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How Likely Is a Jail Sentence for a First-Time DUI in Illinois?

Posted on in DUI Defense

Oak Brook DUI defense attorneyIt is important to understand what you are risking when you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Illinois. State law categorizes even a first-time DUI as a class A misdemeanor crime, which is punishable by up to one year in jail, among other penalties. A more serious form of DUI, known as aggravated DUI, is a felony for which a judge can impose a sentence of multiple years in state prison.

However, those are maximum penalties, not the most likely. By looking at historical data, we can assess the likelihood that someone convicted of DUI will actually spend time in county jail or state prison. The circumstances of a first-time DUI will have a significant impact on the likelihood of your spending time in jail.

Jail Time Is Unlikely for Misdemeanor First DUIs in Illinois

Circumstance 1: First Offense with Successful Court Supervision. For a first-time misdemeanor DUI, the court may allow to you plead guilty and receive court supervision. If you fulfill all the requirements set by the court and successfully complete the supervision period, no DUI conviction will be entered on your criminal record. The court may require you to perform community service or pay fines, but the penalties will not include jail time or revocation of your driver’s license. Note that you will still have to serve out any statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license.

Circumstance 2: First Offense with Misdemeanor Conviction. Less than 20 percent of first-time DUI offenders in Illinois are convicted; most who plead guilty or are found guilty at trial are eligible for court supervision. However, there are several reasons why a first-time offender might be convicted. For example, if you are granted supervision and violate the terms, you would likely find yourself back in court, facing a conviction and sentencing. As another example, the court may be unwilling to grant supervision to a drugged driver who behaved in a particularly reckless manner.

A first DUI conviction with no aggravating factors is a class A misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. In reality, relatively few people convicted of a misdemeanor DUI go to jail, as state policy currently favors keeping non-violent offenders out of jail. If you are not sentenced to jail, you can expect a sentence involving some combination of probation, community service, and a fine. Your driver’s license will also be revoked for a minimum of one year (two years if you are under age 21).

Circumstance 3: Second Offense Leads to First Misdemeanor Conviction. If you received and successfully completed court supervision for your first DUI offense, you have no DUI conviction on your record. However, Illinois allows court supervision for a DUI only once in your lifetime. If you are charged with DUI a second time and convicted, this will go on record as your first DUI conviction, so you will face basically the same sentencing outlook as described in circumstance 2 above.

Jail Time Is More Likely for Aggravated First DUIs in Illinois

Circumstance 4: First Offense with Felony Conviction. In some circumstances, a first-time DUI offense can be charged as an aggravated DUI, which is a felony. For example, when a drunk driver is involved in a crash that kills or causes severe bodily harm to another person, the driver can be charged with aggravated DUI. An intoxicated driver can also be charged with aggravated DUI if they lack a valid driver’s license or do not have vehicle liability insurance.

A first-time DUI offender charged with felony DUI faces a much greater likelihood of jail time than one charged with misdemeanor DUI. That said, the length of the sentence can vary widely, depending on the circumstances. A drunk driver who causes a fatal crash can be sentenced to prison for one to 12 years if one person is killed, or as long as 28 years if multiple people are killed. On the lower end, a person charged with aggravated DUI may be sentenced to probation, but state law requires this sentence to include, at a minimum, either 480 hours of community service or imprisonment for 10 days.

A DuPage County DUI Defense Attorney with 25+ Years of Experience

Do not face a first-time DUI charge alone, particularly if the charge is aggravated DUI. If arrested in or near DuPage County, consult an Oak Brook DUI defense lawyer as quickly as you can. The attorneys at McMahon Law Offices will do everything possible to develop a compelling case in your defense and mitigate the impact of this incident on the rest of your life. Call 630-953-4400 for a free initial consultation.





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