Choosing to operate a motor vehicle after drinking increases the risk of a collision or crash. It is also against the law, and Illinois law enforcement on the roads actively seek to catch and prosecute those impaired behind the wheel. Typically, anyone driving in a suspicious manner could wind up stopped by law enforcement for a field sobriety test.
Although field sobriety tests and even roadside chemical tests provide law enforcement with valuable tools, they are not infallible. People who were not impaired can still find themselves arrested and facing charges for a variety of reasons, including medical conditions and even failure of testing devices.
Don't plead guilty just to avoid a trial
Everyone facing criminal charges has a right to the assumption of innocence. However, many people assume that due to chemical testing, it is impossible to defend against an offense related to driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois. That feeling of hopelessness, combined with the perceived embarrassment of a protracted criminal trial, leads too many people to plead guilty.
"Get it over quickly" isn't usually the best defense strategy. You need to consider all of your options. Whether you need to challenge the results of a chemical breath test or provide evidence about a medical condition, it is possible to successfully defend against DUI charges.
A DUI charge could cost you your freedom and your license
For those who plead guilty or end up with a conviction, the penalties will depend on their criminal record, as well as other factors. First time DUI offenses carry up to one year in jail, a fine of as much as $2,500 and loss of their driver's license for a full year. Second convictions carry similar penalties, but they also include a mandatory five day sentence in jail or 240 hours of community service. Second offenses also result in the loss of driving privileges for five years.
Those facing a third DUI charge could receive up to seven years in jail, 18 of which will be mandatory, a fine of $25,000 and 10 years loss of driving privileges. Anyone who causes a crash that causes great bodily harm or disfigurement, the charge becomes a Class 4 felony. These people face up to 12 years in jail, fines of as much as $25,000 and loss of driving privileges for a year.
Having a criminal record could result in missing out on a promotion, having trouble finding a new position or even losing your job. Pleading guilty to avoid prosecution in court could mean saddling yourself with a criminal record for years to come. Given the seriousness of the potential penalties for a conviction or guilty plea, it makes sense to defend yourself.