A charge of DUI in Illinois is not something that should be taken lightly-- the conviction of such a charge can have serious consequences that can saddle you with a criminal record and affect your livelihood. The smartest decision you can make following a DUI charge is contacting a seasoned criminal defense attorney; too much is at stake to try to fight such a charge on your own. If you are in need of legal assistance following an arrest for driving under the influence, the attorneys at Dolci & Weiland are here to help.
First Offense DUI
If you are facing a charge of driving under the influence for the first time, you may be frightened and unsure of what steps to take next. Even if you have not been charged with DUI before, a first-offense charge can result in serious penalties, including a suspension of your driver's license, hefty fines, and even the possibility of jail time. In addition, a first offense DUI will appear on your criminal record even though most of these convictions are classified as a Class A misdemeanor.
Second Offense DUI
If you have been charged with DUI for the second time, you will encounter additional hurdles that you would not have faced during your first charge. Illinois does not take DUI offenses lightly and imposes hefty penalties for those who are convicted of a second offense; depending on the length of time between your first and second offense, you could face a suspension of your license for a whopping five years, and you could even face jail time for up to one year.
Third and Subsequent Offense DUI
Illinois has little to no tolerance for a person who has been charged with driving under the influence three or more times and imposes substantial penalties to prove its point. For starters, a third-offense DUI is considered a Class 2 felony rather than a misdemeanor, meaning that you will have a felony on your criminal record. A third-offense DUI can also result in a fine of up to $25,000, imprisonment for three to seven years, and a suspension of your license for up to a decade.
While most DUI charges are a Class A misdemeanor, certain circumstances can result in a charge of aggravated DUI. This charge carries the possibility of substantially higher penalties, including mandatory jail time, outrageous fines, and a lengthy suspension of your license. Aggravated DUI charges include the following.
- Third or subsequent DUI offenses.
- DUI while driving a school bus.
- DUI with minors in the vehicle.
- DUI which leads to an accident causing severe injuries.
- DUI which causes an accident in a school zone.
- Fatal accidents resulting from DUI.
- Prior conviction of involuntary manslaughter resulting from DUI.
- DUI while driving under suspension or without a license.
- Arrest for DUI while driving uninsured.
- DUI while driving an Uber, taxi, or another vehicle for hire.
The state of Illinois takes serious issue with underage drinking and driving. Illinois maintains a Zero Tolerance Law with regard to minors and driving under the influence--anyone under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI if any alcohol is in their system. Underage drivers face hefty penalties for drinking and driving; a blood alcohol content of less than 0.08% will result in a suspension of the individual's driver's license for a minimum of three months. A BAC of 0.08% or higher carries a license suspension for a minimum of two years.
Truck drivers are responsible for safely operating massive tractor-trailers that can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. The state of Illinois recognizes that operating these vehicles while under the influence can result in catastrophic injuries. As a result, truckers who hold a commercial driver's license (CDL) are considered to be driving under the influence if their BAC is 0.04% or above. The aftermath of a DUI while operating a commercial vehicle can be devastating to one's livelihood--the suspension of a driver's license is more than just an inconvenience to truck drivers, and the loss of the ability to drive can equate to the loss of a job.
Controlled Substance DUI
When it comes to a DUI charge, driving under the influence of alcohol is generally what comes to mind. But alcohol isn't the only substance that can trigger a DUI charge. If you are under the influence of an intoxicating substance such as LSD, narcotics, or heroin, you can be arrested for DUI. To make matters worse, your charges don't necessarily stop at a DUI when controlled substances are involved; you may also face a possession charge--or even a trafficking charge--if you were transporting any of the controlled substance when you were pulled over.
Prescription Drugs DUI
The risk of being charged with DUI doesn't stop at the use of alcohol or illegal drugs; you can face arrest for driving under the influence even if the drugs in your system were prescribed to you. The key factor in a prescription drug DUI charge is impairment--if your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired by your prescription drugs, an officer can deem you to be driving under the influence. Common prescription drugs involved in a DUI charge include opioids, sleep medications, medical marijuana, or anti-anxiety medications like Xanax. The penalties for a DUI conviction don't change just because the substance impairing your driving was prescribed; the state of Illinois doesn't distinguish between prescription DUI charges and any other charge of driving under the influence.
Cannabis (Marijuana) DUI
While Illinois has legalized the use of cannabis for treatment of certain medical ailments, it still remains illegal for a driver to operate a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis. Newly-enacted legislation in Illinois changed the amount of cannabis that can be present in a driver's system in order to face a DUI charge. While previous law subjected a driver to a DUI charge if any amount of cannabis was present in his or her system, a person will now face a charge of driving under the influence if found driving with more than five nanograms of THC in his or her blood, or ten nanograms of THC in urine or saliva. The stakes are even higher for those who hold a medical cannabis card-- if you have a medical cannabis card, you must submit to a field sobriety test if an officer reasonably believes that you are driving while impaired. If you refuse to take a field sobriety test, or if you take the test and fail, your driver's license isn't the only thing that will be at stake; your medical cannabis card can be revoked as well.
Recreational Vehicle DUI
Don't be fooled into thinking that you can be charged with driving under the influence if you are operating a motor vehicle--a DUI charge is a risk that you face while operating just about anything while impaired, from golf carts and ATVs to boats and even snowmobiles. A day spent on a recreational vehicle can quickly go from fun to fearful if you are pulled over while impaired.
If you are a resident of Illinois and have been arrested for driving under the influence in another state, you may not think that such a charge will have an impact on your right to drive in Illinois. This is not the case, however; a DUI conviction in another state will be reported to the Illinois Secretary of State, and will also result in a revocation of your driving privileges in Illinois. Refusal to submit to testing won't help either, as your license will also be revoked if you refuse to submit to a blood-alcohol test or field sobriety test after being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence in another state. Reinstating your driving privileges will require a hearing before the Secretary of State to determine whether you are eligible to drive again.
If you were arrested for driving under the influence while visiting or driving through Illinois, you will likely face repercussions in the state in which you have a driver's license. While an Illinois police officer lacks the authority to revoke an out-of-state license, he or she does have the authority to suspend your driving privileges in the state. Furthermore, an officer can report your charges to a national database, due to Illinois' membership of the Interstate Driver's License Compact, or ILDC. The ILDC requires disclosure of a DUI charge if you were stopped for driving under the influence in Illinois. The database, called the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS), will make it difficult--if not impossible--to renew your license or obtain a new license in another state. If you need to drive in Illinois, you will also need to fill out an out-of-state application to reinstate your driving privileges in the state.
No Matter the Circumstance, We're On Your Side
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in the state of Illinois, the criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland are committed to providing you quality representation and obtaining the best possible results. Don't try to fight your DUI charge on your own; put your case in the hands of a team of attorneys with decades of experience fighting for people just like you. To schedule a consultation to speak to a member of our legal team, fill out an online contact form or call the office closest to you today. For our DuPage office, call (630) 261-9098, or for our Chicago location, call (312) 238-9007.