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Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Cook Country Felony Prosecutor

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Chicago DUI Charges: A Prom Memory Your Teen Doesn’t Want

Prom and graduation season is upon us. Unfortunately, teen drunk driving tends to increase this time of year – as do law enforcement efforts to prevent it.

Both of these annual events are known for “booze-fueled revelry,” and while getting behind the wheel under the influence is always a dangerous decision that can lead to serious or fatal injuries (and serious legal consequences), this is far truer for inexperienced drivers.

In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, and about one-third of them are alcohol-related. In addition to the potential physical dangers of drunk driving, a DUI conviction will seriously compromise your teen’s future.

Today, we take a look at the more immediate legal consequences your teen could face for an Illinois DUI and how these charges could impact your teen down the line.

If your teen is already in trouble for underage drinking, it is imperative to be proactive in fighting back to beat or reduce these charges to protect their future. An experienced Chicago DUI attorney can help.

Zero Tolerance Law for Underage Drinkers in Chicago

Illinois has a Zero Tolerance Law for underage drinking and driving. That means that anyone under 21 caught driving after consuming any amount of alcohol will be charged with a DUI — even if they are under the legal limit.

Say, for example, that your teen has a beer with friends, and then heads home. He or she is stopped in a routine traffic stop, and the officer notices the smell of beer when asking for license and registration.

If a breathalyzer indicates even the slightest amount of alcohol was consumed, your teen will be be arrested and charged with a DUI, even if he or she is under the legal limit and was not exhibiting any signs of being impaired while driving.

How Illinois Handles Underage DUI Sentencing and Penalties

How Illinois Handles Underage DUI Sentencing and Penalties

Once an underaged drinker has been caught drinking and driving, then arrested and taken to jail, the real problems begin. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a teen’s first offense drinking underage and driving, an underage DUI carries serious sentencing and penalties.

According to Illinois law, the first underage DUI conviction is punishable by the following:

  • Loss of full driving privileges for at least two years
  • Possible imprisonment of up to one year
  • Fine up to $2,500

Penalties on the second DUI conviction are worse:

  • Loss of full driving privileges for at least five years
  • Mandatory five-day imprisonment or 240 hours community service
  • Possible imprisonment of up to one year
  • Fine up to $2,500

And when a teen is caught and convicted a third time for drinking and driving it is considered a Class 4 Felony, carrying penalties as follows:

  • Loss of full driving privileges for up to 10 years
  • Mandatory 18-30 month periodic imprisonment
  • Possible imprisonment for up to seven years
  • Fine up to $25,000

Underage drunk drivers are also subject to an array of other civil penalties, including ignition interlock devices, treatment programs and potential restitution. Additionally, your teen will have to carry high-risk car insurance for 13 years. Over this time, they (or you) may pay up to $40,000 more for car insurance.

Of course, we’re still only looking at the short term.

Long-term Impact of an Underage DUI in Illinois

You can already see that the criminal and civil penalties for an underage DUI are steep.

However, an underage DUI conviction may also profoundly affect your child’s future. The long-term repercussions of a teenage DUI are often far more grievous than many other juvenile crimes.

A DUI conviction may impact your teen’s life in the following ways:

  • Some high schools and colleges may expel or otherwise punish students charged or convicted of an underage DUI.
  • A DUI charge often affects college admissions. It will also put federal student financial aid and many other scholarships out of your child’s reach.
  • If a potential employer runs a background check, the charges can make it harder for your child to find gainful employment after graduation.
  • Suspension of your child’s driver’s license limits employment potential and your child’s social life.


Long-term Impact of an Underage DUI in Illinois

Prom is supposed to be a time for your teen to make lifelong memories — but you want to make sure they’re the right lifelong memories. Underage DUI conviction carries harsh criminal and civil penalties, and will affect your teen’s future long after the case is closed.

Take steps to prevent your teen from driving drunk this season. If you have questions about DUI, ask a professional.

If your teen is already facing DUI charges, work with your defense attorney to get the charges dropped or reduced. Investing the time and resources to fight back against a DUI now will protect your child’s future as an adult. Don’t let a lapse of judgment in youth affect your child’s adult future.


About the Author:

Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.

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