A DUI charge is not a charge that should be taken lightly. As seasoned attorneys, we know that. However, it's important for you to know that as well.
In Illinois and DuPage County, a DUI conviction can come with many harsh consequences, from lost driving privileges to hefty fines and a non-expungeable criminal record. Sometimes, these consequences may look manageable on paper. They're certainly inconvenient, but you can deal with them, can't you?
Many people think that they can overcome the consequences of a DUI. Then, their summary suspension kicks into effect, they are slammed with fines and costs, and their employment background check comes back with a DUI conviction on their record. They quickly realize that the consequences of a DUI conviction can significantly impair the quality of their life and harm their future.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take the protect your interests if you are charged with a DUI. The first and most pragmatic step you should take is to understand the full extent of possible consequences you are facing. If you know exactly what you are dealing with, you can make smart and informed decisions to protect your future.
Below, we'll discuss seven truths you should know about an Illinois or DuPage County DUI charge and what your options are if you are facing a DUI.
7 Hard Truths You Need to Know About Your DuPage County DUI
There are many ‘hard truths' (as we like to call them) to Illinois DUIs. Some of them are harsh consequences that can impact your life, while others are strict policies which make it easy for you to get busted for a DUI. Here are the seven we think you should absolutely know.
1. No Refusal Policies Severely Limit Your Legal Options
Many Illinois municipalities have adopted No Refusal policies which are implemented during holidays and high-risk dates to prevent drunk driving accidents and fatalities. The use of these policies often means that you are far more likely to get arrested and charged for a DUI while out on the road.
The most challenging aspect of No Refusal is that they alter the typical procedures of a standard DUI arrest and/or introduce rules which make it difficult for you to refuse a sobriety test.
For example, if you are arrested for a DUI while a No Refusal policy is in effect, the police department will have judges on-call who can issue immediate electronic warrants which require you to submit to chemical testing. As a result, you can be legally compelled to provide a blood, urine, or blood sample to the police once you are placed under arrest.
For more information about No Refusal laws in Illinois, you can always refer to our No Refusal Guide.
2. DUI Checkpoints are Extremely Common
In addition to No Refusal policies, many municipalities (DuPage and Cook County included) actively implement DUI checkpoints on weekends and dates which are correlated with an increase in intoxicated driving.
These DUI checkpoints, also known as roadblocks, allow police to stop your car and question you. During the questioning, if the police observe anything which gives them probable cause to believe you are intoxicated behind the wheel, they can place you under arrest.
What makes a DUI checkpoint so different from a standard DUI arrest?
Under normal circumstances, the police cannot arbitrarily stop your car on the off-chance that you may be driving while intoxicated. Instead, police must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place. Behaviors such as erratic driving, disobeying traffic signs, or speeding can establish reasonable suspicion.
Following that, the officer must establish probable cause to arrest you for a DUI. They must observe signs or behavior which can reasonably suggest that you are intoxicated behind the wheel.
At a DUI checkpoint, however, the first step of establishing reasonable suspicion becomes irrelevant. If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, the police do not need reasonable suspicion to approach your car and question you. If, during their questioning, they discover signs which suggest you are intoxicated, they can easily arrest and charge you.
3. Illinois Criminal DUI Convictions are PERMANENT
The unfortunate fact about traffic violation convictions in Illinois is that they are, for the most part, permanent. This includes DUI charges and convictions.
In nearly every case, a criminal DUI conviction is not expungeable in the state of Illinois. Once you have been convicted or found guilty of a DUI, the charge will remain on your record permanently, barring some special circumstances such as a governor's pardon.
As you can imagine, getting a pardon from the governor is highly unlikely. Therefore, many people find it extremely desirable to avoid being found guilty of a DUI.
In some instances where it is highly unlikely to have a DUI charge dismissed or be found not guilty, defendants may wish to plead their DUI charge down to a reckless driving charge. While a reckless driving charge is also not expungeable under normal circumstances, it is a less severe charge than a DUI. In these types of cases, an experienced DUI defense attorney can help you make smart decisions and fight to reduce your charge.
4. You Face Both Criminal and Administrative Penalties in an Illinois or DuPage County DUI
The part of a DUI case that most people are aware of is the criminal charge and trial. If convicted or found guilty of a criminal DUI, you may face fines, jail time, and a DUI on your record.
What many people don't realize, however, is that there are also administrative penalties involved in a DUI case which can significantly affect your life.
In fact, you may have heard the term ‘statutory summary suspension' before. Statutory summary suspensions are civil penalties carried out by the Office of the Secretary of State of Illinois and occur separately from your DUI. A summary suspension directly impacts your driving privileges and your Illinois driver's license.
For more information about Statutory Summary Suspensions in the state Illinois and DuPage County, check out our article about the basics of summary suspension laws.
5. License Suspension is Hard to Avoid in Illinois and DuPage County DUIs
Whether you choose to consent to a breathalyzer, field sobriety test, chemical test, or refuse them altogether, the choices you make can all easily lead you to a suspended or revoked license.
You may wonder why that is. It hardly seems fair, after all.
In truth, Illinois and DuPage County DUI laws are disadvantaged towards the defendant. Statutory summary suspension laws can affect drivers, even if they are not found guilty of a DUI. Summary suspension laws certainly penalize drivers who are charged with a DUI -- you probably know that already.
However, summary suspension laws also target drivers who refuse to submit blood, breath, or urine samples for chemical testing of their BAC. Hypothetically, you can refuse chemical testing and avoid a DUI charge, but still have your license suspended on the basis on your refusal.
6. The Clock is Ticking on Your Driving Privileges
In most Illinois DUI cases, summary suspension kicks in on the 46th day following the initial DUI arrest. That means, on the 46th day after you are arrested, you will effectively lose your driving privileges.
If you wish to challenge your summary suspension and keep your Illinois driving privileges, time is working against you. Within the 46-day deadline, you must complete certain steps to fight your summary suspension. Within 46 days, you must legally file a motion to rescind, have the motion accepted by the circuit clerk, and schedule a hearing for your case.
In many of the cases we represent, we file our petition immediately and schedule this hearing to occur at the same time as the initial court date or sooner (in cases where the first court date is set for more than 45 days after the initial arrest). However, timeliness is absolutely key if you wish to avoid losing your driving privileges for any amount of time.
7. Your Prosecutor Can Affect the Outcome of Your Case
When analyzing the DUI cases of prospective clients, we always focus on two key pieces of information:
1. Which city or police department performed the arrest
2. Who is prosecuting the case
We will always ask our client or perform a case search to find this information. Those two facts may seem arbitrary at first, because a DUI case is a DUI case. Why should it matter who made the arrest, and who is prosecuting the case?
The difficult truth, though, is that the prosecution of a DUI case often has a significant impact on the outcome of a case.
Most of the time, DUIs are charged by either 1) the state of Illinois or 2) a specific city or municipality. If your DUI is a city charge, it is usually prosecuted by a city prosecutor. If your DUI is a state charge, which is often the most serious of DUI cases, it is prosecuted by an Illinois State's Attorney.
In either case, the outcomes and options in your DUI case will vary, depending on the prosecutor assigned to your case. If you are charged with a City of Naperville DUI, the Naperville prosecutor might have different philosophies on plea bargains or probation than a State's Attorney or a City of Wheaton prosecutor.
So how do you figure out how your prosecutor might handle your DUI case?
The short answer is that you can't really figure that out for yourself. Unfortunately, there is no rating website for you to research your Illinois or DuPage County DUI prosecutor. However, a seasoned defense attorney who actively practices in the county of your DUI case will be all-too-familiar with the in's and out's of local courtrooms and the styles of individual prosecutors.
Choosing to hire an attorney is always the choice of the defendant. Depending on what you want from your case, an attorney may be completely unnecessary. But oftentimes, the breadth of knowledge, local experience, and legal expertise that an attorney can bring to the table is well worth the price of hiring one. However, that will vary with each case. You should carefully consider the pros and cons of hiring an attorney, and take advantage of obligation-free free legal consultations to weigh your options and get a better understanding of your DUI case.
Facing a DUI Case? Schedule Your Free Consultation with DuPage County and Illinois DUI Defense Attorneys
If you or a loved one are facing a DUI charge and anxious about what the future may hold, contact our law office to schedule a free consultation. The former prosecutors and DUI defense lawyers at Dolci & Weiland have helped hundreds of Illinois and DuPage County residents fight their DUI case and successfully get their charges reduced or dismissed. We can analyze the facts of your case, discuss your legal options, and offer the full force of our legal representation if you wish to retain us.
Each case is different, and we pride ourselves in providing targeted and strategic legal representation that is tailored to our clients' individual needs and wishes. To find out more about your case and legal options, give our office a call at (630) 261-9098.