It’s a bit of an understatement to say that the city of Chicago has been a little more excited than usual the past few days. But all of the celebration also invites reckless behavior. And many people who were out partying last week drove into a not-so-celebratory situation… getting arrested or charged with a DUI.
But a DUI charge can do more than merely put a damper on your celebratory mood. You face serious consequences for these charges, including high fines, the loss of your license, and even jail time in some cases.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. As bad as being charged is, it’s not a conviction. With a skilled DUI attorney by your side, you can fight back with a strong defense.
Let’s learn more about DUI charges in Illinois, and your options if you have been charged.
Penalties for DUI in Illinois
One of the most important things to understand is the penalties you will suffer if you are found guilty of DUI in court.
- A first DUI is a misdemeanor DUI that comes with penalties of up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, and a suspension of 6 months or one year.
- A second offense is penalized by up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, and a suspension of 1 year or 3 years, as well as a revocation of your driving privileges.
- A third offense is a class 2 felony penalized by 3-7 years in jail and up to $25,000 in fines.
Additionally, after any DUI offense, you will be required to have a Breath Alcohol Interlock Ignition Device (BAIID) in your car. This device will allow you to get behind the wheel, but only after you have submitted to a breathalyzer. While this may reduce the time your license is under suspension, you have to pay for BAIID to be installed as well as for associated monthly fees.
You may also face community service hours or alcohol education in addition to the penalties above. More severe charges and penalties may be put in place if you were driving with passengers under the age of 16, or were in an accident that caused bodily harm to others.
And these penalties merely reflect your court sentence. DUI convictions also often result in a loss of job or income, higher insurance rates, and an impounded vehicle.
How Can I Defend Against Illinois DUI Charges?
Let’s start with what you can’t do.
In many states, anyone charged with a DUI is allowed to plead guilty to a “wet reckless,” a lesser charge of reckless driving that has penalties no more serious than a traffic or speeding ticket. Illinois, however, has significantly reduced the amount of cases they are reducing to charges of reckless driving. Even if the charge is reduced, the accompanying penalties are exactly the same. Often times, the only way you are able to reduce your charges is to prove your innocence or have your case dropped.
But though Illinois is tough on DUI offenders, you do have options to defend DUI charges. Common defense strategies include:
- Claiming issues or inconsistencies with field sobriety tests
- Inaccurate or incorrect usage of breathalyzer
- Improper behavior by law enforcement during arrest
Contact an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer immediately for more information on how you can get your charges dropped before you have to enter the courtroom.
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.