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.

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