How to Fight a DUI in Illinois
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At Driver Defense Team, our Chicago DUI attorneys are committed to providing effective, results-oriented legal representation to our clients. A DUI is a serious criminal offense that carries serious consequences, potentially including a license suspension or revocation, high fines, and even jail time. If you were charged with drunk driving in Chicago or the suburbs, it is imperative that you take immediate action to protect your rights. For a free, private case evaluation, please contact our law firm today.
What You Need to Know About Drunk Driving in Illinois
Under Illinois law (625 ILCS 5/11-501), it is a crime to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Similar to other states, it is illegal to drive in Illinois with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
As a general rule, a DUI offense in Illinois is typically a misdemeanor. That being said, even a first time DUI offense can be upgraded to a felony if there are aggravating factors, such as:
- A child was in the vehicle;
- The driver did not have a valid license or insurance; or
- There was an accident involving serious injuries.
The Criminal Case: DUI Penalties in Illinois
In Illinois, a conviction on drunk driving charges can carry serious consequences. For reference, a first offense DUI is subject to the following penalties:
- A period of incarceration of up to a year;
- Fines up to $2,500;
- Mandatory drug and alcohol testing and treatment;
- Community service; and
- The revocation of your driver’s licenses.
All criminal cases, including DUIs, get resolved in one of two ways – either you reach an agreement with the prosecution or you have a trial.
An experienced Chicago DUI defense lawyer will initially pursue both options at the same time. This maximizes the opportunity to achieve the best possible outcome.
Even on difficult cases, a DUI lawyer can often avoid many of the harsher penalties. One such way of avoiding a conviction on your record is court supervision. Depending on the facts, this can be a good outcome for a first-time offender charged with a misdemeanor DUI. Eligibility depends on the specific circumstances of the incident and the defendant’s background.
Illinois Requires a DUI Evaluation
One of the unique things about DUI cases in Illinois is that the state requires anyone found guilty or pleading guilty to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation before they can be sentenced. As explained by the Illinois Department of Human Services, the purpose of a DUI evaluation is to determine the extent of the alcohol/drug use and any risk to public safety. The DUI evaluation will influence the actual terms of your potential DUI sentence. The evaluator will ask you questions and review documents relating to your history with drugs and alcohol, especially as it relates to driving. The evaluations are standardized and they are designed to produce one of four classifications. Your risk classification level determines the recommended hours of treatment.
A DUI Conviction Creates Additional Problems
With a DUI conviction, direct criminal penalties are not the end of the story. Being convicted of drunk driving in Illinois can create several additional problems, including:
- Increased auto insurance rates;
- Difficulty keeping a job—especially if driving is required;
- Possible immigration consequences;
- Revocation of driving privileges;
For the above reasons, it is extremely important that you hire a skilled DUI defense attorney to represent you after being arrested. Do not assume that you will be convicted of drunk driving. Our experienced Chicago DUI defense team can help you explore every available option to fight the case, beat the charge, or get you the best possible results.
Statutory Summary Suspension
When charged with a DUI in Illinois, the second thing you must deal with is the Statutory Summary Suspension. This is not a criminal matter. It is a civil issue with the Illinois Secretary of State. Under Illinois law (625 ILCS 5/1-197.6), the Secretary of State can often suspend your license after a DUI arrest—even before you have had your day in court.
Do you remember the phrase “driving is a privilege and not a right?” Well, that privilege is taken away from you if you are over the legal limit or refuse breath, blood, or urine testing. The suspension of your license often goes into effect automatically on the 46th day after you receive a notice of the summary suspension. Notice is often (but not always) given to you on the day of the arrest.
The length of the summary suspension will depend on whether or not you submitted to chemical testing for the presence of alcohol or other intoxicating compounds.
- If you refused to submit to this testing, your license will be suspended for at least one year;
- If you submitted to the testing, and it showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, your license will be suspended for at least six months;
- If you submitted to the testing, and it showed 5 nanograms of THC in your blood or 10 nanograms of THC in your urine, your license will be suspended for at least six months;
- If you submitted to the chemical testing and showed any amount of a drug, substance, or compound resulting from the unlawful use of a controlled substance and/or an intoxicating compound, your license will be suspended for at least six months.
This suspension occurs regardless of the outcome of your DUI. After the period of suspension is over, you must pay a reinstatement fee to the Secretary of State. Your license will remain suspended until it is reinstated.
You Can Fight a Statutory Summary Suspension
After reviewing the police reports and watching the arrest videos, an experienced DUI lawyer may be able to identify ways to challenge the summary suspension. It can benefit you and your case if you speak with a DUI attorney shortly after your arrest. To challenge a statutory summary suspension, you must request a hearing within 90 days of the arrest. Our Chicago DUI defense lawyers can help you take action to preserve your driver’s license.
How to Beat A DUI in Illinois
As you have seen, a DUI charge carries a significant risk of long-lasting consequences. Do not go up against prosecutors and law enforcement on your own. You need an experienced attorney on your side. At Driver Defense Team, we believe in the team concept and Our attorneys are in courtrooms throughout Chicagoland every day defending people charged with drunk driving and other traffic violations. With backgrounds in prosecutions, public defense, and judicial clerkships, our team of attorneys have seen every side of DUI cases. We are ready to take action to help you fight and beat a DUI charge in Illinois. When you hire our top-rated Illinois DUI defense team, you will get:
- An experienced attorney who will review your case and find the best possible defense to the charges against you;
- Assistance in preparing for your DUI evaluation;
- Complete and transparent information at every stage of proceedings;
- An opportunity to review everything the government will use against you in court;
- An experienced attorney with you at every court appearance; and
- An attorney fighting to make sure your rights are protected in the criminal case and the suspension case.
We know that no two DUI cases are identical. You deserve attentive, personalized legal representation from a team of lawyers who are prepared to put in the time and energy to understand the unique nature of your case and to build an effective defense that helps you get the best possible results.
Call Our Illinois DUI Defense Lawyers Today
At Driver Defense Team, our drunk driving defense attorneys are in courtrooms throughout Chicago and the suburbs every day defending people charged with DUIs. We use an aggressive, proactive approach to get the best possible outcome for our clients. For a free, fully confidential case evaluation, please contact us right away. With offices in Chicago and Stone Park, we serve communities in Cook County and throughout Northern Illinois.