Chicago DUI Lawyers
Drunk Driving Defense
Driving under the Influence (DUI), or drunk driving, is generally a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, punishable by heavy fines, driver's license suspension, and possible jail time. But under certain circumstances, the crime may be elevated to a felony with mandatory loss of driver's license and even more significant jail or penitentiary time. With some exceptions, a driver's first two DUIs will be classified as misdemeanors. But if the driver gets a third DUI, or if someone is seriously injured as a result of their drunk driving, the crime may become a felony.
If you have been charged with either a misdemeanor or felony DUI, your future will depend on the actions you take next. By contacting an experienced Chicago DUI attorney, you can get the representation you need to help pursue a reduction or a complete dismissal of your traffic charges. Former assistant state prosecutor and founding member of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC, Mitchell S. Sexner, urges anyone cited for DUI in Illinois to call his offices and talk to a member of his experienced and knowledgeable DUI defense team. Call (312) 644-0444 or (800) 996-4824 today for a free consultation. Your reputation, good name, and freedom may be at stake.
What Constitutes Drunk Driving In Illinois?
You may be considered legally intoxicated in Illinois if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent or greater, as a legal presumption of intoxication arises at that level. However, under Illinois' Zero Tolerance Law, anyone under the age of 21 can also be charged with a Zero Tolerance violation if they are found to have any trace of alcohol in their blood, even .01 percent. Remember, you may not feel intoxicated or too impaired to operate a motor vehicle, but in legal terms, you may actually be according to the law. If you have had a few drinks and are thinking about hitting the road, it is always best to call a cab or wait a few more hours before getting behind the wheel. Although alcohol affects everyone differently, you can use our BAC calculator to give you a general idea about how you may be affected.
BAC Calculator and DUI Sentence Calculator
How Can They Tell If I'm Legally Drunk?
There are many different tests the police can use to help determine if you are legally intoxicated, which include a field sobriety test, a breath test, a urine test, and a blood test. All have different rates of accuracy and all can be challenged in court.
- Field Sobriety Test: These tests are usually performed at the location where the driver is pulled over. The officer will ask the driver to exit the vehicle and perform certain physical and mental tasks in an attempt to gauge their sobriety. These tasks usually include the "walk & turn", the "leg raise", reciting the alphabet backward, and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) (which measures how smoothly the eye follows an object). In our experience, few people are able to successfully complete these tests because they are difficult to perform, even under the best of conditions, let alone on the side of a cold, dark road at night, with flashing lights in your eyes, and under pressure. Therefore, we generally recommend that you refuse to take any field sobriety tests.
- Breath Test: There are two types of breath tests, the Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) and the "breathalyzer." The PBT is a hand held device many officers carry in their police cruisers so they can test a driver's BAC at the scene. PBTs are highly inaccurate and usually cannot be used as evidence in court. The breathalyzer is a larger machine that is usually located at a police station. While more accurate than a PBT, it is still basically "scientific guesswork." If you have just belched, have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or vomited recently, a breathalyzer can give you a higher BAC reading than you actually have. Also, things like breath mints, toothpaste, and toothache medications may make the breathalyzer display a higher BAC rate. Breathalyzers also need to be calibrated often. If it can be determined that the machine has not been calibrated recently, the results can be called into question. These are all elements an attorney can use to fight a DUI charge.
- Urine Test: Less accurate than both a breathalyzer and a blood test, urine test results can vary greatly depending on when you last drank and when you last urinated. Urine tests can give both misleadingly high and misleadingly low BAC readings which make them easier to challenge in court. You always have a choice of whether to take chemical testing in the first place. But if you decide to take a test and you are given a choice, take the urine test.
- Blood Test: Blood tests are probably the most accurate way to test a person's BAC, but there are some defenses that can be used against their results. In some instances, blood samples aren't properly preserved or sit around for a long time before they are analyzed. This can result in coagulation and decomposition of the sample, resulting in a falsely high reading. Also, labs that test blood and urine samples process thousands of samples each day, making contamination of the samples a possibility.
DUI Defense in Chicago
The best way to avoid a DUI conviction is to not drink and drive. That said, there may come a time when you find yourself in police custody, wondering if you may have underestimated the amount you drank. If that's the case, don't admit guilt and call an experienced Chicago DUI attorney immediately. The legal team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC is made up of experienced advocates who know the best ways to protect you, your driving privileges, and your future. Call (312) 644-0444 or (800) 996-4824 any time of day for free no-obligation, information about how we can help you.