You need your car to get to work. If you can’t drive, you’ll lose your job. Unfortunately, you just got charged with DUI. Will you lose your license and for how long?

The answers to those questions depend on several variables. Was this your first offense? Did you take the breathalyzer? Do you qualify for a breath activated ignition interlock device (BAIID)?

For a first-time DUI, if you took the breathalyzer, the Secretary of State automatically suspends your license for six months, beginning on the 46th day after your arrest. You may be able to overturn this suspension if you consult an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. The chance of beating the suspension may decrease with time. If you beat the suspension, you will again be allowed to drive.

On a first-time DUI, you may be eligible for the BAIID beginning on the 31st day of your suspension. No relief at all is permitted under state law for the first thirty days. (UPDATE: As of January 1, 2016, a new law has abolished the 31-day waiting period.) This requires you to blow into a device on your car’s ignition system to start your car. A BAIID can be embarrassing and restrictive. If you blow while intoxicated, you can get into further trouble. You cannot drive a car without the BAIID. This even means that you are not legally permitted to move your car from one side of the street to the other to avoid a parking ticket. A quick drive across the street to avoid a fifty dollar ticket might just put you in jail for thirty days in Illinois.

On a first-time DUI, your suspension is increased to one year if you refused the breathalyzer. Again, your chances of beating the suspension improve if you consult an experienced criminal law attorney quickly. And your chances of beating the entire DUI may be improved if you didn’t take tests.

For a second or greater offense, the automatic suspension period increases to one year with the breathalyzer and three years without. Repeat offenders are not eligible for a BAIID.

If convicted of DUI, a first offender can be revoked. While you will be eligible for reinstatement after one year, the process is an arduous and expensive one and there is no guarantee of success. Repeat offenders may lose their license from five years to life depending on the number of priors and other circumstances.

If you are under 21, the zero tolerance policy applies, and you may lose your license for two years on a first offense.

If you are charged with DUI or a related offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to present the best possible defense and possibly win back your license. The rules on suspensions are very complex and the Secretary of State also has the power to issue a discretionary suspension. As a further complication, the rules are frequently changed, and these changes have made it increasingly challenging to drive at all in the wake of an arrest for driving under the influence.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal 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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