Driving Under the Influence in Illinois
Most drivers in Illinois fear being pulled over by a police officer for a DUI stop. Because of Illinois’s implied consent law, drivers must submit a breathalyzer or blood alcohol concentration test. If there is any alcohol or drugs in your system, you risk a criminal conviction.
Illinois DUI convictions can lead to jail time, many hours of community service, huge fines, license suspension, and a permanent criminal record. Even a first DUI conviction can massively affect your future. The only way to protect yourself against the harsh consequences of a DUI conviction and the criminal justice system is to hire an experienced DUI attorney.
At Hirsch Law Group, we have been helping Illinois citizens fight against criminal and traffic offenses for over 20 years. Our team of experienced attorneys has worked as former prosecutors. We have seen the tricks and tactics that prosecutors use to secure a conviction, and we use this insider knowledge to build powerful defenses for all of our clients.
A DUI defense attorney from our law firm will advise you on your legal rights, investigate your case, negotiate on your behalf, and fight to get your charges dropped. Hirsch Law Group takes a unique approach to all criminal defense cases because we care about protecting your future.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.
Illinois DUI laws provide that driving is illegal while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, including prescription drugs. The legal limit for alcohol in the state is 0.08% for regular drivers. 0.04% for commercial drivers, and a no-tolerance policy toward underage drivers.
For marijuana, the legal limit is five nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood or ten nanograms per milliliter of your other bodily substance. Any illegal substance in a person’s blood can lead to a DUI charge for other unlawful controlled substances.
The type of DUI criminal charge you face depends on the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system, whether you have any previous DUI convictions, and whether there were aggravating factors, such as the presence of a minor in the motor vehicle or a blood alcohol level higher than 0.16%.
Actual Physical Control
To be convicted of DUI in Illinois, a person must have actual physical control (APC) of the vehicle. Most people think you can only be convicted of DUI if you were driving while under the influence. However, APC refers only to a person’s capability to operate the vehicle. This means you can be charged with DUI even if you were not driving during the arrest.
Some instances that can amount to APC include:
- Sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle
- Sitting in the vehicle with the vehicle key in your pocket or in your bag
- Alone in a vehicle
- Physically capable of operating the vehicle
Is DUI a Traffic Offense or a Criminal Offense?
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is both a traffic and criminal offense. This means that DUI offenders will face criminal and traffic law penalties for a DUI conviction. Because DUI is considered a serious offense, drivers face a statutory summary suspension of their driver’s license.
The length of the statutory summary suspension period depends on several factors, including whether you refused a breathalyzer or field sobriety test if you have previous DUI convictions, and if there were any aggravating factors.
For a first DUI offense, a convicted person will have their driving privileges automatically suspended for six months. If they refuse to give a breathalyzer or chemical test during a DUI arrest, they will face license suspension for a minimum of one year.
The suspension periods increase depending on the number of previous DUI convictions you have in the past five years. You will face statutory summary suspension for one year if it is your second offense. This administrative suspension increases to three years for a third offense.
It is possible to apply for a restricted license with an alcohol ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle. However, this becomes more difficult if you have prior DUI convictions.
Criminal Penalties For DUI Convictions
A person convicted of a DUI in Illinois will also face severe criminal penalties. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is not light on those who are convicted of drunk driving. Even a first DUI conviction will land you a permanent criminal record that will last forever. There are only very limited circumstances in which you can get a DUI expunged from your record.
First Offense DUI Penalties
A first DUI in Illinois is charged as a class A misdemeanor. A first-time DUI conviction penalties include up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, and automatic license suspension for six months. If it is an aggravated DUI, the charge will be increased to a felony with more severe penalties.
If you were transporting a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense, you would be sentenced to 140 hours of community service and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
Second DUI Offense
For a second DUI, the penalties increase. A second conviction for a DUI causes up to one year in jail, a minimum fine of $1,000, a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days or ten days of community service, and automatic license suspension for one year.
Third DUI Offense
A third DUI will lead to a class 2 felony charge. The penalties imposed for a class 2 felony include from three to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000. You will also face a minimum jail sentence or 480 hours of community service.
Subsequent DUI Offenses
The penalties increase substantially for repeat DUI offenders. If you commit aggravated DUI (sixth or subsequent conviction) within five years, you could be charged with a class X felony, which is the most serious felony charge under Illinois law. The penalties for this felony include jail time of up to 30 years and fines of $25,000.
What If I Refuse Chemical Testing?
As noted, Illinois’s implied consent law requires drivers to submit to a breathalyzer or chemical testing if pulled over at a traffic DUI stop. However, an officer cannot force you to take a test. You still have the option to refuse the test, even if it is against the law. The consequences of refusing chemical testing are severe.
If you refuse to take a test, you will face automatic statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license for one year. If you are a first-time DUI offender, you could get a restricted driving permit with the installation of an ignition interlock device. However, this is more difficult if you refuse a test.
Refusing a test will not increase your chances of winning a DUI case. In fact, a prosecutor may use your refusal to take a test as proof that you are guilty of the charges. If they take you to the station and you test positive there, the Judge will look upon your refusal harshly.
The courts do not treat those who disrespect police orders lightly. Because of this, we always recommend that you follow police orders and carry out a BAC test when requested.
How To Avoid a DUI Conviction in Illinois
The only way to avoid a DUI conviction and the serious penalties that come with a conviction is to hire an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney. Illinois lawmakers, police officers, and prosecutors take a tough approach toward people accused of drunk driving. Often, they will do everything they can to secure a conviction against you. This includes relying on invalid breathalyzer tests and the testimony of police officers at the scene.
If you fight against the charges brought against you, you stand a much higher chance of avoiding a conviction. Many believe that testing positive on a breathalyzer or chemical test automatically results in a guilty verdict. However, this is not the case. There are many different ways that an experienced DUI lawyer can fight against driving under the influence charges.
Some examples of defenses an experienced DUI lawyer may use for your case include:
An illegal search of your vehicle
Inaccurate breathalyzer or chemical test results
Inexperienced or unqualified tester
The police officer did not read you your Miranda rights
The officer did not have probable cause to arrest you
You did not have the APC of your vehicle
Depending on your situation, the lawyers at Hirsch Law Group may be able to get your DUI charges dropped or reduced substantially. However, fighting against the state prosecutor or negotiating a fair deal without an attorney will be extremely difficult.
The Importance of Hiring a DUI Defense Attorney
Hiring a seasoned Illinois DUI lawyer is crucial in facing a DUI charge. An experienced DUI attorney can navigate the legal system, challenge the prosecution’s evidence, and advocate strongly for your interests, potentially resulting in a reduced sentence or even a dismissal of the charges. With a reasonable defense attorney, you have the potential to reap numerous benefits:
Comprehensive legal understanding: A DUI attorney will have extensive knowledge of the legal landscape, including local DUI laws and potential defenses.
Experience with plea bargains: A DUI attorney could negotiate a plea bargain with lighter penalties if your case doesn’t go to trial.
Support during trial: Should your case go to court, your attorney can guide you and fight for your interests.
Potential for reduced charges: The attorney’s negotiation skills and professional relationships could lead to reduced charges.
Mitigate impacts on life: A competent attorney may help you avoid severe consequences like losing your license or job. Engaging an attorney as soon as possible after a DUI charge is crucial to the continuity of your day-to-day life.
Afraid Of Getting a DUI in Illinois? Contact Hirsch Law Group Today!
DUI convictions can seriously upturn your life. A conviction for driving under the influence will cause a loss of your driving privileges, potential jail time, fines, and a criminal record. On top of this, you will face social stigma for having a criminal record and may face severe hardship accessing work, applying for commercial driver jobs, and taking part in regular society.
To fight against the criminal justice system and prevent DUI convictions from upturning your life, contact an experienced attorney. At Hirsch Law Group, we understand the severe consequences of a criminal conviction and want to do everything we can to protect your future. Our attorneys can help your case by investigating the incident, determining a solid defense strategy, negotiating with the prosecutor, and trying to get your charges dropped.
Our criminal defense law firm offers mitigation packets to all our clients. These packets provide the prosecutor with favorable information about you and your personal life, which can be helpful when fighting for a reduced sentence. We have dealt with hundreds of cases similar to yours and have significant experience getting positive outcomes for our clients.
When coming up against the criminal legal system, experience and skills matter. For this reason, we highly recommend contacting Hirsch Law Group to represent your case.
Call us today at 815-880-1134 to schedule a free initial consultation.