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First-Time DUI: Should I Plead Guilty and Take Court Supervision?

Posted on in DUI Defense

Illinois DUI lawyerIf you’ve been arrested for a first-time DUI, you might think your best option is to just plead guilty and get it over with. But is that really your best option? When it comes to DUI in Illinois, the law is quite complicated. To make it easier to understand, we will use the hypothetical case of 23-year-old Simon.

Simon was arrested for his first-ever DUI while driving home alone from a party in DuPage County. His blood alcohol level tested at .14, well over the legal limit of .08. So, he assumed that pleading guilty would be the quickest and cheapest way to get this mistake behind him.

Why would he plead guilty to DUI when the potential penalties are so high?

Most people do not realize how tough the state law is on DUI. Illinois law classifies a first DUI conviction as a Class A misdemeanor. The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year of jail time. In addition, state law calls for the revocation of your driver’s license for a minimum of one year—and it is both complicated and expensive to get your driver’s license back after a revocation.

So why would Simon plead guilty and risk such steep penalties? Well, Simon had read that about 80% of first-time DUI offenders in Illinois get sentenced to court supervision. For those who are not granted supervision, most first-time offenders receive a fine below the maximum and usually no jail time.

He figured he would surely get supervision since he otherwise had a clean driving record. He had not gotten in a wreck, hurt someone, or committed a serious traffic offense while DUI. He had just been “unlucky enough to be spotted by a cop rolling through a stop sign on an empty road” (in his words).

What is the upside of getting court supervision for a DUI?

With court supervision, our hypothetical Simon would not have a DUI conviction on his record, as long as he kept a clean record for the next year. He would also avoid a driver’s license revocation.

What is the downside of taking court supervision for a DUI?

One critical downside is that the DUI arrest and court supervision will remain on Simon’s criminal record, with no chance of ever having those facts sealed or expunged (that is, removed from his criminal record). In addition, insurance companies will be able to see the statutory suspension on his driving record and that very likely will cause his car insurance rates to go up. Supervision also does not mean no punishment at all; the judge still has the discretion to impose penalties such as fines.

What outcomes are better than DUI court supervision?

If Simon had consulted a DUI defense lawyer immediately after his arrest, he could have ended up with an even better resolution. For one thing, if his DUI case got dismissed or ended with a not-guilty verdict, Simon would have a chance to get the DUI arrest off his record entirely. Alternatively, Simon might have the option to plead guilty to a lesser traffic offense.

His attorney could also help him challenge the statutory suspension of his driver’s license. Getting that suspension rescinded could save him hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Bottom line, pleading guilty and taking court supervision is not necessarily the best option available to a first-time DUI offender.

DUI Defense Attorney in Oak Brook

If you are facing your first DUI arrest, do not assume that pleading guilty is the best and quickest way out of your predicament. To determine the best strategy based on the circumstances of your specific case, consult an experienced DuPage County DUI defense lawyer before making any decisions. The attorneys at McMahon Law Office will diligently investigate all the circumstances of your case and work aggressively to get you the best possible outcome. For a free consultation, call 630-953-4400.





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