Should I Hire a Lawyer for My First DUI?

Even if you were never charged with a DUI before, you can still be faced with serious penalties if you are ultimately found guilty or convicted. In some cases, even a first-time DUI conviction can result in a license suspension, fine, or even jail time.

If you are facing DUI charges for the first time, you need a lawyer who can provide you with skilled representation throughout your case. The Wheaton and DuPage County, Illinois DUI defense lawyers at Martin & Kent, LLC can help you defend your case and work toward minimizing the penalties and other consequences associated with a conviction.

When Can Police Arrest You for a DUI in Illinois?

DUI charges can be brought against you in Illinois under a variety of circumstances. First, in order to be arrested or charged with a DUI, you must be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. During the time that you are in control of that vehicle, one of the following must be true:

  • You must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher
  • You must have been (or appeared to be) under the influence of alcohol at the time
  • You must have been under the influence of an intoxicating drug—or a combination of alcohol and drugs—at the time
  • There must have been some amount of controlled substance in your urine or bloodstream which showed up in a chemical test
  • You must have a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration which amounts to five nanograms or greater in your bloodstream—or alternatively, there must be ten nanograms or more present in some other bodily fluid within two hours after you drove a motor vehicle

Potential Administrative Penalties for Offenders

If you are found operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will incur certain administrative penalties in addition to the criminal penalties that may come later. In Illinois, all drivers give their implied consent that they will take a chemical test or other test if a police officer has probable cause to believe that they are operating a vehicle while influenced by drugs or alcohol.

Moreover, the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) will automatically suspend your driver’s license via the statutory summary suspension process if you refuse or fail to complete a chemical test at a police officer’s request. A driver fails the test if the results show that he or she had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. The same holds true if the test demonstrates that there were five or more nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood (or if there were ten or more nanograms per milliliter of some other bodily fluid).

If you have never had a prior DUI conviction or a statutory summary suspension within the preceding five years, you can receive a six-month suspension for a failing a chemical test—or a one-year suspension for refusing to complete the chemical test.

Limited Driving during a License Suspension

Even if you have a suspended license for a period of time, you may still be able to drive your vehicle under certain circumstances. You may be able to drive for any purpose if you have a breath alcohol ignition interlock device, otherwise known as BAIID, installed on your vehicle. However, if you refused to take a chemical test, you are not eligible for this accommodation.

Ignition interlock devices can be expensive, and the driver typically has to pay for the device, as well as for all installation costs. If an ignition interlock device is installed on your vehicle, you will have to blow into it in order to start your vehicle. If the device detects the presence of alcohol on your breath, the device will not allow your vehicle to start.

First-time DUI Penalties

The potential penalties for even a first-time DUI can be harsh. In the State of Illinois, a conviction for a first-time DUI is a Class A misdemeanor. After a conviction of a first-time DUI, you can face a maximum prison sentence of 364 days. You may face a period of six months incarceration if you were transporting a passenger who was younger than 16 years old in your vehicle at the time the police stopped you.

You will also face a maximum fine of $2,500. If your BAC was 0.16 percent or higher, you are subject to a minimum fine of $500. You will be assessed a minimum fine of $1,000 if you were carrying a passenger who was under the age of 16 at the time of the traffic stop.

In addition to these fines, you may be required to complete a specified number of community service hours. For example, a first-time DUI offender with a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher will have to complete at least 100 community service hours.

First-time DUI offenders will also face a one-year license suspension—in addition to the statutory summary suspension period. However, any administrative driver’s license suspension counts as a credit toward this one-year license suspension period. In some instances, drivers may be able to obtain a restricted driving permit—also known as an RDP—in order to drive to school, work, doctor appointments, and alcohol or drug treatment program sessions. In order to obtain this permit, the driver must be able to demonstrate that he or she has a hardship and is not a risk to public safety.

Finally, all DUI offenders are required to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation, in order to see if they have a substance-abuse problem. If so, the offender must obtain the necessary treatment.

Call a Wheaton and DuPage County, Illinois DUI Defense Lawyer Today

The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Martin & Kent, LLC can help you assert a defense to a first-time DUI charge and/or help you minimize the conviction penalties.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with an experienced Wheaton and DuPage County, Illinois DUI defense lawyer, please call our free 24-hour hotline at (630) 474-8000 today.



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