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Every year, over 20,000 drivers are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois. This means they were operating motor vehicles while impaired by alcohol or other drugs, including cannabis or prescription medication.

If you’re one of the individuals recently caught driving impaired, you likely have questions about how your DUI in Illinois will affect your future. Our guide below will outline the information you’ll need if you or a loved one made the mistake of driving under the influence in Illinois.

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Basic Facts About Illinois DUIs

A driver’s level of alcohol intoxication is measured in terms of blood alcohol content (BAC), which shows the ratio of alcohol to blood (which is often measured through a breath sample). BAC is assessed using a device–popularly referred to by the brand name “Breathalyzer”–that calculates a percentage. A BAC of .08 percent or more is high enough to qualify for a DUI in Illinois.

Even if your BAC is below .08 percent, you still may be convicted of a DUI if other evidence shows you were impaired while driving. Illinois law permits individuals 21 years or older to use medical or recreational cannabis. Still, drivers who operate motor vehicles while intoxicated by the substance may be subject to Illinois DUI laws.

If a police officer reasonably suspects that an individual has used cannabis and is driving impaired, the officer may subject the individual to field sobriety testing or roadside chemical testing.

Immediate Timeline Of A DUI Arrest In Illinois

The arrest for a DUI can be quite different in Illinois, compared to other states. This is what you may expect after an arrest for an Illinois DUI:

The Vehicle Stop

An officer will first stop your vehicle. This can occur if the officer believes you’re driving erratically, evoking reasonable suspicion, or there is a roadside safety check (or “checkpoint”). The officer will ask for your license, registration, and proof of insurance.

Next, the officer will ask you to submit to “field sobriety tests.” These are tests the officer can complete on the roadside to assess balance, coordination, and attention. The officer may also ask you to submit to a preliminary breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) to determine if you should be arrested for a DUI.

You will be allowed to leave if the officer has no issues with the field sobriety or breathalyzer results.

If the officer finds “probable cause” due to the results of the field sobriety or breathalyzer test, the driver will be arrested and transported to the police station. There, they will complete further chemical testing.

Chemical Testing And Statutory Summary Suspensions

A chemical test evaluates the BAC of the driver, using a sample of blood, breath, bodily substance, or urine. Illinois laws stipulate that drivers in Illinois have given “implied consent” to take a chemical test (this excludes the field breathalyzer test given during the stop) if the officer arrests them on suspicion of a DUI. A “statutory summary suspension” is an administrative action imposed by the Secretary of State if the driver “fails” the chemical test given at the police station or refuses to be chemically tested.

A statutory summary suspension is a civil penalty, separate from the DUI criminal offense. Once granted, the suspension results in an automatic suspension of driving privileges occurring on the 46th day after the summary suspension has been granted.

The length of the suspension depends on whether the driver:

  • Is guilty of another DUI offense
  • Failed the test or refused to take it

Drivers will not receive a statutory summary suspension if:

  • They are found to have a BAC of more than .05 percent but less than .08 percent
  • No drugs are found in their system
  • They have THC of fewer than five nanograms per milliliter of whole blood or ten nanograms per milliliter of other bodily substance

Still, the associated DUI charge will remain on their record.

Law Enforcement Sworn Report

For drivers with a BAC of .08 percent or more, THC of either five nanograms or more per milliliter of whole blood (or ten nanograms or more per milliliter of other bodily substance), or any trace of a drug other than cannabis, the driver will receive a law enforcement sworn report of a statutory summary suspension.

Process After The Statutory Summary Suspension

After the driver receives a statutory summary suspension, the next steps are:

  • Assuming a driver’s license is valid, they will receive a receipt that allows them to drive for 45 days, and on the 46th day, the suspension starts
  • Drivers must post bond and may be detained until they have done so; vehicles may be towed, impounded, or seized
  • DUI charges will ultimately be prosecuted and “adjudicated” in the court system

Driving Privilege Consequences For DUIs In Illinois

For a first-time DUI, Illinois drivers may qualify for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP), which will enable limited driving privileges during the suspension period. With this option, you’d have to use a “breath alcohol ignition interlock device,” which allows the engine to start only after providing a clean (i.e., indicating sobriety) breath sample.

First-time DUI offenders who fail chemical testing may have their driving privileges suspended for six months. Those who commit a second DUI in Illinois and fail chemical testing may have their licenses suspended for one year.

First-time offenders who refuse chemical testing may have their driving privileges suspended for 12 months. Second-time offenders who refuse testing may have a suspension of driving privileges for three years.

Penalties For A DUI Conviction In Illinois

Criminal penalties vary depending on the DUI arrest and conviction specifics, such as the driver’s BAC, age, whether there were passengers, and previous convictions. In all cases, being convicted while transporting a child 16 or under or being found to have had a BAC of .16 percent or higher increases the penalties.

Depending on the specifics, a driver may be subject to a Class A misdemeanor for first and second convictions. A first conviction will include a minimum revocation of driving privileges, possible fines and jail time, vehicle registration suspension, and community service.

Second DUI Conviction

A second DUI conviction includes either driving privilege revocation for a minimum of 5 years (for a second conviction within 20 years of the first), vehicle registration suspension, mandatory minimum imprisonment of 5 days, or 240 hours of community service.

The third and fourth convictions are class 2 felonies, while a fifth conviction is a class 1 felony. The more times an individual is convicted of a DUI in Illinois, the harsher the penalties become. A fifth conviction will result in a revocation of driving privileges for life.

Any DUI offense that results in felony charges will be classified as an aggravated DUI, which means any mandatory term of imprisonment or community service can’t be reduced.

Further Consequences Of A DUI Conviction

DUIs become a permanent part of a driver’s record. Offenders must complete drug and alcohol counseling, attend education courses, and maintain high-risk car insurance for at least three years. Vehicle registration will be suspended.

Have Additional Questions? An Experienced Attorney Can Help

If you still have questions about what to do after getting a DUI in Illinois, make an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney for a free legal review. They’ll evaluate your case and inform you of your legal options.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Want to read more about how Illinois DUI laws might impact you? Learn More from our Jalopnik Legal Team:

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