Things to Know if Arrested for DUI in Chicago
If you are charged with committing DUI in Chicago, you will want to know the basics of Chicago DUI law.
This article will explain to you the fundamentals of Chicago DUI laws. It will also help you understand how to hire a Chicago DUI lawyer. Whether you live in Lincoln Park, Hyde Park or Evanston, you will want to hire an attorney to represent you throughout your DUI case.
What Is DUI in Chicago?
DUI stands for driving under the influence. Whether you are driving under the influence is usually determined by your blood-alcohol content, or BAC.
A BAC of .08 or above is considered a per se DUI in Chicago. This means that your blood contains eight one-hundredths of a percent of alcohol. If you test at .08 or above, you will automatically be arrested for committing DUI.
However, if you test under .08, you can still be arrested for committing DUI. If the officer believes your driving has been impaired due to consumption of drugs or alcohol, he may still arrest you for DUI even though your BAC is under .08. However, it will be much more difficult for the state to prove its case against you. Under such circumstances, a Chicago DUI lawyer may be able to help you avoid a conviction.
The BAC limit is different for certain individuals. Chicago has a zero-tolerance policy regarding those under the age of 21 who drink and drive. This means that if you are under 21 and are caught driving with any amount of alcohol in your system, you may be arrested for committing DUI in Chicago.
Penalties for DUI in Chicago
A first-time DUI conviction in Chicago is punishable by:
- Up to one year in jail
- Fines of up to $2,500
- License suspension of at least one year
Certain factors can increase these penalties. For example, if there is a child under 16 in your vehicle at the time of your arrest, you may face up to one-and-a-half years in jail and up to $3,500 in fines. You may also face additional penalties if your BAC is .16 or higher.
A second DUI offense is punishable by:
- Five days to one year in jail
- Fines up to $2,500
- License suspension for at least five years
A third DUI offense is considered a class 2 felony. If charged, you may face:
- Three to seven years in prison
- Fines of up to $2,500
- License suspension of 10 years minimum
The Chicago DUI Process
An officer may pull you over for a number of reasons, including:
- Committing a traffic violation
- Driving suspiciously or erratically
- Entering a sobriety checkpoint zone. A sobriety checkpoint is a predetermined location where officers pull over random drivers and check them for driving under the influence.
Once the officer has pulled you over, he may administer a field sobriety test to determine if you are impaired. Common field sobriety tests include:
- Following a light with your eyes while keeping your head and neck stationary
- Standing on one leg
- Walking in a straight line, turning and walking back
If you do poorly on the field sobriety test, the officer may place you under arrest. He will then take you back to the police station for BAC testing.
There are a number of ways to test your BAC. One of the most common methods is the breathalyzer. A breathalyzer is a device that can measure your BAC based on the alcohol content of your breath. In Chicago, breathalyzer tests are not mandatory. However, if you refuse to take the test, you may face severe punishment, including immediate license suspension.
If your BAC is .08 or above, you will be charged with DUI.
Hiring a Chicago DUI Attorney
The first step in hiring a Chicago DUI lawyer is getting names of prospective attorneys. If you are unable to conduct a search on your own, find someone you can trust to assist you.
To find names of attorneys, ask friends and family members for referrals. You can also use a site like Attorneys.com. Just fill out the site's online questionnaire. Attorneys.com will then connect you to one or more Chicago DUI lawyers.
Next, set up consultations with the attorneys. This is your opportunity to ask questions, get to know the lawyer and decide whether you want to hire him. Write down a list of questions in advance, so you are fully prepared. Questions to consider include:
- How long has the attorney been working on Chicago DUI cases?
- Are Chicago DUIs the only types of cases he handles?
- What does he think of your case?
- What fee arrangement does he use? How much does he cost?
- Will he be the only attorney working on your case? If not, can you meet the other lawyers?
After you finish your consultations, you should be able to make an informed hiring decision.