Any Illinois resident who has been through the process probably knows that a drunk driving charge in this state is never a minor affair. Even first-time offenders can face significant penalties that can really affect their lives. Moreover, a repeat DUI, or a DUI with other aggravating circumstances, come with harsher penalties that can include jail time and even a felony conviction.

Even if jail is not on the table as a practical matter, a Lake County resident accused of drunk driving will have to deal with a suspension of his or her driver’s license. For a first time failure of a blood or breath test, a person will serve a 6-month suspension. For subsequent offenses, the suspension is for one year.

Additional penalties apply when a person refused to take a blood or breath test after an officer asked for one.

With respect to jail time, a person who has a prior DUI must serve at least 5 days in jail. In lieu of going to jail, a judge may order a person to perform 240 hours, or the equivalent of 10 days, of community service. On a related point, someone arrested for drunk driving while traveling with someone under 16 in the car, even if it is a first time offense, may face up to 6 months in jail as well as a mandatory $1,000 fine and additional community service.

Finally, some DUI charges get aggravated to felony offenses, which means one can go to prison for months. Examples of aggravated DUIs include DUIs charged after two prior convictions, as well as all DUIs involving a serious injury accident or fatal accident.

The penalties for drunk driving in Illinois are steep, and they can significantly impact a person’s life. A resident of the greater Chicago area should take all DUI charges seriously and, with the help of experienced counsel, consider mounting a strong defense to such charges.