THE ABCs of DUI Defense

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.  Can you defend your case?

To be convicted of DUI in Illinois, the State must prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements are: 1) you had too much to drink, and 2) you were driving.

To prove  drinking, the State must show  you were over the legal limit of .08, or that you were so intoxicated that it impaired your driving. Did you take the breathalyzer? Did you perform any field sobriety tests? If the answer is no to both questions, you could still be charged with DUI based on what the police saw, but it may be harder for the state to prove their case.

Suppose you refused the breathalyzer but you took the field sobriety tests? You may still have a defendable case. Most police video their encounters with potential offenders. How do you look on the video? Some defendants manage to ace the one-leg stand and the walk-and-turn tests. 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 you looked good on the video, you may still have a defendable case.  Furthermore, in 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.

What if your breathalyzer result was higher? Can the state then prove you were driving? If you were in an accident and the police arrived after the fact, something still has to place you behind the wheel of the car.

Even if the police saw your driving or had a witness, did they have probable cause to stop you? If you obeyed all traffic laws and  stopped randomly, you may be able to quash your DUI on this basis.

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), an experienced attorney who is respected in your courthouse may help you negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about a DUI or other criminal matter, contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or

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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