Driver with beer bottle in his hand McHenry County, Illinois DUI Defense Attorney

Driving under the influence starts at a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail and a $2,500 fine or both. A DUI conviction is a crime where prior history of DUI is a primary factor in the outcome of a criminal case. Illinois remembers every prior DUI conviction, so it does not matter if a prior was 20, 25, 30 years ago.

What are the elements of a DUI case in Illinois?

Alcohol and drunk driving is not the only thing that can result in a DUI charge or a DUI case. There are 7 different ways you can be charged with DUI in Illinois:
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC over 0.08
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Driving under the influence of any intoxicating compound or combination thereof
  • Driving under the influence of any drug
  • Driving under the combined influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, or intoxicating compounds
  • Driving under the influence of any amount of a drug
  • Driving under the influence of tetrahydrocannabinol, if within 2 hours, blood or urine reveals over 5 or 10 nanograms/deciliter

Summary Suspension – Civil Consequences in a DUI Case

Most people have heard about implied consent. Maybe you heard about in your driver’s education class, maybe from a friend or a family member. On its face, its relatively straightforward. If you are on a public roadway and an officer has reasonable grounds to believe you were driving under the influence, he can place you under arrest and request a blood, breath, or urine sample.

On your first DUI arrest, if you refuse, your license gets suspended for 1 year. If you give a sample and it is greater than 0.08, your license gets suspended for 6 months.

On your second DUI arrest within 5 years of a prior, if you refuse, your license gets suspended for 3 years. If you give a sample and it is greater than 0.08, your license gets suspended for 1 year.

This creates an entire nuance with priors and how the courts treat you compared to how the Secretary of State treats you. Only an experienced DUI attorney can properly advise your particular situation after learning your complete history.

Field Sobriety Test Suspension and Cannabis

Since the institution of the 7th type of DUI, commonly referred to as Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis, you may also be suspended for failing or refusing field sobriety tests when done in conjunction with an arrest for DUI-cannabis. This is rarely used in McHenry County, as it requires a much more rigorous investigation and seems to be more difficult to prove in court.

Most attorneys DO NOT know the ins and outs of fighting DUI suspensions. Suspending your license is a limitation of one of your freedoms, and due process must be followed. Hiring a qualified DUI attorney is vital to giving yourself the best chance at beating or negotiating your summary suspension. Filing the necessary paperwork as soon after the arrest is the very first step to fighting your suspension. You also need to know about the permit and breathalyzer device that the Secretary of State will issue and require if you want to be able to drive during your suspension.

Ideally, you contact a DUI defense attorney the day after you get arrested and charged with a DUI to fully protect yourself and give yourself the best chance to defeat a license suspension.

DUI and your CDL

CDL license holders also face much stricter and immediate consequences to their driver’s license, including potential disqualification about 6 weeks after the arrest. If a CDL holder refuses any field sobriety test or any blood, breath, or urine test, their CDL is disqualified. If they comply with the entire investigation and blow over 0.04 (even if they are in their personal vehicle), their CDL is disqualified. You heard that correctly, before a CDL holder is found guilty of anything, their CDL may be disqualified. If you have a CDL and are charged with DUI, you need to hire an experienced attorney immediately.

Criminal Consequences

Technically, DUI is a class A misdemeanor and you could face up to 1 year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. But realistically, it takes several DUIs before you could be facing that kind of jail time. In Illinois, the general rule is that you need at least 2 prior DUI dispositions and the 3rd can be charged as a felony.

Having said that, you can be charged with a felony on your first DUI if your license was suspended at the time or you were driving an uninsured motor vehicle. The point is, the specifics of your case matter. How your friend’s case or your family member’s case made its way through the court system will be different from your case. The facts of the case, the police officer investigating the incident, admissions that were made, the amount and quality of video evidence, the overall length of the investigation, the result of any chemical testing, and the lack of any chemical testing are all major factors that make each DUI a little bit different.

General Potential Outcomes

1st Offense: You may receive court supervision, which means no jail time and you avoid license revocation. You may have fines, DUI classes/treatment, a victim impact panel, and possibly public service work.

2nd Offense: You cannot receive court supervision. This means a mandatory minimum sentence of a conviction entering resulting in a revocation of your license, 5 consecutive days in jail or 240 hours of public service work.

3rd and subsequent offense: Felony eligible. At this point, the outcome of prior cases will cause several different possible outcomes and an attorney should be consulted immediately to minimize potential jail time.

The facts of each specific case impact all of these potential outcomes and vary from case to case.

Zero Tolerance Suspension

When you are under 21, you can get your driver’s license suspended for any amount of alcohol being found in your system. If you’re under 21 and you blow anything that is not 0.00, you can lose your license for a minimum of 3 months. Additional steps are also required to get your license reinstated after a zero tolerance suspension.

If a driver’s license is suspended prior to age 21, the driver will be required to successfully complete a driver remedial education course to make their driving privileges valid again. In addition, they may be required to submit to a complete driver’s license examination to be re-issued a driver’s license.

What does a DUI mean in Illinois?

“A person is under the influence of alcohol when, as a result of drinking any amount of alcohol, his mental or physical faculties are so impaired as to reduce his ability to think and act with ordinary care.”

This is how the jury is instructed as to what “under the influence” actually means. To fully protect your rights, you need to contact an Illinois DUI lawyer who has argued this definition to a jury over and over. I have. Fill out the contact form below or visit Nold & Walsh, LLC, for experienced legal counsel for your DUI case in Crystal Lake.