Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more through the most commonly asked questions and how Andy Sotiropoulos is the best choice for your legal defense.
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What is the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in Illinois?
In Illinois, the legal BAC limit is 0.08% for drivers over the age of 21. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04%, and for drivers under 21, any detectable amount of alcohol is illegal.
How does Illinois law define driving under the influence (DUI)?
Illinois law defines DUI as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or an intoxicating compound to a degree that renders the driver unable to drive safely.
What are the penalties for a first-time DUI offense in Illinois?
Penalties can include up to one year in jail, fines of up to $2,500, driver’s license suspension, and mandatory attendance in a DUI education program.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer test in Chicago, and what are the consequences?
Yes, you can refuse a breathalyzer test, but it will result in an automatic license suspension under Illinois's implied consent law, regardless of whether you are later found guilty of DUI.
What is Illinois's law on DUI checkpoints? Are they legal in Chicago?
Yes, DUI checkpoints are legal in Illinois, including Chicago, as long as they are conducted in a manner that meets certain legal requirements such as neutrality in stopping vehicles.
How long does a DUI conviction stay on my record in Illinois?
A DUI conviction remains on your driving record permanently in Illinois.
What are the implications of a DUI charge for my Illinois driver's license?
A DUI charge can lead to the suspension or revocation of your driver's license, with the duration depending on the number of prior offenses and the specifics of the case.
Are there special DUI laws for commercial drivers in Illinois?
Yes, commercial drivers are subject to stricter BAC limits and penalties, as a DUI can result in the loss of commercial driving privileges.
What is the difference between DUI and DWI in the context of Illinois law?
In Illinois, the term DUI is used exclusively. Other states may use DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) to refer to similar offenses, but Illinois does not differentiate between the two.
Can I be charged with a DUI in Illinois if I'm under the influence of prescription drugs?
Yes, if prescription drugs impair your ability to drive safely, you can be charged with a DUI.
What is a Statutory Summary Suspension in Illinois DUI cases?
This is an automatic administrative suspension of a driver's license after a DUI arrest for failing or refusing to undergo chemical testing.
How does the Illinois DUI process work from arrest to court?
After arrest, you’ll likely face administrative penalties like license suspension, then criminal proceedings, which involve arraignment, pre-trial motions, potential trial, and sentencing.
What is an Aggravated DUI, and how is it treated differently in Illinois?
An Aggravated DUI is a felony offense in Illinois, which can occur under various circumstances, such as multiple DUI offenses, DUI without a valid license, or DUI resulting in death or great bodily harm.
Can I fight my DUI charge in Illinois without an attorney?
While you have the right to represent yourself, DUI law is complex, and the consequences of a conviction are serious. It is highly advised to seek representation from a qualified DUI attorney.
What defense strategies are commonly used in Illinois DUI cases?
Common defenses include challenging the validity of the traffic stop, accuracy of breathalyzer tests, proper administration of field sobriety tests, and questioning whether the driver's abilities were truly impaired.
How does Illinois law handle DUI cases involving accidents and injuries?
DUI cases involving injuries are typically charged as felonies and can result in severe penalties, including longer jail sentences, higher fines, and extended license suspensions.
What are the costs associated with a DUI conviction in Illinois?
Costs can include court fines, legal fees, increased insurance rates, driver's license reinstatement fees, and costs associated with alcohol education programs.
Is it possible to get a DUI expunged from my record in Illinois?
DUI convictions are not eligible for expungement in Illinois. However, in some cases, arrest records may be sealed if the DUI did not result in a conviction.
What should I do immediately after being arrested for a DUI in Chicago?
Exercise your right to remain silent, comply with the officer's requests without admitting guilt, and contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.
How can I restore my driving privileges after a DUI in Illinois?
You may apply for a restricted driving permit during suspension, followed by a full reinstatement after the suspension period, which often requires a hearing with the Secretary of State's office and meeting certain conditions.
What should I do first?
Unquestionably hire a qualified attorney to handle your matter. Immediately. As soon as you can. If there is ONE bit of advice I can give someone facing a DUI charge in Illinois, it's this. Mainly because there are things an attorney could do very early on to help win your case and/or rescind your suspension that may not be available or as useful at a later time. Things like filing a petition to rescind, issuing a subpoena to preserve and produce evidence, demanding trial, filing civil discovery motions in the summary suspension matter, etc...Time is definitely not on your side in a DUI case.
What is Court Supervision?
Court Supervision is a sentencing alternative in Illinois that avoids the harsh consequences of a conviction. For example, Illinois law says that a conviction on a DUI charge revokes your driving privileges. Supervision allows you to avoid that conviction as well as the timely and costly reinstatement process. If you're a first offender in Illinois you're eligible for court supervision on a DUI after a finding or plea of guilty. Typically, if you pay certain court fees & fines, complete the recommended alcohol treatment, attend a Victim Impact Panel, and do not pick up any new cases during the specified time (usually 1-2 years), you will satisfactorily complete the terms of your supervision and avoid a conviction. There may be other conditions a court will add, but the above are typical.
I plead guilty to a DUI more than five years ago but I just received notice of my suspension on this new case and it indicates I'm a first offender. How is that possible?
"First offender" is measured in five year increments for Statutory Summary Suspension purposes. In other words, the Secretary of State looks back five years to see if you've had another occurrence. If not, you're a first offender with respect to the summary suspension issue.For the DUI portion of the case, first offender is measured over your entire lifetime. If you've had a previous DUI disposition in your lifetime (even a reduction to reckless driving), you're a repeat offender for DUI purposes and therefore ineligible for court supervision.
What's the difference between a suspension and a revocation?
A suspension is for a set, definite period of time. In a statutory summary suspension you have to pay a reinstatement fee at the end of that time period in order to lift the suspension.A revocation, on the other hand, is for an indefinite period of time. In the case of a revoked Illinois driver, the motorist must go through the Secretary of State hearing process to get driving privileges reinstated.
I wasn't read my Miranda rights. Will my case get thrown out?
Unlikely.While "Miranda" is an important constitutional protection in criminal cases, it pertains only to statements you made that may be used against you. Very rarely are statements an important issue in a DUI case. Rather, chemical test results and field sobriety tests are the usual "meat and potatoes" of a states case in a DUI prosecution. Furthermore, the remedy for a Miranda violation is to throw out the statements, not dismiss the case..
I received two DUI tickets. Why?
Typically, one DUI ticket is based on a chemical test result and the other on the officers observations. Even though you can be found guilty of both, you can only be sentenced on one.
Can I drive after my arrest?
Yes, assuming your driving privileges are otherwise clear. Your Statutory Summary Suspension doesn't typically take effect until 46 days after your arrest. As such, you can drive in the interim with your Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension serving as a receipt to drive. It even says so on the back of the notice.
I wasn't driving, I was asleep in the back seat of my car, yet I was charged with DUI anyway. How is that possible?
Unfortunately for you, one does not have to be physically driving an automobile in order to be charged with DUI in Illinois. Being in "actual physical control" of the vehicle is enough. This basically means being inside the vehicle with the capability of starting it and driving away. If your car keys are in your pocket, or somewhere readily accessible to you in the car, that's enough to constitute "actual physical control." So no, "sleeping it off" is not a defense.
Do I have to appear in court?
Yes. Unlike some other states, in Illinois you have to appear for every court date unless excused by a judge. If you fail to appear, the judge may revoke your bond and issue a warrant for your arrest.
What is an Alcohol & Drug Evaluation and why do I need it?
In Illinois, an "evaluation" is needed before a DUI sentence can be imposed. It's basically a report which assesses your likelihood of offending and what type of risk you pose to others on the roadways of Illinois. Judges use it as a guide to assist them in imposing sentence.
I've been arrested for DUI. What happens next?
In a typical DUI, you're taken to the police station and asked to submit to a chemical test. Prior to the test you should be read WARNINGS TO MOTORIST, an advisement of the consequences of submitting or refusing a chemical test. After a minimum 20 minute observation period, you will either submit to or refuse a chemical test. The officer will then complete a LAW ENFORCEMENT SWORN REPORT including information on the results of your chemical test or refusal and send it to the Illinois Secretary of State sometime later. A carbon copy of that report entitled NOTICE OF STATUTORY SUMMARY SUSPENSION will be given to you once you leave the police station, and act as your receipt to drive (details are on back of this report) for the next 45 days. In the interim, the police officer will issue you relevant TRAFFIC CITATIONS. If your car has been towed, you will also be issued a NOTICE OF IMPOUNDMENT. You will then be released after posting a cash or signature BOND. (In felony cases a bond hearing will be held the next day).

You should have the following documents in your possession once you leave the police station and/or are otherwise released:
+ Traffic tickets
+ Warnings to Motorist
+ Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension
+ Bond slip
+ Notice of Impoundment (if applicable)

After being released you should secure the release of your vehicle from the auto pound, if it has been towed. Storage fees can accumulate quickly and become very costly.

You can always contest the impoundment of your vehicle at a hearing (hearing info should be contained on your notice of impoundment), but you want the vehicle released as soon as possible because you will be afforded relief only on the impoundment fee imposed by the arresting municipality, not the towing and storage fees. As a practical matter, these impoundment hearings are very difficult to prevail at, for a variety of reasons.

If your vehicle has not been impounded, the very first thing you should do is HIRE A QUALIFIED AND COMPETENT ATTORNEY. Time is always of the essence in DUI cases. There are things an attorney can do for you immediately following your arrest to protect your legal rights, driving privileges and liberty that may not be possible at a later date.

The first thing your attorney should do is file a PETITION TO RESCIND STATUTORY SUMMARY SUSPENSION requesting a hearing to contest the suspension of your driving privileges. This hearing may or may not be held on your first court date which is typically an arraignment date for you to enter a plea. As a practical matter, most misdemeanor courts bypass the arraignment process, as it's assumed you're pleading not guilty. On this first court date, the prosecutor typically tenders discovery to your attorney. Discovery is simply a court process by which the state tenders to defense counsel all evidence it intends to use against you, as well as any exculpatory evidence in its possession. This evidence typically includes police reports, videos, chemical test results, suspension documentation, etc... In felony cases, your attorney is obligated to reciprocate.

In the interim, the Secretary of State will send you a CONFIRMATION OF STATUTORY SUMMARY SUSPENSION notice advising you of the exact term of your suspension, as well as information regarding how to obtain a MONITORING DEVICE DRIVING PERMIT (MDDP).

If you prevail at the suspension hearing, the judge will issue an order to the Secretary State rescinding your suspension. The Secretary of State will then send you a notice advising you of such.If you do not prevail at hearing, you can still obtain a MDDP (assuming you're a first offender) after having a BREATH ALCOHOL INTERLOCK DRIVING DEVICE (BAIDD) device installed in your vehicle. This permit will allow you to drive 24 hours a day during the term of your suspension. Once your suspension terminates, you can have your driving privileges restored by paying a reinstatement fee (assuming your driving privileges are otherwise valid).

If the matter proceeds to TRIAL and you're found NOT GUILTY, no further action can be taken by the Secretary of State with respect to your driving privileges (assuming you're not found guilty of any other driving offenses). Nor can any criminal DUI penalty be imposed by the court-you've been exonerated.

If you're found guilty or plead guilty, the matter will proceed to sentencing. The court will require an ALCOHOL & DRUG EVALUATION before it sentences you. Sentencing can range from court supervision to conditional discharge, probation and/or jail time/imprisonment. Various conditions may also apply to each sentence, including but not limited to alcohol/drug treatment, fines, Victim Impact Panel attendance, random urine drops, restitution, and/or confinement (jail/prison/rehab). The Secretary of State will also enter a conviction on your driving record and revoke your driving privileges, unless you've received court supervision.

The above is what happens in a typical DUI case but obviously does not cover every possible scenario.

Still have questions?

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