In Illinois, like in all states, the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) convictions grow more severe with each repeat offense. Even first-time offenders can find their sanctions harsh since a first offense is charged as the most serious type of misdemeanor, but their penalties are much lighter than for second offenses. Anyone driving in Illinois should understand the basic rules set out in the laws against driving under the influence, including the punishments for second offenses.
Illinois Drunk Driving Laws
Many people call them "drunk driving" laws, but statutes outlawing driving under the influence can criminalize driving while using drugs as well as alcohol. Illinois statute 625 ILCS 5/11-501 covers either or both – it outlaws driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances and many types of drugs, legal and illegal, including marijuana. That means that, under Illinois DUI laws, a driver can be arrested for operating a motor vehicle under many different types of influences.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a violation of Illinois codes. First, a driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher (0.04 percent for commercial drivers) violates the statute. This is called a "per se" DUI, meaning "in and of itself." That is, once a driver is shown to have a BAC over the legal limit, no further proof of intoxication is required to convict them of a DUI.
It is also illegal for someone to drive under the influence of alcohol even without a BAC of 0.08 percent. A driver whose BAC is under the legal limit or who has not taken a chemical test to determine BAC can still be arrested and convicted of a DUI in Illinois if there is evidence establishing that their driving was impaired by alcohol.
Illinois Drugged Driving Laws
Drivers who have drugs in their system can also be arrested for a DUI in Illinois. This happen as a per se DUI, like with alcohol. For example, there is a legal limit for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active element in cannabis. A driver with a concentration of 5 nanograms or more in their blood, or 10 nanograms or more in another bodily substance, like urine, is guilty of a DUI in Illinois.
It is also possible to be found guilty of a cannabis DUI without meeting the legal limit if there is evidence that the person's driving was impaired by marijuana use or by the use of any other intoxicating compound or drug, or a combination of alcohol, drugs and intoxicating compounds.
The second type of per se drug DUI charge in Illinois involves controlled substances, defined and specified in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. If a person drives with any discernible amount of these drugs in their system, they are guilty of a DUI in Illinois. It is no defense to this per se violation that the driver was legally using the drugs as prescribed medications. While a prescription gives the individual the right to take a listed drug, it does not permit them to drive while using it.
Penalties for Second Offense DUI Convictions
Anyone who is stopped for a second DUI in Illinois needs information on the law and the penalties imposed by the state for this offense. First, a DUI in Illinois is considered a second DUI for administrative sanction purposes if the driver was convicted of one prior DUI in the preceding five years. That includes DUIs, DWIs and OWI convictions from other states.
If a period of five years has passed since a person's last DUI, the current DUI arrest is treated as a first DUI in the state of Illinois. However, criminal sanctions do not turn on the length of time between convictions.
What are the penalties for a second DUI conviction in Illinois? They include jail time or community service, fines and court costs, as well as driver's license suspension or revocation. The initial penalties are administrative license suspensions; criminal penalties apply once the driver is convicted after a trial or guilty plea.
Administrative Penalty Second Illinois DUI
Drivers who are suspected of DUI offenses are usually asked to take a chemical test. The breathalyzer is the primary means of testing for alcohol, while blood or urine testing is needed to determine drug use.
A driver who takes a test will fail it if they have an over-the-legal-limit amount of alcohol, THC, or any amount of controlled substances in their system. They will have their license suspended under the statutory summary suspension program. For a second offense, the suspension period is one year.
Likewise, a driver who refuses to take a chemical test will also be subject to a statutory summary suspension of their license. This is because, under the state's implied consent law, any driver in Illinois is deemed to have consented to chemical testing if stopped for a DUI. For a second offender, the suspension is for three years.
Timing for License Suspensions
The license suspension happens very quickly. It is automatic and goes into effect on the 46th day from the date of the suspension notice. The suspension notice happens on the day of the arrest, since the arresting officer confiscates the person's license at that time.
The driver is issued a receipt that serves as a temporary license for 45 days that allows the person an opportunity to request and attend a judicial hearing to challenge the arrest. The issues are limited to establishing the elements of the offense.
Second Offense Criminal Penalties
Administrative penalties for DUI offenses in Illinois are not take the place of criminal penalties; they are completely independent of them. The administrative suspensions apply regardless of whether the driver is charged with a DUI and regardless of whether they are convicted of a DUI.
Criminal penalties for second offenses include jail time. The second offense is a Class A misdemeanor and carries a mandatory minimum imprisonment of five days. That means that the judge must sentence a second offender to five or more days in jail or, as an alternative, to 240 hours of community service. The judge can also put the DUI offender on probation after the jail period for a total punishment period of one year.
A second offender can also get a fine of up to $2,500, plus court costs. Their driving privileges will be revoked for at least five years if the second offense occurred within 20 years of a first offense. If the subsequent DUI offense was committed while a child under the age of 16 was a passenger, or if they got in an accident and injured someone seriously or killed someone, the crime is upgraded to a felony for which the driver may spend several years in prison.
- Illinois Laws: 625 ILCS Section 5/11-501 Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol, Other Drug or Drugs
- CyberDrive Illinois: Illinois DUI Factbook 2021
- DUI Process: Illinois
- DUI Driving Law: Second DUI Offense in Illinois
- ILPMP: Controlled Substances
- Noll Law: What Happens When You Get a Second DUI in Illinois
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.