Driving Under the Influence in Illinois
Statistics from the Secretary of State’s office show that while there were fewer alcohol-related fatalities in recent years, the proportion of fatalities to which alcohol contributed has remained relatively stagnant, hovering around 40 percent except for one anomalous year. It is difficult for one to contemplate these figures; if the influence of alcohol were removed from the situation, the number of deaths would—at least in theory--be almost halved. Statistics like these only serve to reiterate how critical and important enforcement of DUI laws are to keeping the proverbial peace.
As is common in multiple other states in the U.S., a first offense of driving under the influence (DUI) carries relatively less stringent consequences than a second or third offense, but the intention is still punitive, and as such, offenders do not get off lightly. In Illinois, a first offense triggers administrative punishments including at least a six month license suspension, which may be as long as one full year, if the offender does not consent to blood alcohol content testing under the relevant implied consent laws. Criminal consequences include fines of up to $2,500 and a Class A misdemeanor on one’s criminal record.
It is imperative to grasp that for DUI convictions as an adult, there is no ‘forgiveness’ or ‘look-back’ period; if one is arrested again for DUI, it will count as the second time. Thus, one cannot attempt to argue that they ought to be treated as one committing their first offense. Probation and/or conditional discharge are classed as convictions under Illinois law, at least for the purpose of assessing whether an offender has been convicted of DUI before or not. Court supervision does not count as a conviction, but it does remain on one’s record, and it is only available once—usually for a first offense.
A second DUI offense in Illinois, as one might suppose, comes with significantly stricter penalties. The offense is still categorized as a Class A misdemeanor in most instances—if it is not deemed aggravated DUI, which is the charge most often brought when a minor is in the car and injured. A second conviction carries a mandatory minimum of five days in jail or 240 hours of community service, as well as the suspension of the vehicle’s registration. If the second DUI occurs with 20 years of the first, the offender’s driving privileges will be revoked completely for a minimum of 5 years. Also, an ignition interlock device will be placed on the offender’s car, which can create inconveniences and issues.
It is worth noting that any DUI offense after the second in Illinois automatically converts to an aggravated DUI, which is a felony. Aggravated DUI is also the charge that is most often utilized when a particular incident has been deemed to display reckless disregard for others, especially one’s passengers, but there are many different reasons for which a standard DUI may be elevated. In rare cases, even a first offense may be raised to an aggravated DUI if harm is caused. For example, if DUI is committed in a public transport vehicle—buses, taxis, etc.—or if death occurs as a result of the driver’s actions.
Consult an Experienced DUI Attorney
It is not uncommon to feel too ashamed or frightened to seek legal counsel after a DUI, but generally, it is the best option. Contact an experienced Joliet DUI defense attorney at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba to get the help you need. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.