The number one concern most individuals have when they are arrested for DUI are the potential ramifications. In Illinois most first offense DUIs are charged as misdemeanor offenses. However, exceptions exist if the motorist causes death or serious injury, does not have a valid driver’s license, is operating a motor vehicle for hire etc. (See 625 ILCS 5/11-501(d) for a list of factors which may cause a first offense DUI to be upgraded to a felony).
Assuming the offense is charged as a class A misdemeanor the maximum penalty is 364 days in jail and the maximum fine is $2,500 not including mandatory Court costs. The most lenient sentence a Judge may impose on a first offense misdemeanor DUI is Court supervision. Court supervision is not considered a conviction on the defendant’s record and will not cause the defendant to lose his driving privileges. If the defendant complies with the terms of his supervision the charges will eventually be dismissed without adjudication of guilt pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.1(e)(f).
By statute a Judge is not permitted to sentence an individual on a DUI charge unless the individual has completed a mandatory drug and alcohol evaluation. The evaluation is supposed to rate the degree of risk as to whether the defendant will be re-arrested for DUI. The risk levels are labeled as: Minimal, Moderate, Significant and High. The defendant will likely be required to complete a certain amount of hours of alcohol classes which will be dependent upon the results of the risk assessment at his evaluation (generally 10-75 hours). A Judge may also impose community service and is statutorily required to if the defendant blew above .16. In my experience mandatory Court costs and fees generally run between $1,000-$2,500 and vary depending on the jurisdiction where the motorist is arrested. Any fines that are imposed are added to the fees and costs. It is also common that the defendant will be required to attend a one-time live victim impact panel.
In addition to the criminal penalties most first offense DUIs carry a 6 or 12 month statutory summary suspension. In some cases the suspension can be challenged and rescinded in Court. However, if the summary suspension is not rescinded most defendants will have the option to drive legally during the suspension provided that they apply and are issued a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (“MDDP”) which allows defendants to drive 24/7 for any purpose provided the vehicle they are driving is equipped with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID).
Every case is unique and the penalties for a first DUI offense is not a one size fits all proposition. However, the information in this article should give the reader a general idea of what to expect when facing an Illinois first offense DUI charge.