Written by attorney Matthew David Keenan

Defending Your Second DUI In Illinois

You knew you were taking a chance, but you really thought you were OK to drive. Unfortunately, just after you left the bar, the police stopped you. You refused the breathalyzer and field sobriety tests, because you knew the drill. After all, this is your second DUI.

What can happen to you, and what can you do?

As you might expect, there are enhanced penalties for a second time DUI. If convicted, you may be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of five days in jail or 240 hours of community service on top of other criminal and secretary of state sanctions. (A first time DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, but actual jail time is not very likely on a first offense.)

If you had not been fully discharged from your first DUI at the time of your second, the news is even worse. You may now be charged with a separate criminal case for violating the terms of your first DUI and you can now be resentenced on the first DUI. If you were driving on a revoked or suspended license because of your first DUI when you got stopped the second time, you can also be charged with Driving on a Suspended with added jail time or community service penalties.

Is your situation hopeless? Not necessarily. Many of the same rules from a first offense still apply. The State must still prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were both driving and drinking, and that your driving was impaired. To prove driving, someone has to testify that you were behind the wheel of the car. Did the police stop you while you were driving, or did they arrive after you left the vehicle? If no one can testify that you drove the car, the state might have to dismiss the case.

Even if you were driving, did the police have probable cause to stop you? Were you violating any traffic rules. If not, an experienced attorney may be able to have the arrest thrown out.

Were you under the influence of alcohol or another substance? If you refused the breathalyzer and/or the field sobriety tests, the state might have a tougher time proving this was the case. But even if you took the tests, you might still have a defendable case. Maybe your performance on the field sobriety tests was actually pretty good. Maybe you blew below or near the .08 limit on the breathalyzer. Even if the breathalyzer is still slightly over, an experienced attorney can raise questions about the accuracy of the test.

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