Criminal penalties in Illinois for impaired offenses

A drunk driving conviction in the state of Illinois can result in serious criminal penalties being assessed on drivers.

Drivers in Illinois who are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving or drugged driving have always been at risk of suffering very severe consequences. Starting in January of this year, those consequences have been amended and may include criminal penalties for some drivers.

A CyberDrive Illinois DUI Fact Book indicates that anyone who is believes to have facilitated an impaired person to operate a motor vehicle, boat or other watercraft can face criminal charges. Such charges can also be faced by any person who has helped a person younger than 21 to have access to alcohol for consumption in a private home.

How does Illinois identify intoxication?

For most drivers, Illinois utilizes the commonly recognized threshold of a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content to determine intoxication. However, Illinois laws state clearly that any person operating a vehicle under the age of 21 found to have any amount of alcohol at all in their blood can face DUI charges. This same threshold applies to drivers of school busses.

Any commercially licensed driver found to have at least a 0.03 percent blood alcohol level at the time they are driving a commercial vehicle can be arrested for drunk driving. The Illinois General Assembly indicates that drivers arrested in a school zone or after allegedly causing an injury accident can be charged with an aggravated DUI.

People in Illinois can also be subject to impaired driving if found to have traces of illegal drugs in their systems. While medical marijuana is legal in Illinois, driving while under the influence of medical marijuana is strictly prohibited.

Legal consequences for a DUI conviction in Illinois

The various circumstances of a given arrest along with a driver's record will both impact the ultimate consequences that a driver may face for a DUI conviction. Among the list of potential penalties is the payment of high fines, spending time in jail and even losing the right to drive for a specified length of time.

According to the Illinois State Police, a first-time DUI conviction can cost a driver as much as $2,500 in fines. Jail time and a driver's license suspension can both be as long as 12 months.

A second drunk driving or drugged driving conviction extends the potential driver's license suspension period to five years. Jail time, community service or a combination of both can be required.

A third impaired driving offense is treated as a felony in Illinois. This increases the potential fines up to $25,000 and jail time up to seven years. Instead of a driver's license suspension, a license revocation can be ordered for as long as 10 years. For a fourth conviction, drivers can spend up to 12 years in jail.

Help for arrested drivers

Being arrested for drunk driving can be a frightening event. Defendants should get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible.