What Is The DUI Process In The State Of Illinois?
Generally, a person will come into my office on a first time DUI, and I will explain that essentially the best way to view a DUI in the state of Illinois, if it is a first timer, is it is almost like a two-headed monster. There are two distinct parts to a DUI. The first part is called criminal, and the second part is civil. The criminal part of a DUI says that a DUI is a class A misdemeanor, punishable up to a year in a county jail, and up to a $2,500 fine, or any combination. Therefore, in the worst-case scenario, once again, you can receive a conviction for this offense, you can pay up to a $2,500 fine plus court costs, and that is somewhere approximately about $4,500. You could be looking at a year in a county jail.
Almost one-hundred percent of the time, if there is no aggravation to this first time DUI. What I mean by aggravation is that you were not involved in an accident where somebody was not hurt, or killed. If you were not involved in a high-speed chase, or threw a punch at the cop once he pulls you over, then the general understanding is, with all experienced criminal defense attorneys, the criminal part of the case, you are not looking at a conviction. In other words, it will not go on your public record as a conviction, and you will not be serving any jail time. In addition to that, you are not paying $2,500 fine and court costs of roughly $4,500.
The general outcome on something like this would be one year of court supervision, generally would be fines, and court costs near about $2,500, and no jail time. However, you would be required to get an alcohol evaluation, follow any recommendations along with doing traffic school, what they call a Victim Impact Panel, which essentially is a scared straight type of a program that lasts anywhere between two to three hours in Lake County, Illinois, which is where I am located. This takes place at the College of Lake County, the community college here in town. Essentially, you sit in auditorium with a bunch of other people who have been arrested for a DUI. One person will get on stage that is in prison now, and explain his story.
Another person will get up there with one leg saying that he is the victim of a drunk driving accident. That is the general understanding of what the worst case scenario will be for a first time DUI individual on the criminal side of the case. We hope to do better than that, because many people come into my office, never being involved in a criminal justice system, and you are concerned about, “Oh my God, I am going to go to jail”, or, “Oh my God, my license will be taken away forever”. Clearly, the answer to that would be “No”, absent any one of those aggravating factors, which I talked about earlier. That is the criminal part of the case. The civil part of the case is something completely different. The civil part of the case says that when they arrest you for a DUI, they bring you to the station.
At the station, they read you a document called A Warning to Motorists. And what the warning to motorists in a nutshell says for a first time DUI offender is what happens if you blow into the machine, or what happens if you refuse. When I say blow into the machine, I am talking about giving a chemical test, whether it be a breathalyzer test, or whether it be blood test taken at the hospital, which the officer can ask of you. Essentially the law says, if you submit to a chemical test, whether it be a blood test, or blow into the machine, and if you blow above the legal limit, which in the state of Illinois is a 0.08% amount of alcohol in your system, or for that matter, you have any amount of illegal drugs in your system, then you are looking at a six month suspension of your driving privileges.
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If you refuse to blow into the machine, or submit to a chemical test, then at that point in time, you are looking at a one-year suspension of your driving privileges. Those suspensions, regardless whether it is six months, because you have submitted to a test, or one year, because you refused starts forty-six days after the date of your arrest. That is the civil part of the case. So, to reiterate, six months because you submitted, one year because you do not. Now, I know if you are a first time DUI offender, regardless of whether you blow, or not, I have the ability to get you a limited permit. It is not even limited to be honest with you. It would be a permit to drive during the entire pendency of your suspension. However, for that to occur, you are going to have the breathalyzer device attached to the ignition of your car.
That is generally the worst-case scenario when looking at the civil part of a DUI for a first time offender. So once again, backing up a little bit, on the criminal part, you are not going to go to jail, you do not have to pay $5,000, and you will not end up with a conviction on your record. The civil part of the case, worst-case scenario, is you are looking at a suspension, whether it is six months or a year. We can get you a permit to drive the entire time, from the day your suspension begins until a day your suspension ends, but you have to have the machine attached to the ignition of your vehicle. In the civil part of the case, we hope to do better than that, just like in the criminal part of the case.
If we cannot get the DUI criminal charge dismissed, amended, or modified to a lower charge, and in the civil part of the case, if we cannot get the suspension thrown out, at least you know that generally speaking, it is the starting point for a first time DUI individual. Now, when somebody comes into my office for a second or third penalty, those are more severe. On a second time DUI, if you are found guilty, you are looking at a mandatory revocation of your driving privileges. What it means in the state of Illinois, is that if you have had a first DUI, which has been taken care of in court, short of it being dismissed. If you pled guilty, or found guilty on that first time DUI, on a second DUI, if you are found guilty, or if you plead guilty to the DUI, you will receive a conviction.
A conviction in the state of Illinois revokes, or permanently takes away your license. The only way you can get back a license is by going to a hearing in front of the Illinois Secretary of State. Once again, a revoked license means forever, unless you take the active steps to get your license back, if you are a second time DUI offender, on the civil part of the case. The other part of the case is they look back five years, and see whether any of your earlier DUIs were in five years of each other. If they are not within five years, you are considered a first time offender, and you are looking at six months if you blow, or a one-year suspension if you refuse.
However, if your earlier DUI was within five years of a second DUI, then you are looking at a one-year suspension if you blow into the machine or a three-year suspension if you do not blow. Once again, none of that matters, because if you are guilty of the second DUI, on the criminal side, your license is revoked, and now will transfer over to any permit you have on the civil part of the case, and it will be revoked as well. The penalties on a second time DUI are much more significant when it comes to your driver’s license. With the law saying, that if you are guilty of a second time DUI in terms of any type of additional penalties against you, you would be looking at five days in jail, or two-hundred and forty hours of public service in addition to any fines, or court costs.
When you get to a third-time DUI or above, those charges are enhanced, or can be enhanced under Illinois law to felony charges. A third time DUI turns into class two felony, which is punishable from three to seven years in the penitentiary, although it is a probation-able charges, and needless to say, by that time, most of the time, your license has already been taken away as a result of the second DUI. Then above four or more DUIs, those are severe felony charges, but those are non-probation-able, which means that you can get probation, which means you are not incarcerated for a first, second or a third DUI, even the third DUI being a class II felony, punishable from three to seven years in the penitentiary, but it is probation-able. You can avoid jail time by doing any amount of public service.
For a fourth or fifth DUI, or more, those are non-probation-able charges, which mean if you are guilty, and charged, as if having prior DUIs before this one, you will be sent to prison. You are not eligible for any probation, and the minimum would be three years up to seven. If it is your fifth DUI, it goes to what they call a class I felony, and that is punishable from four to fifteen years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. That is a very brief understanding of DUI law, and that is what I would explain to people if they came into my office. The majority of them are first time offenders, but I deal with many second, and third-time offenders. I also deal with associated charges that go along with these DUIs.
With DUIs, people are arrested, but they slammed into a car in a process, and it becomes a hit and run, they will be charged with the DUI, but charged with leaving the scene of the property damage, or personal injury accident. I deal with cases where people are pulled over for a DUI, and their license has been revoked for an earlier DUI, or that they find illegal drugs in the car, or illegal guns in the car. Therefore, there could be a number of associated or joined cases that go along with many DUIs, but this would give somebody a basic understanding as to what Illinois DUI law is.
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