In Illinois, it is illegal to drive if your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is above 08%. Law enforcement officers are constantly on the lookout for drivers that they suspect may have exceeded that limit.
Instances of negligent driving, including speeding, disregarding traffic signs and signals, and swerving in and out of lanes may all cause an officer to pull you over and ask you if you have been drinking. One field sobriety test later, and you may find yourself dealing with DUI charges.
DUIs Are Common Charges – Why Do I Need A Lawyer?
According to the Illinois Secretary of State, there were 20,131 DUI arrests made in 2022. Despite what the frequency of these charges might suggest, DUI charges are serious business and should be fought aggressively the very first time you are arrested.
The consequences of a first-time DUI conviction can be far-reaching. If you accept a plea without contesting your charges, you will not only face fines, court fees, and possible jail time, but you are also putting yourself at risk for further penalties down the road.
The penalties for repeated DUI convictions escalate with each respective conviction and can lead to a felony criminal record, permanent license revocation, and a lengthy prison sentence. Retaining knowledgeable, experienced legal representation after that initial traffic stop is necessary to ensure that your first-time DUI charge does not derail your life.
First-Time DUI Penalties Can Mess Everything Up
There are a host of legal consequences to a first-time DUI conviction. In addition to possible jail time and fines, you will have to reckon with a twelve month minimum driver’s license suspension if convicted. If you are under 21 years old, you are looking at a 2 year minimum license suspension. Swift legal action in the aftermath of the arrest can help you avoid these severe penalties.
A first DUI offense is considered a Class A Misdemeanor in Illinois. Penalties can vary depending on prior traffic violations or criminal convictions on your record, the circumstances of your arrest, and the quality of your legal representation. First-time DUI penalties, while variable with consideration to the aforementioned factors, include the following:
- Up to one year in prison
- Fines ranging from $500 to $2500 (not including court costs and other fees)
- Potential alcohol/drug rehabilitation and/or alcohol awareness program
- Court-ordered counseling
- 12 month license suspension (2 years if under 21 at the time of the arrest)
- Increased insurance rates
- If you had a minor passenger in the vehicle at the time of your arrest, you must complete 25 days of community service in a program that serves children
- If your BAC was higher than 0.16%, you will be ordered to complete 100 hours of community service
A DUI conviction can fundamentally alter your life’s trajectory. Fortunately, an experienced DUI attorney can employ a variety of defense strategies to help you avoid the above penalties. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, your lawyer may direct prosecution to errors in sobriety test administration or lack of probable cause in an effort to get your charges reduced or, in some cases, dismissed.
Do not take first-time drunk driving charges lightly. A strong DUI attorney will aggressively defend your rights throughout your case and can help you avoid severe penalties.