How Long Does a DUI Case Take?

Updated on 09/09/2021 / Under

Almost every drunk driving arrest in Illinois has two separate cases: automatic license suspension and criminal charges. For the criminal charges, you're presumed innocent until proven guilty 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. 

However, the license suspension is different. In Illinois, your driver's license is automatically suspended 46 days after your DUI arrest. You're entitled to a court hearing to fight the suspension, and there's a deadline to do this. An experienced DUI criminal defense attorney can also file a petition to fight your driver's license suspension right away. Waiting to file this petition could significantly increase the odds of your driver's license being suspended.

If you have been arrested for a drunk driving charge in Illinois, contact us today at (630) 425-0250 to schedule your no-cost initial consultation with our Chicago DUI lawyers.

How Long Does a Drunk Driving Case Take in Illinois?

A first driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs case will last anywhere between three to six months, depending on what county the drunk driving charge is in and how much litigation is involved. However, if there are aggravating factors, such as a 2nd offense or subsequent drunk driving convictions, or if there was a personal injury or death caused by an auto accident, that’s going to increase the duration of a DUI case. But mostly a first-time drunk driving case takes three to six months to complete.

The first DUI court hearing is a month after the intoxicated driving arrest, and each court date from there is a month apart. The reason the court dates are far apart is because every law enforcement department or municipality has what’s called a "key date". This governs how court dates on all impaired driving arrests from a specific police department are scheduled.

Why Do Drunk Driving Cases Take So Long to Resolve?

Driving under the influence cases take longer than many DUI offenders expect, especially when the DUI charges are serious.

How Long Does a DUI Case Take

Even for a 1st offense, it may take months before a defendant learns his or her ultimate fate. So why do the wheels of the criminal justice process seem to move so slowly?

Here are a few reasons intoxicated driving cases take so long to resolve:

  • Scheduling Hearings. Like any other other criminal offense, DUI offenders must be arraigned on formal charges to kick start the criminal justice process. Besides taking a plea deals from the defendant and assigning an experienced lawyer, the court will also schedule future court hearings in the DUI case. If a DUI defendant; for instance, pleads not guilty to a felony charge, the criminal court will then set a date for a pre-trial hearing. In many states, the DUI offender qualifies for a preliminary hearing within a short amount of days because of their right to a speedy trial. However, in most DUI cases, DUI defendants often waive this right. This gives the defendant's DUI lawyer time to collect key evidence and prepare their case. Because court calendars for preliminary hearings are often overcrowded, defendants who have "waived time" may be scheduled for a preliminary hearing several months after their arraignment process.
  • Gathering crucial evidence. Requesting and gathering additional evidence from parties in a court case is known as the discovery process, and it often takes much longer than most DUI offenders expect. In more severe drunk driving cases, especially those involving manslaughter or homicide charges -- the prosecution or the defense may opt to delay the process while waiting for key evidence. Whether a DUI offender is waiting on background information on the arresting law enforcement officer or the deposition of an expert witness, the pre-trial process can drag on for years.
  • Trial and sentencing. A court DUI trial might only last an afternoon, or it may take several months. Cross-examining the arresting police officer may take an entire day. Even when a court trial is over or isn't necessary, especially if the drunk driving offender pleads guilty or accepts some sort of plea agreement, the sentencing hearing isn't scheduled until weeks or months later. 

Do You Lose Your Driver's License for the First DUI in Illinois?

After a drunk driving arrest or court supervision order, you may lose your driving privilege. Your driver's license may be suspended or revoked for a 12-month period of time following a drunk driving conviction. First-time DUI defendants are often required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) or a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) in their car during the license suspension period. After the license suspension period or revocation period, you might have to apply for license reinstatement.

Drunk drivers caught operating their motor vehicle without the required monitoring device driving permit (MDDP) or BAIID, may face a Class 4 felony offense. Also, they may be required to pay hefty fines and they may face one to three years of jail time. Further, a DUI offender may be punished if they tamper with their IID or have another person blow the BAIID to start the vehicle. Criminal penalties for tampering with this device include a maximum of 364 days in days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.

How Can A DUI Criminal Defense Attorney Help You Beat Your DUI Charges?

In Illinois, intoxicated driving charges trigger two legal processes: a criminal legal process and a civil legal process. The civil process involves the loss of driving privileges, while the criminal process establishes whether the defendant will spend time in jail. An aggressive lawyer can help you challenge both criminal and civil aspects of your drunk driving case.

Review your DUI defense options with our firm

An experienced lawyer can defend you against Intoxicated driving charges by:

  • Challenging the circumstances of the traffic stop and the grounds of your driving under the influence arrest.
  • Challenging the chemical testing results.
  • Challenging the arresting law enforcement officer’s assessment of your blood alcohol level if the police officer didn’t administer a breathalyzer test.
  • Challenging the field sobriety tests.

Sometimes, a DUI criminal defense attorney can successfully apply for court supervision for a first-time DUI offender. After a DUI offender is found guilty or pleads guilty to their first DUI charge, the court may allow them to complete a court-ordered supervision program. If a first DUI offender completes the court-ordered supervision program successfully, no DUI conviction will be entered into their public driving record, although the drunk driving arrest will remain on the record.

During the court-ordered supervision program, the DUI offender is required to complete an alcohol evaluation program and they must attend a victim impact panel (VIP), besides any other requirements imposed by the court.

Related: Do I Need a Lawyer For My First DUI?

Our Experienced DUI Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You With Your Illinois DUI Case

Only a skilled DUI attorney in Naperville knows how to navigate the Illinois DUI Process to assure you of the best possible outcome. Our Chicago DUI lawyers have decades of experience helping DUI offenders across DuPage County, Cook County, Kane County, Kendall County, Lake County, and throughout Illinois beat their DUI charges and we can help you, too. Our legal team will negotiate the most favorable plea-bargain in your DUI case if possible. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our Chicago criminal defense law firm today at (630) 425-0250.