Minors under 18 and legal adults under age 21 may be charged with underage driving under the influence if, during a DUI arrest, any alcohol is detected from chemical testing. Illinois' strict Zero Tolerance Law provides that any minor or person under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI if found operating a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in their system.
Individuals under 21 are generally not allowed to consume alcohol in Illinois (with a couple of exceptions). The state takes a hard stance against underage drivers who test positive for alcohol in their bodies. Under Illinois' Zero Tolerance Law, a driver under 21 caught with any trace of alcohol in his or her system will lose his or her driving privileges for at least three months. It is important to note that driving privileges may also be suspended if the accused driver refuses to submit to chemical testing.
Potential DUI Underage Penalties in DuPage
The potential penalties if convicted of underage driving under the influence depend on the circumstances of the case. Factors in determining DUI penalties depend on the age of the driver, blood alcohol level (BAC), prior DUI convictions, whether there was an accident involved, and whether the driver refused a chemical test. There is a wide range of potential penalties for an underage DUI conviction in DuPage County and Illinois.
If a driver is convicted of a first offense underage DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.00% but below 0.08%, their driver's license will be revoked for at least three months. If the driver has a BAC of 0.08% or higher, their license will be suspended for a minimum of two years.
A second underage DUI within a five-year period with a BAC above 0.00% but below 0.08% can result in a license suspension of one year. If the driver has a second underage DUI with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, their driver's license will be suspended for a minimum of two years and the driver may face mandatory jail time.
In addition to a suspended license, the court may order for the completion of a drug and alcohol program before the driver can attempt to regain driving privileges. Other penalties may include fines, community service and revocation of motor vehicle registration.
Penalties for Underage Chemical Test Refusal
Drivers in Illinois are considered to have given their "implied consent" to submit to a chemical test after a DUI arrest. If a driver refuses to give a breath or blood test after an arrest, the driver will face an automatic suspension of driving privileges, even if the driver hasn't consumed any alcohol.
For drivers under 21 arrested for a DUI, the first violation for a chemical test refusal will result in a six-month suspension of their driving privileges. A second violation within five years will result in a suspended license for two years.
Collateral Consequences of a DUI in Illinois
A conviction of underage DUI may cause unexpected collateral consequences. Life is made more difficult without driving privileges. For instance, losing driving privileges affects a young person's life by impacting transportation to school, work, home, and spending time with friends.
There are also financial costs of getting a DUI underage in Illinois. In addition to fines, a DUI can dramatically increase the cost of car insurance. Drivers also have to pay for any court costs associated with an alcohol education course or installing and monitoring a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID).
These costs could severely impact a young person's financial ability to further their education. Employment opportunities may be impacted with a conviction of underage DUI, making it more difficult to earn money. Starting as an adult in the real world with a criminal history at a younger age is less than desirable. The blemish of one's criminal record can even impact future education opportunities as well as employment options.
Other Criminal Charges After an Underage DUI
An underage DUI arrest in Illinois can also expose a young driver to other criminal charges. If the underage driver has alcohol in his or her possession, the driver may face penalties for illegal transportation of alcoholic beverages or underage possession of alcohol. If the individual has drugs in the car, there may also be criminal charges for possession of a controlled substance.
Potential Underage DUI Defenses
Illinois law allows a law enforcement officer to request a chemical test after a traffic stop if the officer has probable cause to believe an underage driver has any trace of alcohol in his or her system. The first potential defense for a charge of underage DUI is to challenge the traffic stop that initiated contact with law enforcement. Other defenses may include challenging the prosecutor that there was no probable cause to believe an underage person has even a trace of alcohol in their system.
The prosecutor relies on chemical test evidence and a police officer's observations during a field sobriety test. However, these types of tests can be very inaccurate, leading to an innocent person being arrested for driving under the influence. When the police do not properly conduct chemical tests or field sobriety tests, an experienced lawyer can challenge the use of that evidence in court.
A successful attack on the prosecutor's case with the appropriate motions against the state's evidence and alleged probable cause to request the test could mean the prosecutor cannot prove their case. That is why the facts and evidence require detailed and thorough research performed by an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable regarding potential DUI defenses in Illinois.
An Illinois DUI underage charge can be stressful and frightening. An underage DUI is probably the driver's first experience with the criminal justice system which can result in serious penalties that include taking away the right to drive. Illinois has a zero-tolerance law which means any driver under the age of 21 may be charged for underage DUI if any alcohol at all is found in their blood or breath test.
The first step in your defense is to contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who understands Illinois DUI and controlled substance laws. Call the lawyers at Dolci & Weiland today at 630-261-9098 (DuPage County) or 312-238-9007 (Chicago Area).