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Illinois’ DUI Laws

With national campaigns such as "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" there is little doubt that the authorities are stepping up their efforts to bust drunk drivers. However, outside of the national ad campaign, actual enforcement, penalties and other laws surrounding drunk driving are left up to the individual states.

For drivers of Illinois it is important to understand what the state deems to be drunk driving and what penalties drivers face if charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

Driving Under the Influence

In Illinois a driver is determined to be legally intoxicated if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher - this may also be referred to as "per se intoxication." At this level, it becomes a criminal offense for adults 21-years-old and older to drive a vehicle on a public roadway.

A driver convicted of DUI faces harsh penalties in Illinois.

For a first offense a driver faces penalties of:

  • Minimum of one-year loss of driving privileges
  • Maximum fine of $2,500
  • Possible imprisonment of up to one year

A second offense subjects a driver to penalties of:

  • Minimum of five-year loss of driving privileges (if second offense is within 20 year of first offense)
  • Mandatory five-day imprisonment or 240 hours of community service
  • Maximum fine of $2,500
  • Possible imprisonment of up to one year

A third offense is considered a Class 2 felony, and the driver faces penalties of:

  • Minimum of ten-year loss of driving privileges
  • Mandatory 18-30 month periodic imprisonment
  • Maximum fine of $25,000
  • Possible imprisonment of up to seven years

Subsequent DUI convictions put the driver at risk of increased penalties.

Enhanced Penalty

Drivers in Illinois face enhanced penalties if their BAC was .16 percent (twice the legal limit) or higher. If a driver convicted of a first DUI had a BAC of .16 percent or higher, the driver faces a mandatory minimum of 100 hours of community service and a mandatory minimum fine of $500, in addition to all of the penalties applied to a first DUI offense.

A driver with a BAC of .16 percent or higher faces additional penalties for each subsequent DUI offense at the enhanced level.

Zero Tolerance Law

For drivers 16 to 20-years-old, Illinois has a Zero Tolerance Law. If a driver under the age of 21 is found to have a BAC of .01 or greater, that driver faces charges of violating Illinois' Zero tolerance law. There are exceptions for minors who consume alcohol as part of a religious service or if consuming the recommended dosages of medication containing alcohol.

Whether a minor or adult or facing a first or subsequent DUI charge, it is vitally important to seek the legal counsel of a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you bring to light any mitigating circumstances or help you fight the charges because of a faulty breath test. Contact an attorney to explore your rights and legal options.