WHAT TO EXPECT ON A FIRST-TIME DUI IN ILLINOIS

Getting arrest for DUI can feel humiliating and stressful.  Knowing what happens next may help ease some of the anxiety:

What is the procedure? Once you have been charged with DUI, you will be given a court date for your first court appearance. Currently, these appearances are often on zoom.  (See our related post:  Do I Need to Come to Court for an Illinois Traffic Ticket?)

On the first court date, your attorney will enter his or her appearance and ask for copies of the evidence against you, including the police video of your arrest.  The appearance tells the court that the attorney is your official representative.  Your attorney may be able to contest the suspension of your driver’s license on the first date.

After reviewing the evidence, your attorney can advise you on your best course of action.  Do you have a good defense for trial?  Or would it be wiser to negotiate a plea bargain?  In either case, you will likely be asked to get an alcohol evaluation. In Cook County, only one agency (Central States Institute) is authorized to prepare these reports. Your sentencing may depend on what your evaluation says. Your attorney can advise you on how to present yourself to the evaluator.

Can I drive? Upon arrest, you will also be given a notice that your driver’s license will be suspended by the Secretary of State, usually on the 46th day after your arrest.  An attorney can file a petition to overturn that suspension.  Your odds of winning the petition improve if you file the petition quickly.  Illinois law requires a hearing within 30 days of filing.  If the state is not ready on time, you could win your petition by default. Otherwise, you may be eligible to drive with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device after serving the first thirty days of your suspension.

Note that if you win the petition, you may still be convicted of DUI. Likewise, if you lose the petition, you could still win a not guilty verdict on your DUI.  The criminal charges and the administrative suspension are on two separate tracks.

How long does this take? A DUI can take several months. On average, your case will come before the court once a month. The length of time may depend on whether you take a quick plea agreement or decide to fight the case. While you may want to “just get it over with,” patience may actually work in your favor.

Will I go to jail? A first-time DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Nonetheless, the odds of actually going to jail are limited on a first offense. If you make a plea bargain, you will likely have to take alcohol classes, pay a fine and/or perform community service. If you take the case to trial and lose, your sentence might be harsher but is still unlikely to involve jail.

If you have questions about this or another related DUI or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email: matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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CAN I BE CONVICTED FOR DUI IN ILLINOIS IF I AM UNDER THE LEGAL LIMIT?

The answer is yes, if you showed other signs of impairment.

In Illinois, the legal limit is currently .08 for alcohol. For marijuana, the limit is 5    nanograms per milliliter of whole blood or 10 nanograms per milliliter of other bodily substance.  See 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2.

These limits, however, are only a presumption that you were intoxicated.  If you drove badly, fell out of your car or garbled your words, the state can still convict you.  On the other hand, if you drove perfectly, enunciated like British royalty and carried yourself like a ballerina, you might win at trial even if you were slightly over the limit.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  Did the police have probable cause to stop you in the first place?  If not, your attorney can file a petition to suppress any evidence from the stop in hopes of getting your case dismissed.  Even if your arrest was legal and evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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WHAT TO EXPECT FOR YOUR FIRST DUI APPEARANCE ON ZOOM COURT IN ILLINOIS

The COVID-19 pandemic has, at least for the time being, changed court procedures in the Skokie and Rolling Meadows courthouses, the Daley Center and elsewhere.  Depending on your jurisdiction, most of your court appearances will take place on zoom.  This can seem intimidating, but it’s really not that scary.

When you are arrested for DUI, the officer will give you a ticket with information for your first court date and place.  Unfortunately, this does not usually include the zoom meeting and pass codes you will need to log into the courtroom.  You will have to search the court’s website in the county where your DUI is located for that information.  If you hire an attorney, the attorney can provide this information for you.

In order to attend court, you will likely have to download the zoom app.  Once you have done so, you can enter the virtual court at your scheduled time.  Defendants logging into the courtroom will receive a message that the “meeting host will let you in.”  This is normal and not a cause to worry (unless you have the wrong meeting code information).  Once the judge is ready, he or she will admit you.  Be sure to turn on the video but mute your sound until the judge calls your name.

If you have an attorney, the attorney will answer on your behalf.  At that point, the judge will look for you on the call.  On your first court date, the attorney will enter his or her appearance and ask for copies of discovery (the evidence against you).  If you have hired an attorney promptly, the attorney may argue to overturn the automatic suspension of your driver’s license at that time.

Although you are not appearing in person, you should dress and act as though you were physically in court.  I have heard a judge admonish people not to go on zoom while in bed or with someone on top of them or in the shower.  You should treat zoom court as though it were a business meeting for a job you really hope to get.

If you have been charged with a DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense as well as help you navigate your way through the court system.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

 (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)</i>

 

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WHAT IS AGGRAVATED DUI UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

In Illinois, DUI is defined as driving or having actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or another drug.  DUI can be upgraded to an aggravated offense, which increases the penalties, for the following reasons:

  • This is your third-time or later DUI.
  • You were driving a school bus with passengers on board.
  • Your intoxication was the proximate cause of a motor vehicle accident that caused great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to another.
  • You have a previous conviction for an alcohol-related involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide.
  • You were speeding in a school zone and your being under the influence was the proximate cause of bodily harm.
  • You caused a motor vehicle, snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, or watercraft accident while under the influence which resulted in death.
  • Your driver’s license was suspended or revoked due to an alcohol-related suspension, motor vehicle accident or reckless homicide offense.
  • You did not have any type of driver’s license, including a monitoring device driving permit.
  • You knowingly drove an uninsured car.
  • You caused bodily harm to a child under the age 16 that you were transporting.
  • You had a child under age 16 in the car during your second DUI.
  • You were transporting passengers for hire.

If you have been charged with Aggravated DUI, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you?   Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt?

While recent Illinois case law has held that the state need not prove the aggravating factors at trial, the state must still prove those factors beyond a reasonable doubt at sentencing.  If your offense is based on prior DUIs, can the state prove those convictions? If you were in an accident, was your impairment the proximate cause?  Did you know the car you were driving was uninsured?

Even if the police had probable cause and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did the officer have probable cause both to stop you and to search your car?  If not, an attorney can try to petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from that

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email  matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Reference:  People v. May   and 625 ILCS 5/11-501   625 ILCS 5/11-501: Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol

<p><i>(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)</i>

 

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ASSAULTING A POLICE OFFICER WHILE INTOXICATED IN ILLINOIS

The officer stopped you for DUI near your home.  You tried to reason with him to let you go.  When he didn’t, you drunkenly tried to hit him.  You missed. But now you are charged with aggravated assault on top of your DUI.

Can they do that?  What can you do?

In Illinois, you commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Normally, this is a relatively minor offense—a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail. See 720 ILCS 5/12-1. However, when you swiped at that officer, your offense became a Class 4 felony based on assaulting a peace officer or  emergency personnel, either while performing their official duties or because you wanted to stop them or retaliate against them for performing those duties.  See 720 ILCS 5/12-2. 

As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Did you act knowingly?  Note that drunkenness is not a defense here.  But what if you swung your arms without realizing the officer was behind you?  Was the officer’s fear of battery reasonable?  Was the officer performing official duties?  What if the officer was not on duty and just came over to watch your arrest?  An experienced attorney can raise doubts about the state’s case.  If, however, the evidence is overwhelming against you, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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ACTING QUICKLY IS IMPORTANT IN OVERTURNING THE DUI SUMMARY SUSPENSION OF YOUR ILLINOIS DRIVER’S LICENSE

In Illinois, the Secretary of State automatically suspends your driver’s license on the 46th day after your arrest for DUI.  To have any chance of beating that suspension, you must act quickly, because there are certain deadlines.

Illinois law allows you to petition the court to overturn or rescind that suspension within 90 days of receiving notice. (See 625 ILCS 5/2-118.1(b))    But don’t wait until day 89 or even day 29. You have a much greater chance of winning your petition if you file as early as possible.  This is because state law requires a hearing on your petition within 30 days of its filing.  The earlier your attorney files your petition, the less likely the state will be ready to proceed at hearing.  In that case, your petition will likely be granted.

Ideally, your attorney should file your petition so that you are ready to proceed on the first court date. Note that any delay attributable to you extends the time in which the hearing may be held.

If you have been charged with a DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can take the steps necessary to file the petition on your behalf as well as reviewing your case for your best possible defense.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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HOW YOUR BAR FIGHT CAN BECOME A FELONY IN ILLINOIS

You were out with friends at a bar.  Some guy overheard something you said that he didn’t like. He came over and insulted you. You were not about to let that stand, so you punched him.  You knew you lost control, but you were not expecting to be charged with a felony on a first offense.

Why is it a felony?  What can you do?

Under Illinois law, you commit battery, if you knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) cause bodily harm or (2) make physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature.  While battery is a misdemeanor, it can be upgraded to aggravated battery, a felony, for a variety of reasons including the location of your fight.

Under Illinois law, such locations include “a public way, public property, a public place of accommodation or amusement, a sports venue, or a domestic violence shelter, or in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other building, structure, or place used for religious worship.”  A court looks at whether the offense occurred in an area that was accessible to the public.  If so, your offense becomes a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison.   Some bars, however, are exclusive and private.  If the bar was exclusive and private, your charges would not be upgraded on that basis.

If you have been charged with a battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the states’ evidence. As with most crimes, the prosecution must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Was the bar public or private?  Did you have legal justification such as by acting in self defense?  Was the physical contact really insulting or provoking?  Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea bargain than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See Illinois Battery Law and Illinois Aggravated Battery Law.  See also People v. Crawford.

 

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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HOW TO CLEAR UP YOUR OLD ILLINOIS ARREST WARRANT WHEN YOU LIVE OUT OF STATE

Years ago, you were arrested in Illinois.  You ignored your court date, although you believe there is an outstanding warrant against you.  This did not trouble you for some years, because you live out of state and did not intend to return.  But now you are taking charge of your life, and you want to clear up the past.  You also worry that a routine traffic stop in your state could end up with you in jail.

Can your Illinois arrest cause problems in your new state? Or will the warrant expire automatically?  If not, what can you do?

First, be aware that arrest warrants generally do not expire. Therefore, if the new state finds the old warrant, you risk spending up to 30 days in jail before you are turned over to Illinois.

But there are steps you can take to clear up your problem.  First, you should hire an Illinois attorney who is familiar with the judges and prosecutors in your former case’s jurisdiction. The attorney can then petition the court to vacate the old warrant and explain the circumstances surrounding your failure to appear in the original case.  Knowing the players will help the attorney assess the best time to file the motion and best arguments to use on your behalf. You will likely need to appear in person for this hearing and will probably not be allowed to appear on zoom.

Often, a judge will vacate your old warrant and allow the case to proceed.  You will then need the attorney to defend you at trial or work out a plea agreement.  At times, the underlying charges may even be dismissed, although this result varies tremendously from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and depends on the severity of your original charges.   With an ordinary DUI, clearing the old case may help undo any driver’s license suspension.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN I BE ARRESTED IF DRUGS ARE FOUND IN A CAR AND I AM A PASSENGER?

You were riding around late one night with a friend who was driving.  An officer pulled you the car over.  Smelling alcohol on your friend, the officer had you both leave the car before spotting narcotics under the driver seat.

Can you be arrested for the drugs? The answer is generally no as long as you did not know about or possess the drugs and you did not exercise exclusive control over the place where the drugs were found. Your mere presence in the car may not be enough. The same is true for other types of contraband such as guns.

To convict you, the state must show you had knowledge and either actual or constructive possession of the drugs or weapons, by yourself or jointly with another. Actual possession exists when you exercise immediate and exclusive control over the contraband. Constructive possession exists when you have the intent and capacity to maintain control over the contraband. Your control over the area where it is found gives rise to an inference that you knew about and possessed the contraband.

The judge or jury may infer knowledge from several factors, including whether you could see the contraband and how you long you had to observe it from where you were sitting in the car, any gestures or movements you made suggesting you were trying to retrieve or conceal it, and the size of the contraband. Your regular, ongoing control of a car or your connection to its contents also indicate your knowledge of other items present.

For example, in People v. Horn, the defendant was riding as a passenger on the highway with his cousin. The officer stopped the car for a minor traffic offense.  A K-9 dog found drugs in the trunk in an urn containing a bag of ashes and a bag of cocaine. Defendant was then charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver.

The appellate court held there was no evidence that defendant could see the contents of the trunk which was not visible from the passenger compartment. Defendant was calm during the stop and made no gestures indicating he knew about the contraband.  Defendant had no property in the car, the car was not registered to him, and he was not driving when the car was stopped. Therefore, the court reversed his conviction.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you?  If not, an attorney can try to petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from an illegal stop or search.

 

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email <a href=”mailto:matt@mattkeenanlaw.com”> matt@mattkeenanlaw.com</a>.

<p><i>(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)</i>

 

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CAN I BE CONVICTED FOR DUI BASED ON MY FLASK?

You were stopped for failing to signal a turn.  When you opened the window, the officer spotted a flask on your passenger seat, smelled alcohol and asked you to take field sobriety tests, which you refused.  Can you be convicted because of the flask?

The answer depends on many factors.  If the flask was empty, you may have a defendable case as long as there is little other evidence of DUI.  But how empty is empty enough?  If the flask is completely dry, you may not have a problem provided your driving and demeanor were steady.  But what if the flask had a little alcohol at the bottom?  A not guilty verdict may depend on how your particular judge sees the whole picture.

If you have been charged with DUI or related offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your situation for your best possible defense.  How strong is the evidence against you?  Does the entire case depend on the flask?  If there is some alcohol remaining, can the state prove your driving was impaired?  Did you pass any field sobriety tests? Did the police have probable cause to stop you in the first place? If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any evidence from the stop.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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