To Blow or Not to Blow, Part I

Sargent Sam looks forward to his brother-in-law’s annual Fourth of July party more than he looks forward to Christmas. That party means fireworks, food, family, and friends. The party also means one or two Mexican beers with lime wedges. Like many of us, Sam knows that it is best to Uber back and forth so he does not need to worry about drinking and driving. But, like many of us, planning ahead is not always Sam’s forte.

Despite the fact that he has had more than one beer, Sam decides to drive home after the party. Since he can feel the alcohol but is clearly not drunk (and he knows what that feels like from experience), he thinks he will be okay. He rolls through a stop sign on the way home, and a nearby police cruiser pulls him over. The flashing overhead lights in the rearview mirror are not exactly the party lights he had hoped to see. What should he do now? He knows the officer will smell alcohol and ask him to take a Breathalyzer test. Should he blow or not?

DUI Consequences in Illinois

To fully answer this query, the first thing to do is examine the consequences of a Chicago DUI. Once Sam sees the that patrol car, a DUI arrest is pretty much inevitable. If the officer lets Sam go and he causes a serious injury or fatal crash further down the road, the victim might sue the police department for not pulling Sam over for DUI. The suit might or might not be successful. Win or lose, a lawsuit is a headache.

Sam really should have left his car at his brother-in-law’s house and Ubered home. Unfortunately, it is too late to change that now. At this point, he is staring down the barrel at a number of bad things, including:

  • Higher Auto Insurance Rates: For many Chicagoans, a DUI conviction increases auto insurance rates as much as 300%. The rates stay that high for at least three years. In terms of the cost of a DUI in Illinois, insurance premiums are usually the largest single component.
  • Stigma: A DUI causes other serious problems. If someone Googles Sam’s name, the first item on the page will probably be his mugshot. A DUI may also scar his personal reputation. People will forget about it eventually, but “eventually” could be a very long time.
  • Job Problems: If Sam has a security clearance, the DoD could try to take it away. If Sam’s office needs to get rid of some older and/or higher-paid workers, a criminal conviction could be the excuse that upper management needs. Events like these are unlikely, but they do happen to some people and they could happen to Sam.
  • Health Insurance: After a DUI, an insurance company may suddenly decide that some health conditions are alcohol-related and therefore could try to deny coverage. Sam has a bad back, and there is some evidence linking disc problems with alcohol use. So, this could be a problem.
  • FOID Revocation: If he is convicted of DUI, the government will take away Sam’s FOID card because he has been involuntarily placed into a substance abuse program as part of the sentence. End of story.
  • Military Penalties: Since it occurred off-base, Sam will not face military charges directly related to the DUI. His CO has discretion to impose a number of penalties, such as corrective training, revocation of privileges, or mandatory counseling. Plus, Sam could face disorderly conduct or other non-DUI charges. If his MOS or job description requires him to carry a gun as part of his military duties, he could be discharged from the military as a result of the arrest.

Now that we have a better idea of what Sam is up against, it will be easier to decide if he should take a Breathalyzer test. But to discover the answer to that question, you will have to read our next post.

Contact Experienced Attorneys

The only sure way to avoid DUI consequences is to avoid a DUI arrest. So, if you have anything at all to drink, never drive anywhere. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson.

(image courtesy of Sawyer Bengston)

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