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Penalties for Drinking and Driving with a BAC Below .08

Posted on in DUI Defense

Illinois DUI defense lawyerIn Illinois, if a driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) measures .08 or higher, they are automatically deemed guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. Under the law, a driver is assumed to be too impaired to drive when their BAC is .08 or higher. However, you should be aware that, under certain circumstances, Illinois drivers can be penalized for drinking and driving with a BAC below .08.

Four Ways You Can Be Penalized for Driving with a BAC Below .08

Scientific studies have shown that alcohol begins to affects your judgment and reaction time starting from the first drink, well before your BAC reaches the .08 level. Therefore, some types of drivers are held to a stricter standard for highway safety reasons. Illinois law defines four ways you can be charged with DUI or otherwise penalized for driving with even a very low level of alcohol in your system.

While driving a personal vehicle, you could be charged with DUI if your BAC tests higher than .05 but less than .08. However, in this situation, in order for you to actually be convicted of DUI, the police must present other convincing evidence that you were actually too impaired to drive safely. The arresting officer would have to testify, for example, that you were driving erratically, failed field sobriety tests, and/or admitted to consuming other types of intoxicants in addition to alcohol.

When operating a commercial vehicle such as a semi-truck or bus, the legal BAC limit is .04 percent; this is a federal law that applies in all states. A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holder will lose their CDL for one year if their BAC tests .04 or higher when they are driving a commercial vehicle, even if they are not convicted of DUI.

When operating a school bus, the legal BAC limit in Illinois is zero. A school bus driver’s permit will be suspended for three years if their employer requests a BAC test and the driver’s BAC is over 0.00.

When a driver is under age 21, the Illinois Zero Tolerance law (625 ILCS 5/11-501.8) applies. During a routine traffic stop, a police officer can require a young driver to submit to a BAC test if the officer has “probable cause to believe that the driver has consumed any amount of an alcoholic beverage.”

A BAC over 0.00 will result in a driver’s license suspension ranging from three months to two years. A BAC over .05 or .08 may be charged as a DUI under the same rules that apply to drivers over age 21.

Most DUI Convictions Happen at Well Over the .08 Legal Limit

For drivers over age 21 driving a personal vehicle, your chances of being arrested for DUI in Illinois with a BAC below .08 are fairly slim. In 2016 (the latest year for which statistics are available), among all drivers who failed a BAC test:

  • 7% had a BAC of .08 to .09
  • 36% had a BAC of .10 to .14
  • 57% had a BAC of .15 or higher

These statistics suggest that most arrests for DUI happen when a driver is well above the .08 limit and their driving is significantly impaired.

A DuPage County DUI Defense Attorney Can Help

If you have been charged with DUI in the DuPage County area, consult an experienced Oak Brook DUI defense lawyer without delay. An attorney who regularly works in the DuPage County courts has the experience to construct the best possible defense for you, particularly if your BAC was in the borderline range. Contact McMahon Law Offices at 630-953-4400 now for a free consultation.






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