Navigating First Offense DUI: Top Tips from a DUI Criminal Defense Attorney
A DUI conviction can seriously affect your life. As both a traffic offense and a criminal offense, driving under the influence can lead to a criminal record and a driving record.
Illinois DUI laws do not offer any relief to first-time DUI offenders. Although there is a lighter sentence than a third or fourth DUI conviction, people convicted of a first DUI can still receive harsh penalties and will have a stain on their public criminal record.
Lawmakers and police officers are tough on those facing DUI charges and will do everything possible to ensure you are convicted. Their top priority is increasing their conviction numbers and getting your case through the system as fast as possible. The only way to prevent a first DUI offense from affecting your future is by hiring an experienced attorney to represent your case.
Hirsch Law Group
At Hirsch Law Group, we understand how frightening it is to be charged with a first offense DUI in Illinois. Often, people are unaware that they are driving under the influence or do so out of necessity. We want to protect your future from a criminal conviction by providing an aggressive defense to DUI charges brought against you.
A DUI criminal defense attorney from our law firm will investigate your case, assess whether there is a legitimate defense, and negotiate with the prosecutor to get your charges dropped. We will build a mitigation packet for your defense, showing that you are a law-abiding citizen and that a DUI conviction would cause unnecessary harm.
At Hirsch Law Group, we care about your future. Call us today for a free initial consultation at 815-880-1134.
DUI in Illinois and Implied Consent
As a driver in Illinois, you automatically consent to give a blood, urine, or breath sample to police officers at a DUI stop. If a police officer has probable cause, they can pull you over on suspicion of driving under the influence. This probable cause could include swerving, driving erratically, or other behavior that gives the officer reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence.
You must then submit a blood alcohol content (BAC) test to the officer, as provided under implied consent laws. You may refuse the test. However, unfortunately, the courts do not take this easily for those who reject a test and often assume this as an assumption of guilt. If you take the breathalyzer or field sobriety test and test positive, you will be arrested for DUI charges.
The maximum blood alcohol concentration level for drivers in Illinois is 0.08% and 0.04% for drivers with a commercial driver’s license. If your BAC exceeds this legal limit, you will be arrested and charged with a DUI.
If you are under 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy. This means that if you are caught with any amount of alcohol in your system, you will face DUI charges. However, if it is the first offense for a minor, you may avoid criminal charges by getting your license revoked or suspended for up to six months.
First Offense DUI Penalties in Illinois
A first-time DUI offender is subject to harsh criminal penalties under criminal law. Unfortunately, the law does not offer relief to those accused of a first DUI offense in Illinois. You will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if arrested for a first-offense DUI. A Class A misdemeanor offense is the most severe category and carries the harshest penalties.
The penalties for a first DUI conviction include:
- Up to a year of jail sentence
- Fines of up to $2,500
- Driver’s license suspension for up to one year
- Mandatory court supervision
- Payment of court costs
Often, prosecutors offer a lower sentence for a first offender with no aggravating factors, encouraging people to accept the penalties and plead guilty. However, if you plead guilty, you will receive a permanent criminal record, which can significantly affect your future. There are many defense methods for DUI cases, and it is essential to consult DUI lawyers before accepting the charges brought against you.
Aggravating Factors For First-Time DUI in Illinois
Some DUI charges can be increased to aggravated if circumstances worsen the situation. If you are charged with an aggravated DUI for the first time, you could face severe penalties and risk having your charges increased substantially.
Some aggravating factors that could lead to steeper penalties or a felony charge include:
High blood alcohol content over 0.16%
Causing injury or property damage
The presence of a minor in the vehicle
Driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license
Driving in a school zone
Accidents causing fatality
Sentences For Aggravated DUI
The criminal sentences for aggravated DUIs are much higher than for first-time DUIs. Depending on the aggravating factors you were accused of, you could see your charge increased to a felony charge. The penalties for a felony are much higher than a misdemeanor, and you risk losing some constitutional rights with a felony record.
Some increased sentences for aggravated DUIs include:
DUI causing an accident with great bodily harm or injury – Class 4 felony with a prison sentence of one to twelve years
DUI with an invalid or suspended license – Class 4 felony with a prison sentence of one to three years
DUI causing great bodily harm or injury to a minor under the age of 16 – Class 2 felony with a sentence of three to seven years in prison, a mandatory minimum fine of $2,500, and 25 days of community service
If you are convicted of an aggravated DUI, the court must sentence you to community service or at least 10 days in jail. A DUI offender will face 100 hours of community service for driving with a BAC of over 0.16% and 25 days of community service if they have a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense.
Consequences of a First DUI Offense
A DUI conviction is much more than the initial criminal penalties you face. Often, people think that a first DUI in Illinois will not negatively affect their lives and will be erased from their record in a few years. However, this is very far from the truth. What police officers and prosecutors do not tell you about DUIs is that they will stay on your criminal record forever.
There are added consequences to a conviction that most DUI offenders do not know about. These consequences include difficulties with having a criminal record, suspension of your driver’s license, increased insurance premiums, difficulty finding work as a commercial driver, and much more.
All DUI convictions, including first-time DIs, are added to your criminal record. Drunk driving offenses remain on your record forever, with minimal options to get the offense removed. This means that your drunk driving arrest and conviction will always be visible on your public record. The consequences of having a DUI offense on your record can be severe.
First, you will be subject to background checks when applying for a job, applying for public housing, requesting a bank or financial institution loan, and applying for education. Many employers are reluctant to hire those with a criminal background, and some professions in Illinois strictly prohibit workers with a criminal background.
Those with a DUI conviction will also face significant barriers to getting accepted to education, getting loans from banks, and accessing public housing. If you already live in public housing, you risk having the house taken from you if convicted of a felony.
If you are in a child custody battle, having a criminal record can make it more difficult for you to gain custody of your children. This is particularly true with DUI offenses, as a Judge may fear child endangerment. Your criminal record will also affect your ability to travel abroad, and you may face other barriers in your day-to-day life.
Driver’s License Suspension
First-time DUI offenders are subject to an automatic license suspension of six months. If you refuse to take a blood alcohol test, such as a field sobriety test or breathalyzer, you will receive a statutory summary suspension of one year. License suspension is separate from criminal convictions, so even if the court finds you not guilty, you could still face statutory summary suspension of your license.
You may be eligible to apply for a restricted driving permit (RDP), allowing you to use your motor vehicle under certain circumstances, such as driving to work, medical appointments, and attending alcohol or substance abuse counseling. You may be required to have a breath-alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) to get a monitoring device driving permit (MDDP).
A first-time DUI conviction will cause a substantial increase in your insurance premiums. Insurance companies believe those convicted of a drunk driving offense are more likely to cause a car accident. Because of this, they will increase the compensation you must pay each month.
As DUI convictions remain on your criminal record forever, insurance companies can keep your costs up for as long as possible. However, most insurance companies in Illinois will increase the premium for three to five years and lower it again, provided that you are acquitted of subsequent DUIs during this period.
What Happens at a First DUI Arrest in Illinois?
When a police officer pulls you over for suspected DUI, they may first ask you some questions and request that you carry out a blood alcohol test. Although you can technically refuse to carry out a BAC test at a DUI arrest, you risk facing further penalties. Because of this, our law firm recommends you comply with the police officers’ requests.
The police officer will then take you to the police station and may request further testing, such as a chemical test. Your motor vehicle will probably be impounded or towed while under arrest. You may have to post a bond to be released from jail. It is essential that you do not admit guilt to any charges brought against you and that you comply with police orders to avoid further penalties.
After a DUI arrest, the most important thing to do is contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced DUI lawyer will advise you on your rights and begin investigating ways to get your DUI charges dropped.
Driver’s License Reinstatement
The consequences of losing your driver’s license can cause significant difficulties for many Illinois drivers. Most people in Illinois rely on their motor vehicles to go to work, attend school, pick up their children from school, attend appointments, and carry out daily tasks. When you lose your license because of a first-offense DUI, your top priority will be to get it back as soon as possible.
As noted previously, there is the option of having a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) installed on your steering wheel, which would allow you to receive a monitoring device driving permit. Drivers can apply for this permit 31 days after the initial license suspension and can drive anywhere, provided the ignition interlock device is installed.
However, suppose you want to completely avoid the statutory summary suspension mentioned above and want to recover your full license. In that case, a DUI lawyer can help you reinstate your driving privileges. They can do this by requesting a hearing in the Circuit Court for license reinstatement. Once you receive a Notice of Summary Suspension, there will be instructions on requesting a hearing to appeal the decision.
You can contact an experienced DUI attorney from Hirsch Law Group to help you with the process. They will gather evidence to support your petition and use their knowledge of DUI laws to get your license back. The court is more likely to reinstate first-time offenders’ licenses when they have an experienced attorney’s backing.
How an Illinois DUI Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Fighting against a DUI charge in Illinois requires significant experience and competence. When you are arrested for a DUI, you must seek legal representation. In the criminal justice system, the defendant is always the person who must fight the hardest to ensure their rights are protected. The system is often built against defendants, and they must take steps to prevent a guilty verdict.
An experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer will use their knowledge and unique experience to avoid a criminal conviction. They will ensure you do not plead guilty to charges unless it is in your best interests.
By investigating your case, they will develop a strong defense strategy. This may be based on a violation of your rights during the arrest or interrogation process, inaccurate test results, or an illegal DUI stop. An experienced lawyer can also help you get your license reinstated by requesting a hearing at the Circuit Court and petitioning on your behalf.
Hirsch Law Group offers the unique service of building a mitigation packet for all criminal defense clients. We have worked as prosecutors, so we know that most prosecutors do not take the time to learn about each defendant they deal with.
A mitigation packet can give them an overview of you as a person. It includes information about you and your personal life, which will be submitted to the prosecutor to avoid a harsh sentence. You can assist your attorney in creating this packet by gathering the following information:
Letters of recommendation from previous employers, teachers, or religious leaders
Proof of community service or volunteer work
Any certificates or awards you have received for school, work, or extracurricular activities
A personal statement about yourself and why you should receive a lighter sentence
With these documents, your attorney can present a compelling case for a reduced sentence or lighter penalties. This mitigation packet is just one of the ways that Hirsch Law Group goes above and beyond to defend its clients and fight for their rights.
Protecting Your Rights After a First-Time DUI Arrest in Illinois
Being pulled over for driving under the influence is a terrifying experience. A first-time DUI conviction can tarnish your future. On top of the initial criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines, you will be subject to license suspension and a permanent criminal record.
With a criminal background, the rest of your life will be restricted. You cannot apply for some jobs, you may risk losing your public housing rights, and you will face difficulties getting a mortgage or loan from a bank. Police officers and prosecutors do not tell you about the severe consequences of a DUI in Illinois, as their priority is securing a conviction against you.
The only way to protect your future against a first-time DUI conviction is by hiring an experienced DUI lawyer from Hirsch Law Group. Our law firm has a team of former prosecutors who now work as aggressive criminal defense attorneys. We have worked on the other side of the bench, so we understand how prosecutors’ minds work. Our team has the unique experience necessary to help fight against DUI charges and avoid a conviction.
Hirsch Law Group cares about protecting your future. We understand that a first-offense DUI is scary, and we want to do everything possible to get your charges dropped or reduced substantially. Contact a DUI lawyer from our criminal defense law firm today at 815-880-1134 to schedule a free consultation.
What Happens When You Get Your First DUI in Illinois?
You must be aware of your legal rights if you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois for the first time. You may not be familiar with your legal rights, and you may feel confused or afraid.
Firstly, it is crucial to understand that being arrested does not automatically mean you are guilty of a crime. Under the law, you are considered innocent until proven otherwise. Secondly, there are steps that you can take to protect your future and avoid a DUI conviction.
The first step is to remain silent. Refrain from answering any questions or responding to accusations made by the police. Anything you say may be used against you later in court, so it is always best to remain silent until you have a lawyer present.
The second step is to contact an experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer from Hirsch Law Group. Our team of former prosecutors has the unique knowledge and skills needed to defend against DUI charges. We will investigate your case, gather evidence, and use our experience to build a strong defense strategy. Our goal is to get your charges dropped or reduced substantially.