Primer for Drunk Driving Penalties in Illinois

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates there were more than 1.4 million DUI arrests nationwide in 2003. According to the 2010 Illinois DUI Fact Book, there were more than 48,000 in-state arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) in 2008.

A driver is considered legally under the influence in Illinois if he or she has a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more, has used any illegal substance or is impaired by medication. Drivers with a BAC between .05 and .08 may also be convicted of DUI if they are impaired. With limited exception for religious ceremonies and prescribed medicine, there is zero tolerance for consumption of alcohol by those under 21.

DUI Fines and Penalties

DUI convictions in Illinois carry serious penalties and fines, including possible jail time, community service, thousands of dollars in fines, and suspension or revocation of driving privileges. The severity of punishment depends on the number of prior offenses and also whether there were passengers under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

The BAC of the driver may also affect the penalties and fines imposed. The Illinois implied consent law means that drivers give their implied consent to submit to a chemical test of their urine, blood or breath simply by the act of driving. Drivers who refuse to submit to a test may be penalized.

First DUI (Class A Misdemeanor)

Upon conviction, first-time offenders face:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • At least 100 hours of community service if their BAC was .16 or higher
  • 25 days of community service if they driving with a passenger under 16
  • A fine of up to $2,500
  • An additional fine of at least $500 if their BAC was .16 or above
  • An additional fine of at least $1,000 if driving with a passenger under 16

Drivers convicted of DUI may have their licenses suspended for at least one year and their vehicle registration suspended. Illinois is one of 11 states that require all DUI offenders, even first-time offenders, to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in his or her vehicle as a condition of driving relief during their license suspension.

Second DUI (Class A Misdemeanor)

Drivers convicted of a second DUI offense:

  • Must serve at least five days of jail time or 240 hours of community service and face up to a year in jail
  • Must serve an additional mandatory two days of jail time if their BAC was .16 or higher
  • May face three to seven years' prison time if driving a passenger under 16 (which constitutes felony aggravated DUI)
  • Must serve at least 25 days of community service if there was a passenger under 16
  • A fine of up to $2,500
  • An additional fine of at least $1,250 if the BAC was .16 or above
  • An additional fine of up to $25,000 if there was a passenger under 16

Upon a second conviction, drivers face license suspension for at least five years if the prior DUI was within the 20 years previous and vehicle registration suspension.

Third DUI (Aggravated DUI, Class 2 Felony)

Conviction for a third offense carries a possible prison sentence of three to seven years and fines up to $25,000. If the driver's BAC was .16 or higher, there will be a mandatory 90 days of jail time and a minimum fine of $2,500. Drivers transporting a child under the age of 16 will face an additional mandatory fine of $25,000 and additional sentence of 25 days of community service.

A third-time offender's driving privileges will be revoked for at least ten years and vehicle registration will be suspended.

Fourth DUI (Aggravated DUI, Class 2 Felony)

A fourth DUI carries the same potential penalties and fines except that:

  • If committed with a BAC of .16 or higher, in addition to other fines, there is a mandatory minimum fine of $5,000
  • If committed with a passenger under 16, an additional mandatory fine of $25,000 and sentence of 25 days of community service

Fifth DUI (Aggravated DUI, Class 1 Felony)

A fifth DUI carries a possible sentence of four to 15 years in prison, fines up to and in excess of $25,000, and community service. Upon a fifth conviction, driving privileges will be revoked for life (with little relief available) and vehicle registration suspended.

Sixth or Subsequent DUIs (Aggravated DUI, Class X Felony)

Convicted drivers face potential imprisonment for six to 30 years, fines up to and in excess of $25,000, and community service. Driving privileges will be revoked for life with no relief available and vehicle registration will be suspended.

The law differs with regard to drivers under the age of 21 or those with a commercial driver's license. The penalties and fines may also be increased for drivers who are involved in an accident.

A DUI conviction is a permanent part of a driving record; drivers may lose work time and have their vehicle impounded or seized. Those who have been arrested for or charged with DUI should contact a criminal defense attorney to protect their rights and driving privileges.