As with any criminal law charge, a person charged with a DUI is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If the person is found guilty, the penalty will depend on state law as well as other circumstances (such as the presence of open containers of alcohol in the car) and if the defendant cooperates with the police.
Jail Time for DUI
In all states, a first offense DUI is classified as a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail. Jail time could be longer under certain circumstances. For example, some states require more severe punishments for DUI offenders who have an unusually high blood-alcohol level at the time of their arrest. An example of a higher level is 0.15% or 0.20%. These are very high considering the legal limit is 0.08%.
For a DUI that is classified as a felony?either because the driver injured or killed someone, or it?s the driver?s 3rd or 4th DUI?jail sentences of several years are not uncommon. This depends on state law, the case facts, and the judge?s discretion.
In addition to a jail sentence, the court can also impose high fines. This can range from $500 to $2,000 or more, but hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney may help minimize these fines.
Driver?s License Suspensions
A DUI offender may have their license suspended for an extended period of time, either by the court or the state department of motor vehicles. Many first-time offenders? licenses are suspended for 90 days. Second offenses often receive a license suspension of 1 year. A third offense may warrant a suspension of 3 years or more.
Refusing to take a blood, breath, or urine test can result in your license being suspended regardless of guilt.
Many Illinois state courts require alcohol teaching and prevention programs as part of the DUI sentence. They may also require treatment for alcohol abuse, assessments for possible alcohol or drug dependency addiction, and community service. The judge could possibly recommend these steps instead of jail time or paying fines for a first-time offender.
Underage DUI Offenders
A minor who is arrested for DUI won?t get any breaks from punishment; in fact, being young will most likely make matters worse. The legal drinking age is 21. Drinking while under 21 is a separate, additional crime from the DUI charge.
In some states underage drivers are penalized under a lower blood alcohol level of 0.02%, compared to the adult level of 0.08%. However, ILLINOIS IS A ZERO TOLERANCE STATE. Under Illinois’ Zero Tolerance Law, a driver under age 21 caught with any trace of alcohol in his/her system will lose his/her driving privileges. Adult sentences can also be imposed on minors.
Along with the legal penalties, the driver?s insurance company may cancel the insurance policy or significantly increase their rates. If the driver?s license is suspended, the insurance company will most likely cancel the insurance policy.
Certain jobs may be closed to those who have been convicted of DUI, such as driving a school bus, delivery van, or any other commercial vehicle.
The driver may face a civil lawsuit separate from the DUI charge if the accident victims decide to sue for property damage or bodily injuries.
If you have been charged with a DUI, CONTACT the legal team at Sherer Law Offices as soon as possible.