The Fourth of July is the deadliest holiday of the year for drunk driving. So you can count on police being out full-force to catch drunk drivers in all 50 states, including Illinois.
Every Fourth of July, police increase patrol teams to catch drunk drivers, and often employ DUI checkpoints on popular routes. This year in particular, because the holiday falls on a weekday, Illinois police expanded their efforts into the weekend following.
All of this is to say that while you may have made a mistake that cost you a DUI arrest this year, a July 4th holiday DUI charge does not equate to a conviction. It may be possible to fight or reduce your charges.
Below, we’ve provided a guide covering what you need to know about an Illinois DUI, and what you can do to fight back if you’re facing DUI charges.
What You Need to Know About Illinois DUI Laws
In case you landed yourself an arrest for drunk driving this Fourth of July, here’s what you can expect according to Illinois law:
Your Blood Alcohol Concentration Will Be used Against You
The legal limit in Illinois (like all other states) is 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC), as measured by a blood or breath test. If you have a BAC of 0.14% or higher, plan on facing enhanced sentencing and penalties.
You Will Face Stiff Penalties
First-time Illinois DUI offenders are usually charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by the following potential criminal and civil penalties:
- Loss of driver’s license for up to one year
- Fines up to $2,500
- Up to one year in prison
- Up to 240 hours community service
- Potential installation of an ignition interlock device, which checks your BAC
- Required participation in substance abuse programs
- Drug and alcohol testing
This kind of conviction on your record will also lead to three years of higher vehicle insurance rates, and could potentially compromise future employment prospects and other personal freedoms.
Previous DUI convictions and carrying a minor passenger at the time of arrest are two examples of aggravating factors that will yield enhanced sentencing and penalties.
First-time DUI arrests sometimes come with the option of negotiating a deal that helps you avoid a conviction, known as Court Supervision. The trade off is that you’re required to plead guilty.
The program includes attending educational classes, submitting to drug and alcohol testing, and often performing community service. You will also be required to check in periodically with your probation officer. Upon fulfilling all the terms of your court supervision, the court will drop your DUI charges and you will walk away free.
The option is only available for first-time DUI offenders, and generally isn’t offered when any aggravating factors exist. If you think that Court Supervision is a potential option, speak to your attorney right away, as this should be negotiated early on in the process.
Possible Illinois DUI Defenses
Facing DUI charges together, you and your attorney will fight back using one or a combination of a number of different DUI defense strategies. The appropriate strategy depends on your case specifics, but below we detail some common approaches for a DUI.
Miranda Rights Not Read
When you were arrested, if you didn’t hear a phrase like “you have the right to remain silent” the officer may have failed to carry out appropriate arrest procedures. This can result in having any statements you made to the police stricken from your record.
Field Sobriety Test False Positive
Field sobriety tests are notoriously error-prone, and in fact it’s been shown that even sober people frequently fail. If you failed a field sobriety test, your attorney may be able to argue that these evidence are inadmissible due to their inherent faultiness.
Breathalyzer Calibration Incorrect
Breathalyzers must be properly calibrated and maintained to produce accurate results, and even still have a margin of error. If your attorney can prove that the breathalyzer was not properly used or maintained, it may be possible to have your BAC results stricken from the record.
Improperly Handled Blood Test
Even blood testing to determine your BAC, is not always fool-proof. In particular, the prosecution must be able to provide proof of proper handling, including a documented chain of custody to avoid mixing samples. Your attorney will likely ask for these records to check for any indescrepencies.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you aren’t out of options. Contact your Illinois DUI defense attorney to find out the best course of action in your case.
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.