Illinois DUI Law – II – The Consequences

We are back to the analysis of Illinois DUI law…and now we are on to the Consequences.

This is important to understand, because there are a lot of misconceptions about DUI’s and the penalties that you face with them.

There are two types of penalties that you face from DUI’s, civil and criminal. Criminal penalties range from community service to fines to jail or prison time. Civil penalties are “administrative” penalties..i.e. losing your license.

First, the criminal penalties. As noted before, although DUI is not in the “criminal code” or section 720 of the Illinois for criminal code. It is in section 625 for vehicles, specifically 625 ILCS 5/100 et. al . Here you will find the definitions of, penalties for…and incoherently long and poorly written legislation regarding the application of, the DUI laws in Illinois.

It should be noted that smarter lawyers than myself have done the hard work of appealing DUI penalties based on the fact that there are six (6!) versions of the same law all competing with each other in that section. The updates, penalties, additions and such contradict one another. According to Illinois law, when the legislature makes a mistake like that, the last published Act controls. Therefore, there are judges who think that some penalties exist that are actually harsher than the ones that should. Consult with your lawyer to make sure you understand the issues here.

It should also be noted that the DUI law was cleaned up by the Legislature and as of June, 2008, this year, there are new penalties, and new standards. This is going to confuse judges and lawyers for a while, so kick them in the butt if they don’t know about this change.

From here on in I am discussing the NEW 2008 DUI laws, not the old ones. If you were charged PRIOR to June 1, 2008, THESE DO NOT APPLY TO YOU.

Your first DUI is sort of a gimme. It is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Usually, a first time DUI offender will NOT receive jail time but they will get the maximum fine. Even with a cheap DUI lawyer, your total bill for a first time DUI will run you, on average, $4000 in total fines, fees, and legal bills. You will also be ordered to take classes to make you address your drinking problem. Generally, you will receive supervision, maybe probation if you have a criminal background. Supervision is the best outcome for you, so try not to blow it by getting in trouble again.

The second DUI now carries a mandatory 5 days in jail, or 240 hours of community service. To be honest, if you thought you could do it, I might recommend the jail time. That amount of community service (30 days of 8 hours a day) is likely to be a onerous burden that you might have a hard time meeting. And if you don’t, you may be ordered to serve jail time anyway for failure to comply. Fines remain the same but they will probably be towards the higher end of the maximum amount allowed.

The third DUI is where the law changes significantly. What used to be a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1-3 years in prison, is now a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3-7 years in prison. Maximum fine up to $25,000. This is serious. And far beyond what your third DUI used to be. Probation is available at this level, and you might get it, especially if your convictions are far apart and it looks like you’re trying to fight your alcoholism. If they’re within 5 years of each other though, I predict you do prison time.

Fourth DUI, non-probational Class 2. This means you HAVE to go prison. For 3 years, with day-for-day good time (plus the 6 months they shave off the top) means you only do 2. Same fines, etc.

Fifth DUI, non-probational Class 2, with the upper limit stretched to 15 years.

Sixth or subsequent DUI, Class X felony, 6-30 years, non-probational. Since I’ve had clients with over five DUI’s, this is a helluva penalty.


There are two enhancements to the new law that are also important.

First, if you’re transporting a child under 16, you are subject to 6 months in prison (although if it’s your first or second time, you’re already subject to this penalty), and a minimum $1000 fine (which you were already going anyway).

Second enhancement, and the one most likely to affect you, is the conviction with a BAC over .16. If there was ever a reason NOT to blow, which has already been laid out for you, then this is even more of one. If you blow over a .16 (double the legal limit), you are subject to an additional $500 fine on your first DUI, a $1,250 on your second, $2,500 on your third, $5,000 on your fourth, fifth and sixth DUI. Also, on your second DUI, you get a mandatory 2 days in jail. Basically, they’re punishing you for being more drunk than other offenders. But THEY CANNOT SENTENCE YOU TO THESE ADDITIONAL PUNISHMENTS IF YOU DO NOT BLOW!

There are other wrinkles (for instance, driving a school bus drunk) that are of incredibly limited application to the general public, but keep it safe to say, the punishments have gotten harsher, the fines bigger, and the mandatory minimums worse than ever.

You, the Illinois DUI defendant, have got an uphill battle.

Read Part 1 HERE


3 responses to “Illinois DUI Law – II – The Consequences

  1. Why doesn’t the legislature reverse the onus? If an officer reasonably believes that you are incapable the presumption then exists, however you may request a breath or blood test to prove you are not intoxicated.

  2. Pingback: Illinois DUI Law - III - Motions to Suppress or the Pre-Emptive Strike « 26th St. Bar Association

  3. Pingback: Illinois DUI Laws IV - The Automatic Felony DUI « 26th St. Bar Association

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