The legal blood alcohol limit to operate a vehicle in Illinois is 0.08 percent, but it’s important to remember that standard only applies to individuals over the age of 21. If you’re under 21, the presence of any alcohol in your system renders you ineligible to legally drive a car. That means drinking half a beer then getting behind the wheel can lead to underage DUI charges, which can have major implications for your future. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the potential penalties for underage DUIs in Illinois.
Zero Tolerance Law
As we mentioned in the intro, Illinois has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to BAC in drivers under the age of 21. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel impaired or if you’re sure you could pass a field sobriety test; if you have alcohol in your system, you are considered in violation of the law and subject to criminal charges.
So let’s take a closer look at the process and potential penalties. If you are pulled over and suspected of drinking and driving as an underaged person, you have one of two options. You can choose to take the breathalyzer or you can refuse. If you take the breath test and blow above a .00 but below a .08, your license will automatically be suspended for three months as part of a zero tolerance violation. If you refuse to take the test, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months. Subsequent offenses result in a one-year license suspension for a positive test and a two-year license suspension for refusal.
Now, this doesn’t mean that refusal is automatically the wrong option because you’ll face a longer license suspension. If you know you’ll blow above a .00, it may be in your best interest to refuse, because otherwise you’ll be handing police all the evidence they need to convict you on the charges.
If your BAC is above .08, you’ll face the same DUI charges as an adult. Aside from a six-month license suspension, you’ll also face these potential penalties for your first offense Class A misdemeanor charge:
- Up to 364 days in jail
- Fines up to $2,500
- Community service
- Extended license suspension
- Alcohol education course
- Participation in the state’s Youthful Intoxicated Drivers’ Visitation Program
- Participation in a Victim Impact Panel
All of these penalties also don’t take into account the other potential consequences of drunk driving. It could affect your schooling, your current and future employment, your admission to college, your ability to obtain housing and much more, and that’s just if you get caught by yourself. If you have minors in the car or you cause an accident, jail time and increased fines are all but certain.
An underage DUI is a serious violation, and you should take your legal defense seriously as well. We can help with that aspect and work to ensure the best outcome possible. For more information, or for help with any of your criminal law issues, reach out to Brett and the team at Appelman & Lloyd today.