While the basic concept of impaired driving is not hard to grasp, that doesn’t mean Illinois drunk driving laws are simple, or that charges of driving under the influence (DUI) are so lacking in complexity that just anybody can understand and defend against them.
DUI is defined in Illinois as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, including medically prescribed marijuana. Since mid-July 1997, Illinois has used a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or above as the standard definition of DUI. An individual with a BAC between 0.05 percent and 0.08 percent can be convicted of DUI if there is additional evidence of impairment.
In 2013, there were over 34,000 DUI arrests in Illinois (over 10,000 in Cook County and over 24,000 in other parts of the state). According to statistical data from the Illinois Secretary of State, DUI arrestees are predominantly male (77% of those arrested on DUI charges), under age 35 (58%), and arrests are most common between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. on weekends.
In 2013, for drivers failing a BAC test, only 8% recorded levels of 0.08-0.09 percent; the most common readings were between 0.10 and 0.14 percent (35%) and between 0.15 and 0.19 percent (36%). More extreme readings of 0.20 and 0.24 percent were found in 15%, while under 6% had BAC levels of 0.25 percent or higher.
In Illinois, unlike some other states, a motorist need not be found behind the wheel in order to face DUI charges. Anyone having physical control of a motor vehicle and suspected of having consumed alcohol above legal limits – for example, a person found sleeping in a vehicle parked along a roadway — can be arrested and face trial for DUI.
Penalties for DUI Offenders in Illinois Under Illinois law, penalties for DUI vary, depending on the driver’s age, BAC level, prior DUI convictions, whether any bodily injuries resulted, and whether a child under the age of 16 was a passenger in the driver’s car. The presence of such aggravating factors can result in the filing of felony DUI charges.
A DUI charge in Illinois begins at the level of Class A misdemeanor. Drivers whose BAC is 0.08 percent or higher can face these penalties:
1st DUI Conviction Treated as a Class A misdemeanor (Class 4 felony if bodily harm/fatality results) May be ordered to spend up to a year in jail Additional six months mandatory jail time if a child under 16 was in the vehicle Fine up to $2,500 Additional $500 if BAC was above 0.16 percent Additional $1,000 minimum if a child under 16 was in the vehicle Driver’s license suspended for minimum of one year May be eligible for ignition interlock device Vehicle registration is suspended Must complete community service, minimum 100 hours Additional 100 hours if BAC level was above 0.16 percent
Additional 25 days if a child under 16 was present in the vehicle 2nd DUI Conviction Treated as a Class A misdemeanor (Class 4 if a child was in the vehicle/Class 2 felony if bodily harm/fatality results) Imprisonment up to 1 year, 5 days mandatory jail time or 240 community service hours Additional 2 days mandatory jail time if BAC was above 0.16 percent Additional 1-3 years mandatory jail time if a child under 16 was in the vehicle (treated as felony Aggravated DUI) Fine up to $2,500 Additional $1,500 if BAC level was above 0.16 percent
Additional $25,000 maximum if child under 16 was present in vehicle Driver’s license suspended for minimum of five years (if within 20 years of a previous DUI) Vehicle registration is suspended Must complete community service, minimum 25 days, if a child under 16 was in the vehicle 3rd DUI Conviction Treated as a Class 2 Felony Imprisonment from 3-7 years Additional 90 days if BAC was above 0.16 percent Additional 1-3 years mandatory jail time if a child under 16 was in the vehicle Fine up to $2,500 Additional $2,500 minimum if BAC was above 0.16 percent Mandatory $25,000 if a child under 16 was in the vehicle Driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 10 years
Vehicle registration suspended Must complete community service, minimum 25 days, if a child under 16 was in the vehicle 4th and Subsequent DUI Conviction Treated as Aggravated DUI Felony Driving privileges revoked for life Vehicle registration suspended Additional fine of minimum $5,000 if BAC was above 0.16 percent Additional mandatory fine of $25,000 if a child under 16 was in the vehicle Any felony DUI offense in Illinois will be classified as an Aggravated DUI. For a driver charged with Aggravated DUI, imprisonment terms or community service may not be suspended or reduced. Drivers sentenced to probation or other conditional discharge from prison must complete a minimum of 480 hours of community service or serve 10 days mandatory imprisonment.
A DUI charge in Illinois will become an Aggravated DUI charge if any of these conditions applies: Driver is convicted of third or subsequent DUI charge Driver committed DUI offense while driving a school bus carrying children age 18 or younger Driver committed DUI offense resulting in great bodily harm and/or death Driver committed DUI offense with a child under 16 in the vehicle Driver committed DUI without holding a valid license or permit Driver committed DUI after a previous conviction for reckless homicide while DUI/Aggravated DUI involving death Driver committed DUI under a suspended/revoked license for a previous DUI Illinois DUI Penalties for Minors In addition to penalties that apply to older drivers, minors (those under the age of 21) face a minimum 2-year driver’s license revocation for a first DUI conviction, but during the second year may apply for a restricted license only valid between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. (a minor under the age of 16 guilty of DUI offense is not eligible). Minors may also be fined $250 and ordered to spend up to a year in jail.
Minors convicted of DUI offenses in Illinois must attend a mandatory Youth Intoxicated Drivers Visitation Program, which provides drug and alcohol counseling. DUI offenders under the age of 18 must complete a re-education course before their driving privileges can be reinstated and must retake the driver’s license exam.
How to Fight a DUI Charge in Illinois Illinois has very strict DUI laws, and a conviction will have serious repercussions in many areas of your life. If you may be facing DUI charges, you should have experienced, skilled legal advice and help.
Use this website to find and get in touch with top-quality Illinois DUI defense lawyers. The reputable, highly knowledgeable attorneys you’ll find here can guide you through the issues in your case, and deal on your behalf with police, prosecutors and insurance companies. They’ll also thoroughly explore all possible defenses, keep you fully informed, and represent your interests skillfully and aggressively for the most favorable outcome.
If you work with a DUI lawyer from our firm, you work with the best. Call today to see how an expert DUI lawyer can help you deal with your drunk driving case in Illinois.