Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI)
If you are charged with a DUI offense, the sooner you take action in defending yourself, the better your chance of preventing the suspension of your driver’s license and winning your case.
A DUI in Illinois has two separate parts to be fought. The first, and the more important in the beginning of the case, is the Statutory Summary Suspension. This is the automatic suspension of a person’s driver’s license forty-six days after the day of arrest. The length of the suspension depends on whether a person has submitted to a breath (or blood or urine) test and whether the offense is a first or second DUI. If it is the first (no DUI within the past five years) and a breath sample was provided, the suspension will be for six months. If a breath sample was not provided, the suspension will be for one year. If this is a second or subsequent DUI within the past five years, the suspension will be for one year if a breath sample was provided and three years if a breath sample was not provided.
Because the suspension of a license automatically begins on the forty-sixth day after your arrest, this is when I would begin protecting you.
Once I am retained as your attorney, I immediately file a petition to have a Judge review whether the suspension should take effect. The Court must conduct a hearing within thirty days after I file the petition. Therefore, the sooner I file, the sooner you will have a hearing. It is possible to have a hearing before the suspension takes effect, as there are forty-six days before the suspension begins and your hearing will take place thirty days after the petition is filed. The Court must provide us an opportunity to prove that your license should not be suspended.
I will not discuss Statutory Summary Suspension law in detail here, as it is complex and requires a solid understanding of the laws and depends on the facts specific to each case. These specific facts are important to determine what actions should be taken to win the case; equally important are the Court and the Judge before whom the case is tried. During my review of your case, once I know the Court location and the Judge, I can give you more specific information.
The Secretary of State will also allow you to drive for a part of the suspension if you apply and pay for participation in the BAIID (Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devise) Program. In this program, you will have to install in your vehicle a breath-alcohol detection machine, and will have to blow into the device before starting the vehicle and while you are driving. BAIID is expensive, embarrassing, and degrading, and it does not cover the first thirty days of your suspension. By challenging the Statutory Summary Suspension early, you may not need to have the device.
One benefit to having the Statutory Summary Suspension rescinded is that you do not have to pay the reinstatement fee of $250. for a first offense and $500. for a second offense.
After the statutory Summary Suspension is addressed, we focus on the actual charge of DUI. The work done on the Statutory Summary Suspension assists us greatly in handling the DUI charge. The same set of facts applies for both parts of the case. And because the arresting officer testifies under oath during the Statutory Summary Suspension hearing, the officer is locked into his or her story. As you attorney, I will order the transcript of the officer’s testimony. There is a real benefit to having the police officer’s testimony locked in–the officer cannot remember things differently at trial.
Once the Statutory Summary Suspension is addressed, we turn to the actual DUI charge. Because it is a criminal charge, you are innocent until proven guilty.
The first step in fighting the DUI charge is to prove to the Judge that the police officer had no reason to stop your vehicle; the second is to prove that the arresting officer did not have adequate reasons to ask you to perform field sobriety tests.
The next step is to prove that you performed the field sobriety tests correctly or that the officer failed to conduct the tests correctly. In many cases, officers do not perform the tests as instructed in the officers’ student manual. (I have a copy of the manual, which all Illinois police officers used at the Police Academy.) In Court, I use the manual to prove that the test was done incorrectly and should not be considered. For example, during the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus) eye test, the police should not have flashing Mars Lights on, as these may cause eyes to show nystagmus (jerking).
A person charged with DUI faces high stakes, much higher in the long run than for many other crimes. DUI laws are geared towards facilitating a conviction and are always changing to ensure a conviction. Yet there are legal measures that can be taken to considerably improve a person’s chance of winning the case. Call to schedule a free consultation, and I can review your case with you. My office number is (708) 410-0090.
Defending a person accused of breaking other laws employs the same skill set needed in defending a person charged with DUI. I have to prove that you did not commit the crime or that there are circumstances that the Court needs to know about so that you will be found not guilty.
By simply filing motions and beginning to fight the charges, I can be in a better position to have some or all of the case dismissed or charges reduced.
I often file what is known as a Motion to Quash the Arrest and Suppress Evidence. This is relevant when the arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds for making the initial stop or conducting a search. If the stop/search is determined not to be based on reasonable grounds, then any evidence found during the search cannot be introduced.
Each case presents its own set of facts that need to be reviewed. I offer a free consultation in which I will spend time reviewing your case with you in person or on the phone. I will not use our time to persuade you to hire me. I will give you a frank review of your case, pointing out the strengths and the weaknesses. I will tell you what my fee will be and the direction I feel the case will head. No pressure–you may be under enough already–just honest, accurate advice.