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This is my first DUI, why should I fight it since I do not ever plan on getting another one?

If you are charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Illinois, and it is your first offense, you may be tempted to accept whatever offer the prosecutor makes to you. This may not be a wise choice once you understand the consequences of an Illinois DUI.

You are headed home one evening after stopping for a couple of drinks after work. A peace officer, based upon an anonymous tip from someone in the restaurant you just left that a car matching the description of yours just left the parking lot with a drunk driver behind the wheel, activates his siren and emergency lights and orders you to pull up to the curb.

This very well could be an illegal stop, since the tipster was anonymous and therefore the police had no reason to believe the information the tipster provided was reliable, and since the officer has no reason independent of this anonymous tip to suspect you had committed, or were about to commit, a crime, as required under the United States Supreme Court case known as Terry v. Ohio 392 US 1, 20 L.Ed. 2d 889 (1968)

If the initial stop was illegal, then any evidence gathered as a result of the stop is also illegal and cannot be used in court against you. Without this evidence, it would impossible for the police to prove the charges against you.

Blocking illegal evidence from being introduced into a DUI case is known as the “exclusionary rule”. If you plead guilty to the DUI, you give up all your constitutional rights, including your right to assert the exclusionary rule and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Change the facts a little and suppose there was no tip and that the officer saw you make a turn without signaling, a perfectly valid basis upon which to stop you. The police cannot just come up and start asking you DUI-related questions after stopping you.

They first must have a reason to believe you may be impaired. Failure to do so would raise questions of “probable cause” to make an arrest. Once again, though, if you plead guilty, you give up your right to raise this defense.

Once the officer has made a determination to investigate you for possible DUI, there is no doubt that he will ask you to take a breath test to determine if your blood alcohol content is .08 or higher, the legal limit in Illinois. 625 ILCS 5/11-501. If you register .08 or higher, or if you elect not to provide a breath sample, the officer will issue you a notice of statutory summary suspension (SSS).

What this means is that your driver’s license will, 46 days after the officer delivers the notice, be suspended for 6 months if you blew and 12 months if you refused. 625 ILCS 5/6-208.1 While this suspension is often described as being “automatic”, you do have a right to contest the suspension as set forth by law. 625 ILCS 5/2-118.1
One of the grounds to contest the suspension is that the officer did not have a reasonable basis to believe you were under the influence. But if you plead guilty and do not contest the suspension, it will stand. As a result, you will either not be able to drive during the SSS, or you will have to undergo the expenses and inconvenience of obtaining a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP).

There are also substantial ramifications from the actual DUI charge. An appealing offer from the state will probably be for court supervision. Court supervision is not a conviction.

Therefore, your driver’s license will not be revoked; even if it is suspended, you get it back automatically when the suspension ends. If your license were revoked, you would have to have a drivers’ license hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State.

Even at that, supervision is a once in a lifetime deal. If you had a DUI in the future, you would not be eligible for supervision, no matter what your circumstances were. You may think today that you will never have another DUI, but it is likely that is what everyone thinks, even people who end up with 8 DUI arrests and likely prison time.

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