Illinois relies on a variety of statutes to outlaw driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Motorists who are found guilty of this offense face a myriad of penalties ranging from steep fines to jail terms.
Avoiding a DUI in Illinois calls for motorists to know what the blood alcohol content legal limits are in the state. They also need to be aware of what kinds of penalties that they could face in court if they are found guilty of DUI.
DUI in Illinois
Illinois law enforcement uses different categories for driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination of both in the state. The per se definition for DUI is having a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. This per se law applies specifically to drivers of privately owned motor vehicles and who are 21 years of age and older.
The BAC limit for commercial drivers is lower because of the risk that their vehicles pose to the general public. Commercial drivers must keep their BACs under 0.04 percent if they want to avoid being charged with DUI in Illinois.
The state has a zero tolerance law for underage drivers. Drivers who are younger than 21 cannot have any trace of drugs, alcohol or a combination of both in their bodies while driving. Their allowable BAC is 0.00 percent, meaning that they cannot drink or use drugs at all prior to driving a vehicle in the state.
Finally, Illinois allows for intoxicated drivers to be charged with aggravated DUIs if their offenses meet certain criteria. The criteria for aggravated DUI in Illinois involves:
Having a BAC of 0.016 percent or higher
Driving while intoxicated without a valid drivers’ license or insurance
Causing bodily harm to a minor under the age of 16 while driving drunk or high
Driving a school bus with at least one passenger under the age of 18 while inebriated
All of these levels of DUIs come with their own legal punishments.
DUI Penalties in Illinois
The legal consequences of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Illinois vary according to the number of prior offenses and damage caused in the DUI incidence. A first-time DUI conviction in Illinois can result in a suspension of one’s drivers’ license for up to six months. The suspension can be longer if the driver caused bodily harm to someone else.
The driver also can pay a fine of up to $2500 and face up to a year in jail. The DUI will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor unless there was bodily harm to another person. It will then be charged as a felony.
In Illinois, there is no Look Back period for DUIs. This means that a second DUI will be charged as a second offense regardless of how long ago it was that the offender was charged with a first DUI.
The same penalties for a first DUI apply for a second. However, the person’s license can be suspended for up to five years this time. The driver can also request a hearing to overturn the administrative penalties within 46 days of his or her arrest. He or she can also request that the state issue him or her a restricted license during the suspension period.
The restricted license can be granted as long as the driver did not refuse a chemical test. The charge will also be a Class A misdemeanor unless the incident caused bodily harm to someone else. The charge would then be a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
A third DUI conviction in Illinois results in a jail sentence of three to seven years. The fine for this offense can be as high as $25,000, and the driver’s license can be suspended for up to 10 years. It will be charged as a felony, which requires mandatory jail time.
Drivers can be charged with aggravated DUIs if their BACs are 0.16 percent or higher. Aggravated DUIs are felonies and require mandatory jail time. The jail time and suspension of the drivers’ license cannot be bargained down in court.
Underage DUIs in Illinois
Illinois uses a strict zero tolerance law for underage drinking and driving. Drivers under the age of 21 cannot have any trace of alcohol or drugs in their bodies while driving.
A first-time underage DUI in the state can result in a loss of driving privileges for up to three months. A second conviction can result in a suspended license for up to one year.
Drivers under the age of 21 also cannot refuse to be tested for DUI with probable cause. A first-time refusal for BAC testing can result in a loss of driving privileges for six months. A second refusal can result in a license suspension for up to two years. Drivers under the age of 21 will also have to pay all administrative and reinstatement fees before they get their licenses returned to them.
Implied Consent in Illinois
Illinois has implied consent laws that require motorists to comply with DUI testing after they have been arrested with probable cause. The officer must place them under arrest on suspicion of being high, drunk or a combination of both. Drivers then must agree to provide a breath, urine or blood sample to determine their BAC.
If they refuse, they can have their licenses suspended for up to one year for a first-time refusal. This sentence applies as long as they have no prior DUIs or statutory suspension of their licenses within the last five years.
A second refusal can lead to a loss of one’s license for three years. Again, it applies only as long as the driver has no prior DUIs within five years on his or her record and no statutory suspensions. DUIs in Illinois are charged as serious misdemeanors or felonies. The charge depends on the amount of a person’s BAC and the type of damage inflicted during the crime. The laws apply to drivers of all ages even those that are under 21.