The state of Illinois is extremely strict when it comes to impaired driving. Before you get behind the wheel, familiarize yourself with the new DUI laws in Illinois. Following the law could save your life, your passengers’ lives, and your future.
What Is DUI?
You are considered to be driving under the influence (DUI) if you operate a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. It’s important to know that you can get a DUI even if you are using legally prescribed medication or medicinal marijuana.
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
For non-commercial drivers, Illinois does not allow operation of a vehicle when the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. However, the standard for commercial drivers is twice as strict at 0.04%.
Zero Tolerance in Illinois
Illinois has zero tolerance for minors who drink and drive. The legal BAC for minors under the age of 21 is 0.00%. If you are under 21, driving with any alcohol at all in your bloodstream is a criminal offense and may result in a two-year license suspension.
Driving with Medical Marijuana in Illinois
The state of Illinois permits the use of marijuana, or cannabis, for medicinal purposes. In order to use medicinal marijuana, you must get a written prescription from an Illinois-certified physician and a registration card from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). When you register with the IDPH, a note will be made on your driving record—which is available to law enforcement.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
It is illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis. It is also illegal to transport medical marijuana in your car unless it is stored in a sealed container and stowed in an area of the car where the driver can’t access it (such as in the trunk).
If you are stopped by law enforcement and the police officer suspects you are impaired by medical marijuana, you must take a field sobriety test. If you refuse to take the test or fail the test, you could lose your driver’s license. If it is found that you are driving under the influence or with an open container, you could lose your license and your medical marijuana card.
What is an Aggravated DUI?
A DUI is always serious, but certain factors can make it even more serious. These are called aggravating factors. They include:
- Third (and subsequent) DUI convictions, or second (and subsequent) DUI convictions while transporting a child under 16 years of age
- Second DUI convictions following an alcohol-related homicide offense
- DUIs that result in injury or the death of another person, with particularly harsh penalties for DUIs that result in injury to a child under 16 years of age
- DUIs while driving a school bus or vehicle-for-hire with passengers on board
- DUIs that inflict injury in a school zone
- DUIs when driving without a license or liability insurance
- New in 2019: DUIs involving driving a vehicle in the wrong direction at the time of the arrest or crash
In Illinois, a DUI is generally a class A misdemeanor, with a penalty of no more than a year of jail time. However, a DUI with aggravating factors is a felony with much steeper penalties. The maximum fine for an aggravated DUI in Illinois is $25,000. A person who is convicted of a DUI involving multiple fatalities could be looking at a sentence of up to 28 years in prison.
How to Get Out of a DUI in Peoria
When you have been charged with a DUI, it is important to select a defense attorney quickly. At the law office of Schierer & Ritchie, our Peoria criminal defense lawyers have over 30 years of experience helping clients get their charges reduced or even dropped. But don’t take our word for it—our results speak for themselves.
We help you fight your DUI charges by examining every aspect of your case, looking for instances where police may have violated your constitutional rights or failed to follow the correct legal procedures. Even the way that you were stopped could make a big difference in getting your DUI thrown out. Don’t delay—contact our office for your free and confidential consultation.