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Illinois DUI Fee Increase Rings in the New Year

The impact of a DUI conviction can hit a driver in many ways: license suspension, ignition interlock requirements, increased insurance rates, a criminal record and lost opportunities due to background checks should be a concern for anyone facing DUI charges. But legal fines can also place a significant burden on convicted drunk drivers, and Illinois drivers face an increase from $500 to $750 in administrative fees if they are found guilty of driving under the influence (Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code) in 2011.

For the most part, the new revenue will increase the amount designated to the law enforcement agency that made the arrest. The fine remains $1,000 for a driver with a previous drunk driving conviction. The new Illinois DUI law was signed by the governor last July and went into effect on January 1, 2011.

With the state facing record deficits, a 50 percent increase in fees may come as no surprise to some. But this new measure underscores another important point: DUI cases are high stakes legal matters that seem to become more serious every year. Whether a driver is accused of a first offense or a felony DUI, advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer can be a vital asset.

Lawyers Hold Law Enforcement and Prosecutors to Their Burden of Proof

With so much at stake in a DUI prosecution, accused drivers must understand their rights and act swiftly to protect them. Field sobriety tests, Breathalyzer exams and other indications of blood alcohol level are susceptible to a series of problems that can produce false results, so a thorough review of the circumstances of arrest is always a wise course of action.

Just as important, law enforcement officers must have had probable cause to pull a driver over in the first place. If they cannot establish this to the court's satisfaction, all evidence of intoxication can be suppressed. An aggressive Illinois DUI defense attorney with abundant trial experience will recognize from the first consultation whether a particular arrest is susceptible to a creative legal defense strategy.

Even if a conviction is likely, a lawyer can discuss alternatives to trial, including court supervision and reductions in charges. By facing the potential consequences head on, many drivers can avoid the harshest consequences of a DUI arrest.