What are the Penalties for DUI in Illinois?

Getting pulled over and arrested for drunk driving can be a traumatic experience. Dealing with the humiliation of an arrest and the uncertainty of facing the criminal justice system can take a serious toll on your life. Fortunately, a skilled and experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer by your side can ease your stress and significantly increase your chances of obtaining a positive outcome.

Hiring a veteran Chicago DUI lawyer may be costly, but it’s a good investment when you take into account the staggering price of a DUI conviction. Without legal representation, you run the risk of incurring the full financial impact of a DUI conviction, which can amount to over $15,000. For a full rundown of the penalties you might face, read below.

What Will My DUI Sentence Look Like?

If you plead guilty or no contest to your DUI, or if a judge finds you guilty after a trial, your sentence may include any of the following:

  • Possible jail time–It is very unlikely that you will receive a jail sentence for a first DUI without aggravating factors, but the judge has the option to sentence you to up to 1 year in jail. For repeat offenders, jail time is a real possibility. And when your drunk driving causes an accident, or if there was a child in your car, you will face felony charges that involve significant prison sentences.
  • Community service–Instead of jail time, the judge will probably order you to perform community service for a first DUI conviction. The amount of hours that you must serve will depend on the circumstances of your case, but it can amount to hundreds of hours of volunteer work in your community.
  • Fines–The court may sentence you to pay fines of anywhere from $500 to $2,500 for a first DUI conviction. If you are a repeat offender, or if you committed aggravated DUI, the fines may reach $25,000.
  • Court fees–When a court finds you guilty of a crime, you have to reimburse the costs of holding the trial, which for a DUI case amount to $750. You will also have to reimburse law enforcement’s costs in towing and storing your car (around $250) and pay into the State’s trauma fund ($100).
  • Consequences for your employment–If you are currently employed, your DUI may affect your job attendance. You may have to miss work to perform community service or to attend your alcohol treatment program. Because of your suspended license, you may not be able to get to work unless a friend or family member drives you. Some people convicted of DUI end up losing their jobs because of their poor attendance.
  • Disciplinary action from your school–Your college’s student affairs office may open proceedings against you when they learn of your DUI. You may get suspended or even expelled for drunk driving.
  • Increased insurance payments–In Illinois, people convicted of DUI must get high-risk driver insurance for three years. With annual premiums reaching $1,500, this is one of the most costly aspects of a DUI conviction.
  • Lost driving privileges–After you fail or refuse to take a breathalyzer or other test of your blood alcohol content, your driver’s license will get suspended. If you get convicted of DUI, the judge may sentence you to an additional license suspension as a criminal penalty. Repeat offenders may have their vehicle registration or driver’s license revoked permanently.
  • Ignition interlock device–You may be able to drive during the license suspension period, but you will have to install a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) at your own expense.
  • Substance abuse treatment–A judge may order you to attend rehab or counseling to address your substance abuse problems. You will have to pay for this treatment, which can cost you up to $250.
  • Driver’s education–The court may order you to complete a 10-hour online driver’s education course that may cost you up to $300. If you can’t complete the course on time, you can pay for a 30-day extension.
  • Permanent criminal record–Your DUI conviction will be public information. Potential employers and business partners may access your criminal record and make negative judgments about your character. There is no possibility of expunging or sealing your DUI record in Illinois.

How Can O’Meara Law Help?

The consequences of a DUI conviction are severe and can completely alter the course of your life. For this reason, it’s essential that you retain the services of a skilled legal advocate to beat or reduce the impact of your DUI charges. At O’Meara Law, we will do everything in our power to help you obtain a positive resolution of your DUI case. To learn more about how we can fight your DUI charges, call us today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.