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Your Champaign DWI Case: The Basics

You're setting up for another relaxing weekend in Champaign when you decide to shake things up and attend the University's football game. Why not? But what is a football game without some tailgating? Or, for that matter, a few beers during the game? Of course, you should thoroughly enjoy yourself during the game, but you might want to consider taking a cab home, otherwise, you might be facing DWI charges. Here's how a DWI case works in Champaign, Illinois.

What Is an Illinois DWI?

In Illinois, DWI stands for "Driving While under the Influence." This could be under the influence of alcohol, another drug or drugs, or some other intoxicating agents. You might have also seen the abbreviation DUI (Driving Under the Influence), which most likely refers to similar crimes in other states and is often used interchangeably with DWI in Illinois. Someone is guilty of a DWI in Illinois when:

  • She drives or is in physical control of a vehicle;
  • While having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, or where her blood contains evidence of other intoxicating substances at dangerous levels; or
  • While under the influence of a controlled substance or drug, either alone or in combination with alcohol.

Notice that you could still be guilty of a DWI even if you used a substance other than alcohol. Whether you had a prescription or other right to use the substance does not matter -- and yes, this applies even to medical marijuana. You could also be convicted of a DWI if your BAC is .08 or higher, regardless of whether your driving is actually impaired.

Champaign DWI Stops

DWI stops in Champaign work much the same as DWI stops around the state. First, the police may make a stop at a DWI checkpoint. Once stopped, the officer can question the driver, perform a field sobriety test, or administer a breathalyzer test. Illinois drivers must submit to chemical drug testing under the state's implied consent laws, which say that drivers consent to drug tests when they obtain their driver's license. Refusal to take a chemical test may bar the driver from obtaining a permit during their suspension period, or it may mean the driver must use an ignition interlock device for some time.

Champaign DWI Process

After a police officer arrests a driver for DWI, the driver will likely go to one of the two jails operated by the sheriff's office for booking. He could then be released on bail, or a promise to return to court in exchange for money.

The case may then proceed to an arraignment, where the driver will plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If the driver pleads not guilty, the facts will be examined in a criminal trial; otherwise, the case will proceed straight to sentencing. Criminal procedures, like DWI trials, are held in the Champaign County Circuit Court.

Champaign DWI: Consequences

The consequences for a DUI vary depending on how many prior convictions a driver has within the past 10 years. Here's an overview of the penalties in Illinois:

For the first offense, if the driver's BAC was .15 or less, they face:

  • 1 year license suspension; and
  • 1 year vehicle registration suspension.

If the driver's BAC was .16 or greater, or was transporting a child under the age of 16, the following additional penalties apply:

  • Minimum fines ranging from $500 to $2,500, depending on whether there was a child present and whether that child was injured in a crash;
  • 100 hours of community service; or
  • 6 months imprisonment and 25 hours of community service.

First time offenders may also be eligible for a monitoring device driver's permit, which gives the driver full privileges in exchange for installing an ignition interlock device. Alternatively, first time offenders may be eligible for a restricted driving permit if a total loss of driving privileges would present a hardship.

Second and third offenses bring even greater penalties. The Illinois Secretary of State's DWI Fact Book contains clear and helpful information about DWI penalties. An experienced DWI attorney may help with information about specific cases.

For additional general information, see FindLaw's sections on DUI/DWI and criminal procedure.

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  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
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