Avoiding DUIs during the Holidays

DUIWith holiday parties and family gatherings, the holiday season is a popular time to drink. Illinois also sees an increase in intoxicated drivers and accidents involving alcohol during this season. If you are planning on drinking, it is important to take appropriate safety measures to avoid a DUI arrest or conviction. If you have been charged with a DUI, an attorney can help you defend your rights.

Illinois DUI Law

In Illinois, it is illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle if his or her blood alcohol content is at or above 0.08 percent. Illinois has a zero tolerance law for those under the age of 21. If an underage driver is caught with any amount of alcohol in his or her system, the driver can be charged with a DUI. For drivers of commercial vehicles, such as taxis or trucks, the limit is 0.04 percent.

Those convicted of a DUI in Illinois face fines, jail time, and a suspended license. Once their license suspensions are lifted, they must have an ignition interlock device installed on their cars. Beyond any legal penalties, a DUI conviction means a criminal record, which can make it more difficult to obtain jobs or housing.

Breath and Field Testing

Police know that the holidays bring a higher rate of DUIs, so they monitor drivers more closely. In addition to pulling over erratic drivers, police may set up sobriety checkpoints, which are roadblocks on heavily trafficked roads at which police randomly stop motorists to check for intoxication.

At a stop, an officer may administer field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer to determine whether a driver is too impaired to safely operate a car. Under Illinois law, the refusal to submit to a breath test will automatically result in a driver’s license suspension for one year, or three years if it is not the driver’s first offense. However, if a driver fails a breathalyzer test, that is generally clear evidence of intoxication.

Tips for Drivers

If you plan to consume alcohol at a holiday party or other event, you should not drive. Instead, appoint a designated driver, or plan to take a cab, rideshare, or public transit home. Intoxicated drivers have slowed reaction times and often cannot respond in time to take the necessary corrective action, so accidents can be even more serious and may involve severe injuries to yourself and others.

If you are a host, it is important to not force drinks on others. Be sure to provide options for those who choose not to drink, and serve food so that your guests are not drinking on an empty stomach. If you are a passenger, do not get in a car with a drunk driver. To avoid getting hit by a drunk driver, it is best to not drive late at night.

If you are pulled over and charged with a DUI, it is essential to retain the services of an experienced defense attorney. A good lawyer may be able to get your charges reduced and can present your best defense. Please contact the skilled Naperville criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC for a free initial consultation.