If a person is found guilty of driving under the influence in Illinois, and he has no prior offenses of DUI or reckless driving, then the judge is authorized to sentence the defendant to court supervision. Supervision is generally the disposition sought after by attorneys. As discussed in other articles on this blog, supervision is not a conviction. Therefore, a sentence of supervision for a DUI does not cause the Secretary of State to revoke the defendant’s driver’s license. Supervision is the disposition that allows first offenders can keep their driver’s licenses.
I usually advise my clients that while supervision is a good outcome in a DUI case, it has its drawbacks. The defendant should always consider the possibility that he or she will be unable to comply with the terms and conditions of the sentence, which would subject him or her to resentencing.
This may be one of the most important issues in DUI cases. The law in Illinois says that when you are on a sentence of court supervision, you must not violate the law.
One of the most common questions I receive is the following:
What happens if I get a traffic ticket while on supervision?
The answer is, it depends. The specific language in the sentencing order controls. In many counties, the sentencing order for supervision states expressly that a violation of the vehicle code for a petty offense is not a violation of supervision.
However, recently I have seen sentencing orders that say a traffic offense punishable by fine only, or even a municipal code violation or ordinance violation, is considered to be a violation of the law which would be grounds to revoke the defendant’s supervision.
And so, a speeding ticket can result in losing your supervision. This is why I have become more and more adamant in my belief that DUI cases should not be handled by attorneys without experience in the area. All too often I see lawyers in court who provide minimal service to their clients. They say things such as, “This won’t go on your record,” or, “You just have to pay your fines and do your classes.”
This advice ignores the fact that a sentence of supervision for DUI is a very serious matter. All it takes is one speeding ticket and a first DUI offender can have his driver’s license revoked. A revoked driver’s license cause an inordinate amount of trouble. More trouble than the person ever expected.
Supervision should be avoided if possible, or at least approached cautiously.