If your holiday season was spoiled by a DUI arrest or charges, know that you are not alone. A drink at a holiday party can often turn into a poor decision behind the wheel – even if it just barely qualifies for “driving under the influence.”
Chicago, Illinois, and the country at large sees a lot more DUI charges on Christmas and New Year’s each year because, quite frankly, there are more drunk drivers on the road during the winter holiday season.
That’s not the only reason for this jump in DUI charges, though. Law enforcement officials know that more people are drinking and driving over this period, so they put more officers out on the roads. This is especially true right around big occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. When police officers are told to look hard for something, they tend to find it – even if it’s not always there in every situation.
For the last few months, it probably seemed like there was a different news story from a different Illinois county every day about a “DUI crackdown.” For New Year’s Eve, the Logan County State’s Attorney designed a plan to obtain warrants immediately after a DUI arrest so that an accused driver’s blood or breath could be tested as soon as possible, even right after the driver was initially accused. This kind of action is designed so that people will have more evidence against them when they are being charged, but forcing law enforcement officers and technicians to work faster can also lead to mistakes.
The bottom line is that if you are one of the many drivers who recently got busted for DUI, there are ways to fight back against your charges. You just have to know how.
What Steps Can You Take to Fight Your Holiday DUI?
After receiving a DUI, you may be unsure what to do next. Most people, in fact, do nothing, choosing to sit and wait until they learn what the next steps are going to be from the state. This, however, is the exact wrong way to approach the situation. You need to be proactive if you want to get the best possible outcome.
What does that mean?
Obtain a Copy of Your Police Report. Empower yourself with the knowledge of what the prosecution, or even victims of the accident, might use against you. Review your police report when you consult with a lawyer to give your lawyer a better look into what happened during your arrest and what options you have moving forward.
Know the Penalties. It is important to stay informed, and knowing the penalties for a DUI may put a little fire under you to fight against those charges.
A first DUI conviction comes with the following possible penalties:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- License suspension for at least one year
- Ignition Interlock Device installment
Penalties increase significantly if you are convicted of a second or third DUI.
The penalties are decreased, however, if you decide to take a plea bargain. Many states call this a “wet reckless,” but Illinois handles DUI plea bargaining a bit differently. In our state, a reckless driving conviction is a Class A misdemeanor.
Hire a Lawyer. Think of a lawyer as an investment in your future. DUI convictions and their penalties can have costly long term effects (the increase in auto insurance premiums alone is enough to put a lawyer on speed dial), but you may not have to go to trial to fight your charges. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner you have the chance of getting your charges dropped or reduced so that you can move on with your life.
Remember, a DUI charge is not a conviction. There are ways for you to dispute the chemical tests, method of arrest, and charges against you. Want to move forward with fighting your charges? Contact a knowledgeable Illinois DUI lawyer today.
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.