Illinois DUI Laws

Illinois DUI Laws

by Corie Lynn Rosen, December 2009

If you are arrested for a DUI in Illinois, it is important to understand the state's DUI laws, proceedings, and punishments. A DUI arrestee in Illinois will almost always be asked to submit to blood alcohol testing. This testing is done by breath, blood, or urine, and will inform the arresting officer and the case's assigned judge as to the exact level of intoxication.

Illinois adopts the implied consent theory, meaning that a person who chooses to drive a car in Illinois has given his or her implicit consent to be tested for drugs and alcohol if pulled over by an officer with probable cause to suspect driving under the influence. It is worth noting that in Illinois, an arrestee does not have the right to make a choice as to the form of testing. The arresting officer has the authority to select the test that he or she thinks is most appropriate to the case at hand. Some local jurisdictions may offer the arrestee the opportunity to select the test of his choice, but law enforcement is not obligated to do so.

In assessing the results of a blood alcohol test, the state of Illinois looks at a range of possible blood alcohol level results and assigns varying penalties depending on level of intoxication. A person whose results show a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher or the presence of illegal intoxicants will be charged with a DUI and his or her license will be automatically suspended. If a person does not meet the .08 percent blood alcohol level, he or she may still be charged with a DUI. Some people are heavily impaired, even when the blood alcohol levels are below .08 percent. If a person is charged with DUI but his or her blood alcohol tests do not hit the .08 percent or higher intoxication level, his or her license may not be subject to immediate suspension.

Illinois law requires that the arresting officer observe the arrestee driving the vehicle at the time of the arrest. Unlike some states, which find that the mere ability to control the vehicle is sufficient for DUI, Illinois requires the arrestee to have actually driven the car. This means that a drunk person sleeping behind the wheel of his or her parked car will not likely be charged with DUI.

Illinois has very stringent DUI policies with respect to minor drivers. For DUI purposes, anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 is considered a minor. Minor DUI convictions are based on blood alcohol content. Anyone with between .01 percent and .08 percent blood alcohol will be convicted of a DUI and his or her license will be suspended for a minimum of three months. Any minor with a blood alcohol level above .08 percent will have his or her license suspended for a minimum of two years.

Adult offenders will not find the Illinois laws any softer. A first offense carries with it a minimum one-year license suspension, a fine of up to $2,500, and up to one year in prison. A second offense carries a minimum license suspension of five years, five days in jail or 30 days of community service, a fine of up to $2,500, and up to one year in prison. A third offense is a class four felony in Illinois and results in even harsher penalties, including but not limited to loss of driving privileges for a minimum of six years, imprisonment for up to three years, and a fine of up to $10,000.