Many people are surprised to learn that being arrested of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, even when it's your first offense and no one is hurt, can have very serious consequences. A first DUI conviction could leave you with a criminal record and impact your future in many different ways. An Illinois DUI conviction can lead to administrative penalties, criminal penalties or both.
While the law sets out the parameters of the consequences of a first DUI conviction, it is ultimately a judge who will use their discretion to determine sentencing. In order to maximize your chances of receiving the most favorable sentencing possible or avoid a conviction altogether, it's important to stay informed. Please read the information below on the consequences of a first DUI offense in Illinois.
Both Dominick Dolci and Pat Weiland have been named Top 100 DUI Lawyers in Illinois by The National Advocacy for DUI Defense (NAFDD). They have helped many people charged with DUI avoid the statutory summary suspension of their driving privileges. Call today to find out how they can help you. (630) 261-9098.
The Legal Framework of a First DUI Conviction
Pursuant to Illinois DUI laws provided in the Illinois Compiled Statutes, driving under the influence is a serious criminal offense and carries significant penalties including jail time, and/or loss of your driving privileges.
“Driving under the influence” is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, other drugs including cannabis (marijuana), or intoxicating compounds and methamphetamine. In Illinois, a driver is legally considered to be under the influence if s/he has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more, has used any illegal substance, or is impaired by medical marijuana.
All Illinois drivers must remember that they are subject to all Illinois DUI laws, which includes automatically consenting to submit to sobriety tests following a stop or arrest for DUI. The laws are commonly referred to as Implied Consent Laws. These tests range from performing a breathalyzer test to blood tests.
Under Illinois DUI law, if you are arrested for DUI with a BAC of .08 or higher, your driving privileges will be suspended, unless your attorney can challenge the stop or is successful during a summary suspension hearing.
In Illinois, you can face DUI penalties before even going to court. You can have your license suspended for six months the first time you refuse to submit to breathalyzer or blood test. The length of the suspension of driving privilege increases with each additional refusal to submit to testing.
You should also be aware that at certain time periods, different Illinois counties can put in place No Refusal DUI Initiatives. Under No Refusal, drivers who are pulled over and arrested for DUI may be compelled to take chemical sobriety tests. If you are arrested in DuPage County while No Refusal is in effect, you may be compelled by a warrant to take chemical tests.
During normal DUI circumstances, the process of obtaining a warrant and conducting chemical tests takes time, which allows your BAC to lower. However, the availability of judges and medical personnel during No Refusal makes the process immediate, meaning there is little time for you to sober up and ultimately increase your chances of being convicted of a DUI.
Potential Penalties of a First DUI Offense in Illinois
An Illinois DUI conviction can lead to administrative penalties, criminal penalties or both.
Administrative penalties for a DUI conviction can include:
- Suspended driver's license
- Revoked driver's license
- Fees to reinstate driver's license
- Suspended vehicle registration
- High administrative fees (court costs)
The length of time a license or vehicle can be suspended and the amount of fees that must be paid depends on your existing criminal record. They are the most lenient if this is your first DUI offense.
The criminal penalties for a DUI conviction can include:
- Possibility of jail time
- Possibility of probation
- Additional Fines
- DUI on your criminal record, regardless of whether it's a Misdemeanor or Felony
First DUI convictions in Illinois are usually classified as Class A Misdemeanors. A Misdemeanor will appear on your criminal record, and it comes with a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
The state of Illinois law does not grant expungements for DUI convictions, even for a one-time offense, no matter how much time has passed. The only way to remove a DUI conviction from your record is to get a pardon directly from the Governor.
Court Supervision for First Time DUI
One legal outcome available almost exclusively for first time DUI charges is court supervision. This sentence is only available for traffic or Misdemeanor offenses and is never an option for Felonies. A judge has the discretion to grant a sentence of court supervision only if you plead guilty. An important advantage of court supervision is that the case will be dismissed and no conviction will be recorded if you respect the terms set out by the Judge.
Similar to probation, under Court Supervision the judge will outline certain conditions you will need to respect within a given time frame (fines, community service, counseling, addiction treatment, etc...) Avoiding a conviction is particularly advantageous as it means that you can avoid the mandatory license revocation that follows a DUI conviction.
Potential Defenses for a First DUI Offense in Illinois
There are several ways you can fight a DUI charge in court. The principal defenses for a DUI in Illinois can be based on the procedural errors of the arresting officer (ranging from lack of probable cause to failing to read Miranda rights), the testimony of an eyewitness and conflicting video footage.
If you are arrested for a first DUI in Illinois, you should immediately contact a Top DuPage DUI Lawyer.
Dolci & Weiland Partners, Dominick Dolci and Patrick Weiland, have been recognized as two of the Top 100 DUI lawyers in the state of Illinois by The National Advocacy for DUI Defense (NAFDD) in 2016. Contact us today to speak with a DUI lawyer for a free consultation.