As Christmas approaches, police are likely to be on the lookout for drivers who are under the influence. We want to stress to our readers that a DUI has dire consequences, and should be avoided at all costs.
First some facts: In Illinois, a driver is legally considered to be under the influence if he or she has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more. In Cook County alone, more than ten thousand drivers were arrested for driving under the influence in 2012, which is the last year for which the Secretary of State has published arrest data. Most drivers arrested for DUI are men, and most are under the age of 34.
A driver’s first DUI conviction will constitute a Class A Misdemeanor (so long as there are no aggravating factors), which is punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $2,500. Along with the criminal consequences, the driver’s license will be suspended for a period of six months, starting from the date 46 days after the arrest, if the driver fails the breathalyzer at the police station. If the driver refuses the breathalyzer at the police station, their license will be suspended for one year. This difference in suspension periods is designed to give drivers an incentive to submit to the test. As you might guess, subsequent DUI convictions will lead to escalating penalties. If the worst should happen and you are pulled over, be polite and be respectful. However, if the police demand or request that you submit to field sobriety tests, Illinois law does not require you to do so. Again, be polite and be respectful, but refuse – there is no benefit to give the police evidence that they do not already have. If the officer is demanding or requesting that you submit to field sobriety tests, the officer has likely already decided to arrest you. The same should be said for breathalyzer tests. If the officer demands that you submit to a breathalyzer, we recommend that you be polite and be respectful, but refuse to blow. Then, call your lawyer!
Aside from the shame and hassle of being going through the legal process, the costs of a DUI are incredibly high. The Illinois Secretary of State estimates that the total average cost of a DUI conviction is $16,580. This means that a DUI is likely more expensive than a two person luxury cruise from San Francisco to Sydney, and far less exotic.
Ultimately, it is best to avoid the risk of a DUI and get a ride. So, if you are thinking about having a few beers, plan ahead. There are limitless options available to anyone who wants to avoid driving. Uber and other ride sharing options are a convenient and high tech way to get around; calling or hailing down a taxi is a simple and old fashioned way to achieve the same ends; during New Years, the CTA offers rides for just a penny; or, you can always cash in on that favor and ask a friend for a ride. Whichever method of transportation you choose, we here at Laura Law hope you stay safe and have a merry (but not too merry) Christmas!