Just because it is your first DUI does not mean you will get a slap on the wrist. While first-time offenders get more leniency than repeat offenders, it all depends on the facts and circumstances of your DUI.
There is a real possibility of going to jail, even if you have never been convicted of drunk driving. Here is what Illinois law says.
You could face a misdemeanor or felony charge
A normal DUI is considered a Class A misdemeanor for a first offender. This means there must be no aggravating factors such as high blood alcohol content (BAC), traveling with minors in the car or causing bodily harm to others when drunk driving. Still, there is a possible imprisonment time of one year.
The stakes are much higher for an aggravated DUI. For instance, you could be charged with a Class 4 felony if you had minors in the car and crashed, causing them injuries. You may end up with up to 12 years in prison if convicted. It gets worse if the accident causes a fatality.
Your defense is key
Even if you do not end up in jail, a conviction for a first DUI will set you up for more severe legal sanctions if you are ever charged again with a DUI. A second conviction has a mandatory minimum sentence, and the penalties only get stiffer. You may have to spend some time behind bars without the option of a fine if found guilty of subsequent DUIs.
This highlights the importance of having a solid defense plan for your DUI case. An informed evaluation of your case will help identify the weak points that can be exploited and increase your chances of a favorable verdict.