Being convicted of a DUI in the state of Illinois can have grave and far reaching consequences. As a matter of fact, even first time offenders run the risk of losing their license, facing jail time and hefty fines. Additionally, the DUI laws in Illinois are progressive and each additional offense results in heftier penalties. DUI is also a highly politicized crime in Illinois. Since hundreds of people die or are injured by inebriated drivers, Illinoisans demand zero tolerance prosecution and punishment for DUI offenders. Due to this reason, prosecutors are unlikely to offer lenient plea bargains and judges are likely to dish out as much punishment as the law allows.
Minimum BAC in Illinois
Drivers over the age of 21 are considered to be legally drunk at a BAC of 0.08 percent. Drivers with a license to operate commercial vehicles are considered too drunk to legally drive when they have a BAC of 0.04 percent or more. There is a zero tolerance policy for individuals under the age of 21 years, meaning that any trace of alcohol in their system while driving can lead to DUI charges.
DUI arrests in Illinois
In the event that you are pulled over and the officer suspects that you have been drinking, he or she will ask you to complete a field sobriety test. If the field sobriety test gives the officer reason to believe that you have a BAC over the legal limit, then the officer has been given probable cause. After this, you will be taken to the police station and will have to take a chemical test (usually a breathalyzer test). Refusal to take the chemical test can result in you facing a statutory summary suspension, which immediately suspends your license and leaves you with 45 days to fight a longer term suspension in court. If you cooperate, then your BAC will be used to deduce if a statutory suspension should be issued.
First DUI conviction
A first time DUI conviction is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. It is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. However, it is not necessary that you will end up in jail for a first time offense. If you make a plea bargain, you may be given the option of taking alcohol/substance abuse therapy or performing community service. A DUI conviction also results in a minimum one year loss of driving privileges. This can be longer if you refused to take or complete the field sobriety test or breathalyzer test and are given a statutory summary suspension.
Second DUI conviction
A second DUI is also a class A misdemeanor (unless the DUI results in great bodily injury or death of another person or you had a child under the age of sixteen as a passenger in the car). A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a minimum of five days of jail time and a maximum of one year of jail time. In certain cases, the jail time can be substituted by 240 hours of community service. You also face financial penalties in the form of a $2,500 fine. If your previous DUI was within a twenty year period, the DUI conviction can result in the loss of your driving privileges for a period of five years. A second DUI charge also means that you can’t enter into plea negotiations with the prosecutor as it is barred by statute.
Third DUI conviction
A third DUI offense is considered a Class 2 Felony. If you are convicted for a DUI a third time in the state of Illinois, you can face jail time for a period of three to seven years. However, in some cases, you may just face a period of forty eight months’ probation instead, and 18 to 30 month periodic imprisonment and a $25,000 fine. If a minor is present in the car at the time of the offense, there is a mandatory minimum $25,000 fine along with a 25 day community service program related to children.
In addition to the above mentioned criminal penalties, you can also face administrative penalties. A third time DUI conviction will result in a revocation of your driver’s license and loss of your driving privileges for a minimum period of ten years. Moreover, your vehicle registration can also be suspended.
If you have caused great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement to someone while driving with a BAC over the legal limit, you can be charged with an Aggravated DUI. This is a Class 4 Felony with a minimum ten days jail time sentence or 480 hours of community service. The maximum jail time in an aggravated DUI conviction is 12 years. Offenders will also have to pay financial penalties and can be fined a maximum amount of $25,000. If the person you injured was under the age of 16, you can be charged with aggravated DUI even if they were not seriously injured.
You can also be charged with aggravated DUI if this is your third or higher offense or if you had a minor in the car with you at the time of the DUI. DUI charges can also be enhanced if you have a prior conviction for DUI related reckless homicide, if you lack liability insurance, don’t have a driver’s license or if your driver’s license was already suspended for a DUI related reason.
What to do when you are charged with DUI in Illinois?
As mentioned above, consequences for DUI convictions in Illinois are quite severe. Your first step in minimizing the losses you will face as a result of a DUI arrest and conviction should be to contact and hire a competent lawyer who is experienced with DUI related cases and is familiar with DUI law. Get in touch with a lawyer who has experience defending people against DUI charges in the state of Illinois and doing so with some success. The ideal lawyer for you will seek out discrepancies in your case and use them as leverage to help you get the best possible outcome.
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