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. License Statutory Summary Suspensions for a 1st offense are as follows:

  • Fail chemical testing: 6 months
  • Refusal to submit to chemical testing: 12 months.

Administrative Driver's License Revocation

The Illinois Secretary of State will take action against your license if you are charged with a DUI or other serious offense. Based on information the SOS receives from the state's attorney, your license can be revoked and remain revoked until the outcome of your charge is decided. Once your license is revoked you are responsible to fulfill all the criteria of the court and the Secretary of State before your license can be restored. This can include:

Secretary of State Penalties

  • Driver's license reinstatement fee after revocation: $500.
    • 2nd and subsequent offenses require a formal hearing. Fee: $50.
  • New driver's license fee: $30.
  • Proof of financial responsibility.
  • Drug/alcohol evaluation.
  • Drug/alcohol program (if ordered).
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID).
    • IID installation fee: $85
    • IID per month rental fee: $80
    • IID per month monitoring fee: $30

Administrative Hearing

The only way to contest an Administrative driver's license suspension is to request a hearing. You must request the hearing with in 90 days of the violation. In order to be prepared for your hearing, it is wise to review the Alcohol/Drug-Related Hearings page on the state website. If you need more information please contact your local hearing officer.

Criminal Penalties

In addition to Administrative penalties you will also face stiff criminal penalties. Listed below are the basic 1st offense penalties. 2nd and subsequent charges of DUI only increase the punishment in both fees, fines and jail time.

  • Driver's license revocation:
    • 21 years old and over: 1 year.
    • Under 21 years old: 2 years.
  • Maximum imprisonment: 6 months
  • Minimum fine: $1,000
  • Community service.
  • Drug and alcohol program.
  • Motor vehicle registration revocation.

Breath Alcohol 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 if you wish to have a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP). You will have to apply for the MDDP and, if approved, you'll have to pay the all applicable fees for a BAIID in order to be able to keep driving.

Once you have been convicted of 2 DUIs, you will be required to obtain a Restricted Driving Permit (see below) and you'll have a BAIID installed in your car for a period of 5 years. Only after this period is over can you apply for reinstatement.

Restricted Driving Permit

Certain drivers may be required to forfeit their driver's license in favor of a Restricted Driving Permit. This permit puts limits on your driving privileges. If, for instance, you have been convicted of 2 DUIs or more, you'll be issued a restricted driving permit as well as a requirement for a BAIID for 5 years.

If you have been convicted of at least 4 DUIs, you still have an option of applying for a restricted driving permit. You must FIRST serve a license revocation of 5 years. After 5 years, you can apply through the Secretary of State. If you are approved, your vehicle will be outfitted with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device for the rest of your driving lifetime.

DUIs in Illinois 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 about $18,130. 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.

Reinstating Your Driver's License

In order to reinstate your license you will need to:

  • Attend an informal hearing*
    • For a 1st offense this hearing can be conducted by visiting a hearing officer.
    • Multiple offenders** must request a hearing in writing and pay the $50 non-refundable filling fee.
  • Make sure your driving record has been cleared
  • Completed your alcohol/drug evaluation AND proof of treatment if it was required.
  • Completed the alcohol/drug remedial education program.
  • Have and file proof of financial responsibility.
  • Pay $500 reinstatement fee.
  • Retake and pass the driver's license exam (written, vision and driving).
  • Pay the application fee of $30.
You can either mail your reinstatement fee or pay by credit card by calling (217) 782-3619 (debit cards are not accepted). The reinstatement becomes valid when the Secretary of State enters it on your driver's record.

*During the hearing you will need to show that public safety will not be endangered if you are allowed to have your driving privileges restored. Your remedial efforts, your driving record and the offense will all be taken into consideration by the hearing officer.

**Multiple offenders must attend a formal hearing in Chicago, Springfield, Mt. Vernon or Joliet.


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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