DUI Court Process in Illinois

Updated on 04/15/2022 / Under

Most offenders don't know what to do after a DUI arrest. The DUI court process in Illinois can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with it. Almost every drunk driving arrest in Illinois has two separate charges: your criminal charges, including the DUI charges and other traffic tickets you received, and also your driver’s license suspension. You’re innocent until proven guilty for the DUI criminal charges, and these charges won't appear on your public criminal record until the end of the DUI case if you’re found guilty or plead guilty.

The License suspension is different. In Illinois, you’re subject to automatic license suspension 46 days after your DUI arrest. You’re entitled to a court hearing to fight the license suspension, and there’s a deadline to do this.

Not only that, the experienced license reinstatement lawyers at Naperville DUI Lawyer can file a Petition to fight your driver’s license suspension right away, and since it starts a clock running, this could be in your favor. Waiting to file this Petition could increase the chances of your driving privileges being suspended. If you have been arrested for a DUI in DuPage County, schedule your free initial consultation with our experienced Naperville DUI criminal defense attorneys today.

What is the DUI Court Process in Illinois?

Often, people who are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs have no previous criminal history. Typically, a DUI arrest is unexpected, and the legal process is unfamiliar and may be intimidating if you have never been in court before. DUI arrest procedures vary by state and locality, but here’s an overview of the various court hearings and common procedures you should expect to encounter in a standard DUI case.

The DUI Arrest

The DUI process in Illinois starts the moment a police officer suspects a driver is driving under the influence, usually after observing a traffic violation or responding to a motor vehicle accident. The law enforcement officer observes the driver’s demeanor, behavior, and physical appearance, leading to a suspicion of impairment.

If the police officer suspects the driver of being impaired, he/she asks the driver to perform various standard field sobriety tests. Also, the officer may ask the driver to take a portable breath test. This test isn’t admissible in court, and the driver can refuse to take this test.

Once the driver is placed under arrest for drunk driving and taken to the police station, he or she is asked to take a breathalyzer test, which measures his or her blood alcohol concentration. The results of this chemical test are admissible in court, provided the police officer follows proper procedures. Again, the driver can refuse to take this test. If your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or greater, you can be charged with a drunk driving offense in Illinois. However, just because the state has a breath or blood test against you, this doesn’t mean that you can’t beat your DUI case.

Our lawyers are here to help you through the court process after a DUI in Illinois

Typically, the driver is then released on bond. And he or she is given a court date and a notice that their driver’s license will be suspended in 46 days. If they’re a first-time DUI offender, the period of license suspension will last for 6 months if the results of the breathalyzer test results show a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater, or one year if the driver refused to take a breathalyzer test.

If this isn’t their first DUI offense, the period of license suspension will be one year if the results of the breathalyzer show a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater or three years if the person refused to take a breathalyzer test.

Petition For Your Driver’s License

Within 90 days of the DUI arrest, you can petition the court for a hearing to rescind the license suspension. You must be provided a hearing within a month of filing or on the initial court date.

A DUI case is a civil matter where the burden of proof rests on you to prove one of four limited elements of improper police procedures. If you’re a first-time offender, you can apply for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) to drive. If granted, you’ll have to install a Breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) on your vehicle. This device is expensive to install and maintain, and you’ll foot the cost of installation and maintenance.

The DUI Trial

A drunk driving charge is a criminal charge. During the DUI court hearing, the DUI offender will appear in front of a judge and will be advised of the charge against them. Evidence will be exchanged between the defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor and pretrial motions will be filed. With the advice of a DUI criminal defense attorney, the defendant will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Typically, this Legal process takes 1-3 court appearances.

If guilty, the driver’s DUI attorney will negotiate a sentence with the prosecutor, which ranges from a period of court supervision up to one year in jail. DUI criminal penalties include alcohol education classes and treatment, loss of driving privileges, jail time, community service, hefty fines, and lawyer fees.

If not guilty, there will be a trial in front of a judge or jury--the defendant’s choice and the state has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of drunk driving.

During the trial, the State will call witnesses, which includes the arresting police officer. The State will then rest its case. Then the defendant will have the chance to present any evidence he or she wishes, including witness testimony or his or her own testimony. However, the driver can’t testify in a criminal case. The Prosecutor and the defendant’s DUI criminal defense attorney will then make final arguments to the judge or jury. Post-trial, the jury or criminal court judge will make a judgment of guilty or not guilty.

Learn More: How Long Does a DUi Take?

DUI Sentencing

If you’re found not guilty of a DUI charge, you’ll be discharged without consequence. However, if you’re found guilty, a sentencing hearing will be held. The state will present aggravating factors such as your previous criminal history and traffic background to the judge. Your DUI criminal defense lawyer must then positively present you, citing specific hardship and mitigating factors to convince the judge to be lenient.

Can I Still Drive Right After a Drunk Driving Arrest?

If you had a valid license on the date of your DUI arrest, you can still drive for 46 days after your intoxicated driving arrest. However, at midnight on the 46th day, your driving privileges will be suspended. If you have an Illinois driver's license, the arresting police officer may have taken your license during the arrest. But you can still drive without your driver's license.

The law enforcement officer should have given you a "Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension". If you turn the notice over, on the back you’ll see a "receipt to drive." The arresting police officer should have filled that out with your driver's license information, and you can use that document to drive if you don’t have your driver's license on you.

Can I Take a Plea on My First Court Date?

It’s possible to take a plea on your first court date if you want to get over your charges as quickly as possible. However, often this is a bad idea, and it’s very hard to do. First, you can’t take a plea in DuPage County without the Central States Institute conducting a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation. For this evaluation to be done, you need an appointment and documents, but your first court date can’t be done in time.

Taking a plea on your first court date is a bad idea because you’ll be pleading guilty without having seen the DUI evidence against you since the reports and videos are only provided on the first court date. Although you may feel you have the worst case or that you’re guilty, the evidence against may be insufficient.

DUI court process in Illinois

Further, you’ll reduce the likelihood of a favorable outcome if you take a plea on the first court date. That's because your DUI lawyer won't have had enough time to review the evidence against you or potentially talk to the prosecution. You may think on a first DUI you'll take court supervision and be done with your DUI charges, but a DUI conviction will follow you for the rest of your life. So, it’s best to be patient and give your DUI attorney enough time to fight your DUI charges and come up with solid defenses to defend you.

If you’re charged with a DUI offense in DuPage County, Cook County, Kane County, Will County, Lake County, or anywhere in Illinois, you need the legal representation of an experienced and aggressive DUI criminal defense attorney. However, because every DUI case is unique, make sure your criminal defense lawyer is giving you the attention your case deserves. Call Naperville DUI Lawyer today at (630) 425-0250 to protect your rights throughout the DUI court process.

How Can a Naperville DUI Defense Attorney Help?

After a DUI arrest, you have many legal options available, all of which your DUI attorney can explain to you. You can opt to plead guilty, though this means you must bear the sentence imposed by the criminal court without a fight. Or you may plead innocent and take your DUI case all the way to trial. Also, you can accept a plea deal where you plead guilty in exchange for a lesser charge.

While your DUI criminal defense attorney can advise you on the legal action that is likely to offer you the least severe consequences, it’s up to you to decide which legal option is best for you. For a free case review, contact our experienced Naperville DUI lawyers at (630) 425-0250.