Chicago, Illinois DUI Lawyers
Driving under the influence is a serious crime in Chicago, just like any other city. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, engaging competent DUI lawyers in Chicago, Illinois, can drastically influence the outcome of your DUI case. This may potentially turn the tide in your favor.
Not only can a specialized criminal defense attorney in Chicago guide you through the complexities of Illinois law, but they can also be instrumental in every legal phase. Here’s an in-depth look at the crucial assistance the top-rated Chicago DUI lawyers provide, along with the penalties you might face for a DUI charge in Chicago.
DUI vs DWI in Chicago, IL
In Chicago, Illinois, the terms DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) are often used interchangeably in casual conversation. However, in the legal context of Illinois, only the term DUI is officially used.
Illinois statutes delineate the offense under the category of DUI, which encompasses not just alcohol but also other intoxicating substances. This includes including illegal drugs, prescription medications, and even over-the-counter medications if they impair someone’s ability to drive.
While the terminology may vary across states, Illinois strictly uses the term DUI to cover all cases of impaired or intoxicated driving.
DUI in Chicago
According to Chicago law enforcement, a person is considered to be driving under the influence if they operate a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. However, the scope is not limited to “drunk” driving but includes drugs or alcohol.
A DUI charge can also be filed against someone driving under the influence of drugs which renders the driver incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. This includes the use of prescription drugs like opioids or benzodiazepines if they impair one’s ability to drive.
DWI in Chicago
Some states do differentiate between DUI and DWI based on technicalities. These can include the level of impairment or the substance causing the impairment. However, Illinois law doesn’t formally recognize the term DWI. Whether you’re pulled over for drunk driving because you consumed alcohol or because you ingested illegal or prescription drugs, the charge filed against you will be a DUI.
Finding A DUI Lawyer in Chicago
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Chicago, then finding a top-rated DUI attorney in Chicago should be your next step. Finding top-rated Chicago DUI attorneys may not always be easy. Some of the best places to start your search for the best Chicago DUI lawyer for your case include professional law associations.
These are organizations made up of legal professionals that often have requirements for membership. While being a member does not guarantee a lawyer’s abilities in court, it can act as a solid starting point for finding a Chicago criminal defense lawyer who can help you beat a Chicago DUI charge.
Some of the professional law organizations in Chicago include:
- Chicago Bar Association
- DuPage County Bar Association
- Kane County Bar Association
- Lake County Bar Association
- McHenry County Bar Association
- Illinois State Bar Association
Keep in mind that just because a lawyer is a member of one of these organizations does not mean they are specialized in DUI law. Use discretion and your best judgment when searching for your Chicago criminal defense attorney.
How A Chicago DUI Lawyer Can Help
Securing the services of a competent DUI lawyer in Chicago, Illinois, can make a significant difference in the outcome of your DUI case. Here’s a breakdown of how a specialized attorney can help at each stage, from immediately after a DUI arrest to the appeals process and beyond.
Immediately After A DUI Arrest in Chicago
The first few hours after a Chicago drunk driving arrest are critical. Law enforcement and prosecutors begin building their case against you almost immediately. Having a top-rated DUI attorney in Chicago involved from the start can ensure that your rights are protected.
They can also provide essential legal advice about what to say and what not to say, as your statements can be used against you. Your attorney can review the arrest procedure for any issues, such as lack of probable cause for the traffic stop or improperly administered field sobriety tests. Any of these factors can be grounds for case dismissal or a reduction of charges.
Additionally, you only have 20 days from the day of your DUI arrest to appeal the mandatory administrative license suspension. This is also known as a statutory summary suspension in Chicago. Your Chicago DUI lawyer can help you file the appeal and walk you through the appeals process. This may enable you to keep your driver’s license until your court date.
Before the trial, your DUI attorney will engage in discovery, obtaining police evidence that the prosecution plans to use against you. They’ll scrutinize the evidence meticulously for any inconsistencies, errors, or constitutional violations. For instance, breathalyzer and blood alcohol tests must adhere to specific protocols; any deviation can render the results invalid. The earlier you hire a top-rated Chicago DUI lawyer, the more time they have to build a strong DUI defense.
Your attorney can also file pre-trial motions to suppress evidence or even dismiss the case if there are significant procedural errors. This phase is also when plea negotiations typically occur. A skilled attorney can leverage the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to negotiate a lesser charge or alternative sentencing that may keep you out of jail and possibly even keep your driving privileges intact.
If your case goes to trial, a specialized Chicago DUI attorney is indispensable. They will build a robust defense strategy and cross-examine prosecution witnesses and police officers to expose weaknesses in their testimonies. They can also present expert witnesses to counter the prosecution’s case. Your attorney’s role is to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.
Given the complexity of DUI laws and related science, having a top-rated DUI attorney in Chicago who understands the nuances can be the difference between conviction and acquittal.
Even if you are convicted, your attorney’s job isn’t over. They can file post-conviction motions for a new DUI trial or to have the sentence reduced. They’ll also prepare a comprehensive argument for leniency during the sentencing phase, potentially saving you from a more severe penalty.
Appeals and Onward
If there are grounds to appeal a DUI conviction verdict, such as judicial errors or newly discovered evidence, a competent DUI lawyer in Chicago can guide you through the complex appellate procedure. Winning an appeal could result in a new DUI trial or even an outright case dismissal.
Additionally, your attorney can advise you on how to expunge the conviction from your record. This is only applicable if the charges were dropped or reduced. In Illinois, you cannot get a DUI sealed or expunged from your record. In the event you were convicted of a DUI in Chicago, your DUI attorney can help you mitigate its long-term effects on your life.
DUI Arrests in Chicago
Chicago has an extremely high number of DUI arrests each year. According to the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, there were 2,131 DUI arrests in Chicago in 2022. This is nearly half of all 4,213 DUI arrests in Illinois for 2022. These arrests were all reported by the City of Chicago law enforcement.
For a more fine-grained look at DUI arrests in Chicago, we can break this down by county. Of the six counties that make up the city of Chicago, the number of DUI Arrests in 2022 are as follows:
- Cook County: 121 DUI Arrests
- DuPage County: 70 DUI Arrests
- Kane County: 82 DUI Arrests
- Lake County: 279 DUI Arrests
- McHenry County: 139 DUI Arrests
- Will County: 178 DUI Arrests
This is an additional 869 DUI arrests made by county-level law enforcement. It is clear from this information that Lake County in Northern Chicago has the highest number of DUI arrests in 2022.
Chicago DUI Courthouses
The City of Chicago has nearly 2.7 million residents as of 2021. Because of this enormous population, there are many DUI courthouses across the Chicago Metro area. Chicago needs multiple DUI courthouses to handle the number of DUI cases the city sees every year.
Some of the DUI courthouses in and around Chicago include:
More Illinois DUI Resources
If you need a DUI lawyer in a specific city in Illinois, we also have pages for DUI lawyers in cities across the state of Illinois. Read our helpful and informative articles below to find a DUI lawyer near you. Also, you can call 1-888-839-4384 anytime to schedule a free consultation.