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DUI Questions and Answers

What is DUI?


A: "DUI" refers to that section in the Illinois Vehicle Code located at 625 ILCS 5/11-501, et. seq., which makes it a crime to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, or any other drug, which renders one incapable of safely driving.


Q: What are the potential consequences of a DUI?


A: If a person is charged as a misdemeanor, one could be sentenced to up to 364 days in jail, a $2,500.00 fine or both. One could be sentenced to probation or court supervision.  A Judge may require you to attend Victim Impact Programs, be evaluated and complete any alcohol counseling required, perform community service. If charged as a felony, all of the above consequences may attach, but there may be a period of imprisonment in the Illinois Department of corrections.


Q: Will my driver's license be suspended?


A: Yes. Because of the "Implied Consent" law and statute, your driver's license could be suspended for 6 months to two years depending on the breathalyzer and your previous driving record. (See 625 ILCS 5/11-501 & 625 ILCS 5/6-208.1) "Implied consent" refers to your agreement to take a breathalyzer, when requested by the police, while driving on a public roadway. 


Q: Has DUI law recently changed?


A: Yes, major changes have been enacted by the Illinois Legislature that alters the Judicial Driving Permits.  Individuals are now required to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed on their vehicle if the wish to drive during the pendency of the summary suspension.  Individuals now must  apply for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP).  These new enactments can significantly increase the costs for a person charged with a DUI.


Q: What is a "statutory summary suspension"?


A: The law requires that your privilege to drive is summarily suspended following your failure or refusal to take a breath test, until the expiration of the time set by law. This suspension goes into effect on the 46th day after one's arrest.


Q: Can one avoid a statutory summary suspension?


A: Yes, by winning a Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension.  You must file a Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension


Q: What is meant by "the hard thirty days"?


A: That even if you get a MDDP, you still cannot drive for the first thirty days after the 46th day, after the arrest.


Q: What is a summary suspension hearing?


A: A Judge hears the evidence to determine if the Police complied with the law.  There are four grounds to contest the suspension. This is an opportunity to cross-examine the police officer.


Q: How is a summary suspension hearing different from a trial?


A: At a Petition to Rescind the Summary Suspension Hearing, the defendant has the burden of proof. It's easier for the State to win a statutory suspension hearing, and there cannot be a jury. But, there are tactical reasons for doing hearings.


Q: What is meant by a "motion to quash" hearing?


A: Similar to a petition to rescind hearing, this is an opportunity to "quash" or suppress certain evidence from a subsequent trial. This can provide other tactical advantages for the defense.


Q: How is the motion to quash hearing different from a summary suspension hearing or a trial?


A: The issues are very similar, however, the inquiry as to probable cause stops at the time of the arrest.


Q: What is meant by "implied consent"?


A: Found at 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1, the law says that if you drive, you allow the government to take a blood, breath or urine sample to determine alcohol content. Failure to submit to these samples results in loss of one's driving privileges.


Q: What is the legal limit for blood/alcohol content in Illinois?


A: 0.08% alcohol concentration in the blood.


Q: What kinds of things are the police looking for when they are on DUI patrol?


A: Simply stated, they're looking for unusual driving, such as weaving, speeding, wide turns, quick stops and dozens of other inappropriate driving patterns.


Q: After the police make a traffic stop, what behaviors are they looking for in the driver of a motor vehicle?


A: They will ask you for your driver's license and proof of insurance, and they will watch your motor skills and your ability to retrieve these items. They will observe your eyes and notice any redness or glassy quality, slurring of speech, and any odor of an alcoholic beverage. They may ask where you're going, and where you're coming from. They may ask if you've had anything to drink.


Q: What are "field sobriety tests"?


A: Brief physical "exercises" designed to test one's motor skills, coordination, balance and ability to follow directions. They are also called "divided attention" tests.


Q: Can I refuse to submit to field sobriety tests?


A: Yes.


Q: What is a "portable breath test"?


A: A hand-held device, into which the officer may ask a driver to blow, which measures one's alcohol content.


Q: Can I refuse to submit to a portable breath test?


A: Yes.


Q: If I'm arrested for DUI following a traffic stop, what can I expect to happen next?


A: You can expect a trip to the police station, a number of questions, fingerprints, photographs and an opportunity to blow into a breathalyzer.


Q: Can one be arrested for DUI even if one is not drunk?


A: Yes, the standard is whether one is "impaired" by alcohol, and it is the officer's reasonable belief which is tested for probable cause.


Q: Can one be arrested for a DUI even if one is not driving?


A: Yes. Remember, one needs only to be in "actual physical control" of a motor vehicle. For example, one could be sitting behind the wheel in park, with the engine off and the radio on, and be considered in "physical control" even though not driving.


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