If a police officer suspects you of driving while you're under the influence of alcohol in Chicago or the surrounding communities, you could be in danger of spending time behind bars.
What Happens First in the DUI Process?
In Chicago, a police officer can pull you over if he or she suspects that you've been drinking and driving. The officer may ask you to perform a field sobriety test, which could include walking in a straight line or performing a number of tasks that may be difficult for someone who is under the influence to do.
The police officer can also ask you to take a breath test to measure the concentration of alcohol in your blood.
As a driver, you have the right to refuse both the field sobriety test and the breath test.
If the breath test reveals that your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is 0.08 or greater, the state can officially charge you with a DUI offense.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest?
You'll most likely be arrested and taken to jail if a police officer has reason to believe that you were drinking and driving. In most cases, people suspected of DUI are released on bond and given a court date. You'll also be notified that your license will be suspended (if it's your first offense, your license will be suspended for at least 6 months; however, if you refused the breath test at the scene, it could be suspended for a year).
Going to Court for DUI Charges
You'll have to appear in court on the date you're scheduled to be there. You'll have a chance to enter your plea at your arraignment, which will be "guilty" or "not guilty."
Your lawyer will be able to argue your case based on the evidence he has. In order to determine the best strategy for you, your attorney will probably examine police records, listen to your side of the story, and possibly even talk to witnesses who were with you before or during the alleged incident.
If the court finds you guilty, you'll be sentenced at a separate hearing. If the court finds you not guilty, you'll be released and your case will end at that point. (However, the DUI arrest may remain on your record, so it's best to talk to your attorney about getting it cleared.)
The Consequences of DUI Convictions in Illinois
If you're convicted of DUI in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, you could be sentenced to jail time, required to use an ignition interlock device or serve time doing community service.
Because no two cases are the same, it's usually best to talk to a DUI lawyer in Chicago who understands the system and who can explain the penalties you may be facing if the state convicts you.