Have you been here before? You had one drink, or maybe a few. Some time has gone by and perhaps you had something to eat, so you feel okay to drive. Suddenly lights are flashing behind you and now you're not okay. How did you get here? Maybe you rolled through a stop sign or ended up at one of Chicago's DUI checkpoints. Whatever caused the officer to pull you over, he tells you to blow into a Breathalyzer and the next thing you know, you're accused of driving drunk.
But you hadn't had much to drink and you didn't hurt anyone, so what are the costs of a first-time DUI arrest?
About $16,500 if you get convicted, according to the Illinois Secretary of State.
Does this figure seem high to you? There are a lot of expenses that come out of DUI arrests, including court fines and fees; the cost to reinstate your driver's license; fees to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device; increased insurance rates and lost wages due to court dates.
This financial average doesn't take into account the costs to your reputation and your lifestyle. First-time DUI is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. It triggers a mandatory minimum 1-year driver's license suspension and the suspension of your vehicle registration. What will you do if you are not allowed to drive for an entire year?
The penalties increase if your blood alcohol content was higher than .16, you were in an accident, you are under 21 or a child under 16 was in the car.
What Can You Do To Prevent These Costs?
Fight the first-time DUI conviction. You need to prevent a conviction not only to avoid all of the penalties mentioned above, but also because if you ever get a second DUI, even five or 10 years down the line, you will be up against very serious consequences.
A skilled attorney can push for a dismissal. If this isn't possible, seek court supervision. Under court supervision, you will have to follow some of the judge's stipulations, but the charge will stay off of your permanent record and eventually be dismissed.
Your lawyer can also request a monitoring device driving permit for you. This will allow you to drive with an alcohol ignition interlock device after your license has been suspended for 31 days.
The most important thing you can do now to prevent the costs of a first-time DUI is to contact an experienced and reputable criminal defense attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.