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The Basics of DUI DWI in Illinois

If you are arrested for DUI in Illinois, you will want to educate yourself as much as possible on the basics of the law. In addition, you should exercise your right to an attorney. An Illinois DUI attorney can help establish a legal defense for your case and represent you in court.

The laws covering DUI in Illinois parallel those of many other states. For example, as in most jurisdictions, multiple DUI charges over a certain period of time can result in felony charges. There are also increased penalties for those whose blood-alcohol content is well above the legal limit, which is .08 percent.

What is DUI in Illinois?

As mentioned, DUI in Illinois, also known in Illinois as DWI, is when someone over the age of 21 is caught driving drunk with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or above. This means that if a sample of blood were taken, .08 percent of the blood would be made up of alcohol. For those under the age of 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy in Illinois. A zero-tolerance policy means that if someone younger than 21 is caught driving with any alcohol in their system, they will be arrested for committing DUI.

Additionally, Illinois has additional penalties for those whose blood-alcohol content is well above the legal limit. Specifically, if your blood-alcohol level is .16 or above, you will face additional consequences. This also applies to drunk drivers who are caught driving with a child under the age of 16 in the car at the time of arrest.

DUI Arrests in Illinois

DUI arrests can occur in one of several situations:

  • At sobriety checkpoints
  • During a routine traffic stop
  • After observing driving behavior that signals possible driver impairment

The type of driving behavior that might lead a police officer to believe you may be impaired includes:

  • Hesitating to go through a green light
  • Weaving between lanes
  • Driving in multiple lanes at once

After pulling you over, the police officer will observe your behavior to see if there is any reason to believe you have been drinking. Things he or she may be looking for include the smell of alcohol on your breath, slurred speech, and erratic behavior.

If the police office still suspects that you may be intoxicated, he or she may issue a field sobriety test. A field sobriety test is a physical or mental test that can help the officer develop probable cause, or reasonable belief that you are guilty of drinking and driving. Some examples of field sobriety tests include:

  • Standing on one leg
  • Walking in a straight line
  • Following an object with your eyes while keeping your head still

Another tactic the officer may use is the breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test uses a device known as a breathalyzer to gauge how much alcohol you have in your system based on your breath. If after breathing into the instrument reads .08 or above, the officer may place you under arrest.

Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

If a police officer suspects you of committing DUI in Illinois and wishes to administer a breathalyzer test, you may refuse. However, doing so will result in potentially severe consequences, such as automatic suspension of your driver's license.

Illinois is one of many states with what are known as implied consent laws. Implied consent laws in Illinois mean that by having a state driver's license, you agree to undergo chemical testing for drugs and alcohol if a police officer suspects you of driving while intoxicated.

Felony DUI in Illinois

First and second-time DUI offenders are usually charged with a class A misdemeanor. However, DUI in Illinois can be a felony in some situations. Felonies carry much harsher penalties, including larger fines and extended jail sentences.

Getting caught drinking and driving three times is an Illinois class 2 felony. Additionally, if you are driving with a passenger under the age of 16 and that passenger is injured due to drinking and driving, you may be charged with a class 4 felony, even if it is your first offense.

You will also be charged with a class 4 felony in Illinois on a first offense if you are caught driving with a suspended or revoked license or if you are caught driving without insurance. Also, if you cause great bodily harm to someone, even on a first offense, you will be charged with a class 4 felony.

Finally, accidentally causing someone's death due to drunk driving is a class 2 felony in Illinois.

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