The holiday season is an exciting time, filled with celebrations, holiday parties, and family gatherings, most of which involve drinking and can extend into the night. Sadly, the holiday weekend also causes an increase in drunk driving, and that means an increase in intoxicated driving arrests.
The law takes drunk driving violations seriously, but if you’ve been arrested on a DUI charge, a skilled DUI criminal defense attorney can help. Take the first step in protecting your constitutional rights by contacting the experienced Cook County DUI criminal defense lawyers at Ktenas Law today at (312) 756-8652. At Ktenas Law, our skilled legal team offers a free consultation to examine the legal issues in your DUI case and determine how we can help.
Approaching the Holiday Season Means More Traffic Patrols in Illinois
As the holiday season approaches, law enforcement agencies across the country will be beefing up their drunk driving enforcement efforts throughout the country. If you'll be out drinking, the best way to make sure that you aren't ensnared by these efforts is to practice safe driving by taking a cab, using a designated driver, or making other arrangements to get home safely.
For a law enforcement officer to pull you over for suspected DUI, the police officer must have probable cause to do so. Typically, this happens when the law enforcement officers witness you breaking traffic laws by speeding or driving well above the legal speed limit, not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, or weaving in and out of lanes of traffic. In fact, minor traffic offenses are one of the most common ways police officers catch impaired drivers.
Law enforcement officers look for different indicators to spot prospective drunk drivers, including:
Driving without headlights
Straddling the centerline
Weaving, swerving, drifting out of the lanes
Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
Once police officers pull you over, they'll assess whether you're driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This includes looking to see if your eyes are bloodshot if your slur your speech if you smell of alcohol and if you display other visible signs of impairment. The law enforcement officer’s impression of you is enough to arrest you for suspected drunk driving and give them the probable cause they need to ask you to take a breathalyzer test.
A drunk driving conviction in Illinois comes with harsher penalties for even first-time DUI offenses, including up to $2,500 in monetary fines, up to one year in jail, mandatory use of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID), and a six-month driver's license suspension period.
What are DUI Laws in Illinois?
Under Illinois drunk driving laws, it's against the law to drive a motor vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration is at or above 0.08. For underage drivers, any amount of alcohol in the blood system can lead to a drunk driving charge. For commercial vehicle drivers, such as taxis, buses, or trucks, the legal limit is 0.04.
In Illinois, a drunk driving offense is a class A misdemeanor offense, which is punishable with the possibility of court supervision, hefty fines, a suspended driver's license, and a maximum jail sentence of one year. A first-time DUI offender faces a mandatory driver's license suspension. Second- and third-time DUI offenders will most certainly face jail sentences and will also lose their driving privileges.
A drunk driving criminal offense may become a felony offense punishable by more than a year in prison if you have past DUI convictions or if you were driving a motor vehicle without a valid license. Also, driving under the influence conviction can lead to a criminal record that stays with you permanently, making it daunting to secure jobs or housing.
What Happens to First-Time DUI Offenders in Cook County, Illinois?
It’s essential to note that you aren’t alone after a DUI arrest. Every year in Illinois nearly 35,000 people are arrested for intoxicated driving. Although the criminal penalties of a first time DUI differ based on how your drunk driving case plays out and if your Cook County DUI lawyer gets your drunk driving charges dropped or reduced, here are the possible criminal penalties for a first-time offender:
Because a first drunk driving offense is a Class A misdemeanor offense in Illinois if you’re arrested and charged with this criminal offense you’ll face monetary fines of up to $2,500 and a potential jail time of one year.
Rarely are first-time drunk driving offenders sentenced to months or a full year of jail sentence. Often, first-time DUI offenders don’t face the maximum fine; however, they must pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500. However, it's essential to note that the $500 doesn’t include other DUI costs, such as surcharges, court costs, or the cost of court-imposed rehabilitation programs, such as alcohol awareness courses.
Often, the judge may order substance abuse counseling, but it’s not a mandatory criminal penalty if convicted of a first-time DUI.
If you were transporting a child under the age of 16 in your vehicle, you'll have to pay a minimum fine of $1,000.
A first DUI offender whose blood alcohol content was 0.016% or higher is required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of community service.
A first DUI offender who was transporting a minor in their car must complete 25 days of community service in a program that benefits children.
Alcohol-Related Fatalities in Illinois
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the number of people killed on US roadways during the holiday season differs significantly from other times of the year. A report found that nearly 36 people are killed in drunk driving accidents daily in the U.S.
During the Christmas holiday, that number increases drastically to 45 fatalities per day, and the number increases to 54 deaths per day during the New Year period. Another study shows that about 600 deaths occur yearly during the Thanksgiving holiday. This makes the four-day holiday period the most dangerous time for those traveling United States roadways. Research shows that 36% of those deaths are alcohol-related.
Illinois typically follows the national trends, too. In December 2011, there were about 73 drunk driving-related fatalities. These alcohol-related crashes resulted in 85 deaths and accounted for 38% of alcohol-related driving fatalities during the Christmas period, and 33% during New Year. On Thanksgiving, 50% of traffic crashes were caused by alcohol use.
Contact Our Seasoned Chicago DUI Criminal Defense Attorneys Today for Legal Advice!
Being charged with a DUI over the holidays can impact your life negatively in many ways. A DUI charge can stay on your criminal record permanently, limit your career progression, and cause serious legal and financial consequences. You must take DUI criminal charges seriously, even if this is your first offense.
At Ktenas Law, our skilled DUI criminal defense team can help you get your charges reduced or dismissed. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation, call our criminal defense law firm today at (312) 756-8652 or chat with our skilled DUI criminal defense lawyers online to learn how we can help.