Have you been caught driving under the influence in Chicago? Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois. It’s important to understand that all DUI offenses are considered criminal offenses and can have severe consequences and long-lasting impacts on your life.
It is of utmost importance that you take action quickly when dealing with a DUI charge as the consequences can be dire if you don’t. Our Chicago criminal defense lawyers at Chicago Traffic Lawyers understand how difficult it can be to deal with a DUI case and they strive to provide clients with reliable advice and representation throughout all stages of the process.
If you have been accused of driving under the influence (DUI), keep reading to learn important information about getting a DUI in Chicago, the legal limits for Chicago drivers, your rights to remain silent, your rights to refuse a breathalyzer test, and Illinois penalties associated with DUI conviction.
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Legal BAC Limits for Chicago Drivers
For the typical Chicago driver, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent is considered over the legal limit and at this point, a police officer can consider you too impaired to drive and will arrest you. However, a blood alcohol content of even higher than 0.16 can result in harsher DUI penalties, which could be fines or time in jail depending on the severity of your offense.
Furthermore, if you are under the minimum legal drinking age, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.00 percent or higher. Illinois is a zero-tolerance state, which means that if you are underage and you have just one drink before driving, you can get serious DUI charges. If this is your case, it’s very important to have a lawyer represent you to create a solid defense strategy.
Do I Have to Take the Breathalyzer Test When Pulled Over?
In Illinois, a police officer cannot compel you to submit to a breathalyzer test when you are stopped on suspicion of drunk driving. It is your right to refuse any tests that you do not wish to take. Refusing the tests can still lead to arrest and the suspension of your license, but it cannot be used in court as incriminating evidence against you.
No one should ever feel that they have no other option than to take the breathalyzer test. They have the right to protect their rights and freedoms even during a traffic stop. However, drivers should remember that refusal of the test may result in further consequences such as being arrested or having their driver’s license suspended. It is imperative for licensed drivers to remember their rights so they can make informed decisions when facing this situation.
Do I Have the Right to Remain Silent When Pulled Over for a DUI?
When facing a DUI investigation, drivers in Illinois are required to provide the police officer with their driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration upon request. However, drivers have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any further questions from the officer or submit to additional tests such as determining sobriety through a blood or breath test.
While this may seem like an unfavorable option, it is within your legal rights to neither disclose anything nor cooperate with the officers beyond giving them the documents already mentioned.
It is important for every driver stopped on suspicion of being a drunk driver to understand that they are fully within their right to choose not to answer questions or submit any further proof of sobriety. Doing so helps protect against self-incrimination and may be advantageous especially if any doubt surrounds the circumstances under which you had been driving at the time you were pulled over.
By remaining silent and invoking your right to do so in such situations, it is possible that any accusations of guilt related to drunk driving could eventually be found invalid due to the lack of evidence that you provide during initial questioning by law officers.
DUI Penalties in Illinois
A DUI conviction can be damaging for multiple reasons in the state of Illinois. First, the fines associated with such a conviction can be immense. A first offense alone can result in up to $2,500 in fines which can quickly put an individual into debt.
DUI charges are jailable offenses and your sentence could increase if you have a prior criminal history or criminal record. Depending on the severity of the accusation and any previous DUI convictions, jail time is also a very real possibility; sentences of up to one year in prison are common even for first-time offenders. On top of this, a loss of license is a near guarantee with most DUIs as well as possible additional consequences such as community service or traffic school. For your first conviction alone, you may be unable to drive for a full year due to license suspension.
It is important that all Illinois residents are aware of how severe the penalties for DUI convictions can be. The financial turmoil caused by fines and court fees could easily throw you off financially and leave you struggling to make ends meet while trying to rebuild your credit rating after such punishments have been handed down.
Not only this but the loss of liberty through potential jail time further adds insult to injury and should be taken seriously by anyone who faces these charges. With that said, seeking legal aid from a drunk driving lawyer is highly recommended so that individuals know their rights.
Repeat DUI Offender Penalties
Consequences for a first-time DUI offense typically consist of restricted driving privileges and societal shaming. While those convicted are not typically stripped of their rights to being a valid driver in the state of Illinois, the reality is that even for first-time DUIs, continued violations can mean more serious penalties ranging from increased jail sentences to indefinite loss of driving privileges.
In addition to probation and other consequences, alcohol education classes are often required for multiple DUI offenders. Individuals who have been charged with two or more DUIs within three years may face vastly increased fines of up to $25,000 as well as extended prison time ranging from one to thirty years in certain cases.
It is possible that even after an offender has served out their sentence, a judge may choose to revoke or suspend their driver’s license indefinitely making re-application impossible without approval from the court system. This may leave you feeling hopeless with your right to be a licensed driver taken away—possibly forever.
Will Your Driver’s License Be Suspended or Revoked for a DUI?
In the state of Illinois, it is possible to have your driver’s license suspended or revoked. This suspension period is known as a “statutory summary suspension.” It takes effect 46 days from the day you were arrested for drunk driving and remains in place regardless of how your criminal case turns out. If you are over 21 years old and receive such a suspension, you will generally receive a six to twelve-month suspension of your license; if you’re under 21, the statutory summary suspension is a 3 to 6-month suspension.
It is important to be aware that even if you are driving on an out-of-state license, the suspension may still impact you. If you are caught driving with a suspended license, you may face additional penalties—including fines and other potential sentences—depending on the state where you live. Therefore, it is important to understand your state laws surrounding DUI and driver’s licenses as they can vary widely across jurisdictions.
How a DUI Affects CDL Drivers
People with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) can use it to pursue transportation-related jobs and make a living for themselves and their families. A DUI conviction in Illinois can have serious repercussions for commercial drivers including potential impacts on their careers, future, and freedom.
In Illinois, Commercial Driver’s License holders have a legal Blood Alcohol Content limit of 0.04 percent, differing from the general public’s limit of 0.08 percent. If a commercial driver is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in their personal vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level over 0.08%, their commercial driver’s license (CDL) may be affected.
If you have a commercial driver’s license and have been found guilty of a first DUI offense, your CDL will have up to a 12-month suspension. Furthermore, if you refuse a post-arrest chemical test, your CDL will be suspended for one year automatically. A second DUI conviction may result in permanent disqualification.
How Can an Attorney Help Me Defend Against a DUI Charge?
A DUI lawyer in Illinois can help you in many ways. First of all, it’s important to find a criminal defense attorney that has experience in representing clients, regularly takes cases to trial, and beats DUI charges for their clients. With their expertise and knowledge of local laws, a drunk driving lawyer may be the only chance of escaping hefty fines or jail time.
An Attorney will Create a Good Defense for Me
Your criminal attorney, who is your legal representation, will meticulously review every detail of your case to ensure that your rights are fully protected. Furthermore, they will put together an effective strategy and a strong defense based on your needs and work diligently in order to try to beat your charge or reduce any potential penalties associated with the case. When facing a legal battle such as this one, their experienced team will ensure that you have someone advocating on your behalf in court.
An Attorney will Help Me Manage the Court System
When you are arrested or under investigation for criminal charges, the judicial system can be intimidating and confusing. With police officers and prosecutors pushing for a conviction, it can feel like one is “lost in the system” without any way to defend oneself. In this situation, having a skilled and experienced lawyer is essential in navigating successfully through the court process.
Your lawyer will be able to talk to the police, the jury, and the judge and explain your side of the story. They will also be able to answer any questions you may have and work with the police to get you the best possible outcome. Your attorney can also make sure that your rights are being respected and that all evidence obtained was collected legally.
An Attorney Will Help You Not Incriminate Yourself
It is common knowledge that if you are arrested, police officers must inform you of your Miranda rights before they can question you and use anything you say in court. However, what many people don’t know is that there are exceptions to these rights.
If a police officer pulls you over and asks if you’ve been drinking, and you volunteer information without being under arrest at the time, then they can use anything you say against you in court. In these cases, it is important to remember that anything that comes out of your mouth can be used as evidence against you in court—so it’s best to remain silent until an attorney arrives or the police read your Miranda Rights.
A Chicago DUI criminal lawyer will stop you from incriminating yourself by protecting your legal rights and providing advice on what to do when pulled over. If faced with a situation like this, having an experienced defense attorney who understands the nuances of Illinois DUI laws speaks volumes—especially when going into court for a criminal hearing. A criminal lawyer will help determine whether your meeting with law enforcement was conducted properly and advise on any possible defenses applicable to your case.
An Attorney Could Prove that the Breathalyzer Test Was Flawed
When it comes to field sobriety tests, people often think that if you fail one then you must be guilty of DUI. Unfortunately for them, this isn’t always the case. According to Chicago DUI lawyers, these tests are often flawed and difficult to pass even when sober. The prosecution will use the results of these tests as strong evidence in court, especially against those who have not consulted with a lawyer due to their charges.
It is important to remember that some of these tests, such as the finger-to-nose test or reciting the alphabet backward are not reliable and can’t be used in court. Furthermore, other more common tests such as walking in a straight line can also be problematic depending on much alcohol was consumed and how it affects your balance or coordination.
Despite popular belief, you should never assume that field sobriety tests determine guilt automatically. It is best to consult with an experienced DUI lawyer before accepting any penalties or fines imposed by authorities. They understand the flaws associated with field sobriety testing and will help you understand your rights better and create a strategy for fighting any DUI charges that are brought against you.
Contact a DUI Lawyer in Chicago
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Chicago, it’s important to contact a competent lawyer as soon as possible. If you go into facing your charges alone, it could only make matters worse. A knowledgeable criminal attorney can help you understand the charges against you, your legal rights, and the potential consequences of a conviction. In addition, an attorney can review your case and provide advice on how to best navigate the legal process.
At Chicago Traffic Lawyers, we provide exceptional criminal defense services, and we understand the legal processes. We have a wide range of effective defense strategies for dealing with DUI legal matters and we can help you fight the charges you’re up against. Call us today for a free case review!