Drunk driving is a crime, but the idea of being arrested for the first time may not scare many drivers. After all, this is the first drunk driving violation, and the law is tolerant of the first drunk driving breach, isn’t it?
Most states classify a first-time DUI as a misdemeanor, but the consequences can be serious in the short and long term. It is important to understand that if you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the penalties not only involve the conviction of drunk driving on your record, but they can also have a negative impact on your life.
What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time?
It is understandable that when you are arrested for the first time for drunk driving, you are unsure what your legal options are, or where to turn to, and you start to wonder what happens after your first drunk driving offense.
Suppose a police officer pulled your vehicle over because there is probable cause to believe that you were driving while intoxicated. In that case, the law allows the law enforcement officer to collect a blood, breath, or urine sample to determine whether your blood alcohol content is within the legal limit. Since any chemical test must be administered as soon as possible, these are given automatically.
Remember that you can refuse to take a preliminary breath test. However, if you refuse to give a blood, breath, or urine sample once you're in the custody of the police, your license will be confiscated and you'll face an automatic administrative license suspension.
If it is your first offense for a DUI, your drunk driving arrest triggers two separate legal actions: the first is by the State of Illinois for your driver's license suspension, and the second is for the criminal offense.
If you are charged with the first DUI criminal charge, you will be given a date for a court appearance. It's crucial to hire a DUI criminal defense attorney to provide legal assistance. With legal representation, you'll realize that you have a wide range of legal options.
A first-time offender may be allowed by the criminal court to enter a guilty plea and receive court supervision, which means you won't have any jail time. If you can accomplish the requirements given by the court, together with the completion of the license supervision period, no entry of a criminal conviction for DUI will be done on your criminal record. However, even with court supervision, you must still pay the fine or perform community service. Note also that even without facing any prison time, you're still required to serve the statutory summary suspension regarding your driver’s license.
While the odds of conviction are less for first-time DUI offenders in Illinois, a misdemeanor conviction for a first DUI criminal charge is possible for several reasons. A first DUI conviction is likely when the court sentences you to court supervision, and you violated the terms given by the judge, or when you acted in a reckless manner during the drunk driving arrest.
What is the Criminal Penalty for a First-Time DUI in Illinois?
It’s vital to understand you aren’t alone after an intoxicated driving arrest. Every year in Illinois about 35,000 people are arrested for impaired driving. Although the legal consequences of a first-time DUI differ based on how your drunk driving case plays out and if your DUI criminal defense lawyer gets your intoxicated driving charges dropped or reduced, here are the possible criminal penalties for a first-time DUI offender:
- Because a first DUI criminal charge is a Class A misdemeanor offense in Illinois if you’re arrested and charged with this criminal charge you’ll face a potential jail time of one year and a maximum fine of $2,500.
- Rarely are first-time DUI offenders sentenced to time in jail or prison. Also, they don’t face the maximum fine; however, they must pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500. But the $500 doesn’t include other legal costs, such as court costs, surcharges, or the cost of court-ordered rehabilitation programs, including alcohol awareness courses.
- Often, you may be ordered to attend substance abuse counseling, but it’s not a mandatory criminal penalty if convicted.
- If you were transporting a child under the age of 16 years in your motor vehicle, the minimum fine is $1,000.
- A first DUI offender whose blood alcohol concentration was 0.016% or higher must complete a minimum of 100 hours of community service.
- A first-time offender who was with a minor in their vehicle must complete 25 days of community service in a program that’s beneficial to kids.
Apart from the statutory summary suspension discussed above, a first-time offender will face a license suspension for one year. However, the DUI offender may apply for a restricted driving permit (RDP) or hardship license to drive to work, school, medical appointments, and/or alcohol or drug treatment. If your license has been suspended because of a first-time DUI conviction and a statutory summary suspension, you must install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) in your car for the duration of the hardship license.
How Do I Get My Driver's License Back After a DUI in Illinois?
After a first-time drunk driving conviction in Illinois, DUI offenders face a one-year suspension of their license. Fortunately, you can apply for an RDP for essential things. Again, an RDP allows you to go to doctors’ school, work, appointments, and substance treatment. First-time DUI offenders who get their license suspended must have a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) as a condition of the temporary driving permit.
The process of getting your driver's license reinstated after a first-time DUI has several requirements, which include:
- A clean driving record
- Completion of a remedial education program about alcohol and drug use
- Proof of a drug/alcohol evaluation and treatment, if applicable
- Convince the hearing officer that you will not endanger the public if they restore your Illinois driving privileges
- Appearance before a Secretary of State hearing officer at a Driver Service facility
- Proof of insurance or financial responsibility
- Pay the license application fee and pass written, vision, and driving tests to get a license
- Pay a $500 license reinstatement fee
Contact Our Experienced Kane County DUI Criminal Defense Attorneys for Legal Advice!
Being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can affect your life in many ways. It can stay on your record permanently, limit your career progression, and cause serious economic consequences. You must take these criminal charges seriously, even though this is your first criminal offense.
At DUI Lawyers 24/7, our knowledgeable Kane County DUI criminal defense lawyers can help you get your criminal charges dismissed or reduced. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation, call our criminal defense law firm today at (847) 999-7616, or chat with our criminal defense team online to learn how we can help.