First Time Illinois DUI Procedure and Common Questions

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:

(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.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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