Drunk driving is a major problem in Cook County and all throughout Illinois. Because of this, police officers have cracked down hard on those accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are convicted of a DUI, you can face serious criminal penalties, such as jail time, extortionate fines, mandatory minimum sentencing, revocation of your driving privileges, and a permanent criminal record.
Coming up against the criminal justice system for DUI charges can be challenging, particularly if you were pulled over by a police officer at a DUI stop. However, there are a number of ways that you can avoid DUI criminal charges and criminal penalties with the help of an experienced DUI Attorney. The Cook County DUI lawyers at Hirsch Law Group are ready to fight on your behalf to protect your future and avoid a criminal conviction.
Our law firm has seen firsthand how the criminal justice system is built against the accused and in favor of police officers and prosecutors. We want to make sure that you don’t fall victim to this system and get a fair chance at proving your defense. Our Cook County criminal defense lawyers will investigate your case, assess whether your rights were violated, build a powerful defense strategy on your behalf, and fight aggressively to get your charges dismissed.
When it comes to fighting DUI charges in Cook County, you need to have aggressive representation by your side. Hirsch Law Group has what it takes to protect your future from a criminal conviction.
Call us today at 312-967-0275 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our Cook County DUI lawyers.
Drunk Driving Laws in Cook County, Illinois
Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is completely forbidden under Cook County law. Depending on whether you have received previous convictions for a DUI, you could receive serious felony charges. The law states that driving with a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08% is considered drunk driving.
If you are under the age of 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy applied to drunk driving. This means that if you are caught with any level of alcohol in your blood under the age of 21, you will face DUI charges. With commercial drivers, the legal limit is 0.04%.
Police officers have ultimate discretion on whether you will be charged with a DUI. They can arrest you based on probable cause that you are driving under the influence, even if your breathalyzer test is inaccurate and inadmissible in court.
Consequences of DUI Criminal Charges
Being convicted of a DUI in Cook County can have serious consequences. The penalties for driving under the influence are severe and Judges take a tough approach toward offenders, often imposing harsh sentences. In addition to the initial consequences of a DUI conviction, such as jail time and fines, those convicted are faced with a permanent criminal record and suspension of their driving privileges.
Life with a criminal record is significantly more difficult. You may face difficulties applying for jobs, to education institutions, for loans from financial institutions, public housing, and more. If convicted of a felony DUI, you could lose your right to vote and to bear arms. The consequences of a DUI conviction go far beyond the initial charges, and prosecutors and the criminal justice system do not care about how much a record will affect your life.
The top priority of a police officer and a prosecutor is to secure a conviction against you and move your case through the system as soon as possible. The only way to prevent these severe consequences of a criminal conviction for a DUI is to hire an experienced DUI attorney. An attorney can help protect your legal rights and your future by building a strong defense on your behalf, fighting against the charges, and building a mitigation packet to support your case.
Penalties For a Conviction
The criminal penalties for a DUI conviction vary depending on a number of factors. These factors include whether it was a first-time DUI, how many DUI convictions you have previously received, your blood alcohol content (BAC) level, and whether there were any aggravating factors, such as a high BAC or children in the vehicle.
The penalties for a conviction usually are as follows:
For a first-time DUI with no aggravating factors, you could face a misdemeanor charge. The penalties for a misdemeanor charge include up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.
If you are charged with a DUI within 5 years of your first conviction, you could face a minimum sentence of five days in jail or 240 hours of community service, in addition to first-time DUI penalties.
A third DUI automatically results in Class 2 felony charges. The penalties include three to seven years in prison plus $25,000 fines.
If you are convicted of subsequent DUIs, the penalties increase substantially, and you could be charged with a Class X felony. This could result in up to 30 years in prison, in addition to hefty fines.
A Cook County DUI can be regarded as ‘aggravated’ when the accused had a BAC of over 0.16%. Other aggravating factors include the presence of a minor or vulnerable person in the vehicle, within a school zone, another person being injured or killed, or the accused not having a valid driver’s license.
What Are Implied Consent Laws?
Illinois implied consent law provides that all drivers should automatically consent to give a blood alcohol test to a police officer if pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. If the driver refuses to give a test to the police officer, their license will automatically be suspended.
The purpose of a breathalyzer or field sobriety test is to give the officer probable cause to arrest you. If your BAC is above 0.08%, the officer has sufficient probable cause to arrest you, even if the test later turns up as invalid. You can refuse to take a test. However, the officer can still legally arrest you based on their suspicions that you are drunk driving. Because of this, it is better to provide a test when pulled over.
Unfortunately, drivers can be convicted of a DUI without a valid chemical test in Cook County, and prosecutors often rely on inadequate testimony to support a conviction. It is possible that you could be convicted without valid probable cause and without a valid BAC test. A DUI attorney can fight against an invalid test and Illinois implied consent law to help you avoid a criminal conviction. They may argue that the traffic stop was invalid, the officer does not have probable cause, and the test violates your rights.
What To Do After a DUI Arrest in Cook County, Illinois
If you have been arrested for a DUI, there are certain things that you should do to protect yourself against police officers and a potential conviction. The criminal legal system does not prioritize the best interests of the accused, and their priority is to get your case through the courts as soon as possible and secure a conviction for the alleged crime. If you do not take your own steps to protect your future, you could end up with a life-lasting criminal record.
Know Your Rights
All individuals involved in a DUI arrest have certain rights that need to be protected. This includes the right to a lawful DUI traffic stop, the right to a reasonable bond, the right to remain silent, and the right to a DUI lawyer.
The best way to fight against your DUI case is to gather as much evidence as possible. This includes writing down everything that happens during the traffic stop and while you are at the police station, speaking with any witnesses to the scene, and taking photographic evidence where possible, particularly if there was a car accident.
Contact a DUI Attorney
The most important thing to do in any DUI case in Cook County is to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will ensure that your rights are protected from the get-go. A police officer may try to convince you to plead guilty to the charges to ensure that you are convicted. However, if your lawyer is present from the minute you are arrested, you can guarantee that you will not self-incriminate and help get the best results for your case.
Mitigation Packets in Cook County
At Hirsch Law Group, we help clients build mitigation packets to give the prosecutor a better idea about their character with the aim of securing a lighter conviction. When a DUI case arrives at a prosecutor’s desk, they know nothing about the individual and care only about trying to secure a conviction.
A mitigation packet aims to change this by providing favorable information about you and your life. As former prosecutors, we know how beneficial this can be to your case, and prosecutors are much less likely to impose harsh sentences when they have evidence showing that you are an otherwise law-abiding citizen.
Some information we may include in a mitigation packet includes:
- Previous minimal criminal record.
- Education level.
- Work history, including any awards or recognitions that you have received.
- Supporting letters from family members and people in your community.
- Military record.
- Previous rehabilitation attempts for a drug or alcohol problem.
- Charitable work or other information that supports your case.
Mitigation packets require a lot of work and many law firms do not put in the effort to create this on behalf of clients. The lawyers at Hirsch Law Group, however, understand how the mind of a prosecutor works and we know how beneficial this can be toward sentence mitigation. We want to ensure that you get the best possible outcome in your case and paint you in a positive light towards a Cook County prosecutor.
Contact a Cook County DUI Lawyer at Hirsch Law Group Today!
If you are involved in a DUI case, you could face serious criminal consequences. The criminal legal system adopts a tough approach to those found driving under the influence, and the prosecutor will likely do anything in their power to secure a conviction against you. Police officers that arrested you at a traffic stop will be motivated to ensure that you are tried and convicted.
The only way to prevent facing the harsh penalties of criminal DUI law in Cook County is to hire strong legal representation. At Hirsch Law Group, our criminal defense lawyers have been helping citizens of Cook County and all throughout Illinois for over 15 years. As a team of former prosecutors, our lawyers know the tricks that the prosecution and police will use against you to secure a conviction.
Our Cook County DUI attorneys have handled hundreds of DUI cases and we know how to build a defense strategy that can help prevent a conviction. Having worked as a former prosecutor, we will build a strong mitigation packet to give a clearer picture of who you are to the prosecution, hoping to avoid harsh criminal consequences.
Prosecutors in Cook County are much more likely to drop charges or reduce sentences for individuals that have a strong attorney by their side. The only way to avoid a harsh DUI conviction and prevent your future opportunities from being affected severely is to hire a DUI attorney.
Call Hirsch Law Group today to schedule a free consultation with a DUI attorney at 312-967-0275.