Chicagoland has come a long way from its bootlegging peak during prohibition. The drinks are legal now, but not in excess, and especially not for people intending to drive. Everyone knows it's hard to hold back from having a good time, and people make mistakes. This article will help you clean up after the mistake of driving under the influence.
Drivers are not allowed to drive under the influence of alcohol or any other substance if that substance makes a driver unsafe. With alcohol, the law says that any time a driver has a blood-alcohol concentration ("BAC") of 0.08 or higher, the driver is unlawfully driving under the influence (DUI). This same law covers driving under the influence of marijuana. Even if a driver is allowed to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, that driver can still be found guilty of DUI after using marijuana.
Arrest and Chemical Test
Regardless of whether the situation is a traffic stop or a sobriety checkpoint, when a law enforcement officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer will likely request a field sobriety test. If the officer is still concerned after the field test, he/she will place the driver under arrest. At the police station, the officer will request a chemical test of the driver's blood, breath, or urine. At this point, the inquiry can go one of four ways:
If you failed or refused a chemical test, you have 90 days to request a judicial hearing to challenge the validity of the arrest and subsequent test. According to the state's DUI Fact Book, drivers have successfully challenged their suspensions in a relatively low percentage of the cases each year. The hearings consider only a narrow set of issues. Because of the low success rate, and the restricted set of issues, drivers may want to consider retaining a lawyer before requesting the hearing.
Terms of a Summary Suspension
First time offenders have their driving privileges suspended for six months. After 30 days, drivers may be eligible for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (see below). If the first suspension comes after a test refusal, the suspension period is twelve months. Suspension periods are longer for second and subsequent failures and refusals, with refusals being punished more severely.
Other Penalties for a DUI Conviction
A first-time conviction for a DUI offense is a Class A misdemeanor. The state statutes do not impose a minimum jail term and fine amount, but the maximum jail time and fine are one year and $2,500 respectively. A conviction also means that the driver will lose his/her driving privileges for at least a year. As mentioned above, the summary suspension period may be only six months after a sobriety test; however, if the driver is actually convicted, the suspension will be even longer.
Second time offenders also are charged with a misdemeanor, and must serve either 5 days in jail or 240 hours of community service. After the second conviction, DUI offenses are felonies. With any offense, the punishments are enhanced if the driver had a BAC at or above 0.16, or if the driver was transporting a child under age 16.
Regaining Driving Privileges
The Secretary of State puts out lots of information for drivers with a DUI arrest or conviction. Visit the BAIID website for more information on DUIs, driving permits, and fees. The Driver Services page also features helpful information for drivers who have lost privileges or need to contact someone about their driving record. Be sure to review The Road to Reinstatement.
Contact a qualified attorney.