An experienced CHICAGO CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY representing CLIENTS AGAINST DUIs.
Illinois has some of the harshest penalties related to driving under the influence (DUI). Whether drugs, prescription medication or alcohol, if you are pulled over and ultimately arrested for DUI, you will have to face the reality of criminal charges, high fines and the possibility of losing your driving privileges either temporarily or permanently. Knowing what to do and what not to do, and more importantly, when to do it and when not to, can save you thousands of dollars, months or years of suspensions or revocations of your driver’s license and the possibility of a criminal conviction on your record. That’s why it is vital to have an experienced and skilled DUI lawyer in your corner.
Drunk Driving / DUI FAQs
DUI stands for driving under the influence and is a serious offense. Being convicted of a DUI can result in jail time, loss of driving privileges, and expensive fines.
In most states, a DUI is defined as operating, a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To secure a DUI conviction, prosecutors must prove that the driver was impaired at the time of the offense, and in control of the vehicle. However, it is important to note that even if a driver is not impaired, they can still be charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit. In the state of Illinois, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08%.
If you are facing DUI charges, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in criminal law and can protect your rights. As one of the best law offices in Chicago, IL, the team at the Law Office of Purav Bhatt will work diligently to get you the best possible outcome. Call us today at 773-791-9682.
Under Illinois law, a DUI charge can be upgraded to aggravated DUI – which is a felony offense – under the following circumstances:
- If you cause an accident in which a child passenger (under the age of 16) is injured.
- If you commit a second DUI offense while transporting a child passenger (under the age of 16).
- If you commit a DUI offense while driving a school bus with at least one minor (under the age of 18) on board.
- If you cause an accident in which one or more people suffer serious bodily harm, disfigurement, or permanent disability.
- If you cause a fatal accident that results in the death of one or more individuals.
- If you commit a DUI offense while driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license (due to a previous DUI conviction or due to any other criminal conviction).
- If you commit a DUI offense while driving without a driver’s license or with an expired or invalid driver’s license.
- If you commit a DUI offense while driving without automobile insurance.
- If you commit a second DUI offense after having been convicted in the past of reckless homicide DUI or aggressive DUI resulting in death.
It should be noted that your third and subsequent DUI offenses in Chicago, Cook County, or Illinois will be prosecuted as a felony – even in the absence of any of the aforementioned aggravating factors.
A DUI can be either a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on the specifics of the incident. For example, being charged with a DUI can become a felony if you do not have a valid driver’s license, if someone was hurt as the result of an accident or if you left the scene of an accident. Regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI, you will face license suspensions or revocations, fines up to $2500 for misdemeanors and $25,000 for felony offense, alcohol/drug counseling, victim impact panels, required DUI related insurance (SR-22), having a breath device (BAIID) installed in your car before you can drive it, the possibility of criminal convictions or jail/prison sentences, the loss of your vehicle to impounding.
Because of the host of consequences one faces when arrested for a DUI, having a knowledgeable and capable DUI attorney on your side is vital. Contact DUI attorney Purav Bhatt to discuss your case at 773-791-9682.
An officer is specially trained to identify signs of impairment and clues of being under the influence when conducting a traffic stop. Knowing what the officer is looking for when he pulls you over is the first way to prevent being arrested for DUI. If you are pulled over for committing a traffic violation such as not signaling before turning, speeding, or changing lanes unsafely, the officer’s training will kick in. He will approach the vehicle and start smelling for drugs or alcohol. His eyes will scan the inside of the vehicle for cans, plastic cups, or bottles. Even having a wristband from a bar or festival is a clue to an officer that you were possibly drinking and may be under the influence (take those off as soon as you leave the venue). It is enough for the officer to continue his investigation into a possible DUI.
He will ask for your license and insurance. Along with checking if you are legally driving and insured, the officer is checking to see whether you can find your identification and insurance and how long it takes you to produce it. If the officer smells alcohol coming from the car (not necessarily from you), he will ask you to exit the vehicle. At this point, he is watching how you exit the vehicle. Did you use the door or frame for balance? Once you step out of the car, he will ask you questions related to your alcohol intake that day. “Small talk” you think, but no. The officer is watching whether you are swaying, what your pattern of speech is and what your eyes look like.
The officer will then ask you perform field sobriety tests (SFSTs). These are dual-attention tests designed to observe your responses as to whether you can listen to directions, are coordinated enough to perform the tests, and can understand what the officer is saying to you. These tests include a horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN). During this test, the driver is asked to follow a pen or stimulus to check of nystagmus horizontally and vertically.
Next, you will be asked to perform the walk and turn test. This is an extremely specific test that the officer will demonstrate for you. It is so specific in the steps you must take, the direction you must turn and what foot you must start with that even sober drivers can and have failed this test. Next the driver will be asked to stand on one leg and count as high as they can. The officer is looking to see how long you can stand on one leg, whether you use your arms for balance and how many times you put your foot down. Understand that these tests are not fool proof and an officer must administer these tests in an exact way to be considered reliable in court.
If the officer finds enough clues of impairment (and they will), there is probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence. You will be taken to the police station and aske whether you wish to submit to a breathalyzer test to register your BAC. What the officer will never tell you is that the field sobriety tests, and BAC tests are voluntary and not required. You do not have to take these tests and in fact, you are providing evidence against yourself by submitting to these tests. There are consequences to not consenting to the tests including longer license suspensions but those can be reversed and undone in court with the help of a skilled DUI attorney by your side.
Common Defenses Used by DUI Lawyers in Chicago, IL
There is no standard defense against a DUI charge. However, your criminal defense attorney will devise an appropriate strategy to defend you based on the facts of your case and the circumstances under which you were arrested.
Generally, criminal defense lawyers use two types of defenses to beat DUI charges in Chicago, IL. These include: (a) You were not drunk at all, or (b) The police failed to follow the proper procedures. Your Chicago DUI attorney might use the “not drunk” defense under the following circumstances:
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) was falsely high due to residual mouth alcohol.
- Your BAC was high due to ketosis, which can be caused by hypoglycemia.
- Your BAC was high due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), auto-brewery syndrome, diabetes, or any other medical condition.
- Your BAC was high due to the fermentation of food particles, which is common among people who are on high-protein, low-carb diets like the Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet.
- You failed the chemical test due to rising BAC (depending on the time it takes for your body to fully metabolize alcohol).
In order to prove that your blood alcohol level was over the legal limit due to one or more of the aforementioned factors, your criminal defense lawyer can get testimonies from a forensic toxicologist, medical professional, and other expert witnesses.
Your Chicago DUI lawyer also might use the “failure to follow proper procedures” defense under the following circumstances:
- The officer did not have probable cause to make a DUI arrest.
- The officer did not observe you for 15 minutes before administering the breath test.
- The officer did not have the expertise or training required to administer the breath test.
- The police failed to follow the proper procedures regarding the collection, handling, and storage of blood samples, as a result of which your results cannot be considered accurate.
- The police violated your Fourth Amendment rights.
If the police violated your constitutional rights or failed to follow the proper procedure, your criminal and DUI defense attorney might request the court for a suppression hearing in order to exclude all the unlawfully obtained evidence against you and to persuade the prosecution to drop or reduce the charges against you.
Contact the Law Office of Purav Bhatt Today
When you are charged with a DUI, you need an accomplished lawyer prepared to negotiate a favorable plea deal or present an aggressive DUI defense in court on your behalf. Here at The Law Office of Purav Bhatt, we will fight to get you the best possible outcome for your case.
With years of experience navigating the criminal justice system and a proven track record of success, we will provide you with expert legal representation from a qualified Chicago DUI attorney for your DUI case. Call our law firm today at 773-791-9682 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.