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McHenry County criminal defense attorneyWhen a person is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), one of the biggest fears they are likely to have is the possibility of spending time in jail, whether between the arrest and the trial or as part of the sentence resulting from a criminal conviction. While it is possible for a DUI arrest to lead to jail time, recent changes in Illinois laws and the increased use of electronic monitoring devices have significantly reduced the likelihood that DUI offenders will have to spend time in jail

Misdemeanor DUI Arrest: Usually No Jail, No Bail

Historically, those who were arrested on misdemeanor DUI charges in Illinois were generally processed and immediately released on their own recognizance without having to pay bail. This includes most first-time and second-time DUI arrestees charged with misdemeanor offenses.

The Illinois Bail Reform Act of 2017 created a presumption that “any conditions of release imposed shall be non-monetary in nature” for nonviolent, low-level crimes such as driving under the influence. In December of 2020, the Illinois legislature passed the Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act, which promises to eliminate cash bail for all criminal suspects. The bill is awaiting the signature of Governor J.B. Pritzker in order to become law, but he is expected to sign the measure in the coming weeks. In place of cash bail, the court may set conditions of release such as electronic home monitoring, curfews, drug counseling, stay-away orders, and in-person reporting.

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McHenry County first-time DUI attorneyEven if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is not at or beyond the legal limit of 0.08, you can be stopped by law enforcement if alcohol is suspected to be impacting your ability to drive. If this is your first time being pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI), it can be a frightening experience, but you are entitled to have an experienced attorney on your side to help guide you through the process. There are important things that you should be aware of if you have been charged with an Illinois DUI.

Administrative Penalties for Illinois DUI

Many people think that upon conviction for a DUI, they will immediately be jailed, lose their driver’s license, and essentially be labeled for life. In reality, a first-time DUI may result in administrative penalties and some criminal charges, but it is far more likely to be seen as a mistake, albeit a serious one, rather than an indication of any kind of long-term pattern of behavior. This is especially true if no one is injured or killed and no property damage occurs. State prosecutors are much more likely to work out a bargain with a first-time offender to give them a chance to not re-offend.

Administrative penalties are handed down by an administrative law judge or governmental agency, rather than through a criminal court. One example is a statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license for refusing a chemical test when law enforcement has probable cause to believe you are under the influence, which is a violation of Illinois’s implied consent law. A statutory summary suspension is issued by the Office of the Secretary of State instead of a criminal court judge.

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McHenry County, Crystal Lake, Crystal Lake IL, criminal defense, attorney, lawyer, Driving under the influence is a criminal offense and is treated seriously under Illinois law because of the danger it poses to yourself, your passengers, and other users of the road. First-time DUI offenses are no exception, though penalties are typically less severe in recognition that the behavior may indicate a one-time lapse in judgment rather than the start of a pattern of endangerment. If you have not been convicted of a DUI before, you may be concerned about the penalties you could face if it does happen to you.

Consequences for First-Time DUI Offenders

If a law enforcement officer suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or another substance, they may pull you over and ask you to submit to a field sobriety or blood alcohol content (BAC) test. If you refuse a chemical test, or if the results indicate impairment above the legal limit, you can be arrested and may face consequences including:

  • Court Supervision: First-time offenders may be sentenced to supervision instead of being convicted, which allows you to avoid some of the penalties for DUI and for the charges to be dismissed if you comply with the terms of the supervision order.
  • Fines and Court Costs: If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you can face the consequences of a Class A misdemeanor, including a fine of up to $2,500. You will also likely be responsible for paying for court costs associated with your trial.
  • Jail Time: Class A misdemeanors can carry a sentence of up to one year in county jail, which may be reduced due to good behavior.
  • Suspended or Revoked License: Your driver’s license can be suspended after a DUI arrest or court supervision order, and it will be revoked for at least a year in the case of a DUI conviction. First-time offenders will often be required to install a BAC ignition interlock device in their vehicle during a suspension. You may apply for reinstatement of your license at the end of the suspension or revocation period.
  • Court-Ordered Programs: For a first-time DUI offense, you may be required to participate in a drug or alcohol treatment program or a DUI education program as part of your sentence.
  • Increased Penalties for Exacerbating Factors: Even if you are a first-time offender, you can face higher penalties and sometimes felony charges if your BAC is 0.16 or higher, if you have a child passenger in your vehicle at the time of arrest, if you are driving under the influence in a school zone, or if your impaired driving causes an injury or fatality.

Contact a McHenry County DUI Defense Lawyer Today

Many first-time DUI offenders can avoid being charged with the full extent of the possible penalties with the help of an experienced defense lawyer. At Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, we can help you obtain supervision or negotiate for a fair sentence. For a free consultation with a Crystal Lake DUI defense attorney, call 815-338-3838.

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Aggravating Factors Can Lead to Harsher DUI PunishmentsAn Illinois legislator is trying to make driving the wrong way on a one-way street an aggravating factor in cases involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The bill, proposed by State Rep. Michael Zalewski, D. - Riverside, has already been passed by the Illinois House of Representative and is being considered by the Illinois Senate. Advocates cite the number of fatalities and injuries that occur due to wrong-way crashes.

A court can use an aggravating factor as a reason to impose harsher punishment during sentencing. An aggravated DUI conviction is at minimum a class 4 felony, which includes a one- to three-year prison sentence. Wrong-way driving would be only the latest in Illinois' long list of aggravating factors.

Actions During Offense

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dui penalties, McHenry County DUI Defense AttorneyDrivers should be aware of a new Illinois bill that has the potential to increase the penalties for repeat DUI convictions. The bill was passed at the urging of a family whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver and then learned that the same driver had been convicted of another DUI following his release from prison.

The bill, House Bill 3533, has passed both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate, but has yet to be actually signed into law. Unlike many bills that focus on increasing DUI penalties through higher fines or longer prison sentences, this bill applies serious driving limitations in the form of a restricted driving permit and the use of an ignition interlock device—a chemical breath test built into a person's car to prevent them from driving while intoxicated.

Harsher Penalties for Repeat Offenders

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