You didn’t see the cop until you went through the stop sign. Or maybe you were in an accident after leaving a party and the cops were called. Now you are charged with drunk driving. If convicted on a first offense , you may be punished with up to one year in jail or up to a $2,500 fine. How can you defend your case?

To be convicted of DUI in Illinois, the State must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There are two basic elements to the offense: 1) Drinking and 2) Driving.

To prove drinking, the State must show that you were over the legal limit of .08, and that this impaired your driving. Did you take the breathalyzer? If you were wise, you may have refused. If you refused, did you perform any field sobriety tests? If not, you could still be charged with a DUI based on what the police observed, but it may be that much harder for the State to prove your impairment at trial.

Suppose you refused the breathalyzer but you took the field sobriety tests? You may still have a defendable case. Many police cars now video their encounters with potential offenders. After watching the video, how well did you perform? Some defendants manage to hold their leg up fairly steadily and to walk a fairly straight line. If you did well, the state might have a tough time proving you were too impaired to drive.

What if you failed the breathalyzer? If you were only slightly above the .08 legal limit and/or your field sobriety tests looked good, you may still be able to defend your case. The state must show that your driving was impaired. If everything else looks good including your driving when the police pulled you over, then you may have a good chance of winning your case. Furthermore, in the State of Illinois, a breathalyzer machine is considered accurate if it registers within .009 of the actual result. Therefore, if you blew a .087, there may be some doubt as to whether you or the breathalyzer device were over the legal limit.

But what if your breathalyzer result was way over the legal limit? Then, you have to look at whether the state can prove you were driving. If you were in an accident and the police only arrived on the scene after the fact, someone has to have seen you behind the wheel of the car.

Even if the police saw you driving or had a witness, did they have probable cause to stop you? If you were obeying all traffic laws and you were the target of a random stop, you may be able to quash your DUI based on a lack of probable cause.

If all else fails (i.e., the police saw you weaving all over your lane, and you failed the breathalyzer and the field sobriety tests), your case may no longer beatable. A skilled attorney, however, may help you negotiate a more favorable plea agreement.

If you have questions about a DUI or other criminal matter in the Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood or other Chicago-area courthouse, please do not hesitate to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or by emailing  Also, visit our website at  or our criminal law blog at

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.
This entry was posted in DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.