Chicago DUI Defense Lawyers
Driving under the Influence (DUI), or drunk driving, is generally a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. It’s punishable by heavy fines, driver’s license suspension, and possible jail time. Under certain circumstances, the crime may be elevated to a felony with the mandatory loss of your driver's license and, even more significantly, possible penitentiary time.
With some exceptions, a driver's first two DUIs will be classified as misdemeanors. If the driver gets a third DUI, or if someone is seriously injured as a result of their drunk driving, or the driver has no valid privileges, the crime may become a felony.
If you have been charged with either a misdemeanor or felony DUI, your future will depend on the actions you take next. This means you need the help of an experienced DUI lawyer like the team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. We can pursue an aggressive reduction or a complete dismissal of your traffic charges.
Former assistant state’s attorney prosecutor and founding member of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC, Mitchell S. Sexner, urges anyone cited for DUI in Illinois to call his offices and talk to a member of his knowledgeable Chicago DUI attorney team. Call (312) 644-0444 today for a free consultation. Your reputation, good name, and freedom may depend upon it.
What Constitutes Drunk Driving in Illinois?
You may be considered legally intoxicated in Illinois if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or greater. This is the cutoff where the legal presumption of intoxication arises. However, under Illinois' Zero Tolerance Law, anyone under the age of 21 can also be charged with a Zero Tolerance violation if they are found to have any trace of alcohol in their blood, even .01%. Police officers are also cracking down on driving while under the influence of cannabis.
Remember, you may not feel intoxicated or too impaired to operate a motor vehicle. This does not change the fact that, in legal terms, you may still be considered drunk. This distinction is incredibly important to make. It’s never a smart idea to drink and drive. If you’ve been drinking and are considering driving, do not go through with it. Call a cab, a ride sharing service, or a friend instead.
DUI Sentence Calculator
The helpful calculator above will help you estimate the penalties you may face for a charge of DUI. It’s important to note these are for informational purposes only.
It’s vital that you speak with a team of DUI lawyers to get a more accurate determination of potential DUI consequences. The team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC will give your case a detailed and personalized review in order to help you understand any DUI penalties. This case review is free. Call us now at (312) 644-0444 to get started.
How Can Police Tell If I'm Legally Drunk?
There are many different tests the police can use to help determine if you are legally intoxicated. These include a field sobriety test, a breath test, a urine test, and a blood test. All of these have different rates of accuracy and can be challenged in court.
- Field sobriety tests – These tests are usually performed at the location where the driver is pulled over. The officer will ask the driver to exit the vehicle and perform certain physical and mental tasks in an attempt to gauge their sobriety. These tests are often difficult to successfully complete, even if you are sober.
- Breath tests – Breath tests are not infallible and need to be calibrated often. If it can be determined that the machine has not been calibrated recently, the results can be called into question.
- Blood Tests – Blood tests are probably the most accurate way to test a person’s BAC, but there are some defenses that can be used to fight against their results. In some instances, blood samples aren't properly preserved or sit around for a period time before they are analyzed.
- Urine Tests – Urine tests are less accurate than both breathalyzers and blood tests. They also vary greatly depending on when you last drank and urinated. This can lead to misleadingly high and low BAC readings, both of which are capable of being challenged in court.
A Chicago DUI lawyer from Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC will be able to determine the best course of action to call the test results into question.
Sobriety checkpoints are a major source of DUI arrests. While they serve an important purpose, they’re also overwhelming. It can be disorienting for even the most sober driver to have a police officer demand your license and registration and ask rapid-fire questions about what you have been up to that night.
You should always remember that you have rights. This is true regardless of whether you’re at a sobriety checkpoint or being pulled over while driving. One of the most important rights you have is the right to remain silent. While any good DUI lawyer will remind you of this, it’s vital to remember while at a checkpoint.
You will need to provide any police officers with your license and registration at a sobriety checkpoint. You do not however, have to answer any questions they ask. This can include questions about where you’re going, where you’re coming from, or whether you’ve had anything to drink.
The police do not have the right to search your vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint unless you give them consent or they have a warrant or probable cause. They do not have the right to make you take any sort of sobriety test, including PBTs and field sobriety tests without such probable cause.
The police may decide to arrest you based on “visual evidence.” If this happens, you still do not have to agree to take any tests they request. The burden of proof is on the police officer, not you. Contact the team of DUI lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC immediately if you’ve been arrested at a sobriety checkpoint. We can help. Call (312) 644-0444 now.
Actual Physical Control & DUI in Chicago
Thinking About Sleeping It Off In Your Car?
You went out for a good time, whether it was to a party, a restaurant/bar, sporting event, or whatever. Although you knew you might have "a drink or two" you did not anticipate drinking as much as you did, and you are now intoxicated enough that you would likely be considered too impaired to drive home. You have no other sober person to drive for you, you have no means to obtain alternative transportation at that time, and you think to yourself, "If I sleep it off here for a few hours, then I will be good to drive home." In Illinois, this decision could likely result in your arrest for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, a suspension of your driving privileges, and a finding of guilt in court following a trial.
If this is not your first DUI offense, you might then be convicted, sentenced to a jail term, and your driving privileges would be revoked.
Is Driving Required For A DUI?
In Illinois, it is unlawful for a person to be driving OR in actual physical control of an automobile while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, intoxicating compounds, or any combination thereof, under Section 11-501(a) of the Vehicle Code. When most people think of a DUI, they logically assume that since DUI stands for "Driving Under Influence", and that you need to actually drive a car to be found guilty. Unfortunately, this is not correct. The phrase "actual physical control" refers to other common situations where the person is not actually operating or driving the car when observed by police, but the circumstances indicate that the person either was in fact driving prior to the police arrival, or was found in a position that indicated the person had control over the automobile such that he or she could put the key in the ignition or otherwise start the car and drive away.
There have been many instances where motorists were found in their cars under circumstances which caused them to be charged with, and later convicted of DUI, where they were clearly just intending to "sleep it off". Yet their convictions were upheld on appeal, because of the doctrine of actual physical control.
So What is Actual Physical Control?
So what can constitute actual physical control? One might think that it involves the driver behind the wheel in the driver’s seat, the key in the ignition, engine running, alone in the vehicle with the doors locked, and physically able to operate the vehicle. In reality, the Courts have held that while these may be factors to consider among others, they are not required to all be present; rather, a combination of factors, taken on an individual case by case basis determines whether or not a given situation amounts to "actual physical control."
In People v. Davis, the Defendant was found in the backseat, sealed in a sleeping bag, and still ran afoul of Illinois's DUI statute. This vague concept of actual physical control can get people who have no intention of driving in legal trouble. If you are being accused of drunk driving while you weren't even driving your vehicle, an attorney can help you fight the charges.
First-Time DUI vs. Multiple DUIs
While we mentioned this earlier, it bears repeating here. The penalties for a first-time DUI vary greatly from the penalties for multiple DUIs. In fact, an individual’s first two DUIs are usually classified as misdemeanors.
This doesn’t mean the consequences for a first or second DUI are light. Penalties include, but are not limited to:
- Jail time for up to twelve months
- Fines as high as $2,500
- Additional fines depending on unique circumstances
- Losing your driver’s license for a year or longer
- Your vehicle registration being suspended
- Having to perform community service
After a first time DUI offense, you may be asked to undergo an alcohol evaluation to help improve your position in any dealings with the prosecution.
Three or more DUIs, however, can result in much harsher penalties. These vary depending on a number of circumstances, but can include:
- Prison time of between three and seven years
- Prison time of up to thirty years for six or more DUI convictions
- Losing your driver’s license for a minimum of ten years and a maximum of your lifetime
- Fines as high as $25,000
- Additional penalties depending upon unique circumstances
This final point – additional consequences depending upon specific circumstances – is important. The circumstances of your DUI arrest can vary, but certain actions will trigger greater penalties. These include, but are not limited to:
- Having a child in your vehicle – this can lead to additional fines and jail time for first-time and multiple DUIs
- Leaving the scene of an accident – continuing to drive, even as little as up the street, can result in additional consequences being added. These include two Class A misdemeanors: 1) damaging an unattended vehicle or other property and failing to report it and 2) failing to stop afterwards causing damage to an attended vehicle
- Killing someone – it’s considered reckless homicide when someone dies as a result of an individual’s drunk driving. This is a felony and punishable by up to twenty-eight years in prison
- Injuring someone – it’s considered a DUI with injury if someone is seriously injured as a result of an individual’s drunk driving. This can result in higher fines and longer jail or prison time
- Being charged with a DUI as an out-of-state resident – while this won’t necessarily increase your legal consequences, it will likely lead to the loss of your license in your home state. Do not risk this and contact a local Chicago DUI attorney immediately
- Being charged with a DUI while underage – if you are charged with drunk driving while under the legal drinking age (twenty-one), you are likely to face all the standard DUI penalties, in addition to being referred to various substance abuse and/or driving programs for minors.
It’s a smart idea to contact the DUI lawyer team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC regardless of whether any of these factors apply to you. You want experienced and aggressive attorneys on your side and that is exactly what you get with our law firm. Call us now at (312) 644-0444.
DUI Defense in Chicago
The best way to avoid a DUI conviction is to not drink and drive. That said, there may come a time when you find yourself in police custody, wondering if you may have underestimated the amount you drank. If that's the case, don't admit guilt and call an experienced DUI attorney in Chicago immediately.
The legal team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC is made up of experienced advocates who know the best ways to protect you, your driving privileges, and your future. Call (312) 644-0444 any time of the day or night for free, no-obligation information about how we can help you.