When it comes to DUI charges in Illinois, the process is anything but quick and painless; if you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, you will be required to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation before any sentencing occurs. These evaluations shouldn't be taken lightly, as they can have a direct impact on your sentence. The team of DUI defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland believe that it is important to understand your rights and obligations when it comes to these evaluations.
An Overview of Alcohol and Drug Evaluations in Illinois
To be sentenced for a DUI charge in Illinois, a person who is arrested for driving under the influence must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation. The purpose of this evaluation is to obtain information from the individual about the nature and extent of the use of alcohol or drugs--in essence, the evaluation determines whether the person has a drug or alcohol problem. According to the administrative code section which outlines DUI evaluations, this information is used to determine whether the individual poses a risk to public safety, as well as to recommend an initial intervention to the offender.
DUI evaluations are mandatory for anyone who has been arrested for driving under the influence, as the evaluation is required by statute, which states:
"After a finding of guilt and prior to any final sentencing or an order for supervision, for an offense based upon an arrest . . . individuals shall be required to undergo a professional evaluation to determine if an alcohol, drug, or intoxicating compound abuse problem exists and the extent of the problem, and undergo the imposition of treatment as appropriate."
Before imposing a sentence following an arrest for DUI, a judge must consider the results of the evaluation. The individual charged with DUI bears the costs of the evaluation unless he or she is deemed to be indigent; in that case, the Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Fund (DDDPF) can provide financial assistance to cover the costs of the evaluation.
What to Expect During an Alcohol/Drug Evaluation in Illinois
DUI evaluations in Illinois are conducted by a professional who is certified by the Illinois Department of Human Services. As these evaluations are standardized throughout the state, those who face an evaluation should know what to expect before the evaluation.
One of the first things that you will do in a drug/alcohol evaluation is to have a face-to-face interview with an examiner. The purpose of this interview is to collect information about the extent of your drug or alcohol use.
During your interview, the examiner will review your driving record to see if you have any prior history of driving under the influence. He or she will also review the results of your blood alcohol content testing to determine the level of alcohol or drugs that were in your system at the time of your arrest. You will also be asked a series of questions about your current alcohol and drug use, as well as your history of past use.
Classification of Risk
Once you have been interviewed by an examiner, you will be assigned a level of risk. Each level of risk sets out what requirements must be met in order to complete the treatment program.
- Level 1: if you are classified into a Level 1 category, you have been deemed to be at a minimal risk of driving under the influence in the future. Those placed in the Level 1 category must attend 10 hours of DUI classes in order to complete treatment.
- Level 2: those who are categorized as Level 2 present either a moderate or significant risk to the public of driving under the influence in the future. Depending on whether a person is deemed moderate-risk or significant-risk, he or she must complete DUI Risk Education classes, along with a substance abuse treatment program and a continuing care plan.
- Level 3: If you have been placed in Level 3 after a DUI evaluation, you are deemed to be high-risk, meaning you are likely to drive under the influence in the future and present a danger to public safety. A level 3 categorization brings a requirement of substance abuse treatment, along with a continuing care plan. In some cases, you may be admitted to an in-patient alcohol rehabilitation center.
Although these categories are standard throughout the state, a judge has the authority to recommend his or her own treatment plan.
How Courts Monitor Evaluations
When answering questions during a drug/alcohol evaluation, it is important to be honest. If you are caught lying to the examiner; this can hurt your case. Your examiner will include in your report whether you lied about any of the answers or evaded any questions, which can put a bad taste in the mouth of the judge who is imposing your sentence.
When answering the examiner's questions, be sure that you are consistent and honest. A criminal defense attorney who has experience in defending against DUI charges can help you prepare for your evaluation and assess your answers.
Penalties for Failing to Complete Evaluation or Treatment
Completing the mandatory evaluation--along with the recommended treatment--is critical when it comes to ensuring the best outcome of your case. Failing to answer questions truthfully, withdrawing from an evaluation, or failing to complete treatment is reported to the Court and the Secretary of State, and can negatively impact your DUI sentence and result in a harsher punishment.
Facing a DUI Charge in Illinois? You Can Count on Us
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in the state of Illinois, it's critical to seek the legal help you need from a team of attorneys that you can count on. At Dolci & Weiland, our criminal defense team is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to provide quality representation to those who face DUI charges.
Don't try to defend against a charge of driving under the influence by yourself--to speak with an attorney about your charge and take the next step toward obtaining the representation you deserve, fill out an online case evaluation form or contact the office nearest to you. For our DuPage office, call (630) 261-9008, and for our downtown Chicago location, call (312) 238-9007.