You’ve been booked for DUI and sent home from the police station.  You were given a court date within two months.  What happens from there

Generally, at your first court date, your attorney will file his or her appearance with the court and the state. The attorney may also file a motion for discovery, which requests copies of the evidence against you. Discovery may include police reports, breathalyzer results and the squad car or body cam video from your arrest.

Note that the Secretary of State usually suspends your driver’s license for at least six months beginning on the 46th day after your arrest.  Depending on the facts of your case, an attorney may file a petition to overturn this suspension.  You have a much better chance of winning if you hire an attorney promptly so that the attorney can file your petition well in advance of the court date. Illinois law mandates a hearing on your petition within 30 days or at your first court date, whichever is later.  If the state isn’t ready on that date, you may win by default.  Any hearing on your petition will likely take place on that first court date.

Be aware that even if you overturn your suspension, your DUI case will continue. The court and the Secretary of State are on two separate tracks.

After the first court date, your attorney will review the state’s evidence in order to best advise you on how to proceed.  If the evidence against you is shaky, you may have a good chance of winning at trial.    If you do go to trial, you may have to appear for several court dates before you, the court and the state are all ready to proceed. Sometimes these delays actually work in your favor.

If the evidence against you is overwhelming, you may wish to enter a guilty plea. In that case, your attorney will try to negotiate the best possible terms for your plea.  Perhaps you will be allowed to plead guilty to reckless driving instead of DUI, or to a misdemeanor DUI instead of a felony.  Your attorney may present the state with evidence of your good character.

Before entering a plea, you will have to get a DUI evaluation.  In Cook County, you may only use the court-sanctioned evaluators—Central States Institute.  You will have to meet with someone from CSI to answer questions.  Your attorney will advise you on how to present yourself. The evaluator will then give you a certain risk rating which factors into the state’s offer for a plea agreement.  Once the evaluation is ready, you may be able to enter your plea.

If you choose to go to trial, your attorney will advise you on whether you should request trial before a judge or jury.  You generally will not be asked to testify at trial, and for many reasons, your testimony may not be a good idea.  Remember that the state has to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  You do not have to prove that you are innocent.

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.)


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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