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What to Expect When Charged With DUI in Illinois

As time goes by, laws against driving under the influence are becoming more severe. Lawmakers in Illinois and across the U.S. are pushing for harsher punishments and less leniency. Illinois drivers should know what happens during a DUI traffic stop and the potential penalties they face if convicted of DUI charges.

DUI Traffic Stops

Police need reasonable suspicion to stop a driver to see if the driver is intoxicated. Some valid reasons police would have to stop a vehicle include witnessing a person drive erratically, swerve between traffic lanes or within one lane, speed, slow or stop abruptly, change lanes without signaling or fail to yield or stop when required.

After a police officer pulls a driver over, the officer will look for physical signs that the driver may be intoxicated, such as blood-shot eyes, slurred speech or an odor of alcohol coming from the driver.

If the officer believes that the driver is intoxicated, the officer will ask the driver to complete some field sobriety tests, including:

  • Walking in a straight line heel-to-toe and then turning
  • Reciting the alphabet
  • Following a pen with the eyes
  • Standing on one foot

If the driver cannot perform the tests, the officer will have the driver take a preliminary breath test. If the PBT shows the driver's blood alcohol concentration is higher than 0.08, the officer will arrest the driver. At the police station the police will measure the driver's BAC again with a breath, blood or urine test.

DUI Penalties in Illinois

Those convicted of DUI in Illinois face severe penalties, including:

  • First offense: jail time up to one year, a fine up to $2,500 and loss of full driving privileges for at least one year
  • Second offense: a minimum five day jail sentence or 240 hours of community service, a jail sentence up to one year, loss of full driving privileges for at least five years if within 20 years of the first DUI conviction and a fine up to $2,500
  • Third offense: a Class 2 felony conviction on a person's record, a mandatory 18- to 20-month prison sentence with the possibility of up to seven years in prison, loss of full driving privileges for at least 10 years and a fine up to $25,000

Seek Legal Assistance

Those facing DUI charges should not try to face them alone. Hiring an attorney to handle DUI charges can greatly improve the outcome of the case because the attorney will know the issues on which to fight charges.

A lawyer may challenge the police officer's basis for the initial traffic stop or the way that the officer conducted the sobriety tests. A lawyer will also recognize if the police violated the driver's rights by holding the driver too long or not letting the driver speak with an attorney.

An attorney may also cast doubt on the reliability of a Breathalyzer test in a number of ways, such as showing that the officer administered it improperly or the driver had a medical condition that influenced the result.

Illinois authorities take DUI offenses very seriously. They prosecute such cases to the fullest extent possible. If you are facing DUI charges, talk to a skilled DUI defense attorney who can advocate for your rights

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