On a daily basis, we read and hear about arrests for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). After an arrest occurs, the case follows two tracks.
The first track has to do with the driver’s license suspension from a DUI arrest. In connection with a DUI arrest, you will be asked to submit to a portable breath test (PBT).
The results of a PBT cannot be used in court as direct evidence of your blood alcohol content (BAL), or in other words, whether you have enough alcohol in your body to be over the legal limit of .08. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.5 However, the officer may rely upon the PBT results, along with standardized field sobriety tests and other physical characteristics (bloodshot eyes, odor of alcohol, slurred speech, weaving and others) to determine if there is probable cause to believe you should be arrested for DUI.
Once the officer, relying upon the above factors, believes there is probable cause, you will be placed under arrest for DUI. After that you will be asked to submit to a “chemical test”, either a blood draw or by the use of a machine that is purportedly certified for accuracy and administered by someone with training in doing so. Consequently, those results are admissible in court to prove your BAL. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2
A BAL of .08 or greater will result in a driver’s license suspension for a specific period of time, unless you are able to prosecute a rescission of the statutory summary suspension. You also have the right to refuse testing unless there is an accident with serious injury or unless you are taken to the hospital for medical treatment.
The length of the summary suspension depends upon two factors, those being whether you agreed to the test and whether it has been greater or fewer than five years since you received a previous DUI (if any). If you have had a DUI within the previous five years and you register .08 or higher, your suspension will last for one year. If you do not submit to a chemical test, you will be suspended for three years. You cannot drive for any reason, even on a restricted basis, during the suspension.
If this is your first DUI or if the most recent prior DUI happened more five years ago, then a refusal will result in a one year suspension and a test of .08 or higher will lead to a six month suspension. After the first thirty days of the suspension, you would be eligible for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP).
The second prong of a DUI arrest involves the crime of DUI. It is a crime because if you are convicted, you are subject to fines and or jail time.
Before the government can take away your property or liberty, they must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed the crime of which you are accused. Thus, unlike the driver’s license suspension, which is automatic, the state must prove certain things before you can be convicted of DUI.
Confusion can arise because a DUI conviction also carries with it driver’s license consequences. 625 ILCS 5/6-205 To be specific, a DUI conviction will lead to a revocation of your driver’s license.
The suspension versus revocation dichotomy is important. The purpose of the automatic license suspension is, in addition to helping the police gather evidence against you, to get you off the road temporarily. Once the temporary suspension ends, your license becomes valid upon payment of a fee, unless you are convicted of the DUI.
A revocation means that your current license will never be valid again. You must apply, through an administrative hearing with the Secretary of State, for restoration of your driving privileges.
Revocations run different periods of time. A first conviction is a one year revocation. If, within twenty years from the date of the first conviction, you are arrested for DUI and later convicted, you will be revoked for five years.
A third conviction, no matter how many years apart, means a ten-year revocation. After four convictions, you are revoked for life if any arrest that led to the conviction occurred after January 1, 1999.
The MADD study on conviction rates in nine downstate Illinois counties may or may not be accurate because “conviction” has a specific meaning and does not include court supervision. Therefore, in calculating the length of a revocation, do not count court supervision.
During the revocation, the rules on when and whether you may apply for a driving permit are fairly complex. Those with no DUI in the prior five years are known as “first offenders” even if this is not their first offense. 625 ILCS 5/11-500
First offenders may apply for an RDP thirty days after the revocation takes effect, unless this is not the first conviction, in which case they must wait a year before being eligible for an RDP. Non first offenders cannot apply for an RDP until their statutory summary suspension has ended.