Illinois DUI Court Process

If you have been charged with a DUI, you’re probably wondering what happens next. Being pulled over is only the first step in what can be a lengthy legal process. Instead of letting intimidation lead you down a more difficult path, you can work with experienced Chicago DUI defense attorney Michael O’Meara. Partner with a skilled attorney to understand your rights every step of the way. Call O’Meara Law LLC today at 312-909-0706.

The Arrest

If you are pulled over and the police have probable cause to think you are driving while intoxicated, they may arrest and cite you for a DUI. Probable cause may include any reason the police may have to believe you’re impaired. Common indicators of intoxication include swerving while driving, reckless operation of a vehicle, lethargy, sedation, poor balance, blurred vision, and impaired speech.

You may be charged with a DUI even if a breathalyzer test does not indicate that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent or higher. Once legally arrested, the police may obtain a warrant to conduct further chemical testing to determine your BAC. The police may ask you to submit to a blood, urine, or additional breath test, the results of which will be used in court.

At any time during or after arrest, you have the right to ask for an attorney. You may even wait until you arrive at the police station. You are not required to answer any questions until your attorney is present. If you do not choose to contact a lawyer immediately, you may call a Chicago DUI defense attorney at any time throughout the legal process.

Release from Jail

Most people who are arrested for a DUI are not held in jail for very long. You may be held until someone can pick you up or until you become sober. Your vehicle may be impounded, so it may be temporarily unavailable.

You can typically leave jail after posting bail. Bail includes the deposit of money or property with the court as a promise that you will appear for trial. That money or property may be returned after trial.

Upon release, you will take with you a copy of the charges against you, a receipt for bail or bond slip, and a notice of statutory summary suspension. Any property that was not confiscated or impounded will also be returned to you.

Automatic License Suspension

In addition to DUI charges, you may also face statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license. The Illinois Secretary of State automatically suspends your license for a length of time if you fail or refuse a chemical substance test. The suspension is a civil matter, independent of the DUI criminal offense. Even if you are found not guilty of a DUI, your license may be suspended due to a failed or refused chemical test.

If you are subject to a statutory summary suspension, will receive a notification letter suspending your license effective 46 days after your arrest. The letter will include the dates on which the suspension will begin and end. Length is determined by the number of DUIs you have been convicted of and whether you failed the test or refused it. You may still drive with a valid license until the beginning date of your statutory summary suspension.

In some cases, your license suspension will begin before your first court date for the DUI, so you need a lawyer who will file a petition against the suspension before you face a judge. Fighting a suspension is different than defending a criminal DUI charge. It is a civil matter, so your attorney must prove that your license should not be automatically suspended. An experienced Chicago DUI defense attorney can help you fight a statutory summary suspension immediately.


The arraignment is your first court date and is an important step in fighting your DUI. It typically takes place 30 to 60 days after you were ticketed for a DUI. Your ticket and subsequent correspondence with the county will notify you of the court house address and assigned court room.

Prior to the court hearing, you will receive paperwork listing formal charges against you, a copy of the police report, and any chemical test results. When you arrive at the court room for your arraignment, you may inform the court whether you are represented by an attorney or if you need a public defender.

You may also plead guilty or not guilty. If you are not yet represented by an attorney, you should carefully consider your plea. A plea of not guilty will give your attorney time to review your case and build a defense for your case.

Meeting With Your Attorney

Whether you began working with an attorney right away or were assigned a defender, you will have a pretrial conference with your lawyer. You and your lawyer will go over your case and discuss whether there is the potential for a plea bargain. You are never required to take a plea bargain, but your attorney will advise you whether or not taking a bargain would enable a lessor punishment compared to the likely outcome of a trial.

You and your attorney will also discuss the evidence the prosecution has against you and whether any of this evidence was illegally obtained. It is possible there is information that the prosecution should not be allowed to show at trial. If so, your lawyer will file a motion to suppress this evidence.

Future Court Dates

You will likely attend more than one court date regarding your DUI, including your trial. You should expect to attend three to five court dates over the course of several months or a year. The purpose of each court hearing may vary. Your attorney may present evidence at each to support your defense.

If attending a hearing is particularly difficult, you should speak with your attorney about whether his or her representation at a certain court date is enough.

A Chicago DUI Defense Attorney Can Help

You have a number of options after a DUI arrest, all of which can be carefully explained to you by an experienced attorney. You have the right to plead guilty, though this means you must bear the sentence imposed by the judge without a fight. You may plead innocent and take your case all the way through trial. You can also accept a plea bargain where you plead guilty and agree to a certain punishment.

While your attorney can advise you on the course of action that is most likely to offer you the least harsh consequences, it is up to you which legal option you choose. For more information on your rights following a DUI arrest, contact Chicago DUI defense attorney Michael O’Meara at 312-909-0706.