In Illinois, the penalties for driving under the influence (“DUI”) are some of the toughest in the nation. The potential consequence of a DUI conviction will vary based on the facts and circumstances of the case, and will vary based on whether a person has prior DUI convictions. Almost invariably, however, is the potential consequence of losing your license, even before having had your day in court. When facing DUI charges, it is important to act fast and to understand the charges and penalties you may be facing.
Myths about DUI charges:
TRUE OR FALSE - If your BAC levels are higher than .08 then you’re guilty of a DUI? FALSE
TRUE OR FALSE - If you refuse to provide officers with either blood, breath, or urine samples, then you must be guilty of a DUI? FALSE
TRUE OR FALSE - Police officers are trained experts who always administer the Field Sobriety Tests in accordance with their training? FALSE
Driving under the influence (“DUI”) is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, other drugs (including cannabis even if prescribed for medical purposes) or intoxicating compounds, and methamphetamine. Drivers are legally considered “under the influence” if they have:
(a) a blood-alcohol content (“BAC”) of .08 or more,
(b) a tetrahydrocannabinol (i.e., cannabis) concentration (“THC”) of either 5 nanograms or more
per milliliter of whole blood or 10 nanograms or more per milliliter of other bodily substance,
(c) used any other controlled substance, or are impaired by medication.
Typically, if an officer stops a vehicle and suspects that the driver is under the influence, then the driver is asked to submit to field sobriety tests. If the officer believes there is probable cause to arrest the person for DUI based on the field sobriety tests, then the driver is asked to submit to chemical testing of his or her breath, blood, urine or other bodily substance. If the driver refuses to submit to or fails to complete chemical testing, or if the results of the chemical test meet any of the above conditions, then statutory summary suspension (or revocation depending on the circumstances) applies in addition to the DUI charges. Statutory summary suspension is the automatic suspension of an individual’s driving privileges. The suspension takes effect after 45 days from the date of the suspension notice, and the driver has 90 days from that date to request a judicial hearing to challenge the suspension. Again, challenging the suspension is separate and apart from fighting the DUI charges. It is important to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney who has experience with both challenging statutory summary suspensions and fighting against DUI charges.
The penalties for a DUI conviction vary based on the circumstances of the arrest and whether there are any prior DUI convictions. The following is a general overview of the potential consequences of a DUI conviction.