Driving under the influence charges can carry serious consequences for the offender, even for a first-time offense. Our experienced attorneys at Ktenas Law are ready to provide you with the legal guidance and advice you need to get the best possible result from your case. Contact us today for a free initial consultation!
Consequences of a First Time DUI in Illinois
Illinois sees nearly 35,000 drivers arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol each year. Each case has specific and unique elements that can impact the outcome, and your DUI criminal defense attorney may be able to get your charges reduced or even dropped. In general, here are the penalties you may face as a first-time DUI offender:
- A first time DUI offense is listed as a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. If you are convicted, you will face fines of between $500-$2,500 in addition to up to 1 year of jail time. First-time offenders are rarely sentenced to the maximum jail time or fines, but you may be depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Also keep in mind that the fine you are issued does not include other fees such as court costs, surcharges, or costs associated with court-ordered rehabilitation programs.
- Substance abuse counseling may be ordered, but is not a mandatory penalty for a conviction.
- If your were transporting a minor in your vehicle at the time of your arrest, the minimum fine you will face is $1,000 and you will be required to complete 25 days of community service in a program that is beneficial to children.
- In addition to the suspension issued at the time of arrest, a first-time DUI offender will face a one year suspension of their driver's license. You may apply for a restricted driving permit (RDP) to drive to work, school, medical appointments, or drug treatment during this time. If you are approved for a RDP, you will be required to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device in your vehicle, at your own expense.
Will a First-Time DUI Ruin My Life?
A criminal charge for a DUI will have an impact on your life but doesn't have to ruin it. An experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer will be able to help you fight your DUI charges or negotiate a beneficial plea deal that can result in minimal changes to your life. If you choose to take your case to trial and you win or your charges are dropped, you won't even have a DUI on your driving record.
If you are convicted of a DUI or plead guilty without first consulting a criminal defense attorney, you may face a number of consequences that can impact your everyday life including:
- Driver's license suspension. This is the most immediate penalty most drivers will feel after a DUI charge. Due to statutory summary suspension laws, your license will be suspended after you are issued your DUI ticket. You may face an additional 12 month suspension if you are convicted, with drivers under 21 getting a 2 year suspension instead.
- Jail time. DUI penalties vary depending on your driving history, the unique circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest, and the ruling of the judge. All DUIs carry the option for a jail sentence, and for a first time offense you could face as much as 1 year in jail.
- Career consequences. A DUI conviction will remain on your record even after you have completed all the different parts of your sentence. You will have to disclose your criminal record for any future job applications, and it will be verified by a background check. DUIs are often viewed as liabilities and can effect your viability as an applicant. If you have a job that requires you to drive, a DUI could also impact your current employment status.
- Financial consequences. A drunk driving offense is an incredibly expensive traffic violation. You may face a fine of up to $1,000 for a first time offense. You will also have to pay off your court costs and other fees associated with your case.
DUIs can have serious impacts on your life in any number of ways. A strong defense is your best chance at avoiding this. At Chicago DUI Defense we know what it takes to get a favorable outcome from your case, and will fight to reach that.
Learn More: What is the Real Cost of a DUI in Chicago?
How Long Will a DUI Stay on My Record?
Illinois has a zero-tolerance policy regarding DUI convictions. Due to this, DUI convictions remain on your driving record permanently. You also are not able to have DUI convictions sealed or expunged in the state of Illinois.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a First DUI Offense in Chicago?
First-offense DUIs are misdemeanors and will receive standard sentences on conviction. If you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the prosecution has enough evidence to demonstrate that, including blood alcohol concentration, field sobriety test results, and witness testimony, the majority of DUI offenders will opt to plead guilty. In this circumstance, a DUI attorney will likely be of minimal help to you.
If there are any circumstances in your case that could increase the severity of your penalties, such as an extremely high blood alcohol content, or that may reduce your penalties, such as procedural issues during your arrest process, it will be in your best interest to hire an experienced DUI lawyer to help you build your defense.
If you have any doubts regarding your DUI case, you may want to accept a plea bargain. In this case your attorney can help negotiate a beneficial deal that will grant you a lesser offense in exchange for a guilty plea.
Questionable results from field sobriety tests, BAC readings of less than 0.08%, procedural issues with your arrest, or questions regarding the accuracy of BAC readings can all create doubt around the justification for your arrest. An experienced DUI attorney may be able to use this to get your charges reduced or dropped altogether.
For a basic or very straightforward DUI case, a lawyer may not be necessary. If your case involves any circumstances that could alter your penalties, however, you will likely want an experienced attorney representing you to get the best result out of your case.
Some situations, such as an extremely high BAC or if your DUI results in bodily harm, can make a first-time DUI a felony charge. A talented DUI lawyer will know the best way to reduce your penalties by negotiating your plea bargain or sentencing better than you would be able to on your own.
Related Content: What Can a DUI Do for My Case?
Work With Our Experienced Chicago DUI Lawyers
If you are being charged for a first-time drunk driving offense, you should know that it can impact your life in a number of ways. This could include limiting your career progression, causing significant financial hardship, or straining personal relationships after you lose your driving privileges. It is important that you take these criminal charges seriously, and act quickly to find a talented Chicago DUI lawyer to help you navigate your case.
At Chicago DUI Defense, we are prepared to fight for your rights and work to ensure you get the best possible result from your DUI case. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a free initial case consultation.