Illinois is one of the toughest states on drunk drivers. A DUI (driving under the influence) arrest will automatically cause your driver’s license to be suspended, and depending on your driving and/or criminal history, you could be faced with prison time. A DUI conviction, will cause your driver’s license to be revoked. What’s more, a DUI stays on your record forever. You may lose work time, and you will be required to complete an alcohol/drug evaluation and an alcohol/drug remedial education course or substance abuse treatment program before your driving privileges are reinstated.

Each state has its own laws and penalties regarding DUI. Experienced Central Illinois DUI attorneys like James P. LeFante of LeFante Law Offices, P.C. know the intricacies of the current DUI laws and have the knowledge and expertise to create a compelling defense for first-time and repeat DUI offenders.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI offense, you need the representation of an aggressive, experienced criminal defense attorney like James P. LeFante. Over the last two decades, we have helped hundreds of drivers charged with DUI. We have successfully defended individuals with multiple DUIs – four or five offenses – in which hard prison time is the punishment. Fortunately, most drivers charged with DUI learn from their mistake and make sure it never happens again.

Understanding the DUI Process

The DUI process begins the moment a police officer suspects impaired driving, usually after observing a traffic violation or responding to an accident. If an officer suspects a driver is intoxicated, he/she will ask the driver to perform a series of standard field sobriety tests. You should know that the driver has the right to refuse to take these field sobriety tests. The driver may also be asked to take a portable breath test, which again he/she can refuse. (A portable breath test is not admissible in a criminal court case but is generally admissible in a civil court case.)

Once the driver is placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and taken to the police station, he/she is asked to take a breathalyzer test, which measures blood-alcohol concentration. Breathalyzer results are admissible at trial provided the police officer followed the proper procedures. You can also refuse to take this test. If your blood-alcohol concentration is .08 or greater, you will be charged with DUI. Generally, the driver is released on bond and given a court date, as well as notice that his/her driver’s license will be suspended.

In general, for first-time offenders, the suspension is for six months if the blood-alcohol concentration is .08 or greater, or a year if the driver refused to take a breathalyzer test. If the driver is not a first-time offender, the suspension period is one year if the blood-alcohol concentration is .08 or greater, or three years if the driver refused a breathalyzer test. Drivers under the age of 21 must have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0. Any concentration over 0 will result in an arrest and driver’s license suspension.

If the driver is a first-time offender, he/she may be able to apply for a MDDP (monitoring device driving permit) to drive. If granted, a device called a BAID (Breath Alcohol Ignition Device) that measures the blood-alcohol concentration of the driver is installed in the driver’s vehicle.

DUI Proceedings

A DUI charge is a criminal charge. At court, the driver will appear in front of a judge and will be advised of the charge against him or her. With the advice of an attorney, the driver will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. This process generally takes one to three court appearances. If the driver pleads guilty, his/her attorney will negotiate a sentence, which usually includes fines, fees and alcohol education classes and treatment. If the individual pleads not guilty, there will be a trial in front of a judge or jury. At trial, the state will call their witnesses, usually the arresting officer. The driver then has the opportunity to present his/her evidence. The prosecutor and the driver’s attorney will then make arguments to the judge or jury; at the conclusion of the trial, a verdict of guilty or not guilty will be rendered.

If the finding is not guilty, the driver will be discharged without consequence. If the verdict is guilty, however, a sentencing hearing will be held in which factors such as the driver’s previous criminal and traffic record are considered. In general, for first-time convictions, a DUI is Class A Misdemeanor, resulting in a one-year revocation of driving privileges (two years if under 21 years of age) and suspension of vehicle registration.

Penalties are much harsher for repeat offenders, with revocation of driving privileges for five years for drivers found guilty of a second DUI within 20 years of the first and mandatory minimum imprisonment of five days or 240 hours of community service. Subsequent DUI convictions are even stricter, with drivers losing lifetime driving privileges if convicted of four or more DUIs.

Have you or someone you know been arrested for a DUI? You need representation immediately! Don’t talk to the police. Talk to experienced criminal defense attorney James P. LeFante.

Contact the Peoria DUI defense lawyer at LeFante Law Offices at 309-999-1111. Or contact us electronically using this online form.


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