Illinois law makes it illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The state considers a driving under the influence (DUI) offense to be a violent crime and, because of that, it never drops off of a person's driving record. The penalties for a DUI vary depending on the driver's record of previous DUI convictions. A third DUI offense is a felony in Illinois that carries mandatory prison time as well as fines and license revocation.
DUI Laws in Illinois
In the state of Illinois, it is a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs or to be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence. The crime is called a DUI and it can be committed in a number of ways, as laid out in the Illinois statute. That is, an individual can be charged with a DUI in any of these circumstances:
- They have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher.
- They have 5 nanograms or more of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) per milliliter of blood in their system or 10 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of another bodily substance.
- They have any amount of a controlled substance in their blood, urine or other bodily substance.
- Other evidence (like witness testimony) shows that the person was under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving.
Implied Consent and Chemical Testing
The first three types of DUI charges listed above rely on chemical testing to establish the presence and amount of alcohol or drugs in the person's system. In Illinois, a breath test (the well-known breathalyzer) is the most common test for alcohol, while drugs in the system must be established by blood or urine testing. The driver may not wish to take a chemical test but, in Illinois, refusal comes with a price.
Under the state's implied consent law, all drivers in Illinois are deemed to consent to chemical testing as part of a DUI arrest. If they refuse to take a chemical test, they automatically lose their driving privileges. It's kind of a no-win situation for a driver under the influence, because if they agree to testing and test over the legal limit, they also are subject to an automatic license suspension.
This is in addition to any criminal penalties and totally independent of the criminal case. Whether or not the case goes to trial, whether or not they are found guilty, the administrative penalties still apply.
Statutory Summary Suspension
Administrative penalties for refusing or failing a chemical test apply automatically. That is, the police officer arresting the person confiscates their driver's license if they refuse to take a demanded test or if they fail the test. The driver is given a receipt that allows them to drive for 45 days, during which period they can appeal the penalties to the court if they believe they can show that they didn't refuse or fail the test. If they win, the administrative penalties are withdrawn.
On the 46th day, the temporary license expires and the suspension begins. This is called a statutory summary suspension. A driver who refuses to take a chemical test when arrested for a DUI in Illinois is given a 12-month license suspension for a first offense and a three-year license suspension for a second or third offense. A driver who takes and fails a chemical test gets a six-month suspension for a first offense and a one-year suspension for a second or third offense.
Criminal Penalties for a Third DUI
With each subsequent DUI offense, the Illinois DUI criminal penalties increase. First and second DUIs are misdemeanor crimes in Illinois, the lesser type of crime. Misdemeanor jail time is capped at one year. A third DUI conviction, however, is a class 2 felony, the more serious type of crime.
Convictions for felony offenses stay on a person's criminal record and can negatively impact their lives, preventing them from working in certain jobs, owning guns and even limiting their rental options. Imprisonment penalties for a felony can exceed one year.
If a person is convicted of a third DUI in Illinois, a minimum jail sentence applies. The judge may sentence the driver to three to seven years in prison for a regular DUI; seven to 14 years if aggravating factors are present. The minimum imprisonment period is 10 days. If the person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.16 percent or higher, the minimum sentence is 90 days in jail.
Fines and License Suspensions for a Third DUI
In addition to jail time, a person convicted of a third DUI in Illinois will face fines of up to $2,500. If the DUI driver had a passenger in the car who was under the age of 16 years, the maximum fine can be up to $25,000.
Finally, a third conviction for DUI results in a 10-year license suspension. This is said to be in addition to any administrative suspension, but the time the license was summarily suspended is credited toward the 10-year suspension.
After the 10-year suspension, the driver must apply for a restricted driving permit (RDP). This is a type of driver's license that cannot be used for going out for entertainment. It allows the driver to do essential driving only, like going to work, to school, to medical appointments, and to attend any alcohol or drug treatment. They must drive with an RDP for a continuous period of at least five years before they can reapply for a regular license.
Ignition Interlock Devices
To get an RDP, the driver has to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in every vehicle they own. An IID is a type of breathalyzer that is attached to the car. Before the car will start, the driver must blow into the IID, and their breath must be free of alcohol. Installation and maintenance of an IID costs the driver money, and they must also pay $30 for each month the IID is used.
Alcohol and Drug Evaluation in Illinois
Additionally, all DUI offenders in Illinois must attend and complete an alcohol and drug evaluation to determine if a substance abuse problem exists. The defendant must complete any treatment recommended after the evaluation. DUI offenders might also be required to attend a victim impact panel (VIP) and are generally responsible for all fees associated with the substance abuse treatment and the VIP.
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.