There are a number of DUI and traffic-related proposals currently pending in the 2018 Illinois legislature. These are a few highlights of those bills, which deserve close attention:

Traffic Ticket Fine Waiver Program

Fines, fees and costs for minor traffic offenses could be excused for a defendant who is unable to pay. Upon application, the court may convert all of the obligation to community service or partially excuse payment without condition.

Under the Illinois summary suspension law, a driver who is arrested for DUI and has not had a prior DUI disposition within 5-years is considered a ‘first offender’. This is significant because if the driver is considered a first offender, he or she faces a shorter driver’s license suspension based on whether chemical testing is failed or refused (6-months vs. 12-months). Furthermore, a first offender is automatically eligible for driving privileges during the period of the suspension through use of an MDDP.

The Secretary of State’s office is behind a new proposal now pending in the Illinois legislature that will drastically change the definition of a first offender under the Illinois DUI summary suspension law.

The new legislation would triple what has been called the 5-year look-back to a period of 15-years. This means that if the prior DUI disposition occurred within 15-years, the driver would be considered a second (or subsequent) offender and would be subject to a substantially longer period of driver’s license suspension based on whether chemical testing is failed or refused (6-months vs. 1-year for failed testing and 1-year vs. 3-years for refused testing) and would be barred from receiving automatic driving privileges during the period of suspension.

In addition to losing driving privileges and facing potential jail time, DUI offenders in Illinois may also have their vehicle seized through a procedure known as civil forfeiture.

Under Illinois law (see 720 ILCS 5/36-1), any vehicle may be seized and impounded by a law enforcement agency if the vehicle was driven by someone who was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and/or an intoxicating compound(s), with the knowledge and consent of the owner of the vehicle, and at the time of the offense one of the following is true:

  • the driver’s driving privileges were revoked or suspended for either:

Court supervision is a sentence available once in a person’s lifetime for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois. It is the best possible result aside from dismissal or a finding on ‘not guilty’ after trial on a misdemeanor offense. Court supervision is not an available sentencing option for felony offenses.

If completed successfully, court supervision will prevent the entry of a conviction on the defendant’s public record. Under Illinois law, 730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.1, “At the conclusion of the period of supervision, if the court determines that the defendant has successfully complied with all of the conditions of supervision, the court shall discharge the defendant and enter a judgment dismissing the charges.”

Of course, DUI can also be punished by a conviction (i.e. conditional discharge, probation, and jail time). It is important to understand that a sentence of court supervision is at the discretion of the Judge and/or prosecutor and is not guaranteed by any means simply because you are eligible.

In our previous post we explained that there are two main parts of Illinois DUI law: the Illinois Statutory Summary Suspension and the criminal charge of DUI. This post addresses the basics of the second part of a DUI case, the criminal charge for Driving Under the Influence. For more information on the Summary Suspension law, please visit our previous post.

The criminal portion of an Illinois DUI case is the DUI charge itself. Generally, if a person has submitted to, and failed testing, there will be 2 tickets (or counts) issued for DUI; one based on the test failure and the other based on the officer’s observations of the person. If testing was refused, there will typically only be one count, based on the officer’s observations of the person.

DUI is most commonly charged as a misdemeanor, but in certain situations the offense can be charged as a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, DUI carries a maximum sentence of up to 12-months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.00 plus court costs. This offense may be charged as a felony (an offense that carries a potential sentence of more than a year of incarceration) under certain circumstances, including: when the driver does not have valid driving privileges or valid insurance; the driver has two or more prior DUI offenses; or the offense involves death or serious personal injury.

The DUI defense attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C., often find that many of our clients are both concerned and confused when confronted with the complex landscape of Illinois DUI law, which includes the statutory summary suspension law. As attorneys who have represented thousands of individuals charged with DUI and who are involved in the writing of DUI laws, we strive to make this complex area of the law more understandable.

In the vast majority of cases, a DUI can be broken down into two parts: the Statutory Summary Suspension of one’s driving privileges, which is a civil proceeding, and the criminal charge for Driving Under the Influence. In this post we address the first part of DUI: the Illinois Summary Suspension law.

The summary suspension law differs for those who are considered a “first-offender” and those who are not considered to be a “first offender.” Someone is considered to be a “first-offender” when he or she has not had a disposition for DUI, or a statutory summary suspension, in the five years preceding his or her current arrest. In other words, so long as one has not had a statutory summary suspension, pled guilty or been found guilty of a DUI in the five years preceding their current arrest, he or she is considered a “first-offender” for purposes of the statutory summary suspension—regardless of the number of DUIs and/or statutory summary suspensions they have had in their lifetime. If a “first-offender” submits to, and fails, chemical testing—i.e. testing of breath, blood, or urine—they face a 6-month driver’s license suspension. If a “first-offender” refuses testing, he or she faces a 12-month license suspension.

Under Illinois law, there are three classes of misdemeanor offenses: A, B, and C. Class A misdemeanor penalties are the most severe, while Class C misdemeanors carry lesser potential penalties.

A Class C misdemeanor in Illinois carries a maximum penalty of up to 30 days in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,500 plus any mandatory court costs. The defendant may be placed on a period of court supervision, conditional discharge or probation for up to 2-years. Specific sentencing guidelines for Class C misdemeanors can be found under Illinois law 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-65.

Two of the most common Class C misdemeanors are Disorderly Conduct and Assault.

A relatively new Illinois law requires that before a driver with more than one DUI conviction can be considered for full reinstatement, he or she is first required to drive on Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) for a five-year period. Unfortunately, this requirement applies even if the person has already served the minimum period of driver’s license revocation and was eligible to be considered for full reinstatement.

The Illinois Secretary of State has chosen to apply this requirement to any person who applies for driving privileges after the effective date of the new law, January 1, 2016. Therefore, even if your DUIs occurred prior to this date, whether a month earlier or 30 years earlier, the new law applies to you.

A RDP usually can only be issued for work, school, medical reasons or for child/elder care. Therefore, a problem arises if the person is eligible for reinstatement, but is required to first drive on the RDP for five-years and has no need for any of these types of permits. A good example is the unemployed or retired person.

The DUI attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. are passionate about what they do and will provide you with both knowledgeable and aggressive representation in the courtroom. Our approach is different from other law firms because we focus on our client’s specific needs and create a personally tailored strategy for every case that we handle.

What truly distinguishes us from other DUI lawyers is our commitment to providing value for our clients. That is why we offer a free initial consultation to our prospective clients, so we can analyze your situation and advise you of your options before you pay any fees.

How can The Davis Law Group, P.C. defend my DUI case?

It may be possible to remove convictions for Illinois traffic tickets from your driving record.  By filing a “Motion to Vacate,” our attorneys are able to bring your ticket back into court and argue for a more favorable outcome (i.e. court supervision or dismissal). Under Illinois law, only criminal charges may be eligible for expungement, not traffic tickets. As a result, the only way to clear a traffic ticket conviction from your driving record, is to bring the case back in front of a judge.

We are often contacted by clients facing a license suspension for too many moving violations. A “Motion to Vacate” may be the best solution to removing the entire suspension or shortening the suspension period. An administrative hearing for driving privileges before the Secretary of State is a more complex and lengthy process. Whenever possible, a “Motion to Vacate” is the preferred course of action.

We regularly hear from CDL holders (i.e. truck drivers) that need a ticket removed from their record due to severe employment consequences, insurance increases and/or license suspension. Handling this process for a CDL holder requires a similar approach.

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