Chicago DUI Attorney
The consequences of a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction in Illinois are severe. Since alcohol and drugs impair driving, create an unsafe driving environment, and can have deadly results, Illinois has strict DUI laws to keep its citizens safe. This means any conviction will have a lasting detrimental impact on your life. Not only is the law complex―many factors determine the severity of the offense―but so is the court system. An experienced Chicago DUI attorney can help you navigate the system, file the appropriate documents and protect your rights. Michael P. Chomiak is a knowledgeable and talented Chicago DUI attorney and can help you fight a DUI conviction.
Illinois DUI Laws
In Illinois, driving under the influence (DUI) means operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or intoxicating compounds and methamphetamine. This includes prescription drugs, legally prescribed medical marijuana and medication. Legal impairment is defined as a person having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more, having taken any illegal drug, or being impaired by medication.
Statutory Summary Suspension
When a person is arrested for DUI and either fails, does not complete or refuses chemical testing, his/her driving privileges are automatically suspended. Illinois has an implied consent law. By getting behind the wheel, a driver is consenting to submit to chemical testing if arrested for DUI. This is reciprocal to other states; if a person with an Illinois driver’s license is arrested for DUI in another state and fails, does not complete or refuses chemical testing, his/her Illinois driver’s license will be automatically suspended. The suspension is an administrative process separate from the criminal charges. Criminal charges will be prosecuted and adjudicated in the courts. The suspension will begin on the 46th day after the suspension notice is given. A first time offender that fails the chemical test will receive 6 months suspension and be eligible for driving relief on the 31st day. Any subsequent failure within 5 years will result in a 1 year suspension with no driving relief available. The first refusal to submit to chemical testing will result in a 12 month suspension with driving relief available on the 31st day. A subsequent refusal will result in a 3 year suspension without driving relief. An offender can request a judicial hearing to challenge the arrest, but the request will not stop the suspension from beginning. If the judge rules in favor of the offender at the hearing, the suspension will be rescinded.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal because these behaviors impair judgement and slow reflexes. Police on patrol look for impaired driving to detect drunk drivers. These following driving behaviors may represent impaired driving, and prompt police to investigate: speeding, driving too slow, swerving and weaving in and out of lanes, tailgating, frequent braking, driving without headlights at night and driving the wrong way down the road.
If the police feel more investigation is required and they pull a person over, they will be looking for signs that he/she has been drinking. Some physical signs of drunkenness include: glassy, watery or bloodshot eyes, flushed or red cheeks, breath or car that smells of alcohol. They will also watch behaviors and notice if the person has difficulty retrieving license and registration, has trouble understanding or answering the officer’s questions, speaks with a slur, or has difficulty exiting the car if asked to do so.
Once police officers suspect drunkenness, they use field sobriety tests to check for impaired behavior. Police officers may use a few different types of tests to check for inebriation. Field sobriety tests include: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test—follow the officers finger or other object with the person’s eyes, stand on one leg, walk and turn—requires the person to walk heel to toe, recite the alphabet or a portion of the alphabet, touch each finger of each hand to the thumb on that hand.
During a field sobriety test, the officer will ask the person to do one or more of the tests and watch to see if he/she displays any trouble completing the action. They use these behaviors because they require coordination, reflexes, balance and the ability to multi-task. Since intoxication impairs these types of abilities, they assume that a person’s inability to complete the task signifies intoxication and impairment.
The criminal penalties for a DUI conviction are severe and can be detrimental to your life. These criminal penalties are separate from the statutory summary suspension that automatically occurs upon a DUI arrest where the chemical test is failed, incomplete or refused. Penalties in Illinois depend on the circumstances of the arrest and conviction. Factors determining the severity of the penalty include: age of the driver, the driver’s BAC level, previous convictions, presence of a child in the car, and whether bodily harm or a death results. A first time conviction for a person over 21, with a BAC below .16, no child present , and no bodily harm/death is a class A misdemeanor. This conviction may result in 1 year revocation of driving privileges, suspension of vehicle registration and the penalties for a class A misdemeanor, which are: possible imprisonment up to 1 year and up to $2,500 in fines. Each subsequent DUI increases the class of the offense and the severity of the penalty. With the increased severity of the offense, the period of driving revocation increases, the fines increase up to $25,000 and the prison sentence increases to a possible 30 years.
The criminal penalties associated with a DUI conviction are just the beginning. Additional consequences of a DUI conviction include:
The defense to each DUI case is different depending on the circumstances of the arrest. A knowledgeable Illinois DUI attorney can look over your case and discover the best method for defending your case. In some cases a DUI attorney can challenge the initial stop, the reliability of the sobriety tests or the officer’s testimony, the reliability of the chemical testing, the reliability of witnesses, or the following of appropriate protocol and court procedures. Michael P. Chomiak is a Chicago DUI attorney – Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney – with experience protecting his client’s rights and fighting DUI convictions. Call his office today for help with your DUI case.