What to Expect From Your First DUI

Updated on May 30, 2021
Updated: May 23, 2022

After an arrest, it's important to know what to expect from your first DUI. Often, first-time DUI offenders get placed on probation, however, the judge may also order you to serve jail time in county jail as a condition for your probation. Even for misdemeanor DUI offenses, you may have to serve some jail time, depending on the DUI laws in your state. Besides mandatory jail sentences, a DUI offender is subject to license suspension for a period of time, even for the first-time DUI charge.

Depending on your criminal history, you can apply for an occupational driver’s license or a hardship license so that you can be able to drive to school or work. Additional conditions of probation for driving under the influence convictions include court costs, hefty fines, probation fees, and urinalysis fees. Also, you’ll be required to attend and complete a drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment and community service hours.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a drunk driving offense, contact the experienced Chicago DUI lawyers at Tommalieh Law. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our Chicago criminal defense law firm today at (708) 232-0017, or chat with us online to discuss how we can offer you skilled legal defense.

What is the Criminal Penalty for a First-Time DUI in Illinois?

After a DUI arrest, it’s crucial to understand that you aren’t alone. In Illinois, each year nearly 35,000 people are arrested for intoxicated driving. Although the criminal penalties of a first-time DUI depend on how your DUI case plays out and if your DUI attorney gets your DUI charges reduced or dropped, here are the potential penalties a first-time DUI offender may face:

  • In Illinois, a first DUI offense is a Class A misdemeanor offense; thus, if you’re arrested and charged with a 1st DUI offense, you're subject to a maximum fine of $2,500 and a maximum jail sentence of one year.
  • Often first-time DUI offenders aren’t sentenced to months or a full year in jail or prison. Also, they aren’t subject to the maximum fine; however, they’re subject to a mandatory minimum fine of $500. However, this fine doesn’t include other fees, such as surcharges, court costs, or the cost of court-ordered rehabilitation programs, such as drug and alcohol awareness courses.
  • Often, a first-time DUI offender is ordered to go to substance abuse counseling, but this isn't a mandatory penalty if he or she is convicted.
  • If the DUI offender was transporting a person under the age of 16 in their vehicle, he or she is subject to a minimum fine of $1,000.
  • A person whose blood alcohol concentration was 0.16% or more must complete a minimum of 100 hours of community service.
  • A person who was transporting a minor in their vehicle must complete 25 days of community service in a community service program that’s beneficial to children.
what to expect from your first DUI

Apart from the statutory summary suspension mentioned above, a first-time offender will also face a driver’s license suspension for one year. However, the DUI offender may apply for a restricted license or a restricted driving permit (RDP) to drive to school, medical appointments, work, and/or drug or alcohol treatment. If your driver’s license has been suspended because of a first-time DUI conviction and a statutory summary suspension, you must install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) or an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car for the duration of the restricted driving permit.

How Does a First-Time DUI Affect Employment and Auto Insurance?

Even a first-time DUI can affect your auto insurance policy and ability to get employed. Since a drunk driving conviction is part of your public criminal history, many employers will run a background check and know about your conviction. Some employers won’t employ people with DUI’s on their criminal records because they view them as a risk to public safety. Also, driving under the influence conviction may cause your insurance rates to increase significantly.

Because you’re now a risk factor, you can also expect your auto insurance rates to increase significantly, too. If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident because of your DUI, and your offense is elevated to a felony offense, and your insurance company may not cover the costs of your auto accident. Most insurance policies don’t cover damages that arise from the commission of a felony offense, such as DUI offenses.

Will a First-Time DUI Ruin My Life?

A drunk driving criminal offense doesn’t have to ruin your life. If you hire an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney, fight your drunk driving charges, and negotiate a good plea deal, you may move forward with your life with minimal changes. If your DUI attorney can beat your DUI charges or get your DUI criminal charges reduced or dropped, you won’t even have an impaired driving charge on your driving record. However, if you opt to go to trial without the right criminal defense representation, you’re likely to be convicted. If you’re convicted for a DUI, this may ruin your life.

To know how a first DUI conviction can affect your life, and how you can prevent this from happening, here are additional consequences involved:

  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation. The most immediate consequence after a DUI charge is the loss of your driving privileges. Even though you aren’t convicted for a DUI, you’re subject to automatic suspension of your license--unless you take immediate legal action. After a first DUI conviction, you’re subject to one year of driver’s license suspension. And if you’re underage, your driver’s license suspension period will be 2 years. Obviously, being unable to drive to visit family, to see friends, to a doctor’s appointment, to work, or to run errands is a substantial way to ruin your life.
  • Potential jail time. The criminal penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs depending on how many traffic violations you’ve had, the judge’s mood and the circumstances of your DUI case. However, all DUIs carry a prison or jail sentence. As a first offender, you may be subject to a minimum jail sentence of 364 days, and if your blood alcohol content was 0.16% or higher, you may be subject to a maximum of 364 days in jail. If you were transporting a minor in your car, you could spend six months in jail.
  • Your career. Even after serving your prison sentence, a drunk driving charge doesn’t go away. Every time you send job applications, you have to disclose your criminal record. Most employers perform a background check to verify this information. Often, intoxicated driving is a liability, and it’s frowned upon. Thus, it affects how “hirable” you’re. Fortunately, hiring an experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer to defend you can get your DUI charges dropped or get you acquitted, which is a good way to protect your reputation, and ultimately your career.
  • Financial consequences. The biggest ramification of a DUI charge is the financial impact. Drunk driving offenses are extremely costly. If you’re a first offender, you may have to pay a fine of $1,000. Also, there are additional fines that are billed as court costs and other state costs. For a first-time DUI offense, the average cost ranges between $1,000 to $2,600, and they can be much higher. Further, you have to go to mandatory DUI school. Here, you’ll pay for an abuse treatment program or a DUI school course out of pocket. This program lasts for three to 30 months and costs $500 to several thousand dollars. Also, following a DUI arrest, your car may be impounded, and you must pay for each day it stays in the impound lot. License reinstatement also comes with its own fee. Further, having a DUI on your driving record will raise your insurance premiums because insurance providers see you as a risk.

Even the cheapest drunk driving costs run to thousands of dollars. To prevent a drunk driving charge from ruining your life, get a strong defense. At Tommalieh Law, we have helped thousands of clients get their DUI charges reduced and dismissed, and we can help you get a favorable outcome. Contact our criminal defense law firm at (708) 232-0017 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Is it Worth Getting an Attorney for First DUI?

Typically, a first-time DUI offense is a misdemeanor, and most criminal courts give a standard sentence. If you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and there’s sufficient evidence to support that, including failed field sobriety tests, blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit, results from a breathalyzer device, witnesses stating you were driving recklessly--most defendants take a plea agreement. Here, DUI criminal defense attorneys may not do much to help you.

However, if there are any aspects that could increase your criminal penalties, including a motor vehicle accident, bodily harm, an extremely high blood alcohol concentration, or facts that may reduce your criminal penalties, such as procedural issues during your drunk driving arrest, you should hire an experienced DUI lawyer to help you with your case.

A DUI criminal defense attorney can help you recognize these circumstances and help you come up with a solid defense strategy, and they can represent you in court.

A man meeting with a DUI lawyer

If there are any doubts about your DUI case, you want to take a plea bargain. With a plea deal, you agree to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser offense from the prosecution.

Questionable field sobriety test results, blood alcohol level below 0.08%, procedural issues with your arrest, such as questions regarding the accuracy of blood alcohol content and the arresting police officer not reading you your Miranda rights are some factors that create doubt about the justification of your arrest. An experienced DUI criminal defense attorney can help you get your DUI charges reduced or even dropped.

If your DUI case is more than just a misdemeanor first-time offense, hiring an experienced DUI lawyer is crucial. Instances, such as a very high alcohol concentration in your blood, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a minor in the vehicle, and/or causing bodily injuries, can turn a first-time DUI into a felony. These can lead to severe consequences, including one year or more in jail, among other criminal penalties. With legal representation, you can have a better chance of reducing your plea or sentence than you would on your own.

With the help of an experienced attorney, you can reduce the impact of the DUI charges. If you’re in Chicago and are facing a driving under the influence offense for the first time, the reputable DUI defense lawyers at Tommalieh Law, can defend you against your charges and assert an aggressive defense to your first DUI charge and will work to minimize the consequences of the DUI conviction. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation, call our law office in Chicago today at (708) 232-0017, or fill the contact form below.

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