Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that is also relatively common. People may accidentally commit a DUI by getting behind the wheel when they think they are okay to drive but they aren't. Others could wind up arrested mistakenly for DUI because of a poorly performed roadside sobriety test or inaccurate Breathalyzer results.
Like many offenses in Illinois, DUI charges carry increasing penalties for those who commit the same offense more than once. If it is your first time facing a DUI charge, you will have the potential for the most lenient treatment.
However, that doesn't mean there won't be any consequences or that you should simply accept a plea deal to put the issue behind you. Defending against the charges may still be in your best interest. Knowing the penalties can help you make a more informed decision about how to handle your charges.
What happens with a first-time DUI?
For many people, the arrest involved in a first time DUI is a jarring experience on its own. Although they may only spend one night in jail, it is likely to be a relatively miserable night. However, it is possible that they could spend more time in jail if they get convicted or plead guilty.
A first-time offense could involve up to a year in jail under typical circumstances, as well as a fine of as much as $2,500. Drivers will also lose their license for a year. If that happens to you, you may be able to ask the state for a breath alcohol ignition interlock device and a restricted license to retain your freedom and ability to drive.
Typically, first DUI offenses are misdemeanor charges in Illinois. However, there are aggravating factors which can make the charges steeper and increase the penalties. These include transporting a minor while under the influence, driving the wrong way on a one-way street or having extremely high blood alcohol levels.
DUI convictions can impact your career and education
If you are a student in high school or college, you could face disciplinary action for any arrest or conviction you experience. If you are already an established professional, your employer may have a zero-tolerance policy for criminal convictions.
This is particularly concerning if your job involves driving for any part of your routine work. Your employer may be reticent to take the risk involved in retaining someone with an impaired driving charge if it means the company's liability could increase.
Defending against impaired driving charges requires strategy and forethought. However, it is possible. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to avoid the worst consequences of a DUI conviction by working with an experienced Geneva criminal defense attorney.