I recently represented a client charged with DUI who was found not guilty, but his driver’s license was suspended for three years, and he has no right to a hardship license during those three years. He had only two beers before his arrest, but because the officer had the right to stop him, and because the driver refused the breath test, he will pay the price for years to come. It is a good idea to understand Illinois Statutory Summary Suspension law, in case you ever get stopped for DUI.

The law states that if you have had no DUI nor Statutory Summary Suspension on your record in the last five years, that you are a “first offender” for suspension purposes. As a first offender, if you take the breath test and score .08 or greater, your license will be suspended for six months. If you refuse the test as a first offender, your suspension will be for one year.

The portable breathalyzer that is handed to you by the officer does not count. It is the breathalyzer score on the machine at the police station, or if arrested by the State Police, the breathalyzer in the police car, that can be used to suspend you.

If you have had a DUI, or a Statutory Summary Suspension in the last five years – you are not a first offender, and different rules apply to you. Non-first offenders who fail a breath test, are suspended for a full year. If they refuse the breath test, they are suspended for three years.

First offenders have the right to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in their cars. You may have to spend $500, but after the first 30 days of a suspension, you can drive anytime, anywhere with the BAIID, as long as you haven’t been drinking.

If convicted of a DUI, your suspension is overridden by a revocation. When suspended, you get your license back after the period of suspension – when revoked, there is no guarantee you will ever get your license back, and to do so, you have to attend a hearing at the Office of the Secretary of State.

If your score on the breathalyzer is too high, you can expect a more harsh sentence for your DUI, and you will be required to complete more hours of alcohol treatment unless you are found not guilty of the offense.

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