The State of Illinois has a law that prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle anywhere in Illinois while under the influence of alcohol, other drugs and intoxicants. This Illinois DUI law currently applies only to land vehicles other than snowmobiles and bicycles. 625 ILCS 5/1-217
It is necessary to understand that a DUI arrest involves two different categories of consequences. A DUI conviction can result in criminal penalties.
Criminal penalties involve anything that deprives a person of life, liberty or property. In essence, if a DUI conviction can lead to fines, penalties or incarceration, it is a criminal offense in which the prosecutor must prove the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Even court supervision, while not exposing an accused to jail, can result in fines and other monetary penalties.
A conviction for DUI will cause a revocation (nullification) of your driver’s license. Having it restored requires you to prove to the Secretary of State at a hearing that you will not drive drunk in the future. It’s more complicated than it appears but the process examines whether or not you can be a “safe and responsible driver”.
A “suspension” is a less severe form of driver’s license sanction. A suspension puts your driver’s license on hold temporarily. As long as your license is otherwise valid, you pay a fee at the end of the suspension and your license is returned to you without a hearing.
Because a suspension is less severe than a revocation, courts have held that it is legal to impose a DUI suspension even without there being a conviction. These suspensions are know as “Statutory Summary Suspensions” (SSS).
When you are arrested for DUI, you will be asked to submit to a breath or blood test to determine the content of alcohol in your blood. You have the right to refuse to take a test.
In that case, your driver’s license will be suspended. This is the SSS. Even if you take the test and register at least .08% blood alcohol, you will incur an SSS. The law imposes a shorter SSS if you test than if you refuse.
You have a right to an abbreviated court hearing to contest the suspension on very narrow grounds. Grounds include that the police had no basis to suspect you of DUI, that you did not refuse or fail the test, that you were not properly warned of the consequences of failing or refusing or that you were not first placed under arrest for DUI. 625 ILCS 5/1-118.1 The standard for upholding a suspension is very narrow and hearings to defeat the suspension are difficult to win but not impossible.
If you have been DUI-free for at least five years, you are entitled to a special driving permit during your suspension, other than for the first thirty days. This is known as a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) that requires the installation of a breath machine in any vehicle you drive.
Effective January 1, 2014, any person who is involved as an operator of a boat in an accident on water that results in serious injury or death is subject to an SSS. To be clear, in addition to any sanctions imposed on the operator’s boating privileges, the operator’s driver’s license will be suspended under the same rules as would apply if the operator were driving a car. In addition, the operator’s CDL, if any, will be subject to disqualification. Any hearing to contest the suspension must be held before the Secretary of State. Public Act 098-0103, amending 625 ILCS 5/6-206