Written by attorney Jeremy J. Richey

Illinois DUI 101: The Basics of Illinois Drunk Driving Laws

The Strength of the State's Case Is in Your Hands

When an Illinois police officer pulls your car over and begins investigating you for driving under the influence, there is one person in your vehicle who can damage your case beyond repair and one person who can save you. You are that person. While an exhaustive explanation of what you should do during a drunk driving stop is beyond the scope of this article, this guide will offer you some pointers.

First of all, always be polite with the officer and don't argue with the officer. You don't want to go out of your way to make the guy with handcuffs dislike you. Second, with that said, keep your mouth shut. You will need to let the officer know who you are and where you live, but don't say anything that can be used against you in court. For example, don't let the officer know how much or what you drank during the evening, don't discuss the quality of your driving, don't discuss why you were pulled over, etc. Anything you tell the officer that could be used against you later in court, will be used against you in court. Tell the officer that want a lawyer and that you wish to remain silent (but never lie - that can get you into more trouble). Third, if the officer orders you out of the car, you will need to exit the car, but, if the officer asks or tells you to perform field-sobriety testing (such as the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg-stand test), respectfully decline to do the testing. Fourth, if you are arrested and taken to the police station, refuse to blow into a breathalyzer device and also refuse any other chemical test the police ask you to take.

When an officer pulls you over and starts investigating you for DUI, he or she is looking for information that the State can use to convict you. You should help yourself and not the State.

Statutory Summary Suspension

If you are arrested for DUI, you will be asked to submit to chemical testing at the police station. As of January 1, 2009, if you refuse to submit to the chemical testing, and you are a first offender, the Illinois Secretary of State will suspend your license for 12 months. If you submit to the testing and fail, the suspension will last 6 months. The Secretary of State will send you a letter letting you know when your suspension will begin. In any given case, the statutory summary suspension may be attacked on one or more grounds. To attack your statutory summary suspension, you must file a petition to rescind it.

You May Be able to Drive During Your Suspension

As of January 1, 2009, if you are a first offender, you can drive during the period of your statutory summary suspension if you install an ignition interlock device on your car. These devices require you to blow into them before your car will run. Unlike the Judicial Driving Permit (JDP) law in effect before January 1, 2009, there will be no route, time, or purpose restrictions.

DUI Is a Crime

In Illinois, drunk driving is a crime. At a minimum, DUI is a Class A misdemeanor that carries a potential jail sentence of up to 364 days.

Significance of Supervision

If you have been charged with DUI, one possible sentence for your case is judicial supervision. Supervision, as a matter of law, is not considered a conviction for DUI. This is important because if you receive a conviction for DUI, the Illinois Secretary of State will revoke your driver's license and not merely suspend it. If your licensed is revoked, you can't get it back until you convince the Secretary of State to give it back to you.

Types of DUI in Illinois

In Illinois, there are many ways to get a DUI charge. Among other ways, you can get a DUI for driving while having a breath or blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, for driving under the influence of alcohol (regardless of whether there is a breath or blood test), or for having any amount of cannabis or methamphetamine in your system.

Should I Hire a Lawyer?

If you can afford one, yes. If you cannot afford one, then you should request that your judge appoint a public defender for you. As stated above, DUI is a crime and it is best if you have a lawyer to guide you, protect you, and fight for you.

Additional Resources

Illinois Compiled Statutes: DUI Laws (

Illinois Compiled Statutes: Monitoring Device Driving Permit (

Avvo's DUI Resource Center (

Related Legal Guides

DUI and Drunk Driving Laws (

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