The state of Illinois treats DUI charges very seriously and applies some of the strictest penalties in the nation. The consequences of a misdemeanor DUI conviction depend on the unique circumstances surrounding each case. While a misdemeanor charge carries the least consequences, drunk drivers can still find themselves facing steep fines, days of community service, days or even months in jail, and a number of other penalties that can have a significant impact on their daily lives.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, you should contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to begin work on your case. Our Illinois Misdemeanor DUI lawyers have the knowledge, expertise, and track record of success you will need to get the best possible result for your case. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation to see what we can do for you.
Court Penalties for a Misdemeanor DUI
A driver in Illinois may be charged with a DUI if they are operating a non-commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08 or a commercial vehicle (e.g. delivery truck, school bus, etc.) with a BAC over 0.04. Drivers under the age of 21 will face DUI charges for a BAC over 0
Typically a first or second DUI will be a class A misdemeanor charge in Illinois, though extenuating circumstances may elevate them to felony charges.
Misdemeanor DUI charges in Illinois may carry the following penalties:
- 1st time DUI - you will face up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500
- 2nd time DUI - you will face up to 1 year in jail with a minimum of 5 days or 240 hours of community service in addition to a fine of up to $2,500
There are several factors that can increase the punishment you may receive for a DUI conviction. The first is an exceptionally high BAC, which Illinois defines as 0.16 or higher.
- 1st time DUI with 0.16+ BAC - you will face an additional fine with a mandatory minimum of $500 and a mandatory minimum of 100 hours of community service
- 2nd time DUI with 0.16+ BAC - if this is your second DUI within 10 years of your previous violation, you will face an additional mandatory 2 days in jail and an extra $1,250 in fines
The second is receiving a DUI while a minor under 16 years of age is in the motor vehicle.
- 1st time DUI with a passenger under 16 years of age - you will face an additional mandatory minimum fine of $1000, an extra 2 days in jail, and an additional minimum of 140 hours of community service, including 40 hours dedicated to a charity or service that aids children
- 2nd time DUI with a passenger under 16 years of age - you will be facing felony DUI charges and will receive considerably higher penalties as a result
If you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, you are likely to face severe punishments including those listed above. A first-time DUI offense can see you facing significant fines, days of community service, and a minimum sentence of jail time. If you were involved in a collision that lead to bodily harm or death, your DUI is likely to be classified as a felony rather than a class A misdemeanor offense.
Costs of a DUI Conviction
In addition to the fines levied against you if you are convicted of a DUI, there are a multitude of costs you will need to cover that can add up.
- Posting bail can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This amount will be given back as long as you show up for your scheduled court date, minus any nonrefundable fees, but can still be financially detrimental in the short term.
- If your vehicle has been impounded following your arrest you will be responsible for paying towing and impound fees before you can recover it. This will usually cost you between $100 and $200.
- The court will require you to take a class detailing DUI risks, at your own expense.
- You may also be required to take a drug treatment or substance abuse class, at your own expense. This can quickly add up to several hundred dollars.
- You will have to pay a $500 restoration fee to have your driving privileges restored at the end of your suspension.
- Attorney fees can quickly add up if you choose to fight the charge in court. The exact amount will depend on the specific attorney you hire, but you can anticipate at least $1,000 (and sometimes much more) for their services.
- Your insurance premiums will increase following a DUI by, on average, nearly 20%. This increased rate is typically in place for a minimum of 3 years and can see you spending an extra $1,500 or more per year.
- You may be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in your vehicle. Installation fees are usually between $100 and $200, with monthly rental costing an additional $100 for as long as it is in your car. They will also require maintenance and regular calibration, which carry additional costs.
This is not an exhaustive list of the additional consequences you can receive for a DUI conviction. Between the criminal fines and extra administrative sanctions, a DUI in Illinois can quickly become a major financial hardship.
How Long Will You Lose Your License for a Misdemeanor DUI?
In Illinois, you will receive a suspension of your driving privileges effective 46 days after your DUI arrest. This is called a statutory summary suspension and will vary in length depending on whether this is your first offense and if you failed or refused chemical testing. The statutory summary suspension is independent of a suspension you may receive from a criminal conviction. You will stand to lose your license for up to 12 months for this suspension alone. You should consult with an experienced DUI attorney to see if you qualify for a restricted driving permit, allowing you to drive to work or school while your suspension is in place.
How to Defend Yourself From a DUI Charge
DUI charges in Illinois carry two types of punishments, administrative penalties, and criminal penalties. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you deal with both.
For the administrative penalties, your attorney can assist you by filing the necessary paperwork and serving as your representative in a formal hearing with the office of the Secretary of State.
Handling the criminal penalties can be much more complicated. There are a number of common strategies for defending against the State's case against you, however. These typically involve attacking the validity of the evidence brought against you or the validity of the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Some of the most common challenges against the prosecution's evidence include:
- Breathalyzer results can be challenged on the grounds that the test was administered incorrectly or the machine has not been properly maintained.
- Your arrest can be challenged if the police officer did not follow proper procedure.
- The results of field sobriety tests can be challenged on a number of grounds, including the legitimacy of the tests used.
- Chain of custody can be challenged for evidence including chemical test results if your lawyer can demonstrate that proper procedures have not been followed.
If you decide against fighting your charges in court, a lawyer can be even more beneficial to you. An experienced attorney will be accustomed to negotiating plea bargains with the prosecution and may be able to get you better terms. Similarly, an Illinois DUI defense lawyer is more likely to be able to get you a sentence of court supervision if this is your first DUI offense. Successful completion of court supervision will prevent a conviction from entering your criminal record. There are a number of requirements that you will have to fulfill during this time, but it is often the best possible outcome for first-time DUI charges.
Learn More: Do You Have to Take a Breathalyzer in Illinois?
Hire a Talented DUI Defense Lawyer
Drunk drivers pose a significant threat to public safety and can cause substantial damages or bodily harm to others. Due to this, the state of Illinois assigns severe consequences to drunk driving offenses, including hundreds, or thousands of dollars in fines, assignment of community service hours, suspension or revocation of driving privileges, mandatory attendance with a substance abuse treatment program, imprisonment in county jail, and more.
A DUI charge is a criminal charge and needs to be handled seriously. Our knowledgeable attorneys at DUI Lawyers 24/7 have experience managing local DUI cases and fighting to get the best possible result for our clients. We will handle your case with the dedication it deserves and work to ensure that your best interests are looked after throughout. Call us today or contact us online to schedule an appointment for a free case consultation to get started defending your DUI charges.