What is a Misdemeanor DUI in Illinois?

What is a Misdemeanor DUI in Illinois

Criminal law takes DUI arrests seriously, and the state will always prosecute them aggressively. That is because drivers under the influence often cause accidents that cause severe or, in the worst cases, fatal injuries. A first- or second-time DUI arrest is a class-one misdemeanor, in most cases. If the court finds you guilty, you face many penalties, including jail time, drug and alcohol classes, an ignition interlock device, and steep fines.

Although the law does not require you to get an attorney after an arrest for a misdemeanor DUI in Illinois, it is always in your best interests. Many believe there is no way to beat the charges and avoid penalties after driving under the influence. However, they are simply unaware of all the many potential defenses. For this reason, you need a qualified legal professional in your corner. An experienced Wolfe & Stec attorney would advocate on your behalf and fight aggressively for the best potential outcome.

What is a Felony DUI in Illinois?

When a driver over the age of 21 has a blood alcohol content, or BAC, over 0.08, they are driving under the influence. Offenders who continue to drive under the influence and reach their third conviction have committed a Class 2 Felony. They lose their driving privileges for a minimum of 10 years, and their vehicle registration is suspended. If they have a BAC of 0.16 or higher on their third conviction, they also face mandatory imprisonment for 90 days and a mandatory minimum fine of $2,500.

Continued offenses lead to increasing penalties, up to and including losing driving privileges for life and fines of up to $25,000. Given the harsh penalties for felony DUI in Illinois, people facing these charges should get help from one of our experienced felony defense lawyers.

Felony DUI vs. Misdemeanor DUI

When an officer arrests a driver and charges them with a DUI, the potential consequences vary significantly, depending on which type of DUI charges they face. A misdemeanor DUI has fewer severe repercussions than a felony conviction, and the penalties aren’t as harsh.

However, that does not mean a misdemeanor DUI will not have many adverse effects and consequences. You must take any arrest for driving under the influence seriously and prepare a powerful defense immediately.

Illinois Misdemeanor DUI Arrest Statute

In Illinois, it is unlawful to drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of any motorized vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of any substances. Physical control of a car can mean many things, including sleeping in the driver’s seat of your vehicle with the keys in the ignition.

According to 625 ILCS 5/ Illinois Vehicle Code, depending on the circumstances of an arrest, the driver faces either a misdemeanor or felony conviction on their permanent criminal record. However, misdemeanor DUIs are the most common type of conviction. If an officer stops a driver and completes a breathalyzer showing that the motorist is under the influence, they will arrest and charge the driver with a DUI.

The maximum allowable blood alcohol content, or BAC, for a driver over 21 years old is 0.08. Further, if the officer determines the driver is under the influence of an intoxicating compound, such as illegal or prescription drugs, they can place them under arrest.

Misdemeanor DUI Penalties

A first-time misdemeanor DUI conviction can lead to license revocation for one year, up to one year behind bars, and a maximum of $2,500 in fines plus court costs. There is no court-enforced minimum jail sentence after a first arrest. Unless aggravating factors are present, a second DUI arrest in Illinois is also a misdemeanor offense.

If a second conviction occurs within 20 years of the first DUI, the court will suspend the individual’s driver’s license for a minimum of five years. There is also a minimum jail sentence of five days or 240 hours of community service.

Zero-Tolerance Law for Underage Drivers in Misdemeanor DUI Cases

There is a zero-tolerance law in this state for underage drivers, meaning even a trace of alcohol can cause a misdemeanor DUI charge. An arrest will cause immediate severe consequences for young drivers after a DUI arrest.

If a driver under the legal drinking age receives a misdemeanor DUI in IL, they will automatically lose their driver’s license for a minimum of two years. A motorist under 18 with a DUI conviction must also complete a driver’s education course and retake the driving test to reinstate their license after the suspension period ends.

Potential Defenses Against Misdemeanor DUI Arrests

All drivers who fail breathalyzer testing must face DUI charges in this state. However, it is essential to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. Facing charges doesn’t mean there is no way to challenge the arrest. Some potential defenses for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs include:

  • The lack of probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle
  • Improper field sobriety tests, including breathalyzer inaccuracies
  • Violation of constitutional rights at a DUI sobriety checkpoint
  • Challenging the officer’s observation and testimony regarding the arrest.

There is no way to know for sure that a defense against a DUI arrest will cause the court to drop the charges. Yet, there are many options to consider. Our qualified misdemeanor Wolfe & Stec DUI lawyer would thoroughly investigate and review the arrest to collect the essential evidence needed to build a solid case in your defense.

Frequently Asked Questions About Misdemeanor DUI in Illinois

The following are some common questions our misdemeanor DUI lawyer hears from clients. These answers are general in some cases, because the answer depends on evaluating the specific circumstances of your case.

  • Is a DUI a misdemeanor in Illinois?

    Most DUIs in Illinois are misdemeanors, but you may face felony charges after multiple DUIs or if certain aggravating factors are at play. Contact our experienced DUI defense attorneys for help in sorting out your charges.

  • Do I need a lawyer if I am arrested for a misdemeanor DUI?

    Any criminal offense can negatively impact your life in the short and long term. In the case of a DUI, you face criminal charges and the potential loss of your driving privileges. An experienced misdemeanor DUI attorney can help you mount a defense against your charges.

  • Should I lie if a police officer asks if I’ve been drinking and driving?

    You should never lie to law enforcement, as it may cause additional problems. If you have been drinking, you can tell the officer you don’t want to answer any questions until your lawyer is present.

  • How much will my DUI cost?

    The exact monetary cost of a DUI depends on factors such as whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges and court costs. You will also have legal fees and could lose money from missing work if your license is suspended and you can’t secure transportation.

  • Should I even bother fighting my DUI charges?

    An experienced attorney can help fight your DUI charges if, for example, the officer did not have a reason to pull you over. They can also help negotiate your punishment in cases where the prosecutor has some leeway.

Why Choose Wolfe & Stec as Your Misdemeanor DUI Attorney?

The criminal court process is complex, and a guilty conviction will negatively affect your life and future. In most cases, you face driver’s license suspension and the costly automatic impounding of your vehicle following a DUI arrest.

If an officer arrests you under suspicion of driving under the influence, you must act quickly to protect your rights. It is never a wise decision to take on the criminal court system on your own. A skilled attorney understands the process and can help you navigate the DUI criminal court process.

At Wolfe & Stec, we approach your misdemeanor DUI arrest with the same commitment as any other crime, even those that lead to more serious consequences. Any criminal conviction can lead to problems in your school, home, and work lives, and it could mean harsher charges and more severe penalties down the road.

Schedule a Consultation With A Skilled Misdemeanor DUI Attorney

Hard-working and aggressive Wolfe & Stec lawyers understand the challenging time you are going through after an arrest for a misdemeanor DUI. Please know that you don’t have to face this difficult time alone. One of our skilled attorneys could make all the difference.

We will help you review all of your potential options and fight for you inside and outside the courtroom. If you need legal assistance, call 630-305-0222 today to schedule a consultation. The sooner you begin strategizing your defense, the better your chance of a favorable outcome.

Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]