A drunk driving arrest these days is not the same as it might have been 20 years ago. Safety advocates and law makers have worked hard to tighten the laws related to impaired driving, and as a result, the roads have gotten safer for many drivers. However, those tough laws may also place your future in jeopardy.
If police pull you over under suspicion of drunk driving, they will probably not take the time to explain every step of the process or warn you about the consequences of a conviction. Nevertheless, without knowing what to expect, you are at risk of making mistakes that could complicate many areas of your life for years to come. Gaining as much information as possible about your options can provide you with an opportunity to make wise choices about your defense.
The price to pay
After you fail roadside breath or sobriety tests, police will arrest you and take you to the station where you will undergo further testing to confirm your blood alcohol concentration. If your BAC is .08 or higher, police will fingerprint you, take your mug shot and place you in a cell until someone pays your bail. You would be wise to seek legal advice about your next steps for avoiding a conviction. If a court convicts you, the following are potential penalties you face:
- A fine that may reach thousands of dollars
- Time in jail, which is possible even for your first offense
- Strict probationary terms
- Alcohol abuse assessment
- Driver education classes
- Installation of an ignition interlock system in all of your vehicles
- An extreme hike in your insurance premiums for several years
- License suspension
You will have a limited amount of time, in Illinois it is 45 days after your arrest, before the automatic suspension of your license takes place. The length of your suspension depends on whether this is your first offense or a subsequent offense, or if there are aggravating factors at the time of your arrest. If losing your license will prove an extreme hardship for you, it is important to learn whether you can fight this suspension.
Even a first offense DUI conviction can be devastating financially, personally and professionally. Your job may suffer if you have to miss time for court dates, jail or community service. You may have difficulty finding rides to work, or your employer may have to let you go if your DUI violates the code of conduct for your profession. It would be in your best interest to take advantage of every option for avoiding a conviction for drunk driving.