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DUI -- First Offense -- Questions and Answers

First Offense DUI
Questions and Answers

Q: I've been told by the police that because I blew over .08 or because I refused to take the breath test, my driver's license will be suspended. When does the Suspension start?

A: Your license suspension will not take effect until the 46th day after your arrest. If you are a first offender, you are eligible for a Monitored Device Driving Permit (MDDP). You will be required to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in any vehicle you drive during the term of the Suspension. 

If your suspension is for 6 months, the Court has the authority to grant a BAIID Monitored Device Driving Permit for the last 5 months of the suspension. If your suspension is for 12 months, the Court can grant a BAIID Monitored Device Driving Permit for the last 11 months of the suspension. The 1st month of the suspension: i.e. the 46th day through 76th day after the arrest, is a hard suspension -- the Courts do not have the authority to grant a BAIID Monitored Device Driving Permit.  

Q: How do I get a BAIID Monitored Device Driving Permit (MDDP) issued to me?

A: First, you will need to get a Drug/Alcohol Evaluation from an OASA approved and licensed DUI Counselor. To get an Alcohol Evaluation you will need to show the Counselor a copy of your “Court Purposes” Driving Record (also called a “Driver’s Abstract”). You can get your Driving Record from the Secretary of State Driver’s License Facility located near you. You must tell them you want your Driving record for “Court Purposes.”

Q: What is a Drug/Alcohol Evaluation?
A: A Drug/Alcohol Evaluation is used by the Court to determine your risk of repeating the offense of DUI. The Court uses the Evaluation to make sure you receive the appropriate remedial education, counseling, and treatment to help you avoid getting another DUI in the future.

Q: What questions will they ask me at the Drug/Alcohol Evaluation?

A: The Counselor will ask you questions about your drug use and drinking history – how much you drink and how often you drink. If you use drugs, they will ask what kind and how often you use them.

The Counselor is looking for signs and symptoms of Drug/Alcohol Abuse and Dependance. They look for things like a history of blackouts, loss of control, frequent intoxications, prior arrests for drugs or alcohol, hangovers, etc. The more signs and symptoms you have, the higher risk you are to repeat the offense of DUI. The higher risk you are, the more education and treatment you will need to reduce that risk.
Your Counselor will assign you a risk level based on your answers. The lowest risk level to repeat the offense of DUI, a Level I, is considered  a social drinker. The highest level, a Level III, is considered an alcoholic or drug dependent.
Q: Where can I get a Drug/Alcohol Evaluation?

A: It depends on where you received your DUI. If you received the DUI in Cook County, local court rules require that you get your Evaluation through Central States Institute located in the various Cook County Courthouses. DuPage County DUI offenders  must receive the Evaluation through their own Court Services Department. In other Counties like Kane, DeKalb, and Kendall County, you can obtain an Evaluation from any OASA approved service provider. Your attorney can provide you with a referral to one or you can find them in the Yellow Pages under “Alcohol Information and Treatment Centers.”

Q: How much does a Drug/Alcohol Evaluation cost?

A: Cook and DuPage County evaluations cost around $200. Others range from $100 on up.

Q: How much does a BAIID cost to be installed and monitored?

A: The installation and monitoring of a BAIID device costs around $800 per year.
Q: I can't afford to lose my driving privileges for even one month. Is there anyway to avoid the suspension completely?

A: Yes, you can contest the lawfulness of the suspension.  

You are entitled to a hearing within 30 days after you notify the State of your intention to contest the suspension. At a hearing on a Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension, you are entitled to raise four general issues:

1) Whether the police had reasonable grounds to believe you were driving under the influence.

2) Whether the police had probable cause to stop you.

3) Whether you were properly warned of your rights concerning taking and/or refusing to submit to breath or blood tests.

4) Whether you refused to take the breath or blood tests or, if you took the test, whether your blood alcohol concentration was 0.08 or more.

If the Judge rules in your favor on any one of these issues, the suspension will be lifted by the Secretary of State upon receipt of the Court Order. 

Q: Is there any way of avoiding the suspension even if the Judge rules against me?

A: The State’s Attorney or local prosecutor in many northern Illinois counties will occasionally agree to remove the suspension as part of a plea agreement. Typically, the defendant must have a good driving record and pay a much higher fine than would normally be expected: up to $2,500.00.

Q: Can my insurance company find out about this DUI?

A: By law, the Secretary of State can give out information concerning your driving privileges to your insurance company. If you receive Court Supervision the Secretary of State is not allowed to disclose the fact that you were charged with DUI. However, the Secretary of State can disclose the fact that you received a DUI suspension, but only during the actual time of the suspension. For example, assume your suspension is effective from January 1 through July 30 of next year. If your insurance company asks for information on your driving record on January 2 or July 29, the State will tell them you have the suspension. If the insurance company asks for information on December 30 of this year or August 1 of next year, the State, by law, may not disclose the existence of the suspension.

Q: Is it worth the effort to get the suspension lifted?

A: It's almost always worth it to get the suspension lifted. If the suspension is lifted you will not need a BAIID installed and monitored. That alone will save you between $500 and $800. Second, insurance rates go ballistic if they find out you've had a DUI suspension and that's assuming they don't refuse to renew your policy.

Q: Will my Driver's License be automatically reinstated at the end of the suspension period?

A: No!  In order for your license to be reinstated you must send a reinstatement fee to:

Illinois Secretary of State
DUI Processing Division
2701 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, Illinois  62723

or you may pay the fee with a Visa or Discover credit card by calling the Secretary of State at (217) 782-3619. If you pay by mail you should do so at least ten (10) days prior to the end of date of your suspension to allow for processing.

Q: When do I have to pay the fines assessed against me?

A: If you can afford it, you can pay your fines right away. However, you do not have to pay them until the date you return to Court to terminate your Supervision: i.e., ten (10) or twelve (12) months down the road.

Q: I'm a first-time DUI offender with a good driving record. Assuming the police have a good case against me, what punishment can I reasonably expect from the Court?

A: If your DUI occurred in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, or DeKalb County, and the DUI did not involve an auto accident causing serious personal injury or death, the sentence you should expect is Court Supervision and a Fine and costs totaling around $1,500. You will also be required to obtain an alcohol evaluation and complete any remedial education or treatment recommended by that evaluation. Upon completion of Court Supervision you will be required to return to Court with proof that you have complied with the terms and conditions of Supervision. Assuming you do that, the Court will then dismiss the DUI charge and it will not appear on your driving record.

Q: If the State has a good case against me, do I really need to hire a lawyer to represent me if I am a first time offender?

A: Remember the old saying, "He who represents himself has a fool for a client!" Because every case is different an experienced attorney can be of value to you even in so called "good" cases. For example, an experienced lawyer may find defects in the State's case that you are unaware of. Secondly, not all Judges in the Counties listed above will grant Court Supervision to 1st offenders. Your lawyer will know who those Judges are and will get your case transferred to another Judge. Third, your lawyer should know what is reasonable to expect in plea negotiations so you will not be punished more than normal under the circumstances. Finally, the Judge you are appearing before may simply not allow you to proceed without the benefit of a lawyer.

In short, hiring an experienced attorney to represent you for a reasonable fee will give you peace-of-mind knowing that your rights are being protected by someone who knows the law, the Judges, and the Court system.  You can trust him to work for you and your best interest.

Q: How much is "reasonable" to pay an attorney to handle a 1st offense DUI?

A: If you ask five different lawyers that question you'll get five different answers. Most competent attorney's charge between $750 and $1,500 to handle a typical 1st time DUI case, although I've heard of rates ranging from $450 to $2500.

In law, like everything else, you tend to get what you pay for! Being railroaded because you didn't pay enough to obtain competent counsel is worse than hiring better counsel than you need.

Remember you choose your lawyer -- he works for you! 

Written and Prepared By:

The Law Office of Paul Heinrich & Associates 
Wheaton, Geneva, and Sycamore, Illinois

(630) 232-1116
All Rights Reserved - 1991
Revised 2010

Should I fight a 1st Offense DUI?
Posted by: Paul Heinrich
August 25, 2011

I recently had a client come in with a 2nd DUI, while he was awaiting trial on a 1st Offense DUI in a different county. He told me he was being represented by a different lawyer on the first case and couldn't afford to hire him to represent him on the new DUI. He told me his first lawyer told him that he could win the first case by fighting it and that he was charged $5,000. He demonstrated bad driving, failed all the field sobriety tests, and blew a .13 in the first DUI. In the second DUI, he did OK on the field sobritey tests and refused to take the breath test.

I asked him what defense his lawyer had to the 1st DUI's breath test and he told me he didn't know, so I called the lawyer myself. The lawyer told me he wasn't going to win the 1st DUI and had no defense to the breath test results. When I told my client this he was pretty much stunned that the first lawyer had given him false hope and that he was charged so much for basically nothing. Too many people get taken by lawyers this way because they don't know the law and how it works.

The first lawyer knew in the first 5 minutes that he wasn't going to win the case but he talked big -- "oh yeah, we're going to fight this case and win! I have an expert who will prove the breath test was invalid." My client ate it up and happily paid the outrageous fees. Now that he knows his first lawyer was just feeding him a line of BS, he wonders how and why he got suckered.

Well, unfortuately, some lawyers prey on their client's ignorance of the law and their desire for "hope." This client didn't know that a 1st offense DUI stays off your record regardless of whether you win or lose and his 1st lawyer wasn't about to tell him. He didn't know enough about the law to know what questions to ask the lawyer about exactly how he was going to win, what the strategy was, or why it was important to take that course over a less costly one.

If you were shit-faced and blew over the limit on your 1st Offense DUI, you want to talk to an attorney who will give you honest answers, not false hope, and charge a reasonable fee to help you through the process. The DUI is going to stay off your record anyway, so why pay more to fight a losing battle?




Violation of Court Supervision/Violation of Probation
Posted by: Paul Heinrich
January 01, 2011

When you are sentenced to Court Supervision, Conditional Discharge, or Probation for a criminal or traffic offense the court expects you to comply with the terms of the sentence.  For example, you may be required to attend drug and alcohol classes, pay fines and costs, and not commit any further criminal or traffic violations for the period you are on Court Supervision, Conditional Discharge, or Probation.

If you fail to comply with the terms of your sentence, the Court can re-sentence you up to the maximum allowable punishment. In DUI and other traffic cases where the motorist originally received Court Supervision, it is extremely important to avoid losing that sentence because the consequences of a conviction for the original offense can be devastating.

If you do violate the terms of your original sentence, it is important that you get an experienced traffic law lawyer to represent you to minimize the damage. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem and not show up in court.

A lesson I learned from flying airplanes applies equally well here, too, and that is that you never, ever just throw up your hands and give up.  If you do, you're guaranteed to be dead! 





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