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In Illinois, a DUI (driving under the influence) offense covers all types of impaired driving, from driving drunk to driving while under the influence of drugs (whether prescribed, abused, or illegal). Illinois has an aggressive anti-DUI program and arrests more than 50,000 people in an average year.
If you haven't already familiarized yourself with Illinois' DUI laws, consider reading the Secretary of State's very informative DUI Fact Book.
If your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, you are legally drunk and it is illegal for you to drive. However, if you are driving with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08, you may still be cited for a DUI if your behavior suggests you are impaired. This is at the discretion of the officer citing you. Even with a BAC of just 0.06, you double your chance of being involved in a fatal accident.
Unlike being cited for driving with a BAC of 0.08 or above, BACs between 0.05 and 0.08 do not trigger the Statutory Summary Suspension detailed below; the penalties are instead entirely based on the outcome of the court case.
If an officer pulls you over for a moving violation and then determines that your BAC is 0.08 or more, the officer will immediately suspend your license for 180 days. You will be given a receipt that will allow you to continue driving (after your arrest, time to dry out in jail, bail, and arraignment) and allow you time to fight the arrest and suspension. On the 46th day after your arrest, the suspension snaps into effect.
If you are convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your license will be suspended for one year for the first offense (two years if you're under 21).
You have the legal right to refuse testing of your blood, breath, or urine. However, this immediately triggers more intense penalties under the Statutory Summary Suspension law:
- If you take the test and fail it by registering a BAC above 0.08 or the presence of drugs, the suspension is for 180 days for a first offense and 12 months for a second offense.
- If you flatly refuse the test, the suspension will be for one year for the first time you refuse such a test and three years (36 months) the second time.
Illinois commercial driver's license (CDL) holders face even stiffer penalties. The suspensions above are in addition to the suspension periods imposed by the court for a DUI conviction.
The first time you're convicted of a DUI offense, you'll have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed on your vehicle. You'll have to pay the roughly $100 installation fee, as well as the monthly rental and monitoring fees of about $110.
The State of Illinois imposes substantial financial and other penalties on drivers who are convicted of driving drunk. Because the outcomes are so severe, many people accused of drunk driving engage attorneys who specialize in drunk driving offenses.
Illinois estimates that the minimum cost of a first DUI conviction is over $14,000. Where does this money go? To bail, bond, attorney fees, fines up to $2,500, court-ordered assessments, remedial education or treatment programs, and insurance premiums up to triple what they were before.
This total ratchets up for subsequent convictions. A fourth conviction results in the lifetime revocation of the driver's license, up to three years in prison, and fines up to $25,000.
Don't bother crossing state lines to drink. Illinois has a reciprocal agreement with other states, and if you refuse testing on a traffic stop elsewhere, it will still trigger a suspension of your license in Illinois.
It's best to learn about the Illinois DUI laws before you ever get into trouble. If it's too late, it's still important to educate yourself about what's in store as you enter the court system. The following publications can help as a first step, but if you're in over your head, you should consult a DUI attorney:
- DUI Fact Book: Probably your most informative resource, this 44-page booklet explains everything from the chronology of a DUI arrest to the penalties for every type of DUI crime.
- Use It & Lose It: The War on Drunk Driving: Penalties for DUI are even more severe for drivers under 21. This pamphlet for underage drivers explains the consequences of irresponsible actions.
- Federal Agency Stirring Around the Idea of Lowering BAC Limit to .05 Percent
- Traffic Ticket and DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers
- Need Legal Help? Tips on Hiring a DUI Attorney
- Fines, Jail Time, Suspended License: DUI and DWI Bring Steep Penalties
- Were You Drunk Driving? DUI and DWI Explained
- Find Out How Much DUI and DWI Convictions Really Cost