Laws in Chicago impose strict penalties for DUI offenders. If you’re convicted of DUI, you could face jail time, monetary fines, a license suspension, and an ignition interlock device connected to your vehicle. Navigating the legal ramifications of a DUI charge can often be confusing.
Our firm is here to offer you the legal advice you need including reviewing the penalties you may face for your charge and possible defense options. Contact our Chicago DUI lawyers today to book your free consultation.
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What to Expect After a DUI Arrest
Typically in drunk driving arrest cases, police officers pull drivers over due to signs of possible impairment or intoxication. Some of these signs include swerving, speeding, or traffic violations – these violations can be as minor as a broken tail light, or not using an indicator when switching lanes. Officers pulling drivers over is legal due to reasonable suspicion, or probable cause.
When someone is suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol and pulled over, the officer(s) will ask for the driver’s license and registration. This is going to be the first indication that tips the officer(s) off to the driver being under the influence, as they will be watching for fumbling of documents, incoherent or slurred speech, and they will be scanning for the smell of alcohol in the vehicle and on the driver’s breath.
If the officer has reason to believe that the driver is under the influence, they will ask if the driver has been drinking, and if they are told that the driver has had anything to drink, the officer will conduct field sobriety testing. There is a multitude of field sobriety tests that the officer can use, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, balance testing, and a breathalyzer test that checks the breath alcohol content/blood alcohol content of the driver.
If the driver has provided probable cause and the officer has been able to confirm that the driver has been driving under the influence, the driver will most likely be placed in police custody and transported to the county jail. When arrested for a drunk driving offense, driving privileges are most often revoked.
Penalties For a First DUI
Driving under the influence in Chicago is a class A misdemeanor, and first-time DUI offenders can face a few days in jail, jail time of a few months, or up to a full year in custody. A first-time offender will have financial consequences to face as well, including fines of up to $3,000, court fees, and court-ordered rehabilitation. First-time DUI offenders are also often required to participate in hours of community service, and the number of hours will be dictated by the judge hearing their case.
First-time DUI offenders should also expect to see their valid license put under license suspension by the court. When dealing with a first-time DUI, drivers who haven’t had a statutory summary suspension within the last five years are subjected to six months of license revocation for failed field sobriety testing, or one year of license revocation for refusing consent to chemical testing or failure to pass chemical tests.
Drivers who did not refuse testing may be eligible for a monitoring device driving permit, which allows drivers the ability to drive for any reason and at any time during the suspension, so long as their vehicle is equipped with a breathalyzer called the breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID).
Factors That Can Increase These Penalties
There are several factors that can increase the penalties for a first-time DUI charge. The most common factor that increases penalties for the driver is having an elevated blood alcohol concentration of more than .15% BAC. Another risk of increased penalization is refusing to submit to common chemical testing. Test refusal is an automatic charge.
If the driver was involved in property damage, bodily harm, or personal injury, the penalties increase. If the driver is operating a motor vehicle while on a suspended license, they will face higher penalties than just driving while under the influence. Driving under the influence with a child passenger, them being under the age of sixteen, carries a heavier sentence.
Penalties For Repeated DUIs
Dealing with repeated DUIs is decently complicated, as a second DUI that has no extra exaggerating factors is still considered a class A misdemeanor and carries the same maximum jail sentence, and the same maximum fine amount that a first-time charge would incur, as well as other punishments like community service. If the driver has a second offense and tests for a BAC of .16% or higher, they are required to complete two days in jail and a mandatory $1,250 fine.
A third DUI is charged as a felony aggravated DUI, which is a class 4 felony. A class 4 aggravated DUI carries a possible range of penalties from probation to 1-3 years in jail.
A fourth DUI is considered an aggravated DUI and is a non-probational class 2 felony. This means that the judge overseeing the case is not able to issue probation. A fourth DUI carries a mandatory prison sentence, and the offender must serve 3-7 years.
Similarly, a fifth DUI is a non-probational class 1 felony and carries a mandatory 4-15 years in prison.
Anything after six DUIs is considered a class x felony, and the intoxicated driver must serve anywhere from 6-15 years.
Can You Beat a DUI Charge?
If you find yourself facing DUI criminal charges, whether a misdemeanor offense or felony offense, the first course of action is to hire a DUI criminal defense lawyer at our firm. The next step would be to request an arrest review, as the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving while under the influence.
Arrest reviews by an experienced defense lawyer can identify legal technicalities that can help you get out of an ignition interlock device requirement and beat a first DUI offense charge. If the state is unable to prove any part of the misdemeanor charge you are facing, or if the sobriety testing was done incorrectly, then the charge has failed to prove guilt. This means your charge will be dismissed and the case is thrown out.
For the best outcome, call Chicago Traffic Lawyers, a criminal defense law firm.