One of the most common types of criminal violations our clients are charged with in Sangamon County is the DUI (sometimes called DWI or OUI). In fact, it is common for us, as DUI lawyers, to defend clients on matters in Logan, Morgan, Montgomery, Macoupin, Macon and all of the surrounding counties.
DUIs are a class of crime unto themselves, and while ubiquitous, are far more complicated to defend than many people (even many DUI attorneys in Springfield and Sangamon County) often understand. The consequences of being convicted of a DUI go far beyond the hefty fines and time involved in completing all of the associated treatment and counseling and can include the loss of a driver’s license which is often a greater punishment than the criminal sanctions imposed for the DUI itself.
Frequently, especially with a first DUI, other DUI attorneys will encourage their clients to simply “take first offender supervision” on their case without further review. However, while it is often appropriate to resolve a first violation in this manner, it is not always the best practice. Once a client has received supervision on a DUI they cannot receive supervision again, and this can have serious consequences for their driver’s license. In fact, with a DUI, issues for our clients’ driver’s licenses start from the time the ticket is written as Illinois imposes a Statutory Summary Suspension (SSS) anytime a person is charged with a DUI and either does not submit to a breath test or submits to a breath test and blows .08 or higher. The SSS becomes effective 46 days after the arrest for DUI, and so it is very important that our clients call our office very quickly after their arrest in order that we can take the necessary steps to avoid the SSS going into effect, if possible in the client’s particular case.
Any time a client walks into our office with a DUI--whether it is a first offense or repeat offense, misdemeanor or felony--there are a number of factors that we consider to determine whether the State’s Attorney office (whether located in Springfield, Jacksonville, Decatur, or elsewhere) has a good case for DUI or whether it is one that the client should seriously consider taking to trial. The first thing we consider is the stop itself. Did the officer have reasonable suspicion to pull the client over for any traffic infraction? What, if any, probable cause did the officer have to arrest the client for DUI? Did the officer have a dashboard camera, a body camera, or even both? What about the field sobriety tests that the officer administered – did the officer follow the NHTSA standards? Was there a breath test, a blood draw, and/or a urine sample taken? If so, how long after the alleged offense did these tests occur? These are just some of the questions that we consider anytime a client with a DUI walks into our office.
The long and short is that DUIs are complicated and it is very likely that an officer did not do everything “by the book.” Accordingly, it is frequently the case that a DUI that seems indefensible on the surface is a very triable case.
A DUI can be a life-altering event especially if it is not handled properly. The criminal and civil consequences of being charged with a DUI can affect family life, social life, and work life if a person is no longer able to drive for any period of time.
If you or someone you love has been charged with a DUI in central Illinois, please do not hesitate to contact our office and schedule a free consultation. We look forward to working with you and will review your case from every angle to make sure that you have the best defense possible.