Over 30 million Americans have Irish heritage, and millions more celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Irish food and beer. In fact, Americans spend nearly $5 billion on St. Paddy’s Day celebrations, including an average of almost $40 per partier.
So it should be no surprise that every St. Patrick’s Day there is an uptick in DUI arrests. Worse, three-quarters of all DUI arrests on St. Patrick’s Day weekend involve drivers with a blood alcohol concentration level of twice the legal limit.
If you were charged with a St. Paddy’s Day DUI in Illinois this year, you certainly aren’t alone – but you might feel like it. You also might be wondering what’s going to happen to you next.
In this post, we’ll explain what you can expect in terms of penalties and the legal process, then show you how we can help you fight your charges.
What You Need to Know about Illinois DUI Laws
If you were one of the many arrested this St. Paddy’s Day for DUI, this is what you can expect according to Illinois laws.
Your Blood Alcohol Concentration Will Be Used against You
The legal limit in Illinois, as in other states, is 0.08 on a breath or blood test. You can also be arrested for DUI if you are under the influence of other controlled substances that limit your ability to make sound decisions.
If you refuse the breathalyzer or blood test, you will automatically lose your driving privileges. A first refusal will result in the loss of your license for one year, and a second refusal could cost you your license for up to three years. Call a knowledgeable attorney as soon as charges are filed against you. We will advise you on the best course of action.
You Will Face Stiff Penalties
If you are a first-time offender for DUI in Illinois, you will most likely face a Class A misdemeanor charge. If you are convicted, you could lose your driver’s license for up to one year and pay fines of up to $2,500. You may also face up to one year in prison and have to serve 240 hours of community service.
In certain cases, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. It prohibits the use of your vehicle unless your blood alcohol concentration is below the permitted level. This device will be required for a set time period once your driver’s license is reinstated.
The good news is that a skilled attorney may be able to get your charges reduced or dropped. You may be eligible for court supervision as long as you comply with conditions imposed by the court, such as a treatment program. We have several defenses that may work for your case.
A more serious situation is a felony DUI charge. If convicted, you could face up to 30 years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines, and lifetime loss of driving privileges. Since the penalties are so severe, it’s essential for you to work with an experienced lawyer to get your charges reduced.
Additional requirements for both misdemeanor and felony DUI convictions may include the following:
- Three years of higher rates for auto insurance
- Suspension or loss of vehicle registration
- Lost income due to loss of driver’s license or other reasons
- Required participation in a substance abuse treatment program
- Required drug and alcohol testing
- Conviction on criminal record, which can affect your rights and freedoms
It’s important to call a skilled Illinois DUI attorney as soon as charges are filed against you. Time is of the essence – especially concerning whether or not you will lose your driver’s license.
Defenses to Illinois DUI Charges
A skilled lawyer has many ways to fight St. Paddy’s Day DUI charges. Here is a sample of what your lawyer may use in your case:
Miranda rights not read
If you didn’t a phrase like “You have the right to remain silent” at your arrest, the officer failed to carry out proper procedure. This can result in having any statements you made to police stricken from the record.
Field sobriety test false positive
There are many ways a field test can produce a false positive. If you have a physical condition that causes an unsteady gait, you may have failed the test. Check with your attorney about this defense.
Breathalyzer reading incorrect
Breathalyzers must be properly calibrated and maintained to produce accurate results. If the results were skewed because the breathalyzer was not correctly used or maintained, your blood alcohol concentration results can be discarded.
Your attorney will know which defense strategy is most likely to lead to the best outcome in your case. To learn how we can help you fight your charges, call today for a free consultation.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.