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  • DUI & DWI in Illinois

    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.

    If you haven't already familiarized yourself with Illinois' DUI laws, consider reading the Secretary of State's very informative DUI Fact Book .

    Definition of DUI

    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 below the legal limit, you are still far more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than if you didn't consume any alcohol.

    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.

    Statutory Summary Suspension

    If an officer pulls you over for a moving violation and then determines that your BAC is 0.08% or more, or if you refuse testing, the officer will immediately suspend your license. 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) for 45 days and allow you time to fight the arrest and suspension. After that, your suspension goes into effect.

    If you fail chemical testing, your license will be suspended for 6 months for your 1st offense; 12 month suspensions are handed down for 1st offenses for refusal to submit to chemical testing.

    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.

    Ignition Interlock Devices

    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 installation fee, as well as the monthly rental and monitoring fees.

    DUIs Are Expensive

    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 DUI attorneys.

    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, 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.

    Drunk Driving Outside of Illinois

    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.

    Resources

    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 years old. This pamphlet for underage drivers explains the consequences of irresponsible actions.
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