If you are pulled over for a DUI in Illinois it is important to know when you can face criminal charges. The biggest factor in determining whether you will be charged with a DUI is what your blood alcohol content (“BAC”) is at the time of your traffic stop. What is the legal BAC limit in Illinois? Can you be charged with a DUI even if your BAC is not above the legal limit? The experienced Chicago DUI defense attorneys at the Kostopoulos Law Group took a few minutes to answer these important questions.
Establishing the BAC Limit in Illinois
Across the country, it is a crime to drive when your blood alcohol level is at or above .08 percent. This is a relatively new standard in Illinois. Years ago, the BAC limit used to be as high as .15 percent. This is nearly double the current standard. Illinois changed its tune and dropped the limit to .08 when the federal government threatened to rescind important funding for highway programs. As a result, all states in the country prohibit drivers from operating motor vehicles with a blood alcohol concentration that exceeds .08 percent.
Potential DUI Charges in Illinois
Can you face criminal DUI charges if your BAC does not exceed the legal limit? Yes! Just because your BAC is not above the legal limit of .08 does not mean that you are off the hook. You can still face DUI charges if you are pulled over and your BAC registers between .05 and .08 percent. In these situations, police can use their discretion to judge whether or not you are equipped to operate a motor vehicle safely.
In these situations, police will observe your demeanor, behavior, and ability to perform normal tasks. During a traffic stop, an officer may ask you several questions about where you are coming from, where you are going, and if you have been drinking. These are designed to help them determine if you are under the influence. The officer will not only be evaluating your answers to these questions but also how you answer these questions. Slurred speech, difficulty concentrating, and lapses in memory can be used to paint a picture of intoxication.
If an officer suspects that you are drunk they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests and/or submit to chemical testing. When you perform these tasks the officer will judge your balance, motor functions, and ability to follow simple directions. You can face criminal DUI charges if you fail these tests (or show signs of intoxication) and your BAC is between .05 and .08 percent.
Consequences of a DUI
If you are charged with a DUI in Chicago it is incredibly important to speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney. The consequences of a DUI will change your life forever.
First-time offenders whose BAC is above .08 percent will lose their driving privileges immediately after an arrest. In some situations, you may be able to retain your license for 45 days while your charges are being processed. However, once this period has expired and/or you are convicted, you will lose your license for 6 months. The period of suspension increases to one year if you refused to take a breathalyzer. If you have a previous DUI conviction your license will be suspended for a period of three years.
You will also face jail time, fines, and other criminal penalties if you are convicted of a DUI in Chicago. First-time offenders will generally face Class A Misdemeanor charges, punishable by:
- One year in jail;
- $2,500 in criminal fines;
- Mandatory installation of a BAIID (breath alcohol ignition interlock device);
- Court-ordered alcohol treatment and counseling;
- Probation; and/or
- Community service.
The penalties for driving under the influence will be increased if any aggravating factors are involved. Aggravating factors include driving at reckless speeds, causing great bodily injury or death, driving with children as passengers, or driving on a suspended license. An aggravated DUI can be charged as a felony.
Call an Experienced Chicago DUI Defense Attorney
Are you facing criminal charges for a DUI in Chicago? Do not hesitate to call the Kostopoulos Law Group for help. We understand how serious DUI charges are and will do everything in our power to minimize the consequences of your arrest. We will thoroughly investigate your alleged offense, build a persuasive defense, and fight the legitimacy of every piece of evidence that is presented. Our aggressive approach often allows us to secure favorable outcomes for our clients. In many cases, we are able to get the charges reduced or dismissed altogether. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
Kostopoulos Law Group