There is a common misconception that first-time DUI offenders have nothing to fear from the system. After all, everyone makes mistakes and everyone overindulges sometimes, so first-time charges are not a big deal, right? For better and for worse, this assumption is not based in reality.
While leniency should generally be granted to first-time non-violent offenders of various crimes, the public safety hazard posed by impaired driving is such a challenge for the state that the state of Illinois treats even first-time DUI offenses very seriously.
Although a first-time DUI conviction is sentenced as a misdemeanor, defendants still face up to one full year in jail and a one-year driver’s license suspension. These kinds of consequences can cost people their jobs and their homes as a result of an inability to pay their bills. A first-time charge also lays the foundation for more severe penalties in the event of a repeat conviction.
Fight, flight or freeze?
Sometimes, the world is – quite simply – so frustrating that it is much easier to throw up your hands instead of fighting back. However, it’s important to push back against this instinct. While it may feel better in the short term to ignore the charges you’re facing, your future self will thank you for doing all that you can to minimize the risk of a consequential conviction.
By exploring your legal options, you won’t just be mitigating the likelihood that you’ll be sentenced to jail time, a suspension of your driver’s license, fines, etc. You’ll also be reducing the risk of having a criminal record that can affect your ability to obtain employment, housing, child custody and a host of other important needs for the rest of your life. Fight back. The future is waiting for you.