, the offender may apply for a hardship license or restricted driving permit (RDP) to drive to school, medical appointments, work, and/or alcohol or drug treatment. If your driving privileges have been suspended after a first-time DUI conviction and a statutory summary suspension, you must install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) in your car for the duration of the restricted driving permit.

What Happens if You have been Arrested for Driving Under the Influence?

When an individual is arrested for drunk driving charges, there are many things that happen. Several years ago, Illinois adopted new drunk driving laws that make this one of the strictest states on driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There is a Statutory Summary Suspension and impounding of the motor vehicle which the drunk driver was driving for most intoxicated driving cases. It also is an expensive process, with administrative costs, judicial fines, and attorneys’ fees. However, an experienced Chicago DUI criminal defense attorney can help you get through the legal process.

Related Content: Do I have to take a breathalyzer after getting pulled over in Chicago?

In Illinois, the first and possibly second DUI are frequently charged as misdemeanor offenses. If a person has been convicted of subsequent DUI charges, consisting of three or more in their driving history, then the charge becomes a felony offense. Some factors will be used to enhance a misdemeanor DUI offense to a felony DUI, including:

  • The driver is in an automobile accident that caused a death or great bodily harm while driving under the influence;
  • The driver didn't have a valid driver’s license at the time of the drunk driving arrest;
  • The driver didn't have any auto insurance policy at the time of the DUI citation;
  • The driver was driving while drunk with a minor under the age of 16 and the child suffered bodily injury in a car accident; or
  • If the driver was driving a school bus while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

With the changes that took effect in 2009, even a first-time DUI criminal conviction can cause severe consequences. A Class A misdemeanor offense has a maximum fine of $2,500.00 and up to a year in jail. However, most first-time offenders don't go to jail unless they were involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving under the influence. It is possible to get court supervision, which is an alternative to a DUI conviction. Court supervision isn't possible for a second or third DUI violation. And this DUI could result in a Class 2 or Class 4 felony offense, which can cause a sentence of one to seven years in prison.

Can I Still Drive During a Driver's License Suspension?

A DUI offender who wishes to drive during the license suspension period has to apply to the Secretary of State to obtain a Monitoring Device Driver’s Permit (MDDP). An MDDP is a driving permit that allows a person with a suspended license unlimited driving privileges regardless of the license suspension.  To qualify as a DUI offender under the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-500), and thus qualify for an MDDP, you must not have:

  • Received a previous statutory summary suspension in the last five years before the driver’s current license suspension;
  • Been convicted of driving under the influence or assigned court supervision for drunk driving in Illinois; or
  • A drunk driving conviction from another state within 5 years.

An MDDP can't be issued if the Secretary of State establishes that:

  • Your driver's license is invalid;
  • Great bodily harm or death to another person resulted from the incident leading to your drunk driving arrest;
  • You have been previously convicted of aggravated DUI involving death or reckless homicide;
  • You're underage; or
  • The driver is qualifying and licensed medical marijuana patient.

Once approved for an MDDP, you have to pay a monthly administration fee of up to $30. Further, an approved driver has 14 days from the day the driving permit is issued to have a breath alcohol ignition interlock device installed in their motor vehicle. A Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID), is a device that is attached to a vehicle’s starter system. To start your vehicle, you have to blow into the device and get a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reading. The device measures your blood alcohol content, and if the content is above a certain limit, you can't start your car and you must retest after a short time.

intent to drive after glass of alcohol

The approved level below which you can start your car and drive is programmed into the device by the Secretary of State. Tampering with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device is considered a violation of the MDDP program, which means you’ll need an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney to help you.

In some cases, if you have to drive a different motor vehicle in the course of your employment, you must get permission from the Secretary of State to drive that motor vehicle without installing a breath alcohol ignition interlock device. However, there are certain employees, including school bus drivers, who are ineligible for this accommodation. If you don't have an MDDP, driving while on a suspended driver's license is a class 4 felony.

If you were stopped for suspected driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney at Chicago DUI Defense for aggressive drunk driving defense, and legal representation in administrative hearings for driver's license reinstatement after license suspension.

How Long Will an Intoxicated Driving Charge Stay on Your Criminal Record in Illinois?

Illinois takes intoxicated driving charges seriously and has a zero-tolerance policy for DUI convictions. Thus, if you’re convicted of impaired driving, that criminal conviction will remain on your record forever.

The Criminal Identification Act allows DUI offenders to seal criminal records. Thus, your criminal record will still exist, but the public can't access it until they obtain a court order. So, your criminal record isn’t available to the general public, and can only be accessed after getting a court order. In felony offenses where a criminal conviction can’t be expunged, you can seal your public criminal record. However, in Illinois, it’s against the law to seal a DUI conviction.

Expungement is where a state destroys the physical copies of your criminal record and removes your name from public and official records regarding a particular crime. However, in Illinois, whether you were tried as an adult or even as a minor, your DUI conviction can’t be expunged from your criminal record.

Being charged with a Chicago DUI can affect your life in many ways. It can cause serious financial consequences, limit your career progression, and stay on your record permanently. You must take these criminal charges seriously, even though this is your first offense. At Chicago DUI Defense, our skilled DUI lawyers can help you get your criminal charges dismissed or reduced. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation, call our criminal defense law firm today at 312-800-1626, or chat with us online to learn how our legal team can help. 

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