A charge of driving under the influence in Illinois has serious consequences. Most DUI offenders are charged with a Class A misdemeanor offense of DUI. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500.
If the defendant is found guilty of a crime, then he is subject to sentencing before the court. While the law allows the judge to impose a sentence of up to one year in jail for a misdemeanor, very few first-time DUI offenders are sentenced to jail.
Rather, the most frequent outcome of a first DUI offense is a probationary sentence in which the defendant avoids jail time.
The term of probation can be up to two years. Any sentence longer than this is void. During this time, if the defendant pays a fine, court costs, completes treatment, attends a Victim Impact Panel, and does not violate the law, the sentence will be terminated without jail. But if the defendant is accused of violating the law, or violating some other condition of the sentence, then the court will re-sentence the defendant, and the sentence can be anything, including up to one year in jail.
The process of re-sentencing is called various things depending on where it takes place. In Cook County, the re-sentencing process is called a violation of probation (VOP), while other counties, Lake, Kane, DuPage, and Will, call it a petition to revoke. In a petition to revoke (PTR), the State’s Attorney has filed a motion asking the court for re-sentencing.
Every county handles the re-sentencing in its own way. In Cook County, almost all violations require the defendant to post bond. They are treated like a new criminal case in which the defendant would be subject to bond.
In other counties, the defendant rarely posts bond. Rather, he receives a summons in the mail for a court date and is required to appear. The summons usually comes with a warning that a failure to appear will result in an arrest warrant.
Too many people believe that it is easy to plead guilty to DUI and avoid jail on the first offense. This is mistaken.
While almost every defendant leaves the courtroom after sentencing without jail, the problem is, violations occur all the time. Under the terms and conditions of most probationary sentences, random drug and alcohol testing is required, and one positive test is a violation.
Just one violation leads to re-sentencing.
Traffic tickets can constitute violations of a DUI sentence as well. Even though tickets are not criminal in nature (penalty of fine only), most sentencing orders dictate that even traffic tickets are violations.
So when a person embarks on a one or two-year sentence for DUI, promising his or her self that it will never happen again, there is always a risk of something going wrong. Accidents happen, and no one can predict the future.
That is why it is advisable to try to beat the case from the beginning.