The higher your blood alcohol content (BAC), the higher your chance of getting into an accident. In Illinois, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC over .08, at which point most people are impaired. But many DUIs involve much higher BACs. The National Conference of State Legislatures claims that in 2014, 56 percent of drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents had a BAC of over .15 percent. Because of the extreme danger of driving with a high BAC, Illinois punishes driving with a BAC above .16 with enhanced penalties, such as mandatory minimum sentences.

At O’Meara Law, we understand that if you have been accused of a DUI with a BAC of above .16 percent, you may be worried about your future and the consequences of a conviction. Our goal is to advocate aggressively on your behalf to maximize your chances of obtaining a good outcome. Chicago DUI attorney Michael O’Meara has over 20 years of courtroom experience, and has built his reputation on helping people avoid criminal convictions.

To find out how you can avoid the harshest penalties for a DUI, call 312-909-0706 today.

What is High BAC DUI?

The state of Illinois defines driving under the influence as operating a motorized vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. If you have a BAC of above .08 percent, then you’re automatically considered impaired. During a typical DUI traffic stop, the officer may administer a number of field sobriety tests or a roadside breathalyzer to determine whether you are under the influence. However, if you are obviously highly intoxicated, the police may arrest you on the spot and give you a formal BAC test once you’re in custody. If your BAC is over .16, you will be charged with high BAC DUI.

Enhanced Penalties for High BAC DUI

Upon being arrested for DUI, the first penalty you will face for driving under the influence is a license suspension. Refusing a breathalyzer test results in a suspension of one year, whereas failing the test results in a first-time DUI penalty of six months. When it comes to a DUI involving a BAC of above .16 percent, the severity of the enhanced penalties depends on the number of past offenses of which you’ve been convicted.

For a typical first-time DUI conviction, the penalties include a fine of up to $2,500 and up to six months in jail. However, those penalties can often be reduced with the help of a criminal defense attorney. High BAC DUI penalties differ in that they involve mandatory minimum fines and incarceration. Penalties that are assigned for a high BAC DUI include:

  • First Offense (Class A misdemeanor) – A mandatory minimum fine of $500 and a minimum of 100 hours of community service
  • Second Offense (Class A misdemeanor) – A mandatory minimum fine of $1,250 and a minimum of two days in jail
  • Third Offense (Class 2 felony) – A mandatory minimum fine of $2,500 and a minimum of 90 days in jail
  • Fourth Offense (Class 2 felony) – A mandatory minimum fine of $5,000 and between three and seven years in prison
  • Fifth Offense (Class 1 felony) – A mandatory minimum fine of $5,000 and between four and 15 years in prison
  • Sixth and Subsequent Offenses (Class X felony) – A mandatory minimum fine of $5,000 and between six and 30 years in prison

In addition to enhanced criminal penalties, a high BAC DUI conviction can result in unexpected collateral consequences. Finding employment, for example, may be extremely difficult. Most employers shy away from hiring people with criminal records, especially crimes that demonstrate a lack of responsibility and self-control. If you are currently in college, you may get expelled over your DUI. If you hope to apply to college, your DUI conviction may be a significant roadblock.

How O’Meara Law Can Help

If you are being charged with a high BAC DUI, you should seek legal assistance immediately. Do not plead guilty to you charges before speaking with a Chicago DUI lawyer who may be able to raise several defenses on your behalf. For example, it may be possible to have the prosecutor’s evidence excluded from the case. If the police did not have a good reason to make the traffic stop or failed to gain probable cause to make an arrest, the evidence they collected may be inadmissible. Without evidence, the state cannot prove your guilt.

At O’Meara Law, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and aggressively advocating for you at every step of the criminal justice process. If you would like to take action in your case, or if you have questions regarding your criminal proceedings, call 312-909-0706 today for a free and confidential consultation.