In every state, it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, the penalty varies from state to state. If a police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence, you will be stopped and given a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol content.

The charges you face will depend on your age and blood alcohol level. For example, any driver with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.08% will be charged with a DUI. Illinois has a Zero Tolerance Law for drivers under the age of 21. Even trace amounts of alcohol will lead to a DUI arrest.  An underage driver will likely also spend time in jail if convicted.

Commercial drivers who have been arrested face automatic suspension of their license when blood alcohol levels are above 0.04%. In Illinois, the legal alcohol limit for all drivers is 0.08%. However, even with a level of 0.05%, if there is additional evidence that the driver was intoxicated, they can be arrested and convicted.

Many factors affect blood alcohol levels. For example, a person’s body weight, age, tolerance to alcohol, and the type of food consumed with alcohol can affect the blood alcohol level.

Differences Between a Criminal Record and a Driving Record

If you are arrested, charged, and convicted of a DUI, there are two different cases that move forward at the same time. In Illinois, a DUI is on a criminal record and on your driving record.

Driving record: In Illinois, DUI is not a points-based offense. Instead, it is an immediate action offense. This means that your driver’s license is subject to an immediate administrative suspension after an arrest.

This happens even before the criminal process moves forward. A first-time arrest can result in an administrative suspension for one year in Illinois. If you are arrested again within 20 years of the first offense, your driver’s license will be suspended for five years.

Suspension of your license does not depend on whether you’re convicted of the crime. The offense does not come off your driver’s record even if you are not convicted.

Criminal record: If you are arrested, charged, and convicted of a DUI, this information remains on your criminal record. In Illinois, these records can be sealed or removed if you are not convicted of the charge.

However, if you are convicted of a DUI, the offense stays on your criminal record forever. In other states, there is a roll-off period. In other words, after a certain number of years, the charge and conviction no longer appear on your criminal record, and it is as if the charge never occurred. This is called the “lookback period.” In Illinois, there is no lookback period, and the criminal charge remains on your record for life.

Can a DUI Be Expunged?

In Illinois, a DUI cannot be expunged if it resulted in a conviction. Expungement is a legal process in which a conviction or charge can be erased or sealed. Under the law, the process removes a criminal conviction from your record, or it seals it away from your state and federal record. It is as if the incident never occurred. Oftentimes, it is also removed from the public record.

To get the criminal DUI off your record, the charges must be dismissed, you must win your trial, or you must seek and be granted a pardon by the governor of the state. To receive a pardon in Illinois, you must apply for one, and seek to have it remove your conviction. These pardons are not granted easily.

To obtain a pardon, you must file a petition and attend a hearing where your Chicago DUI lawyer can represent your interests. If the pardon hearing is successful, then the Illinois governor can pardon your DUI conviction. This erases it from your criminal record, and it will be as if it never happened.

The best way to defend yourself against a DUI is to not drink and drive. Keeping a DUI off your criminal record will make it easier to get a job, rent an apartment, and get a loan. However, if you have been arrested, taking a proactive approach can make a dramatic difference to your future. Do not assume that you are without options after a drunk driving arrest. In Illinois, you can fight the charges at the administrative level and the criminal level.

Call Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC Today

If you were arrested or charged with a DUI, take a proactive approach to protect your record. It is crucial to work with an experienced and successful Chicago DUI legal team who will fight aggressively and tenaciously to protect your record.

The Chicago criminal defense attorneys of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC understand that a conviction on your record will have life-long consequences. In the last 30 years, we have successfully represented over 20,000 clients facing criminal charges. We understand that you have a unique story, and we are committed to hearing it.

Call our offices today at (312) 644-0444 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.