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What Illinois' new DUI law means for first-time offenders

In the past, anyone who was arrested for DUI in the state of Illinois faced at least a 30-day license suspension, which began after 45 days had passed following a DUI arrest.

However, with the New Year came a new approach to handling first-time DUI convictions. As of Jan. 1, first-time offenders in Illinois now have the option to keep their driver's licenses by opting to install an ignition interlock system in their vehicles.

The devices require drivers to submit to and pass a breath test that checks for the presence of alcohol before the vehicle's ignition will start.

For years, anti-drunk driving advocates argued that first-time offenders needed to have their licenses suspended for at least 30 days, and repeat offenders required an even longer suspension, the Chicago Tribune reported.

But defense attorneys have long argued that taking away people' driving privileges was not the right way to go as they need to be able to drive to get to work and school and take care of their children. Additionally, many people choose to drive without a valid license or insurance anyway, while others have been able to avoid license suspensions by paying hefty fines worked out through plea agreements.

In other words, license revocation often does more harm than good.

In recent years, anti-drunk driving advocates have begun to agree that license suspensions might not be the most effective way to deal with the problem of drunk driving, and they fully support the switch to breath testing devices in Illinois and many other states.

What does the new law mean for first-time DUI offenders?

Under the new DUI law, people accused of first-time DUI have the option to avoid a driver's license suspension -- without agreeing to pay hefty fines as part of a plea agreement-- by installing an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.

However, driver's license suspension is just one consequence of a DUI conviction, and it actually takes place separately from the criminal case. For that reason, it is still extremely important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side, who can help you fight the charges and protect your future.

Find out more about why every DUI charge in Illinois deserves a thorough defense here.

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