Across the State of Illinois and the United States, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a pervasive issue. Each year, DUI offenses cause an unfortunate amount of property damage, physical harm, and fatalities. To deter this type of behavior, Illinois features stringent laws against and harsh punishment for DUI offenses.
What Qualifies as a DUI in Illinois?
625 ILCS 5/11-501 prohibits any person from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. In this context, under the influence means that a person is incapable of safely operating a vehicle. This type of impairment can occur as a result of consuming any combination of:
- Pharmaceutical drugs;
- Illegal drugs; or
- Other intoxicating compounds.
Section 11-501 also provides a specific level for intoxication due to alcohol. If a person registers a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more, then he or she is considered under the influence of alcohol.
How Does Illinois Punish DUI Offenses?
Section 11-501 establishes the punishment structure for DUI offenses under Illinois law. It is vital to note that DUI penalties have a wide range — fluctuating based on various factors, such as transportation of a minor or elevated BAC levels.
From a general standpoint, DUI is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. Upon conviction, an offender usually faces a maximum sentence of 364 days in prison and $2,500 in criminal fines. But there are mandatory minimum penalties for certain types of DUI offenses, including but not necessarily limited to:
- First Offense (High BAC) — If an offender registers a BAC of 0.16 or more, there is a mandatory minimum of $500 in criminal fines and 100 hours of community service;
- Second Offense — If an offender commits a second DUI, there is a mandatory minimum of five days in prison or 240 hours of community service;
- Second Offense (High BAC) — If an offender commits a second DUI and registers a BAC of 0.16 or more, there is a mandatory minimum of $1,250 in criminal fines and two days in prison; and
- Transporting a Minor — If an offender commits DUI while transporting a minor under 16 years old, there is a mandatory minimum of $1,000 in criminal fines and 25 days of community service benefiting children.
On a related note, DUI convictions also result in suspension of driving privileges under 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1. Depending on the circumstances of the offense and previous convictions, if any, an offender can face temporary suspension or permanent revocation of driving privileges.
Do You Need Legal Help?
No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing an online form.