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Worried about losing your license for a first-time DUI? Here's what you should know.

If you are facing a DUI, one of your primary concerns is whether you will lose your license. You depend on your license to get around, make money, and see friends and family. Losing your license can affect not just you, but your finances and your family.

Your concern is valid. Under Illinois law of Implied Consent, if law enforcement stops you and your blood alcohol content (BAC) tests above the legal limit of .08 percent, or if you refuse to take a BAC test, you will receive an administrative license suspension, also called statutory summary suspension. This administrative suspension is different than a revocation. How? The administrative suspension is based entirely on whether you comply with and pass or fail a chemical sobriety test. In other words, you could face an administrative license suspension even if you are ultimately not convicted of DUI. A DUI conviction mandates a revocation (an indefinite suspension) for a minimum of one year. 

The duration of the administrative suspension varies, depending on whether you have previous DUI convictions or license suspensions, and whether you complied with or refused a sobriety test.

Examples:

  • Six-month suspension if you tested above the legal limit and it's your first offense
  • 12-month suspension if you refused to take a test and it's your first offense

As a first offender, you can apply for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) if you are facing this statutory suspension period which would allow you to legally drive 24/7 even though you are suspended. However, you are also facing the possibility of revocation in addition to the administrative suspension. If you are ultimately convicted of DUI and it's your first offense, your license will be revoked for a minimum of one year.

You should know that there may be alternatives to a conviction. Depending on the facts of your case, you could have several options:

  1. A not guilty plea. Many people plead guilty without considering their options for challenging the case against them. Talk to your lawyer before pleading guilty to a DUI charge. There may be options for having the charge reduced or dismissed.
  2. A movement to dismiss the case. Your lawyer can argue that the judge should dismiss the charge if there was some sort of wrongdoing or mistake on the part of police or prosecutors. For instance, if the BAC testing equipment was faulty, or law enforcement behaved improperly or failed to follow official procedure, your case could be dismissed.
  3. Court supervision. This is a disposition of guilt that is not a conviction where you can complete alcohol treatment or counseling, pay a fine and take a few other actions, and you can avoid a conviction. First offenders are often eligible for this disposition.

If your license is a priority, act quickly

If keeping your license is important to you, seek the help of an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help protect your license in the administrative suspension process and the revocation process. However, there are strict deadlines for protecting your license, so the sooner you seek legal guidance, the better. 

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