What to Expect With a First-Time DUI Offense
If you are charged with a first-time DUI offense, you may be unsure as to how you should respond when speaking with an officer. For example, should you be cooperative and do everything an officer asks? Or, should you refuse to do anything? The answer lies somewhere in between the two.
First and foremost, an officer's job is to keep citizens safe. Yet, just like every human being, an officer may be experiencing a bad day, therefore resulting in a short temper and little patience. When responding to an officer's questions, do not become antagonistic in your responses; however, do not admit guilt. Admission adds evidence against you and is hard to come back from defensively. An officer cannot make an arrest without just cause.
Also, keep in mind that police are not required to tell the truth. Officers are legally allowed to lie to convince you to cooperate. Still, answer an officer's questions politely but do not offer any other information such as how many beverages you consumed. Moreover, do not discuss your driving that night. In sum, it is best to keep your mouth shut as much as possible. Anything that is communicated during that time is allowable in a court of law.
With all of this being said, should you comply with a breathalyzer if this is your first DUI? Illinois is an “implied consent” state, which ultimately means that, in return for your driving privileges, you agree to submit to blood alcohol testing to determine if you are sober enough to be operating your vehicle. In Illinois, it is illegal to refuse a DUI test. If you do choose to refuse, your refusal will result in an automatic year suspension of your license. Hence, if you have simply consumed one drink and are not likely to show up with the 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC), then it may be beneficial for you to comply. If, in the future, you have received multiple DUI convictions and are looking at jail time, fines, and more, a year of suspension may not be your worst option. In order to make an educated decision, you must know and understand the laws and penalties.
Prosecutors are not often willing to make a “deal” on DUI cases—they do not want to have their record jaded by making “too good of a deal.” Judges are often very careful with DUI cases because each offender has the potential to repeat the same incident and his or her future offense may result in the death of another. Therefore, the penalties are often harsh. For first time offenders, the penalties are:
- License suspension of up to one year; and
- Mandatory alcohol education, treatment, and assessment for alcohol dependency.
The charges increase with each additional conviction. The maximum charges are:
- License suspension of 10 years or more;
- Mandatory alcohol education, treatment, and assessment for alcohol dependency;
- Vehicle confiscation; and
- The implementation of an ignition interlock device.
For the sole purpose of comparison, the following penalties apply if you refuse to submit to chemical testing:
- First offense: one year suspension; and
- Two or more offenses: three year suspension.
Illinois has done everything in their power to help you “choose” to take the DUI test. Therefore, if this is your first offense, it is probably in your best interest to go ahead and submit to the testing. Understand that even if a test does come back as positive, or a field sobriety test is failed (FST), you do have a defense option. Starting with the field sobriety tests, these are not 100 percent accurate. Generally speaking, 9 percent of the field sobriety tests given falsely “prove” that someone is intoxicated. Reasons for inaccurate results may include:
- Inner ear infections;
- Nerve or brain injuries; and /or
- Difficulties with mobility.
You may also be able to examine the way a field sobriety test was administered and find that you are able to contest those inaccurate results as the test was not given via appropriate standards. Finally, the preliminary breath screening device often is inaccurate. It is not generally so inaccurate as to register positive after one drink, yet it has been known to happen.
Consult with a Skilled Illinois DUI Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing a DUI, it is best to speak with a skilled attorney. Often, a great defense can lose because an inexperienced attorney may not be able to fully deliver. At Davi Law Group, LLC, however, our experienced attorneys will aggressively fight for the rights that you deserve. If you are in need of a DuPage County, IL criminal defense lawyer for your DUI charge, contact us today at 630-580-6373. We have offices in Wheaton, Chicago, Warrenville, and Joliet for your convenience.