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Drunk driving often linked to alcohol dependency

DUI and alcoholism go hand-in-hand, and some areas of the country are using DUI courts to address some of the issues behind drunk driving.

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and courts take drunk driving very seriously, embarking on widespread efforts to pull over and arrest people suspected of driving under the influence and handing down harsh penalties. Even for a first offense, those convicted of DUI in Illinois may face large fines, jail time and a suspended driver’s license.

Although many efforts aim to crack down on the practice of driving while intoxicated, much less attention is paid to the root of the problem for many individuals: alcohol dependency. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, there is a clear link between alcoholism and criminal behavior, including drinking and driving.

In many jurisdictions across the country, DUI or sobriety courts have helped to reduce drunk driving overall in their communities. Rather than only penalizing offenders with fines and jail time, these courts take a more holistic approach, addressing alcohol dependency issues with which repeat offenders are likely to struggle. According to a joint study from the National Drug Court Institute and the National Judicial College, these courts have been associated with high rates of success and lower recidivism rates compared to areas that do not offer this option.

The important work of DUI courts and advocacy organizations has had positive effects, as NCADD research indicates that fatalities related to alcohol-impaired driving have decreased by nearly 50 percent since the early 1980s. That’s an impressive reduction, although there were still 10,322 alcohol-related auto accident deaths across the country in 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Penalties for DUI in Illinois

Although there has been great progress made in addressing some of the core issues resulting in DUIs across the country, it’s important to understand that the state of Illinois mandates harsh penalties for individuals convicted of this crime. According to the Illinois State Police, a first DUI offense will result in a minimum one-year driver’s license suspension, up to one-year incarceration and fines up to $2,500. If it is your second offense within the last 20 years, a minimum of five days in jail or 240 hours of community service and up to a $2,500 fine may be issued.

A third DUI conviction, typically charged as a class II felony, could mean a license suspension of 10 years, up to seven years in prison and fines up to $25,000. And for those convicted of aggravated DUI, a class IV felony charge, the potential penalties include between 10 days and 12 years incarceration, fines up to $25,000 and a one-year license suspension – even if it was your first offense.

It’s also important to note that individuals under the age of 21 accused of drunk driving could lose their driving privileges for up to two years, face jail or prison time and have to pay a maximum $2,500 fine.

If you’ve been charged with drunk driving in Illinois, it’s important to work with a trusted lawyer who understands the various circumstances and issues that could have led to your arrest. Contact an experienced Naperville DUI defense attorney today.

Keywords: drunk driving, DUI, arrest

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