Most people know that the “magic number” when it comes to drinking and driving is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). If you are driving and a police-administered Breathalyzer shows your BAC is above 0.08 percent, you are legally driving under the influence. However, DUI laws are not all this straightforward. Some individuals have even been charged with a DUI and they did not know they were breaking the law! One of the best ways to avoid a criminal DUI charge is to fully understand Illinois DUI law and your rights as a citizen. If you have been arrested for drinking and driving, legal guidance from a qualified criminal defense attorney can be a tremendously valuable asset.
Under the Legal Limit
Although the 0.08 percent BAC standard applies to most DUI situations, the rule is not the only way that person could face penalties. A driver could still be charged with driving under the influence in Illinois with a BAC under the legal limit, if prescription drugs or illegal drugs were present. In addition, drivers under the age of 21 can face stiff license penalties even if they are under the .08 BAC limit. Many young people experiment with alcohol before they are of legal age to do so. However, driving with even a small amount of alcohol in your system can result in punitive license consequences. For those drivers under age 21, a BAC of even just 0.01 percent is considered a failed test and can result in a license suspension under a zero tolerance administrative action.
An underage driver who fails a chemical BAC test for the first time will face a three-month driver’s license suspension. If the underage driver’s BAC is greater than 0.08 percent, the license suspension is six months. The suspension period is longer If the underage driver has been caught drinking and driving before. Underage drivers above the legal limit, convicted of a DUI, face a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Noticeable Impairment Alone Can Warrant a DUI Arrest
Alcohol affects everyone differently. Some drivers are obviously intoxicated and unable to drive safely even if their BAC is not technically over the legal limit. For this reason, Illinois law permits police officers to arrest any drivers who is “noticeably impaired.” If an officer witnesses a driver making erratic lane changes or driving unsafely, he or she will pull the car over. If the officer notices that the driver acts confused, is slurring his or her words, or otherwise seems drunk, the driver could be charged with a DUI even if they refuse the breath test.