A person who is arrested for driving under the influence is confronted with two problems. First, he faces criminal penalties imposed by a court of law. At the present time, a first offense of DUI is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor offense. The potential penalties include up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.
Second, a DUI offender faces civil penalties. A case in which the offender refused or failed chemical testing (such as the breathalyzer) will result in an administrative penalty imposed by the Secretary of State. A person will receive a statutory summary suspension of his driver’s license that goes into effect after 45 days.
But most important, there is the possibility that the offender can have his driving privileges revoked. This is the ultimate penalty for DUI.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors will argue about which penalties are the most severe. Opinions will differ on whether jail or community service is more difficult. My opinion is that a revoked license is the penalty with the most impact.
Generally, a person cannot function without a driver’s license. In the state of Illinois, a person who does not have the right to drive will suffer economic hardship. It will be nearly impossible to obtain gainful employment and support one’s family. For example, it will be impossible to transport family members to and from medical care, or transport children to and from school. The loss of driving privileges will affect everyone in the household.
Perhaps the only exception is where the person lives in downtown Chicago, which has adequate public transportation. But living and raising a family in Chicago is just not financially feasible for many people.
Without question, the ultimate penalty for driving under the influence is a revoked license.
And a revoked license can happen on the first offense.
The law that allows the Secretary of State to revoke an individual’s driving privileges is the following:
Except as provided in this Section, the Secretary of State shall immediately revoke the license, permit, or driving privileges of any driver upon receiving a report of the driver’s conviction of any of the following offenses:
Violation of Section 11-501 of this Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance relating to the offense of operating or being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereof.
625 ILCS 5/6-205(a)(2).
The Secretary of State is required to revoke the driving privileges of any person who is convicted of DUI. There is no way to get around this law. The only way to avoid a revoked license is to avoid a conviction.
I try to refrain from expressing my opinion on these cases in my articles. But this is one instance in which it is appropriate.
My opinion is that a lawyer who represents a client should regard the DUI as though it is just as serious as any felony. In a felony case, the client could go to prison.
In a DUI case, the client could have his driver’s license revoked. I am convinced that, in a way, a revoked license is a more serious issue than a prison sentence.
The reason is, a prison sentence will last for a definite period of time. Except in cases of a natural life sentence, every prison sentence has an ending. At some point, the client gets paroled and goes home.
A revoked license, by comparison, has no ending. While it is true that a revoked license is supposed to last for one year, the truth is that it can last indefinitely. A revoked license will last until that person goes before the Secretary of State Department of Administrative Hearings. Revoked driver must undergo a formal hearing and prove by clear and convincing evidence that he should be reinstated.
Click here to download the application for hearing.
It is reported that 80% of people who apply for reinstatement after revocation for DUI are denied on the first attempt.
This is the reason why every DUI case should be regarded as a felony, and treated with as much attention.