Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Illinois
Illinois has some very strict drunk driving statutes on the books. An amendment to the Unified Code of Corrections increased the severity of the penalties considerably for drunk driving accidents with injuries. Due to the severity of the consequences -- and potential loss of life - you should avoid driving drunk in Illinois. For those charged with drunk driving-related offenses, knowing the possible consequences and laws pertaining to drunk driving might help them as they work through the state criminal justice system.
Blood-Alcohol Testing in Illinois
Determining if a driver is drunk involves more than just field sobriety tests in Illinois. The state requires that drivers have breath tests or a blood test to determine the blood-alcohol concentration percentage. If breath tests are used, two tests must produce results that show the driver was at or above the legal limit for the state. If a blood test is used, only one test is necessary.
State law requires that the person performing the breath tests or blood test be properly trained. Also, the equipment has to be properly calibrated for the results to be admissible in court.
BAC Limits in Illinois
Illinois is a Zero Tolerance state, which means that people who aren't yet 21 years old can't have anything higher than a .00 percent on a BAC test. There is an exception for underage drivers who are on medications or who consume alcohol as part of a religious ceremony. In those limited cases, the legal limit is .08 percent. For people who are 21 or older, the threshold is .08 percent. For commercial drivers, the limit is .04 percent.
Illinois Drunk Driving Sentences
People in Illinois who are charged with a drunk driving offense aren't eligible for plea deals that would require the charge to be dropped to the lesser charge of reckless driving. The strict drunk driving laws in the state forbid "wet reckless" plea deals of that nature.
Drunk driving convictions in Illinois all include mandatory driver's license suspension terms. The first conviction comes with a one year suspension. The second comes with a minimum suspension term of five years. The third comes with a minimum suspension term of 10 years.
Jail terms are also possible. While there is no minimum term of imprisonment for a first conviction, a person faces up to a year in jail. A second conviction has a five day minimum and one year maximum jail sentence; however, the court can order community service in lieu of that term. If a person under 16 years old is in the car, an imprisonment term of one to three years is required. A third conviction carries up to seven years in prison. An additional one to three years is required if a person under 16 years old is in the car at the time of the stop.
People convicted of drunk driving also have to pay fines. The fines are a maximum of $2,500 per offense. Additional fines are imposed if a person who is under 16 years old is in the vehicle when the incident occurs. For a first offense, this additional fine is a minimum of $1,000. On the second, an additional fine of up to $25,000 is required. On the third, an additional fine of $25,000 is required.
Being accused of drunk driving in Illinois requires a serious defense. Anyone who is facing drunk driving charges should consult a DUI lawyer to learn about possible defense options and how the laws will affect this individual.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.
Additional Drunk Driving Articles
- Illinois DUI Laws: FAQ
- What happens after a DUI arrest in Illinois?
- Am I eligible for Court Supervision under Illinois DUI law?
- What is Implied Consent and how do I know if I'm a First Offender under Illinois DUI Law?
- What Is BAC?
- Can I be arrested for DUI if drugs were found in my system in Illinois?
- What is the difference between a Driver’s License Suspension and Revocation under Illinois law?
- How many hours of alcohol classes will I have to take after a DUI conviction in Illinois?
- Do the standards for DUI differ for minors under Illinois law?
- What are the penalties for a first DUI conviction in Illinois?
- What are the penalties for a second DUI conviction in Illinois?
- What are the penalties for a third DUI conviction in Illinois?
- Can I get a probationary or temporary license if my driver's license is suspended for DUI in Illinois?
- Will I have to attend counseling or rehabilitation if I am convicted of DUI in Illinois?
- How quickly will I lose my driver's license if I am arrested for DUI in Illinois?
- How long will I lose my driver's license due to administrative action by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if I am arrested for DUI in Illinois?
- How long will I lose my driver's license for a first DUI conviction in Illinois?
- How long will I lose my driver's license for a second DUI conviction in Illinois?
- How long will I lose my driver’s license for a third DUI conviction in Illinois?
- What can happen under Illinois law if I refuse to take a chemical or field sobriety test when I am suspected of DUI?
- Are there different penalties for minors who are convicted of DUI in Illinois?
- Can law enforcement take my vehicle if I am arrested for or convicted of DUI in Illinois?
- How can I get my license reinstated if it is administratively suspended for DUI in Illinois?
- What are the terms used for drunk driving offenses in Illinois?
- When will I be charged with Aggravated DUI in Illinois?
- Where can I find an Illinois DUI lawyer?