DUI by a Minor Defense Attorneys in Chicago

Was your child arrested or charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois? If so, the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC will be ready to aggressively defend them. In the state of Illinois, any minor caught behind the wheel with alcohol in their system automatically loses all driving privileges for a specific period of time. This is referred to as the "Use It and Lose It"  zero-tolerance policy, according to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

During a traffic stop, police officers can request a scientific test that measures the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of an adult or underage driver if probable cause exists. After the test, the officer then submits a sworn report to the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office for suspension of the juvenile’s driver’s license. The suspension that then results is automatic for a period of months, depending upon whether the driver agreed to take the test or refused the breath test.

Both juveniles and adults may receive such a suspension, referred to as a Statutory Summary Suspension. Only if a driver blows less than .08 would that driver not receive a suspension (even though they may still be charged with a DUI).

But different than adults, a driver under the age of 21 will likely also receive a “Zero Tolerance” suspension as well (or sometimes instead). That’s because different than an adult, who is legally able to consume alcoholic beverages (as long as they don’t impair their ability to drive), a minor is not. That’s why it’s called Zero Tolerance -- because anything over a reading of zero is a problem.

Although both Statutory Summary Suspensions (SSS) and Zero Tolerance Suspensions (ZT) result in a driver’s license being suspended for a specific period of time, there is a major difference that’s often very important. When an attorney wants to challenge a SSS to try to rescind (meaning undo) the suspension, a document is filed in the court house and the Judge will determine whether the suspension will continue or be stopped. But for a ZT, this decision is not up to the Judge at all; it is decided by the Illinois Secretary of State alone. That means the attorney must file paperwork with the Secretary of State to request a hearing at the DMV (not at the courthouse).

At Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC, we understand that the arrest of your child is often a frightening experience. Our skilled Chicago attorneys work tirelessly and capably to protect the rights of juveniles, and ensure they get a second chance. Don’t face these charges without help, call an experienced DUI attorney that is familiar with juvenile cases today at (800) 996-4824.

Table Of Contents

    Illinois Zero-Tolerance Laws

    Zero-tolerance laws in Illinois prohibit individuals under the age of 21 from purchasing, accepting, possessing, or consuming an alcoholic beverage. An infraction could result in suspension or revocation of all driving privileges.

    Minors who receive court supervision for possession, consumption, purchase, or receipt of an alcohol beverage should expect to receive a suspension of three months, although exceptions do exist for the legal consumption of alcohol, such as for a religious service or a prescribed dose of medicine.

    The Illinois zero-tolerance law also applies to those under 21 years old who operate a motor vehicle. Besides losing driving privileges, minors (just like adults) may face jail time and fines related to penalties from an associated DUI or other misdemeanor or felony. Additional consequences may include an increase in their auto insurance premium, court-ordered treatment for alcohol abuse, legal fees, and a negative impact on one’s driving record. Zero Tolerance suspension periods include:

    Zero Tolerance Suspension for BAC over 0.0

    • First offense: Automatic three-month suspension of driving privileges if BAC is higher than 0.00%
    • Second offense: Automatic one-year suspension of driving privileges for a BAC over 0.00%

    Zero Tolerance Penalty for DUI and Refusing a Chemical Test

    • First offense: Automatic six-month suspension of all driving privileges for the refusal or failure to complete a BAC test
    • Second offense: Two-year driving privilege suspension for the refusal or failure to complete of a BAC test

    In short, you cannot avoid the suspension of your license by refusing a BAC test. Whether you choose to submit or decline such a test, contact an attorney right away to guide you through the next steps.

    Once a minor’s driving privileges have been suspended based upon consumption of alcoholic beverages, Illinois Criminal Statute 625 ILCS 5/6-208.2 sets forth the earliest time limits for a minor to apply for reinstatement of their privileges. These include:

    • Six months—for a minor who refused or failed to complete the tests requested
    • Three months—for a minor who’s chemical testing disclosed an alcohol concentration is excess of 0.0
    • Two years—for a minor who refused or failed to complete the tests requested and previously had been suspended under this section
    • One year— for a minor who’s chemical testing disclosed an alcohol concentration is excess of 0.0 and previously had been suspended under this section

    DUI Penalties for Minors

    Just like adults, a police officer will almost always choose to charge a driver under the age of 21 with a DUI if their BAC is at 0.08% or higher. But depending upon the circumstances, a driver may also find themselves charged with Drunk Driving if they refused the testing or if they blew below .08 as well if additional evidence of their impairment also exists. DUI charges may also apply to any illegal drugs found in a juvenile’s system.

    Just like DUIs for adults, penalties for minors are often the same, similar of sometimes more extensive. Typical penalties and requirements may include:

    • Fines of up to $2500 and court costs in addition
    • Alcohol/drug classes and treatment
    • Victim Impact Panel attendance
    • Community service
    • No alcohol consumption which may require confirmation through use of a SCRAM device, patch, urine drops, blood draws, or other scientific measurement
    • No further criminal or traffic offenses during the period of court monitoring
    • Assignment to the probation department or social service department for monitoring

    Does My Child Have Any Rights?

    When a juvenile that’s 17 or under gets taken into custody for a DUI though, they have the right to be treated as a juvenile and processed through the Illinois juvenile justice system while still maintaining certain rights just like an adult, such as the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioning.

    The arresting officer must make sure to bring the child to a juvenile processing center without unreasonable delay and notify their parent or guardian. The court will also hold a hearing to decide whether to release them or detain them until their first court appearance.

    As the parent or legal guardian of a minor arrested for DUI, you also have rights. Your rights include:

    • The right to be present during your child’s questioning
    • The right to an explanation for the arrest or detention
    • The right to retain an attorney for your son or daughter

    Steps to Take After Your Child Gets Arrested for DUI

    Finding out that your child has been arrested is often overwhelming. You’re not sure what to do and how to handle it. The most important things you should do once you learn of an arrest is to contact a qualified attorney and to go see your child immediately. Your child is not only likely to feel frightened, but he or she also may not understand how to deal with this serious situation. When a DUI arrest occurs, they might say or do something that makes their situation worse. If you’re present during questioning, you can keep them calm and prevent self-incrimination.

    If contacted early enough in the process, Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC will work to prevent your child from saying something that damages their case or results in a harsher punishment. It’s always our goal to get the charges reduced or dropped altogether, but if necessary, to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney. A plea agreement may allow a reduced sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to a DUI or a lesser charge.

    Various factors may affect the ultimate sentence that your child receives and may be influenced by all or some of the following:

    • The specifics of the particular DUI charge
    • If a physical injury or fatality occurred
    • If the offender seems remorseful for their crime
    • Your lawyer’s presentation of the case to the prosecuting attorney and judge
    • The existence of past criminal charges or arrests
    • Previous or current mental health problems
    • The child’s professional and personal situation
    • The likelihood of committing a similar offense in the future

    There’s a good chance you can enter a plea agreement or negotiate a fair sentence. Illinois law aims to rehabilitate accused minors rather than locking them up and throwing away the key. The juvenile justice system believes in helping youths become responsible members of society when they reach adulthood.

    Should I Seek the Help of an Attorney?

    You might believe the officer wrongfully accused your child of DUI or maybe you know they’re likely guilty, but just don’t want to see them face extreme consequences. Seeking legal representation from Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC will help ensure that they receive fair treatment from the legal system. We’ll fight vigorously for their rights and help you and your child get through these devastating events.

    We’ll take care of all the legal aspects of the case for you. We can review the details of the DUI arrest, gather and review evidence, and work towards negotiating the best plea deal available. Whether your child is guilty or innocent, accepting a plea is sometimes the best way to avoid serious life repercussions.

    Why You Should Choose Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC

    We have over 30 years of experience defending minors accused of DUI. We understand what you’re going through and will always treat you and your case with the attention it deserves. Our experience, knowledge, and resources allow us to provide legal services that our clients can rely upon. Our phones are also available 24/7 to meet everyone’s scheduling needs. Our litigation attorneys know how to get the job done and will create an individualized plan for each client. Our reputation proves why we’re among the most trusted defense attorneys in Illinois. Among other honors, Martindale-Hubbell awarded the highest AV rating for our legal work. We’re also members of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100, SuperLawyers, and Best Attorneys of America.

    Schedule Your Free Consultation

    So speak with an attorney from Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at no risk or obligation. We’ll schedule a free consultation to review the details of your minor's arrest and determine what we should do next. We won’t pressure you into making any decisions you’re not comfortable making. It’s our job to advise you of your different options so that you can make a decision that works best for your child and your family.
    If you decide to retain our services, we’ll start working on the case right away. We know what’s at stake and we’ll work to give your child the best chance of walking away without life-long consequences.

    We also understand the importance of staying informed from beginning to end of the case. We’ll be sure to provide you with status updates and walk you through each step of the legal process. At Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC, we aim to reach the most realistic and favorable outcome when we’re defending our clients.

    If you would like to discuss your child’s options after a DUI arrest, call (800) 996-4824 right now. We’ll schedule your free consultation and let you know how we can best help you.

    Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : December 21, 2023