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The Impact of a DUI Charge in Illinois According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 29 Americans die every day in car accidents involving impaired drivers. Due to the sheer number of fatalities caused by inebriated drivers, it should come as no surprise that law enforcement officials are always on the lookout for drunk drivers. In Illinois, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can come with severe legal consequences. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important to seek out quality legal representation as soon as possible. 

Consequences of a Conviction

Illinois classifies a first DUI as a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, a class A misdemeanor could lead to:

  • A maximum of 364 days in prison;
  • Fines up to $2,500; and
  • A one-year driver's license suspension.

In certain situations, a first-time offender can face increased criminal punishment. If an offender has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .16 or higher or is carrying a passenger under the age of 16, they will face a minimum of six months in prison, along with mandatory community service hours.  

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DuPage County DUI defense lawyer alcohol/drug evaluationIf you plead guilty or are found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois, you are required by law to undergo a professional evaluation of your drug/alcohol use prior to your sentencing (625 ILCS 5/11-501.01). You are required to pay for this evaluation, and it costs around $225. Because the resulting report reveals a great deal of information about you, and it will be used by the judge in your sentencing, it is highly recommended that you consult a lawyer prior to your DUI evaluation. 

What to Bring to Your Alcohol/Drug Evaluation

You will need to bring the following to your DUI evaluation:

  • The police documentation from your arrest that shows your drug/alcohol test results.
  • A list of any prescription or over-the-counter medications that you currently take or were taking when you were arrested for DUI.
  • A friend or relative at least 18 years old who knows you well and is willing to answer questions about your alcohol/drug use.

What Happens at a DUI Evaluation

You can expect the DUI evaluation to take about 2.5 hours. The evaluator will ask you a number of questions in order to complete a standard form called the Alcohol/Drug Evaluation Uniform Report. The questions will cover these topics:

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Oak Brook drunk driving defense attorneyAccording to an annual report on DUI arrests in Illinois, law enforcement efforts remain one of the most significant deterrents to drunk driving. The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM) has been producing this report for over 25 years in order to highlight the efforts of individual police departments and specific officers. 

Illinois State Police Make the Largest Number of DUI Arrests

According to the latest AAIM report, the Illinois State Police make more than 5,000 DUI arrests each year. They get credit for making the most arrests of any law enforcement agency in the state, in part because they employ more than 1,700 troopers. However, when you consider the ratio of DUI arrests per sworn officer, the State Police ratio of three arrests per officer per year is well below the arrest rate for several county and city police departments. Still, anyone thinking about drinking and driving on the interstate highways should think twice, because there is a good chance of being caught by a state trooper.

Several DuPage County Cities Rank High in DUI Arrests

You might think that the city of Chicago, with over 12,000 sworn officers, would also have a large number of DUI arrests. However, the opposite is true. With just under 2,000 DUI arrests per year, the CPD makes just 0.1 arrests per officer per year.

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Illinois DUI defense lawyerBreath testing for blood-alcohol content (BAC) has been the gold standard in DUI law enforcement for decades. However, with marijuana use on the rise, as well as concerns about opioid use, there is a clear need for faster and more accurate methods of testing for drug-impaired driving.

Illinois Law on Drug-Impaired Driving

Illinois law defines the offense of “driving under the influence” in seven distinct ways, using both subjective and numeric measures. In the broadest terms, it is illegal to drive under the influence of any combination of intoxicating compounds, alcohol, or other drugs “to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving.”

In addition to that subjective standard, Illinois also has established several measurable standards to facilitate enforcement of the law (625 ILCS 5/11-501).

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Illinois DUI defense lawyersMost people know that you can lose your driver’s license if you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) in Illinois. However, many people do not realize that there is a way you can get a statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license rescinded (canceled).

You Have the Right to a Court Hearing on the Suspension

If you fail or refuse chemical testing following a DUI arrest, the state of Illinois imposes an automatic suspension of your driver’s license, the statutory summary suspension. For most people, this suspension lasts six months if you failed testing (meaning you were over the legal limit) or 12 months if you refused to test.

But the law also grants you the right to a court hearing to challenge the suspension. At this hearing, your lawyer can question police officers and present arguments as to why your license should not have been suspended. If the judge is convinced, the statutory summary suspension will be lifted.

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DuPage County DUI defense lawyersIn Illinois, a driver who is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) faces two penalties. First, there is the criminal charge, punishable by fines, jail time, and other penalties. Second, there is an administrative sanction, the statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license. Most people know they need to fight the criminal charge. But did you know that you can also fight the statutory summary suspension?

Understanding the Statutory Summary Suspension Law

If you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, Illinois law requires you to submit to chemical testing for drugs and/or alcohol (625 ILCS 5/11-501.1). If you refuse to be tested, the penalty is the statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of one year. If you test over the legal limit for alcohol, cannabis, or another controlled substance, your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of six months.

If you refuse or fail chemical testing, the police will take your Illinois driver’s license and give you a receipt that allows you to continue driving legally for the next 45 days. On the 46th day, the suspension automatically takes effect.

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Oak Brook DUI defense lawyerOne of the most common questions asked about driving under the influence (DUI) is this: If you are arrested for DUI, should you submit to a breathalyzer test at the police station or refuse to blow?

As you will see, this is a difficult question to answer. Some experts argue that the less evidence you give the prosecution, the better; in other words, refuse the test if there is any chance you are over the legal limit. Others argue that it makes sense to take the test because, if you are below the legal limit, you could get the DUI charge dismissed altogether.

The purpose of this article is simply to help you understand the consequences of taking versus refusing a post-arrest breathalyzer test. This test is also referred to as an evidentiary test because the device and procedures are considered accurate enough to be used as evidence in court.

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DuPage County DUI defense lawyerThe ubiquitous red Solo cup is likely to appear in your hand at some point during a seasonal party. Here are some handy tips to help you track your alcoholic beverage consumption in terms of the current standard, 18-ounce, squared Solo cup. Knowing how much you have consumed will help you stay safe and avoid the chance of an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI).

What Constitutes a “One Drink” of Beer, Wine, or Liquor

With today’s wide variety of alcoholic beverage choices, you really have to be aware of the alcohol content of your drink of choice. The number of ounces one “standard” serving varies from 1 ounce to 12 ounces:

  • Bourbon or whiskey labeled “barrel proof” or “single barrel” (120 proof, 60% alcohol): 1 ounce.
  • Standard liquor (80 proof, 40% alcohol): 1.5 ounces.
  • Wine, champagne, sparkling wine (12% alcohol): 5 ounces.
  • Imperial stout or double IPA (10% alcohol): 6 ounces.
  • Craft beer (6% alcohol): 10 ounces.
  • Regular beer (4.5% alcohol): 12 ounces.
  • Hard cider or hard lemonade (5% alcohol): 12 ounces.

How to Manage Your Consumption by Solo Cup

When mixing a cocktail, pour the liquor in first. 3 ounces will amount to about an inch of liquid in the bottom of your Solo cup. The liquid should just touch the bottom of the word Solo that is spelled down the side of the cup. Add mixer and ice, and that will be the equivalent of two drinks. (Let us assume the use of real glasses for those single barrel bourbons and whiskeys.)

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Illinois drugged driving defense lawyerWhen you think about driving under the influence (DUI), do you think the bigger issue is driving while intoxicated by alcohol, or driving while impaired by drugs, such as marijuana or heroin?

Drug-Impaired Driving Is a Growing Problem

Interestingly enough, fatal car crash data shows that the number of alcohol-impaired drivers killed has declined over the past decade, while the number of drug-impaired drivers killed has risen. Now, there is no nationwide standard protocol for alcohol and drug testing of drivers killed in car crashes, but a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association in May 2018 stated some concerning facts in relation to drug-impaired driving:

  • The number of known alcohol-positive drivers killed in a car crash decreased from 7,750 in 2006 to 5,473 in 2016;
  • The number of known drug-positive drivers killed in a car crash increased from 3,994 in 2006 to 5,365 in 2016;
  • Of those who were tested, nearly half of the drivers involved in a fatal crash tested positive for both drugs and alcohol; and
  • Of the drug-positive drivers killed, 38% tested positive for cannabis, 16% for opioids, 4% for both, and 42% for some other drug.

 One reason given for the increase in drug-impaired driving is the rise in opioid use, which includes illegal “street” drugs, like heroin and illegally manufactured fentanyl (a synthetic opioid), as well as prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin.

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DuPage County DUI defense lawyerIf you have at least one prior conviction for driving under the influence on your record, each new conviction has increasingly more serious consequences. The more DUIs you commit, the greater your chance of spending time in jail or even in state prison becomes.

You also need to be aware that, thanks to interstate data sharing agreements, DUI conviction in other states will count when an Illinois prosecutor or judge adds up the number of prior DUI convictions on your record. (A DUI arrest that resulted in a successfully completed court supervision will not be counted as a prior conviction.)

Likelihood of Spending Time in Jail for a Second DUI Conviction

Illinois classifies both a first DUI conviction and a second DUI conviction as Class A misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum of 364 days in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500. A first DUI conviction has no mandatory minimum jail sentence, however, so a judge could conceivably let you off with supervised probation, a fine, and/or community service.

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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.

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DuPage County DUI defense attorneysWhen someone is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), one of their biggest fears is the possibility of spending time in jail. There are two ways you could spend time in jail. First, if you are arrested for a DUI and cannot make bail, or if you violate the conditions of your bail, you could be held in jail until your case is settled. Second, if you are convicted of DUI, part of your sentence could include jail time.

Fortunately, recent changes in Illinois law 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

When arrested for a misdemeanor DUI in Illinois, most people are 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 a misdemeanor offense.

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DuPage County DUI defense lawyersWith over 900,000 residents, heavy traffic is a fact of life for DuPage County drivers. It also means you have a good chance of being in a traffic accident. Whenever an accident involves significant vehicle damage or personal injury, Illinois law requires you to summon the police and file an accident report. Even if you were not at fault in causing the accident, you could still find yourself in serious trouble. If you consumed alcohol, marijuana, certain prescription drugs, or any other intoxicants before getting behind the wheel, you could be charged with driving under the influence.

Statistics on Vehicle Collisions and Children in DuPage County

DuPage County reported about 21,000 collisions involving over 42,000 vehicles in 2016, an increase of 16 percent from 2011. Given that 37 percent of DuPage County households have children, around one-third of collisions in the county likely involve children.

In other words, if you drive while intoxicated in DuPage County, there’s a strong probability that you will get into a collision that involves a child.

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Chicago DUI defense attorneysEffective January 1, 2019, Illinois judges will be authorized to impose harsher sentences on anyone convicted of “wrong way” driving under the influence (DUI).

The new law, PA 100-1053, was passed in August 2018. It amends a section of the Illinois Criminal Code (730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.2) that lists the aggravating factors that a judge may use to justify extended-term sentencing.

How Extended Term Sentencing Applies to a DUI

Illinois law states that a driver who causes the death of another person while driving under the influence is guilty of a class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

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Illinois DUI defense lawyerImagine this scenario: You had a few drinks uptown, started driving home, and got into a car accident. Do you know the correct actions to take next? Do you understand what can happen if the police have reasonable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI)? It is important for every driver to know what to do in this type of situation, even if you just had one drink and were not legally intoxicated at the time of the accident.

Do You Have to Call the Police to an Accident Scene in Illinois?

If you have a single-car accident, you only need to call the police and file an accident report if there is over $1,500 worth of property damage.

If your car collides with another motor vehicle or person, Illinois law requires you to stop, render necessary aid, and exchange identification and insurance information. The police must be called to the scene if there is property damage over $1,500 or if anyone is injured or killed.

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DuPage County criminal defense attorneysIf you or a loved one are stopped for a traffic violation and suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol (or for any other criminal offense), you will have several opportunities to make it either easier or more difficult for the police to gather evidence and the District Attorney to nail you with a “guilty” verdict. Remember, the goal of the police is to find evidence of your guilt.

Here are some tips to protect yourself against common police tactics related to vehicle searches, which are purposely employed to intimidate, mislead, or lure you into self-incrimination.

If Police Ask to Search Your Car Without Probable Cause, You Can Refuse

If you are stopped on a traffic violation, that does not give the police an automatic right to search your car.

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Illinois DUI defense lawyersWhen a driver is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the police will do some preliminary tests, roadside. If the police believe they have probable cause for a DUI arrest, the driver will then be taken to a nearby police station (or sometimes to a hospital) for chemical testing. When the driver is finally released from police custody, yet another problem must be faced: what happened to their car?

Vehicles Used in DUI Typically End Up in an Impound Lot

Every police department has one or more authorized companies that can be summoned to tow and store vehicles that have been, for example, wrecked in an accident, illegally parked, or left at roadside following a DUI arrest. The police will inform a driver arrested for DUI where their car has been towed.

Towing and storage fees alone can easily add up to hundreds of dollars. The city or county where the DUI occurred may also charge an administrative fee since a city police officer or sheriff’s deputy had to take the time to arrange the towing.  In DuPage County, the administrative fee alone can be as high as $500.

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Illinois DUI defense lawyerWhen the police see someone driving erratically, they often jump to the conclusion that the person must be driving drunk or high. In such cases, a police officer may be predisposed to find reasons to request a breathalyzer test and make a DUI arrest. By the time they are done with you, you may feel like you have already been convicted. But breathalyzer tests can be wrong and there are many ways to challenge the results.

Reasons a Breathalyzer Result Could Be Wrong

You will want to let your attorney know about any possible grounds on which the breathalyzer result could be challenged. Here are some examples.  

Waiting period. To ensure that you have not consumed anything that could cause a false reading, the police are supposed to observe you for 20 minutes prior to running an evidentiary breathalyzer test (the one done at the police station). Police procedural error is a common DUI defense strategy.

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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.

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IL defense lawyerWhen someone is charged with driving under the influence, they are often cited for one or more petty traffic offenses as well. Why is that?

That happens in part because, as the latest driver safety campaign says, “If you feel different, you drive different.” You make poor decisions, like driving too fast.

But it also happens because the police need a valid legal reason for initiating a traffic stop. Typically, the reason stated for a traffic stop is that the driver committed a relatively minor infraction of the law such as speeding, running a stop sign, failing to wear a seatbelt, or even having a burnt-out tail light. After observing the stopped driver and vehicle up close, the officer may then determine that a DUI charge is merited. But by writing up the ticket for the original infraction as well, the officer documents “for the record” the reason for the traffic stop.

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