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Illinois Zero Tolerance Laws

Under Illinois' zero tolerance law, drivers under age 21 who are found to be impaired by any amount of drugs or intoxicants will lose their licenses. An Illinois police officer may ask a young person suspected of drinking to submit to a breathalyzer test if he/she believes there is probable evidence that the suspect was operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

If the suspect refuses to take the test, the police officer must file a sworn report with the Secretary of State's (SOS) department. Once the SOS receives the report, the young person's suspension of driving privileges begins. For more information call our Illinois DUI attorneys today for a free consultation!

Is Illinois a Zero Tolerance State?

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the state’s zero-tolerance law was enacted in 1995. Under this legislation, drivers under the age of 21 can have a police officer arrest them for driving with any trace of possession of alcohol or consumption of alcohol in their systems as a criminal violation. Even though they might not have reached the legal drinking age, underage drivers can be arrested for DUI offenses regardless of whether their BAC levels are above or below the legal limit of 0.05.

There are exceptions to this rule. For example, minors who were drinking alcohol during a religious ceremony or taking a prescription medicine that contains alcohol may not be penalized for doing so.

Penalties for Violating the Zero Tolerance Law

The length of the driver’s license suspension depends on whether or if the minor has a prior DUI conviction and whether or not he refused the breathalyzer. If the minor refused the breathalyzer, his license will be suspended for at least six months. You do not want a suspension of driving privileges.

Sometimes, a minor who has been drinking can successfully apply for a limited driver’s license that allows him/her to operate a vehicle before their license expires. It is easier for someone to obtain a restricted driver’s license if he/she had a BAC level under 0.08, which represents the legal limit for drivers aged 21 years old and older.

Zero tolerance suspensions for driving under the influence penalties for adult drivers over 21

  • First-time offender: If you're caught drinking and driving with an alcoholic beverage, you could have a 3-month suspension of driving privileges. You can try to obtain a restricted driving permit.
  • Second-time offender: If you're caught drinking and driving again within one year, you could lose your license for up to a one-year suspension or a 6-month suspension. With a loss of driving privileges.

Zero tolerance license suspension for driving under the influence of underage drivers.

  • 1st offense: If you're caught drinking and operating a vehicle while underage drinking, you could have a three-month suspension or a six-month suspension if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test.
  • 2nd offense: If you refuse or fail to take a breathalyzer as an underage driver after receiving a first-offense DUI conviction, you may be facing a second-offense DUI conviction. With a loss of driving privileges or a two-year suspension.
  • This also includes the transportation of alcohol, which is illegal transportation. This comes with getting your license suspension, which could be a 12-month suspension.
police pulling over a driver suspected of DUI

To obtain a restricted driver's license, a person must complete an awareness course for drug and/or drink-related issues. They must also prove that they face severe penalties if they lose their license.

How Does the Zero Tolerance Law Affect Underage Drivers?

Depending on whether they've had any previous DUIs, minors who are charged with underage DUI for the first time could be subject to different punishments. For example, if they're charged with their first offense, they might receive an alcohol education program instead of jail time. If they've already been convicted of one DUI, however, they could be sentenced to jail time.

  • Suspension of driving privileges for at least two (2) consecutive calendar year periods
  • Face a potential jail term of one year
  • You must be fined no more than $2500

For example, if you're convicted of DUI three times within five years, you could face a minimum of ten years in jail, a maximum of 15 years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, and a license suspension of at least one year. It's also considered a class four crime.

Underage drivers who cause crashes resulting in serious injury or death will face additional charges, including aggravated DUI, which is also classified as a class four felony. These offenses carry penalties ranging from a maximum of three years in jail to a maximum of 12 years in jail, fines of up to $10,000, and the loss of their driver’s license for at least one month.

How Does Refusing a Breathalyzer Affect Drivers Under 21?

Illinois is referred to by law enforcement officers as an implied-consensual state. That is while driving in Illinois you give your permission to submit to a chemical testing device. However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you must agree to such a request. In fact, if you refuse to submit to a chemical sobriety check, then you can face penalties ranging from fines to jail time.

It is important to remember that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, a police officer in Illinois may arrest you for driving under the influence. If you're arrested for DUI, you could face serious penalties including jail time and fines. Your refusal to submit to a chemical sobriety test could result in an enhanced penalty.

If you've been charged with DUI and need legal advice, contact an attorney who specializes in drunk driving cases.

Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney at Chicago DUI Defense Today

Call a DUI defense lawyer at Chicago DUI Defense. Their number is (312) 800-1626 and a lawyer will go over your case for a free case review.

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