Over 1.5 million people are arrested annually for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
It is a crime in every state to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and if you are caught driving under the influence, chances are you will receive a DUI.
However, a DUI conviction varies from state to state. In some states, a first-time DUI offense comes with attached jail time and a hefty fine. In others, drivers may just have to pay a fine.
There are many costs associated with DUI, both on your wallet and your record. It is also important to know your options after receiving a DUI.
What is a DUI?
A DUI refers to the legal offense of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The name of this offense actually varies between jurisdictions. For example, in Ohio, drivers can receive an OVI ("operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs").
You don't have to actually be driving to receive a DUI. For example, it's possible to receive a DUI if you are intoxicated but sitting in a parkedcar.
You also don't have to have been drinking to receive a DUI, you simply have to be operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
Some DUIs are incurred at sobriety checkpoints, places where officers are stationed to check for intoxicated drivers. Checkpoints do not occur in all fifty states, as twelve currently do not allow checkpoints, however Illinois does allow them.
You do have specific rights as an Illinois resident if you undergo a sobriety checkpoint; learn more about these here.
An officer will determine your level of intoxication by measuring your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). If a driver's BAC is over 0.08%, he or she is legally intoxicated and eligible for a DUI.
Most officers will determine BAC by using a specific device called a breathalyzer. They may also inspect the physical condition of drivers, including the ability to walk in a straight line.
When you receive a DUI, it may be a first-time offense, or it may be a second, third, or even fourth, depending on your history. The cost of a DUI will depend on which offense it is, where you live, and whether or not you seek legal representation.
How Much Does a DUI Cost?
The cost of any DUI varies from state to state. A first-time offense is often classified as a misdemeanor, punishable by jail time, a fine, community service hours, and/or alcohol classes.
In general, the average DUI can cost between $7,000 and $10,000.
In Illinois, a first-time DUI (a Class A Misdemeanor) is punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. However, if you incur a first-time DUI in Illinois, you may not have to spend any time in jail. You may not even have to fork out $2,500. The minimum fine typically runs about $400.
The ultimate cost of your DUI will depend on whether or not you choose to fight the case. If you do choose to fight the case, then you will have to pay DUI attorney fees. You may also risk losing the case, which can incur additional jail time and/or fees.
Keep in mind that the cost of a DUI does not just involve fines and jail time. It can also mean taking time away from work to serve your sentence, whether that sentence entails community service hours or imprisonment.
Most first-time DUIs will also have to deal with posting bail, jail release fees (if applicable), and driver's license reinstatement fees. You will also likely experience a hike in your auto insurance premium, as a DUI classifies you as an at-risk driver.
After a DUI, you will also be responsible for the cost of any alcohol education or driving schools.
Your Options Post-DUI
Don't let all of this dissuade you, it is possible to reduce the cost of your DUI in many respects, especially if you seek legal representation.
The first thing you can expect after a first-time DUI is being assigned a court date, where you'll appear for the first time.
Illinois residents will also have their driver's licenses suspended 46 days after they've been arrested.
However, if you are represented by a DUI attorney, you can petition against the suspension of your license. Typically, this means that you'll have to drive with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device.
This device measures your BAC at any given moment, just like a breathalyzer. You won't be able to start your car until you blow into the device.
A DUI court proceeding can take several months, depending on the option you choose. Your attorney may opt to take a plea bargain, for example, which can often eliminate jail time and long-term suspension of license.
Plea bargains can also reduce fines and replace jail time with community service hours. Learn more about your ability to reduce DUI charges in Illinois here.
It is strongly recommended to seek legal representation, no matter which path you choose to pursue. Legal counsel can also mean effective answering of your questions and, in some cases, a speedier and gentler trial.
At John M. Quinn & Associates, for example, we work hard to get our clients' suspended or revoked drivers licenses reinstated quickly and effectively, no matter the severity of the charge.
Final Thoughts: DUI Cost
Receiving a DUI conviction can be a frightening thing, especially if it is your first-time offense. You may be terrified about spending time in jail or paying thousands of dollars in fines.
If you have received a first-time DUI in Illinois, it's important to first keep yourself informed. Know the facts about what you may be expected to pay, in both time and money, and also know your options.
While you might be facing a hefty fine, you may not have to serve any jail time. If you choose to fight your case with the help of an experienced DUI attorney, your conviction may be even easier.
Regardless, we are here to help. Contact us now to learn more about having your suspended or revoked drivers license reinstated by scheduling your free consultation.