In an attempt to regulate and discourage unsafe alcohol consumption, law enforcement agencies retain the right to detain any person suspected of being under the influence of alcohol. Different methods have been developed over the decades to test the blood alcohol levels of offending individuals in order to provide evidence in court.
Each state has differing laws about acceptable Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and the penalties for violating the legal limits. The laws and applicable criminal charges are also dependent upon the age of the perpetrator and the circumstances of the intoxication. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges because of a BAC law violation, contact a DUI defense attorney at our firm today.
Blood Alcohol Limits in Illinois
What is BAC? Blood Alcohol Concentration or Blood Alcohol Content refers to the percentage of alcohol in a person's bloodstream. It is measured per 100 milliliters of blood. So a BAC of 0.02 would mean a presence of 0.02 g of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. BAC testing is mostly used by police officers to determine dangerous driving behavior caused by the influence of alcohol.
Illinois has a zero-tolerance policy for the purchasing, accepting, possession, or consumption of alcohol by any person under the age of 21. This means the legal BAC limit is .00. A person under the age of 21 caught with any trace of alcohol in their system will face a criminal offense, which is only worsened if they are operating a motor vehicle.
The state of Illinois considers a non-commercial driver to be over the legal limit if their BAC is 0.08 or higher. A driver who is found to be over the legal limit will be charged with a DUI.
For Commercial Driver's License holders, the legal limit is 0.04. Commercial drivers face stricter laws because they have more responsibility for public safety and commerce than an average driver. The amount of time they spend on the road also increases their risk of motor vehicle accidents.
Penalties For Having a BAC Over the Legal Limit
Because of the zero-tolerance policy, any person under the age of 21 determined to have a BAC over 0.00, will face charges. Underage drinking is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or jail time up to six months.
If the underage person is operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, first-time offenders face a three-month mandatory license suspension and second-time offenders face a one-year suspension. If the under 21 driver is over the 0.08 legal alcohol limit they may be charged with a DUI and face the loss of driving privileges for two years for a first offense or five years for a second.
Drunk driving penalties are dependent upon the number of DUI offenses and the circumstances of the incident. For instance, a person involved in a deadly car accident will face additional charges on top of the DUI.
The criminal penalties for a DUI include automatic license suspension, a mandatory alcohol awareness program, fines, court fees, and sometimes time in jail. The mandatory minimum for each of these consequences is different depending on the driving record.
A first-time DUI offender will have a statutory summary suspension of driving privileges for at least one year and will face up to $2500 in fines and up to one year in jail. The statutory summary suspension period increase with each subsequent offense as does the minimum prison term and court fines.
Outside of the threat of imprisonment, revocation of driving privileges, costly court fees and fines, alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs, and hours of community service, a DUI conviction can cost a person their job, their reputation in the community, and their relationships with friends and family. A strong legal defense team is your best shot at minimizing these consequences.
How BAC Can Be Tested
Unlike a field sobriety test, which can be unreliable and inaccurate, chemical tests used to determine Blood Alcohol Content levels are more precise in nature because they rely on technology instead of human observation. The three common types of BAC tests are:
- Breath tests - commonly known as breathalyzers are used most often by police officers because they are easy to administer, light-weight, and portable. They are considered accurate enough to be submitted as evidence in court. However, inaccuracies can be caused by environmental factors
- Blood tests - deemed more accurate than a breath test, a blood test is taken through a blood sample and then sent to a lab for testing.
- Urine tests - generally the least accurate of the chemical tests, urine testing can be affected by many outside factors. The length of time it takes for alcohol to be detected in urine, the length of time it can linger, the ability to dilute or tamper, and the inability to prove accuracy all can lead to inaccurate results. Urine tests are often given when a breath test or blood test is not an option.
An individual has the right to refuse a breathalyzer, especially before a drunk driving arrest. However, refusal to submit to blood alcohol testing after an arrest can lead to more serious penalties. In Illinois, the minimum license suspension significantly increases as well as court fines.
Any person under arrest has the right to an attorney and may contact one if they are unsure of what to do. If you are facing drunk driving charges and have not yet contacted an experienced attorney, do so as soon as possible.
Can BAC Results Be Challenged?
Yes. A strong defense lawyer will analyze your case and determine if contesting the results of your BAC is a good strategy for your specific case. Every test has room for error. Perhaps the breathalyzer wasn't calibrated recently. Perhaps an error was made when sending the blood test to the lab. Perhaps another substance affected the urine test. A criminal defense attorney will know what mistakes to look for and whether or not they will help your case.
Contact Our Firm For Help With a DUI
If you or a loved one are facing charges from a BAC law violation, an attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome. Whether reducing your charges, minimizing penalties, or in the best case scenarios getting the case dropped altogether, a DUI attorney is your strongest defense in criminal court. Contact DUI Lawyer 24/7 today to start your free consultation.