For many people, a charge for driving under the influence (DUI) is the first time they get exposed to the criminal justice system. The process can be confusing, scary, and downright dehumanizing. If you’ve been charged with DUI, you should fight back by hiring an experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer. If you want to learn more about DUI and how it can affect your life, read below for the answers to some frequently asked DUI questions.

Should I Fight my Chicago DUI charge?

Absolutely. There are many effective defense strategies for defeating DUI charges. Even when all of the available evidence points to your guilt, there may still be ways of successfully defending your case. In the worst case scenario, your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to secure the guarantee of lower penalties for your DUI conviction. Hiring a good DUI attorney to defend you virtually guarantees that you will obtain a better case outcome.

What are my Rights if I’m Arrested For a DUI in Illinois?

You have many rights even after being arrested for a DUI. You should assert your rights, but also be police and comply with police instructions. The police should follow strict constitutional guidelines when they pull over vehicles. One of the most important rights you have is the right to legal assistance. If you’re arrested, you should immediately request a Chicago DUI attorney.

What Are the Penalties for DUI in Illinois?

The fines and court fees for a misdemeanor DUI may range from $500 to $3,000. Your license may be suspended for at least 6 months, with possible reinstatement after 30 days. You may also face jail time if you have been convicted of a prior DUI or if you caused significant property damage. O’Meara Law can help you minimize penalties after a DUI arrest.

Will I Have to Go to Jail for DUI?

You may have to spend the night in jail when you get arrested for DUI unless someone can bail you out immediately. A judge may also sentence you to jail if you are convicted. If your DUI is a felony, you may be subject to a mandatory minimum jail sentence. A Chicago DUI attorney can help you navigate the complex criminal justice system and attempt to avoid incarceration.

What Happens to my License After a DUI?

An administrative license suspension happens independently of your DUI conviction. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over .08, your license may be suspended for 6 months for a first offense. If you refuse to submit to testing, your license may be suspended for 12 months.

You will be allowed to drive for up to 45 days before the suspension takes effect, and you and your lawyer can challenge your license suspension at a hearing. You can also request the reinstatement of your license 30 days after the suspension begins.

If you get convicted of DUI, the judge may sentence you to a criminal license suspension in addition to the administrative license suspension you received for failing or refusing a chemical test.

How Much Does a DUI Cost?

A DUI can cost you between $10,000 and $25,000. You may be facing court fees, fines, loss of property, and lost wages. Because the financial consequences of a conviction are significant, paying a premium for good legal representation is worth it. You may be able to avoid other fines and hidden costs, such as increased insurance premiums, a license reinstatement fee, installing an ignition interlock device, and attendance fees for alcohol treatment or driver’s education.

What Will a DUI Do to my Insurance Rates?

Once your insurance company learns of your DUI conviction, it will downgrade you to “high-risk driver” status. Depending on your insurance company, this could increase your premiums to as much as $1,500 for at least 3 years. These increased insurance rates will drain your finances even more than fines and court costs.

How Will a DUI Affect my Employment?

When it comes to a DUI and your job, a DUI charge will likely cause you to miss work. If your work doesn’t allow you to take time off, you may get terminated. You may be incarcerated, sentenced to community service, or be required to attend substance abuse treatment and driver education courses that conflict with your work schedule. If getting to or performing your job depends on your ability to drive, you will have to miss work until your license is reinstated.

When is DUI a Felony?

Your first DUI may be charged as a felony if you caused great bodily harm to another person or if you were transporting a child under 16 and you caused a crash that resulted in injuries to the child. Called an aggravated DUI, this offense is charged as a Class 4 felony involving a minimum fine of $2,500, 25 hours of mandatory community, and a 1 to 3-year prison sentence.

Without any aggravating factors, your DUI will be charged as a felony if you’ve already been convicted twice for this offense. In this case, the DUI is charged as a Class 2 felony involving 3 to 7 years imprisonment, fines of up to $25,000, and a 10-year driver’s license suspension.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Illinois?

Yes, but the police must announce the roadblock ahead of time and adhere to other guidelines instituted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Board. You may avoid a road block. The act of avoiding a roadblock on its own does not give the police reasonable suspicion that would justify pulling you over. To find out where roadblocks are being set up near you, you can check websites such as roadblock.org or duiblock.com.

Does Chicago Have Specific DUI Laws?

Generally, laws relating to driving under the influence are defined by the state. However, some municipalities may have passed local laws that might affect your DUI case. And according to a recent Chicago Tribune investigation, municipal prosecutors working in DuPage County have been allowing people convicted of DUI to pay extra fines to avoid the criminal (as opposed to administrative) suspension of their driver’s licenses. According to the Secretary of State, these plea deals run contrary to state law, which requires a license suspension after a DUI conviction.

How Do DUI Cases Get Dismissed?

Your DUI defense lawyer can get your case dismissed if they can prove to a judge that the prosecutor’s evidence does not show probable cause that you are guilty of this offense. If there is not enough evidence to show that you were at least likely to have been driving while intoxicated, your case may be dismissed. If evidence was obtained in violation of your rights, your lawyer can ask the court to suppress that evidence. If the prosecutor’s evidence gets suppressed, your lawyer may then be in a position to file a motion to dismiss the charges.

How Many Drinks Will Put me Over the Limit?

It is impossible to determine exactly how many drinks will render a person too intoxicated to drive. Also, because everyone reacts to alcohol differently, so it’s possible to get charged with DUI if you are visibly impaired, regardless of your BAC.

Alcoholic beverages (especially mixed drinks and cocktails) vary in strength, so counting drinks is not an accurate method of determining your impairment. For example, if you are a 170-pound man, you may have four drinks within a one hour period and still be under the legal BAC limit. If you are a 140-pound woman, you can have three drinks within the same amount of time and have a BAC that is over the limit. However, these are estimates. Depending on your weight, health, and the strength of each drink, your BAC may be over the limit after two or three drinks.

What Happens to Underage Drivers Who Get DUIs?

Illinois has a zero tolerance policy towards underage drunk drivers. In addition to the criminal penalties that apply to a normal DUI, you will face a mandatory 2-year license suspension with no possibility of getting the license reinstated until one year has elapsed. Even if you don’t get convicted for DUI, your license will be suspended for 3 months if your chemical test showed that you had any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.

Can I get a DUI for Driving High?

Yes. If a police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of marijuana or another drug, they may ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. If you fail the test, you will be taken to the police station or a medical facility where you will need to give a sample of your urine or blood. A prosecutor may charge you with DUI if any detectable amount of illegal drugs are present in your urine or blood samples.

An Experienced Chicago DUI Attorney Can Answer Your Questions

If you’ve been arrested for or charged with a DUI, you need the assistance of an experienced Chicago DUI attorney. We have successfully defended countless people charged with DUIs, and we can help you. If you have other questions, call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.