Things to Know When Hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer for a First Offense

By the time all is said and done, a first-time DUI in Illinois can cost about $17,000, and that assumes there are no aggravating factors, like causing an accident or having no insurance. Although Illinois’ DUI law is a bit more lenient for first-time offenders in terms of things like drivers’ license suspension and probation eligibility, the drunk driving laws in the Prairie State are notoriously harsh overall, so a DUI is not something to be taken lightly.

DUI Penalties

The following applies to non-commercial drivers over 21 who provide chemical samples and have BACs under .16, as the law is slightly different in these and other circumstances.

  • License Revocation: “Suspended” licenses are basically automatically reinstated after a certain amount of time, but it is much more difficult to restore “revoked” licenses. First-time DUI offenders must wait one year before attempting license restoration. During that time, they cannot renew their vehicle registrations.
  • Confinement/Supervision: A first DUI is a court supervision-eligible offense. Persons who complete this form of probation do not have convictions on their records, although they still need to file expungement requests to remove the disposition completely and it still exists for future criminal purposes (e.g. any subsequent DUIs). Defendants who violate conditions of court supervision face a maximum of one year in jail. Regular probation is also available. The defendant will have a conviction, but there is less risk in terms of jail time.
  • Money: The maximum fine for a Class A misdemeanor is $2,500. Most of the monetary penalty mentioned above comes from increased insurance rates and lost income due to community service requirements, court appearances, and other requirements.

There is also a maximum 12-month drivers’ license suspension for refusing to take a BAC test (six months for a failed test).

Fighting a DUI

The only way to reduce or eliminate these penalties is to partner with an aggressive defense attorney who routinely fights DUI charges in Cook County and nearby jurisdictions.

If the state’s evidence is only mediocre, and this is often the case, the prosecutor may reduce the charges to reckless driving. This offense is also a Class A misdemeanor, but it may not have the same adverse effect on auto insurance rates, does not have the professional and social stigma of a DUI conviction, and probably does not involve drivers’ license revocation proceedings.

Sometimes, the state’s evidence is quite shaky. That is usually because there is a big difference between probable cause for arrest (low standard of proof) and beyond a reasonable doubt at trial (high standard of proof). Common weaknesses include a borderline BAC test result and fairly good performance on the field sobriety tests, such as walking a straight line. Any of these weak points may be enough to obtain an acquittal at trial.

Count On Experienced Attorneys

Location and experience usually make all the difference when choosing an attorney. It is almost impossible to collaborate with a lawyer who has an office on the other side of town. Even with a first DUI, the stakes are much too high to take chances with someone who charges a lower fee but is relatively inexperienced.

A DUI is not to be taken lightly. For prompt assistance from an experienced criminal law attorney in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson. After hours appointments are available.

(image courtesy of Matthew Hamilton)

This entry was posted in: 

And tagged: