Chicago DUI Attorneys Providing Strong and Effective Criminal Defense of Drinking and Driving Charges
An arrest for drunk driving or driving under the influence (DUI) can be embarrassing, inconvenient and expensive. It can also land you in jail with a criminal record and lead to the loss of your job and other important benefits and privileges. Any DUI arrest is a serious matter with potentially serious repercussions and consequences. The criminal defense attorneys at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker and Newitt represent individuals in Chicago and surrounding areas who have been arrested and charged with drinking and driving, helping them to avoid costly fines, penalties and jail time while protecting their good name and reputation.
Illinois Drunk Driving Laws
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is measured by the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. If this blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is more than .08%, then you can be arrested and charged with drunk driving. For drivers holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the legal limit is .04%. School bus drivers and drivers under the age of 21 can be arrested for driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in their blood.
If your BAC is between .05% and .08%, you can still be arrested for DUI if there is other evidence that your driving was impaired, such as if the arresting officer noticed you drifting or weaving in and out of your lane, driving too slow or following too close, etc. Of course, these actions may also be signs of fatigue or momentary distraction but not necessarily impairment, and it is important to have a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer on your side who can effectively challenge a police officer’s testimony, which is often given considerable weight by judges and juries.
BAC is generally measured with a breath test, but it can also be measured with a blood or urine test. When you are pulled over, the police officer may try to get you to submit to field sobriety tests to establish enough probable cause to arrest you and take you to the station for a chemical test. Failing the test (BAC .08% or higher) results in a Statutory Summary Suspension of your driver’s license for six months, which begins 45 days after your arrest. If you refuse to take the test, your license will be suspended for one year instead of six months. If you have a previous conviction, the suspension period is one year for failing the test or three years for refusing the test. You have the right to be represented by a criminal defense attorney and challenge a summary suspension in court, but you must make your request within 90 days.
In addition to the statutory summary suspension of your license, which is an administrative process, you can also have your license suspended or revoked if convicted in court of DUI. Of course, you can face many other penalties if convicted as well. For first-time offenders, a DUI conviction is a Class A misdemeanor, which means you can be fined up to $2,500 and sentenced to up to one year in jail. A second conviction comes with five days of mandatory jail time or 240 hours of community service, as well as revocation of your license for at least 5 years. A third offense is a Class 2 felony with a 10-year license revocation and the potential for a prison term from 3 to 7 years and fines up to $25,000. There are many other fees and costs associated with a DUI conviction, amounting to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
All of these penalties can be enhanced if you are tested with a BAC of .16% or more or if you were transporting a child under the age of 16 at the time. There are also many circumstances under which the offense can be charged as Aggravated DUI, which is a serious felony.
Experienced Illinois Criminal Defense Attorneys for Your Chicago DUI Charge
As mentioned earlier, there are many negative consequences to a DUI conviction, including having a permanent mark on your record; possibly being ordered to undergo alcohol education, counseling or treatment; and being forced to pay for very expensive high-risk auto insurance for three years. However, you do have rights, and there are many defenses which may be available to help you avoid a conviction or even court supervision. A DUI arrest should be taken as seriously as an arrest for any other criminal matter, meaning you should act quickly to secure legal representation from a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney. In St. Charles, Chicago and Carol Stream, contact Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker and Newitt, P.C.