We've all been there: flashing red and blue lights appear in our rearview mirror and we fight off an anxiety attack as we find a good spot to pull over. For some of us, we get a ticket for speeding, or a fix-it ticket for a blown taillight, or our registration is expired. For others, you may have outstanding warrants, or have been driving in a way that leads police officers to believe you may have been drinking or taking drugs before driving.
If you are being pulled over for suspected drunk driving, this can be especially terrifying. A drunk driving charge, and a drunk driving conviction, can cause a lot of problems in someone's life. From license suspension to a criminal record and time behind bars, looming sentencing can mental health damage.
This is why is it important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to help you, every step of the way. At Ktenas Law, you will have access to the combined knowledge and experience of our entire team, throughout your entire case. We believe that everyone deserves a strong defense created by a talented and dedicated defense attorney, and we provide that to our clients every day.
What is the Punishment for a DUI in Illinois?
DUI sentencing and punishment vary based on many different factors. Having minors in the vehicle, being a minor yourself or under the legal drinking age, and any damage you caused to state property, other persons personal property, or bodily damage you caused can increase sentencing.
- First time DUI conviction: up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $2500
- Second time DUI conviction: minimum of 5 days in prison or 240 community service hours
- Third or Fourth DUI conviction: considered aggravated DUI, a class 2 felony. 3-7 years behind bars, up to $25,000 in fines.
- Fifth DUI Conviction: Class 1 Felony, 4-15 years behind bars and up to $25,000 in fines
- Sixth DUI Conviction: Class X Felony, 6-30 years behind bars, up to $25,000 in fines, and a permanent loss of driving privileges
The above is simply a basic guideline and does not include other penalties or additional penalties for a blood alcohol content above 0.16. Each level of DUI comes with its own rules about the length of license suspension, required educational courses, community service hours, probation, court-ordered rehabilitation, or treatment requirements.
What to Do if You Have Been Pulled Over for a DUI
The first step when being pulled over, no matter what the reason, is to stay calm. If you panic, you are more likely to do or say something to get yourself into more trouble. Arguing and fighting with officers can get you charged with assaulting an officer or resisting arrest on top of reckless endangerment and driving under the influence of alcohol charges.
Stay calm, and provide the law enforcement officer with your license, registration, and proof of insurance when asked. Once you have provided these documents, there are most likely not going to be any more lawful orders for you to follow, and the questioning will begin. It is your 5th amendment right under the United States constitution to not incriminate yourself, and this means that you have the right to stay silent.
Express to the police that you wish to stay silent, and would like to speak with your attorney. At this point, officers are not legally allowed to question you. Once you request an attorney, officer's can no longer question you. If they continue to question you, note their names and badge numbers. Anything you say to them after you've requested an attorney can not be used against you, but they may still attempt to get you to talk.
They may also request to search your vehicle. Do not ever consent to have your vehicle or property searched. They may claim that they have probable cause to search your vehicle. You are allowed to ask what their probable cause is before they search your vehicle. If they search your vehicle without permission, this is called Illegal Search and can be used to help your legal defense later on.
It is at this time you should begin to note as much going on as possible. If they search your vehicle, make a mental note of their reasoning. Remember names, badge numbers, street names, camera locations, etc. The more you remember the better.
Learn More: What to Do After a DUI
Should You Take the Field Sobriety Tests?
The short answer to this is typically no. Field sobriety tests teeter somewhere around 65-70% accurate, on the best of days, and can cause problems in your case later on. They are extremely easy to fail. Even being tired is enough to fail all three field sobriety tests, and having bad balance or inner ear issues is enough to fail 2 out of the 3.
Breathalyzers are not much better. When administered properly, breathalyzers are around 85% accurate, but they can show false positive BAC if the recipient has recently used mouthwash, takes certain kinds of medication, has been chewing gum, or has any manner of health issues. When not administered correctly, false positives happen often.
Courts know that field sobriety tests and breathalyzers are not 100% accurate, but they are still used in court with a grain of salt and can affect your chances of being convicted. Refusing a breathalyzer or field sobriety testing will result in an arrest and your license will be suspended for a year by Illinois law, but your refusal cannot be used against you in court.
If you refuse field testing and a breathalyzer, you will still be required to submit to chemical testing after being booked at the police station. This can be helpful for several different reasons. It can take hours to be booked if the police station is having a busy night, which means more time for any alcohol present in your blood to dissipate before you are chemically tested.
Related Content: Should You Take a Breathalyzer for a DUI in Chicago
Do Not Let Your Car Be Impounded
Many people are not aware that when you are arrested for a DUI, you do have the option to request for a friend or family member to be allowed to pick up your car. Doing this can help you in two different ways. First, if the police impound your car after arresting you, you will be subject to impound and towing fees in order to retake possession of your car when you are released from jail.
Second, and most importantly, all cars that are impounded by police are subject to an inventory search. Police will search your vehicle and compile an inventory list of everything that is inside your car at the time of your arrest. This can cause major problems for you if there are illegal substances, open bottles, or drug paraphernalia in your vehicle.
You will not be offered this option if you are being arrested, you must verbally request to be allowed to have someone come and pick up your vehicle. It is imperative that you express your wishes to have a person of your choosing retrieve your car, or it will be towed to a police impound lot.
How Much Does a DUI Attorney Cost?
The cost of DUI and criminal defense attorneys can vary, but the average cost per hour for a DUI attorney in Chicago, Illinois can range anywhere between $100 and $500 an hour, depending on the severity of your case, and the experience of the lawyer. Many lawyers offer flat fees rates for simple DUI's, normally first-time offenders that are only facing license suspension and community service hours.
These flat rates vary, but the average cost of a DUI case tends to be around $3,000, but more complex cases can cost up to $10,000 in court fees and lawyer payments.
You may qualify to be represented by public defenders. If you have a simple case, this can help you save money. But if your case is complicated, it is important to remember that many public defenders are overworked and under-resourced, and this can affect you in more serious cases.
We Can Help You Beat a DUI Charge
If you are facing hefty fines, jail time, and a criminal charge for driving after the consumption of alcohol, you need an experienced DUI attorney in Chicago on your side. No matter your blood alcohol level, no matter the circumstances of your case, there is always a chance if you have the right team behind you.
The spectacular team at Ktenas Law is ready and waiting. Our dedication to our clients is unmatched, we know that everyone makes mistakes. And we also know that a mistake shouldn't change the course of the rest of your life. We know that you regret your mistakes, and we're here to show the judge that you regret those mistakes, as well.
During your free, initial consultation, you will sit down with our team and we will all review your case together, come up with realistic expectations for the outcome of your case, and begin to build the perfect, customized defense for your circumstances. Regardless of breath alcohol level, regardless of any other details, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and we can help you find it.
Call us today for your free consultation to learn how we can help you through the legal process, and let's get started on getting your life back on track.