Millions of Americans are arrested for driving under the influence every year. The criminal justice system still takes DUIs very seriously due to the immense danger impaired drivers pose to themselves and others.
If you have been arrested for a DUI recently, you might not know what to expect in the coming weeks or even months. In addition to losing your license, being charged with a DUI can raise your insurance rates and affect your future employment prospects.
It’s important to learn about the consequences that could occur following your DUI arrest, and the steps you should take to mitigate any damage the incident could do to your life.
The initial arrest:
Police officers tend to keep an eye out for drivers that are engaging in reckless or negligent driving behavior on roads and highways. They may suspect these drivers of driving under the influence if their driving patterns are erratic. The Waukegan Police Department has especially been aggressive in DUI enforcement in Waukegan, IL.
When law enforcement officials stop a driver suspected of DUI, they typically ask them to pass field sobriety tests near their vehicle. If the driver fails these tests, they will be asked to take a breathalyzer.
In the state of Illinois, drivers who refuse to take a breathalyzer test will have their license suspended for one year. The police could also pressure doctors at a hospital to draw blood from suspected drivers and check their alcohol levels for proof of impairment. This process is legal and can be applied to anyone that has been issued a driver’s license in Illinois.
If you complete a breathalyzer test and get a result over .08, your license will be suspended for 6 months. However, this is only applicable if this is your first DUI. If this is your second DUI, you may also be fined up to $2500 and placed in a county jail for up to a year.
The 6-month license suspension typically goes into effect 46 days after your initial arrest. It is possible to file a petition and fight this suspension; however, this must be completed within a certain period of time following the arrest.
This petition should be filed as soon as possible in order to maximize your odds of winning before the suspension goes into effect. A DUI defense attorney may be able to help with this petition and speed up the process.
Driving after your arrest.
Law enforcement officials will confiscate your license following your initial arrest, however, you can continue driving for 45 days following that date. Once the suspension goes into effect on the 46th day, you may still be able to drive if the officer provides you with a Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension that includes a receipt to drive.
Drivers can request a Monitoring Device Driver Permit (MDDP) after 30 days of suspension. They will then be required to get a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in their cars before being allowed to drive. These devices check the driver’s blood alcohol levels and prevent them from starting the car if their BAC is .025 or higher.
Fighting the suspension
People that wish to fight their suspensions before they go into effect should seek the services of a DUI attorney. These attorneys may not be able to change or delay the date the suspension goes into effect, but they can help you create an effective petition that reduces the likelihood of your license being suspended.
Suspension hearings are typically held after the suspension has gone into effect, so it may be beneficial to hire a DUI defense attorney sooner rather than later in order to build a better case in your favor.
An experienced DUI attorney will typically send out requests for evidence soon after the arrest. This is important to prevent any important evidence from being lost or destroyed between the arrest date and the hearing date.
Appearing in court for a DUI:
Drivers are required to show up at each court date assigned to them, or risk being arrested. These court appearances are typically held in the morning or in the afternoon. Defendants who are unable to show up for their court appearances will need special permission from a judge.
These drivers will also need permission from a judge if they wish to leave the state after their arrest, and while their DUI case is proceeding.
The first court appearance date is usually set by the arresting police officer. This date will be mentioned on the tickets issued to you, and on the bond-slip. The date of the first appearance also depends on the officer’s availability, so it may be difficult to change it to another date.
If defendants wish to take their case to trial, they can expect to appear for 3 or 4 court dates in the near future. The case could take a full year, or even longer to fight, so defendants should prepare for a potentially long battle with courts.
Most defendants typically fight their license suspension charges prior to going after their criminal DUI charges, as criminal charges are not formalized into records until the case has been lost.
During your first court appearance, your lawyer will ask the state for a copy of the discovery. This can include evidence such as alcohol or drug test results, police reports, arrest reports, and videos of the arrest. Police officers in Illinois are equipped with video cameras to record videos of their arrests and interactions with suspects, so acquiring one of these videos shouldn’t be too difficult for your lawyer.
Should you take a plea?
Many defendants are tempted to take a plea during their first court appearance to avoid a long drawn-out court battle. However, this requires a drug and alcohol evaluation to be performed beforehand. These evaluations require future appointment dates, so they may not be completed before your first court appearance.
In addition to this, taking the plea prevents you and your lawyer from seeing and reviewing evidence around your case. If you take a plea, you may end up with an otherwise preventable charge on your permanent record.
Fighting a DUI charge is no easy feat, especially if you have no formal background in law. So it may be wiser to use the help of an experienced DUI lawyer to maximize your chance of winning.
Hire an attorney that regularly fights DUI cases in Skokie, Chicago and Waukegan.