With the holiday season upon us, holiday parties will most certainly be on everyone’s calendar. While you are enjoying a night out with friends and family you must remember the importance of driving responsibly. Arrests for driving under the influence are extremely prevalent around the holidays. Police are on high alert for drivers who may be driving over the legal limit. If you find yourself arrested for a DUI here are some important factors to consider.
If it is your first offense, you can attempt to have the charges dismissed or reduced. If the State is not willing to dismiss or reduce the charges and you should then request court supervision. First time DUI offenders in Illinois are entitled to court supervision. Court supervision will allow you to avoid having your license revoked and having a conviction placed on your record. Court supervision comes with several conditions such as fines, an alcohol evaluation, Victim Impact Panel, and community service. When you complete the requirements of supervision the case will usually be dismissed after approximately twelve months.
If it is your second or more DUI, the situation is much more complicated. First, you are not eligible for court supervision. Also a revocation of your license is guaranteed upon a conviction. There is also the possibility of jail time although many courts will agree to extensive community service in lieu of jail time. Finally, if this is your third DUI it is considered a felony.
Aside from a conviction for driving under the influence, you also have to worry about a statutory summary suspension of your license. In Illinois, when you are pulled over for suspected DUI the officer will request that you submit to a chemical test, usually a breathalyzer. If you refuse to submit or if you submit and have over .08 BAC, your license will be suspended. If you have not more than one DUI in a five year period and your BAC is over .08 your license is suspended for six months. However, if you refuse to submit to the test your license will be suspended for one year.
It is important to understand that although the consequence of refusing to submit to a breath test is a longer statutory suspension, submitting and testing over the legal limit provides the prosecution with irrefutable evidence of your guilt. It is difficult to argue against test results that demonstrate your level of intoxication. Either suspension period automatically starts 45 days after your arrest.
When your license is suspended under statutory summary suspension you are entitled to hearing, despite the suspension automatically starting 45 days after the arrest. You are permitted to file a Petition for a Hearing within 90 days of your arrest. If you do not file the Petition within 90 days, your right to a hearing is considered waived. Once the Petition is filed the State is required to set the hearing within 30 days or the suspension will be dismissed.
At a statutory summary suspension hearing you can challenge the following:
This is only a brief overview of what you will experience as a result of being arrested for driving under the influence. The best advice is to avoid being in this situation all together. When you go out for a drink this holiday season, have a designated driver or call a cab to ensure your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road.
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