Most people are completely new to the criminal justice system when they receive the first charge for driving under the influence. Unfortunately, many of the people who get one conviction then go on to get another charge for the same basic offense. When it comes to the criminal case and its consequences, there can be big differences between the first case and the second.
First Time DUI
Many people do not feel the need to ask for the assistance of an attorney the first time they are charged with a DUI. There is often an offer from the prosecutor that allows them to go home and take care of the fines and punishment on their own time. There is usually not a request for a jail sentence, so it seems like a great deal.
However, even the first DUI is very expensive. Unless you were stopped at home or in another place where you can leave your vehicle, you may have to pay for towing and impounding your vehicle. The DUI class costs at least $50, and counseling fees run about $200. When your auto insurance company finds out about your conviction, your premiums will go up and you will need to pay for special high risk insurance for 3 years. If the courts order an interlock device, that is very expensive too. All of this doesn’t take into account possible court fines and attorney fees, besides the time you miss work because you have to go to court.
Also with a first time DUI, you may be eligible for court supervision, where you follow certain rules and requirements and then, after a period of time, your case is over and no judgment is entered against you. This is only allowed for a first time DUI. You may still have to go through a license suspension, but as long as you follow the rules, your case can finish without a conviction. You should always ask for this option if the prosecutor doesn’t offer it.
Second Time DUI
Even though the second DUI in Illinois is still a misdemeanor, the punishments are much harsher than for the first one. First and most obviously, you are no longer eligible for the court supervision option. You either will have to win your case at trial or get a DUI conviction on your record. The conviction will go on both your criminal and driving record, and is one of the kinds of convictions that can not be removed through the regular expungement process.
The punishments are harsher than for any other Illinois misdemeanor. If you are convicted as charged, your driving privileges will be suspended for at least one year. Once the year is up, your privileges are not automatically reinstated. You will have to file a petition to get your license back and convince the Secretary of State that you deserve to get your license back.
Any misdemeanor is worth up to 364 days in jail, but the judge usually has broad discretion when it comes to sentencing. With a second time DUI conviction, you will have to serve at least 5 days in jail or perform at least 240 hours of community service. Jail time is the worst thing most of us can imagine, and even 5 days will seem like forever for most of us.
Fines and Fees
The technology for a first time DUI is $500, but it is twice as much for the second. The judge can also impose court costs and fines, which vary by court and judge.
Probation comes with its own rules and fees, and you may be on probation for up to 2 years after any misdemeanor conviction. There are two different basic kinds of probation: supervised and unsupervised. You will likely have to spend at least the beginning of your probation period on supervised probation, which costs more in money and time. If things go well, you may be allowed to go to unsupervised probation or end probation early.
DUI Convictions Are Expensive
Once you add up the license suspension and reinstatement, court fines, technology fine, and probation fees, you may be wondering how you can afford to get a conviction. In order to drive, you will need to carry expensive insurance because your insurance company now considers you high risk. The courts are very serious about collecting fines for criminal cases, and you will need to find a way to get the extra money you need while struggling to comply with your court requirements.
Can You Avoid a DUI Conviction?
One of the reasons it is so important to speak with a skilled lawyer at the beginning of your case is so that you don’t make any mistakes when it comes to your case. You will feel as though you have no control over the proceedings as you go to court and have the judge order you to come back at certain times, but there are deadlines for many events, such as when the prosecutor has to turn over the State’s evidence. Your attorney will make sure that the arresting officer was properly trained and followed the correct procedures. If the officer made even a minor mistake, depending on what it was, you could have the case thrown out.
Regardless, it is the State’s burden to prove the case, and your attorney will make sure that the prosecutor follows all the rules. No one will hold it against you if you make sure that the evidence is really there before you admit to anything. Even if your attorney can’t get your case dismissed, there may be a way to get your conviction reduced with a plea deal. One of the deals you may ask for is to plead to reckless driving instead of DUI, because a reckless driving conviction may cause your insurance to go up, but it will not have all the other consequences of a DUI.
If you or a loved one is facing a second DUI, the time to act is now. Your Woodridge DUI Lawyer will listen to your story and get the evidence from the prosecutor so you can learn your options. Call today so you have a committed, skilled attorney on your side.