First DUI Illinois

What are the penalties for a first-time DUI in Illinois?

by Sami Azhari on March 6, 2010

When a person is arrested for DUI, the police officer will provide him with a Uniform Traffic Ticket. The ticket is written by hand and specifies the section(s) of the DUI statute the defendant is accused of violating.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is set forth in 625 ILCS 5/11-501. There may be multiple tickets, but that does not mean there are multiple DUIs. Rather, if the defendant was arrested once, then there is only one DUI case pending against the defendant. Each ticket is a charge (also called a count), and it specifies one way the driver is accused of violating the law.

For example, a notation of (a)(1) on the Uniform Traffic Ticket refers to Illinois statute 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(1):

“[T]he alcohol concentration in the person’s blood or breath is 0.08 or more…”

A notation of (a)(2) refers to 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2), and means the person is accused of:

“[being] under the influence of alcohol.”

A citation of (a)(3) refers to 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(3):

“[the person is] under the influence of any intoxicating compound or combination of intoxicating compounds to a degree that renders the person incapable of driving safely.”

A notation of (a)(4) refers to 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(4), and means that the defendant was arrested for being:

“under the influence of any other drug or combination of drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving.”

A citation to section (a)(5) means the police officer has charged the defendant with:

“[driving] under the combined influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving.”

And finally, if the Uniform Traffic Ticket indicates section (a)(6), it means the defendant is accused of:

“[driving when] there is any amount of a drug, substance, or compound in the person’s breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of cannabis listed in the Cannabis Control Act, a controlled substance listed in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, an intoxicating compound listed in the Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act, or methamphetamine as listed in the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act.”

So, even if the defendant received six tickets, citing all of the above sections of 625 ILCS 5/11-501, there is still only one case. Under these circumstances, the defendant would stand trial on all six counts but be guilty of only one DUI. And thus there would be only one sentence.

What are the penalties for a first DUI offense? For starters, DUI is classified as a Class A misdemeanor offense. All Class A misdemeanor offenses in Illinois are punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. The court is authorized to sentence the defendant to probation, random testing for alcohol and drugs, substance abuse treatment, community service, and restitution if the DUI resulted in an accident.

But Illinois DUI law has very specific penalties that are different from other misdemeanors.

First, the defendant must pay a fine of $500. This is called a DUI technology fee, or an assessment. It is paid in addition to the possible $2,500 fine. The fine and assessment are paid in addition to court costs, which vary by county. It is a common notion that many court dates will result in higher court costs, but this is not true. Court costs are constant regardless of the number of court dates.

All DUI offenders must submit to a substance abuse evaluation performed according to Illinois Department on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse standards. The evaluation is the same for all DUI defendants across the state. This evaluation typically costs $150 and is conducted by an agency approved by the court.

In Cook County, all evaluations are performed by Central States Institute on Addiction. To this day, Central States does not have a web site. Lake County DUIs have evaluations done at NICASA.

The defendant would have to seek a court order allowing him or her to obtain a substance abuse evaluation at another organization.

The court will also order the defendant to attend a Victim Impact Panel (VIP), which is a two-hour seminar in which victims of drunk driving accidents talk about how drunk drivers have impacted their lives. Because the victims speak in person, it is called a Live VIP. In some rural areas, the Victim Impact Panel can be viewed on video.

There are a number of other factual circumstances that result in increased penalties on a first DUI offense.

  • If the defendant’s blood alcohol content is greater than twice the legal limit (0.16), then the defendant must perform 100 hours of community service and pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500. In this case, the charge is called aggravated driving under the influence.
  • If there is a child passenger in the vehicle (anyone less than 16 years old), then there is a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail or 25 days of community service in a program benefiting children.
  • If there was an accident resulting in bodily harm to a child passenger, then the offense is enhanced to a Class 4 felony offense (1-3 years in the Department of Corrections but probationable). The fine is a minimum of $2,500 and a maximum of $25,000. The defendant must also perform 25 days of community service in a program benefiting children. In addition to the above, the defendant must also serve 10 days jail or 480 hours of community service (in any program).
  • If the defendant’s license is suspended, revoked, expired, or invalid for any reason, the offense is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years prison but probationable).
  • If the defendant did not have insurance, then the offense is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years but probation is possible).
  • For either of the above: a) suspended, revoked, expired, or invalid license; or b)  no insurance, the defendant must serve 10 days jail or perform 480 hours of community service.
  • If the defendant was driving a school bus with passengers younger than 18 years of age, the offense is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years Department of Corrections but probation is possible).
  • If the defendant was driving in a school zone (on a school day, with children present, above a posted 20 mph speed limit), and an accident resulted in bodily harm, the offense is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years prison but probationable). Mandatory jail of 10 days or 480 community service hours applies.
  • If an accident occurred resulting in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement, the offense is a Class 4 felony with 1-12 years of prison. This offense is probationable, but the defendant on probation would have to serve 10 days jail or perform 480 hours of community service. There is a minimum fine of $2,500.

The foregoing are the criminal penalties involved with a first DUI offense in Illinois.

The defendant also faces civil penalties, such as a statutory summary suspension of his or her driver’s license. The statutory summary suspension will take place 46 days after the date of arrest. The summary suspension is imposed as a penalty for failing or refusing chemical testing. There is no penalty for refusing to participate in field sobriety tests such as the walk and turn test (WAT), one legged stand (OLS), finger to nose (FTN), alphabet test, or horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN). These tests are typically conducted on the side of the road.

The chemical test is usually a breath test (breathalyzer machine), but the officer can request the driver to submit to urine and blood tests.

  • The summary suspension will last for 6 months for failing any chemical testing.
  • There is a 12-month suspension for refusing to submit to chemical testing.

During the summary suspension, the driver will be eligible to drive with a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP). This permit requires installation of a breath test device in the defendant’s vehicle. The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) will allow the car to start only when the breath sample has a blood alcohol level of 0.024 or lower. The MDDP allows the defendant to drive anywhere, anytime, except that it is not valid for the first 30 days of the suspension. Therefore, all DUI offenders must suffer a 30-day suspension initially.

At the end of the summary suspension, the defendant must pay a $250 reinstatement fee to the Secretary of State to get his or her license.

A plea of guilty will cancel a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for a period of one year. The issue of whether the defendant will lose non-commercial driving privileges depends on the sentence imposed by the court.

If the defendant receives the minimum sentence of court supervision, which is not a conviction and results in dismissal after a period of one year or longer, then the defendant will not lose his or her driver’s license.

A sentence of conviction, however, will result in a driver’s license revocation. In order to be reinstated, the defendant must appear before the Illinois Secretary of State Department of Administrative hearings at a formal hearing.

Even with court supervision, a DUI cannot be expunged.

Previous post:

Next post: