Illinois aggressively prosecutes drunk driving charges. If you have been pulled over and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you must act quickly to protect your legal rights. You can be found guilty of intoxicated driving after taking breath, blood, or urine tests that reveal a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, or if you have any methamphetamine or cannabis present in your system. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offense that carries with it the potential for a prison sentence as well as heavy fines.
At a minimum, a first-time DUI charge is charged as a Class A misdemeanor offense with a potential jail term of up to one year in prison and a monetary fine of $2,500.00. Thus, if you're facing DUI charges in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Will County, Kane County, Kendall County, or anywhere in Illinois, you need the legal assistance of an experienced Chicago DUI criminal defense lawyer.
At Chicago DUI Defense, our skilled DUI criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience defending the rights of clients charged with DUI criminal charges. Thus, our legal team understands that being charged with DUI charges carries with it many legal consequences, including the suspension of your driving privileges and social stigma.
We offer legal advice and representation without judgment to achieve the best results possible. An effective defense strategy includes challenging the initial traffic stop by the police, challenging the administration of the breathalyzer or blood or urine test, and reviewing the calibration of the equipment used to render the test results.
What Happens if You have been Arrested for Driving Under the Influence?
When you're arrested for DUI, many things happen. Several years ago, Illinois adopted new DUI laws that make this one of the strictest states on DUI prosecution. There is a Statutory Summary Suspension and impounding of the motor vehicle in which the DUI offender was driving for most DUI cases. It also is a costly process, administrative costs, with judicial fines, and attorneys’ fees. However, the right Chicago DUI criminal defense attorney can help you get through the entire process.
In Illinois, the first and possibly second DUI are often charged as misdemeanor offenses. If you have been convicted of subsequent DUI charges, consisting of three or more in your driver’s history, then the charge will become a felony DUI offense. Some factors will be used to enhance a misdemeanor DUI to a felony offense, including:
- The driver being involved in a motor vehicle accident that caused a death or great bodily harm while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- The driver didn't have a valid 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 under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a minor under the age of 16 and the child was injured in a car accident; or
- If the driver was operating a school bus while drunk.
With the criminal changes that took effect in 2009, even a first-time DUI conviction can cause severe consequences. A Class A misdemeanor DUI offense has a maximum penalty of a monetary fine of $2,500.00 and up to a year in jail.
However, most first-time offenders won't go to jail for a DUI in Chicago unless they were involved in an auto accident while driving under the influence. It's possible to get court supervision, which is an alternative to a DUI conviction. However, Court supervision is impossible for a second or third criminal conviction. And this drunk driving charge could result in a Class 2 or Class 4 felony offense, which can cause a sentence of one to seven years in prison.
Related Content: Will I lose my license after a DUI in Chicago?
Can you go to jail for a DUI in Illinois?
A driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher is considered impaired in Illinois. The following are the potential jail time and monetary penalties that can be imposed if a DUI offender is convicted of a DUI in Illinois:
- First-Time Offense
- Up to 364 days in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500.
- An offender with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16% or higher may face a maximum of 364 days in jail and a minimum fine of $500.
- A person transporting a passenger age 16 or under in their motor vehicle may spend 6 months in jail and pay a minimum fine of $1,000.
- Second DUI Conviction
- The offender may face from 240 hours of community service to 364 days in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500.
- A person with a blood alcohol level of 0.16% or higher may face a minimum of 2 days in jail and a minimum fine of $1,250.
- With a passenger age 16 or under in your vehicle, you may face from 480 hours of community service to 7 years in prison
- Third DUI Conviction
- A defendant may face from 480 hours of community service to 7 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000.
- With a blood alcohol content of 0.16% or higher, a defendant may face a minimum of 90 days in jail and a minimum fine of $1,250.
- With a passenger aged 16 or under in your vehicle, you may face 480 hours of community service to 7 years in prison, and a minimum fine of $25,000.
- Driver’s License Suspensions for DUI Convictions
- First Offense – one year or 2 years if the driver was underage.
- Second DUI Offense – 5 years
- Third DUI Offense – 10 years
As you can see, criminal courts aren't lenient on DUI offenders. That’s because drunk driving is a serious crime and can result in serious bodily injury or the death of others. Illinois has an “implied consent law,” which means that all persons driving on Illinois roadways must submit to a chemical test of breath, urine, blood, or other bodily substance if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe they were driving under the influence. If you fail or refuse to take a breathalyzer test when asked, your license will be suspended as follows:
- First Offense of a Failed test causes 6 months of license suspension.
- First Offense of Refusal of chemical test causes 1 year of license suspension
- Second Offense of Failed test results in 1 year of license suspension
- Second Offense of Refusal of chemical test causes 3 years of license suspension.
Defendants convicted of drunk driving charges in Illinois are also evaluated for chronic substance abuse problems and can be asked to enroll in an alcohol or drug treatment program at their own expense. All DUI offenders usually are also required to attend Victim Impact Panels where they must listen to speakers talk about the negative consequences of alcohol-related car crashes.
Contact Our Experienced Chicago DUI Criminal Defense Attorneys for Legal Advice!
Being charged with drunk driving charges can affect your life in many ways. It can stay on your record permanently, limit your career progression, and cause severe financial consequences. You must take these criminal charges seriously, even though this is your first offense.
At Chicago DUI Defense, our knowledgeable DUI criminal defense lawyers in Cook County can help you get your DUI 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.