Illinois considers driving under the influence to be over the legal drinking limit and driving. However, alcohol isn’t the only that can lead to an under the influence arrest; you can also be pulled over and charged with using drugs, legal or illegal, which impair your ability to drive.
In any event, most cases involve drinking in Illinois, but if you are considered impaired by any amount of an illegal substance or a medication, you can also be charged. In order to understand what Illinois DUI laws mean to you, you also need to know why driving while impaired is so dangerous.
Why It’s Dangerous
By drinking or using drugs you are endangering others on the road, not to mention yourself. Some think current DUI penalties nationwide are too strict, while still more feel danger presented by drunk drivers is cause for even stricter penalties. A recent study pointed out that you are over 40 percent more likely to be in an accident while driving impaired. It also makes sense that the more you drink or the more drugs you take, the higher this number gets. The state laws are a result of thousands of impaired driving related deaths, whether it’s being involved in an accident because you or a loved one ran a stop sign, or hitting a pedestrian. DUI is a leading cause of death in all 50 states, Illinois included.
Recent studies have illuminated statistics involving DUI. The average offender is mostly male, averaging about he age of 34 with most drivers being below 35, is arrested later in the day from 11 pm to 4 am, and is quite often far above the legal driving limit, averaging a .16% level of intoxication. These numbers can be scary, especially that the majority of drivers are twice the legal limit. This is why the laws are the way they are.
The Illinois DUI Laws You Need to Know
The Illinois DUI laws are very similar to laws of other states. Some use the term DWI (driving while impaired) and others like Wisconsin consider it a OWI (operating while impaired). These are just different terms addressing the same problem: abusing drugs or alcohol and driving.
Even first time offenders get stiff penalties. It’s very common for multiple offenders to spend considerable time in prison. First time offenders face up to 1 year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, a minimum license suspension of 1 year, and if a minor is in the car, these penalties are greater.
The further you go in this process the more likely you’ll get a felony. Multiple offenders, drivers who are far over the limit, those who endanger minors (children under 16), and those who hurt others can face felony charges, sometimes called an aggravated DUI. Most DUI charges come with a misdemeanor, but in some cases felony charges can come.
How do you fight the charges?
The problem with defending an Illinois DUI charge is very common – how can you prove you were not drinking or abusing drugs and driving? How can you prove the officer, the breathalyzer, and the blood tests are wrong? It will cost a lot of time and money just to fight the charges. That does not mean you avoid hiring an Illinois DUI lawyer to plead your case. If you have no representation, you are at the mercy of a judge who sees cases like yours every day. Professional counsel is a must.