DUI laws are evolving as more officials join the fight against drunk driving. Illinois DUI prevention efforts have received national recognition and the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving includes Illinois among its five-star DUI prevention states. However, there is still work to be done, as 335 people died in Illinois alcohol-impaired driving incidents in 2012.
First DUI Conviction Penalties in Illinois
Illegal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limits in Illinois are 0.08 percent for drivers ages 21 or older, 0.04 percent for drivers with commercial licenses, and 0.00 percent for school bus drivers. BAC of 0.05 to 0.08 percent may result in a DUI conviction if other evidence illustrates that the driver was impaired. Reaction time decreases long before BAC reaches 0.08 percent and with a 0.06 percent BAC, a driver is two times as likely to experience a fatal crash as is one with 0.00 percent BAC.
An initial Illinois DUI conviction is usually classified as a Class A misdemeanor. Consequences include fines, one-year revocation of driving privileges, and vehicle registration suspension. If the court approves driving relief, an ignition interlock device equipped with a camera must be installed in the vehicle. First-time offenders transporting children younger than age 16 at the time of the incident face additional fines of $1,000, up to six months in jail, and 25 days of specialized community service.
Aggravated DUI involves felony charges that carry steeper fines, extended driver license suspension periods, and longer time in jail. Mandatory community service or imprisonment may not be reduced or suspended. If the court sentences the individual to conditional discharge or probation, a minimum of ten days in jail or at least 480 hours of community service are required.
Underage DUI in Illinois
Illinois has instituted zero-tolerance DUI laws regarding underage drivers. Drivers younger than 21 can be charged with DUI if their BAC exceeds 0.00 percent. Consequences of an initial conviction include all penalties faced by drivers age 21 or older plus revocation of the driver license for up to two years. A judge may also require the individual to participate in the Illinois Youthful Intoxicated Driver’s Visitation Program, a supervised visit to view results of DUI crashes or alcoholism.
Underage drivers who refuse to submit to BAC testing or fail to complete these tests face six-month suspension of their driving privileges for a first DUI offense. Illinois suspended licenses of 1,210 underage drivers during 2012 for chemical testing refusal or BAC higher than 0.00 percent. That year, law enforcement officials arrested nearly 2,700 underage drivers for DUI and suspended their driving privileges.
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