Let Us Shoulder Your Burden CONTACT US TODAY
Man driving with beer bottle in hand pulled over by police

This Is My First DWI. What Should I Expect?

Mockaitis Law Group LLC May 16, 2024

Facing a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) conviction in Illinois can have profoundly serious and long-lasting consequences. The severity of these outcomes vary, as they’re influenced by factors like your age, any other criminal offenses on your record, and your level of intoxication at the time of the arrest.  

If you find yourself in this situation, know that you're not alone. Navigating a DWI offense in Illinois requires an understanding of what lies ahead. My name is Romas Mockaitis, and I help good people out of bad situations.

Supporting clients in their criminal defense, real estate, and estate planning needs across the west suburbs of Chicago, Mockaitis Law Group LLC is based in Oswego, Illinois. 

This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with a clear understanding of what to expect when facing your first DWI charge, how long a conviction stays on your record, long-term consequences, and strategic advice about DWI charges in Illinois.  

Illinois DWI Laws

Illinois law takes DWI charges seriously, emphasizing public safety and responsible driving. A first-time DWI charge is typically classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which could escalate depending on the circumstances, such as having a minor in the vehicle or causing bodily harm. Understanding the gravity of these charges is the first step toward preparedness.  

Illinois also offers educational classes or diversion programs aimed at rehabilitating first-time offenders, recognizing that education and intervention can effectively prevent future offenses. Participation in such programs can sometimes lead to reduced charges or penalties, making it a worthwhile consideration for eligible individuals.  

Age Considerations

For young drivers under the age of 21, Illinois enforces a strict zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving.

Given the legal drinking age is 21, any detectable blood alcohol content in younger drivers is punishable by law, potentially resulting in immediate license suspension, financial penalties, and, in some cases, incarceration, depending on the offense's specifics. 

The Penalty for a First-Time DWI in Illinois

The consequences of a DWI conviction can be substantial. The exact penalties can vary depending on the specifics of your case. Typically, you might face fines, a driver's license suspension, and possibly even jail time. Additionally, you'll likely be required to attend a drug and alcohol education or treatment program.

Being aware of the potential outcomes can help you prepare yourself adequately for what lies ahead. As a first-time offender, you could face:  

  • A suspension of driving privileges for up to one year.  

  • Fines that could exceed $2,500.  

  • Mandatory participation in alcohol education or treatment programs.  

  • Possible imprisonment for up to one year, although jail time is less common for first offenders without aggravating factors.  

It’s also important to note that Illinois law imposes stricter penalties for those with a BAC of .16% or higher, doubling fines and jail time for first-time offenders. Additionally, Illinois operates under the implied consent law, meaning a refusal to undergo chemical testing can result in a driver's license suspension for a more extended period.  

The Long-Term Consequences of a DWI

The repercussions of a DWI extend far beyond the immediate legal penalties. Your auto insurance rates may skyrocket, or your coverage could be canceled altogether. Some careers, especially those requiring driving, may no longer be accessible. Understanding these consequences underscores the critical nature of addressing a DWI charge with the gravity it deserves. 

  • Employment and housing: A conviction appears on criminal background checks, potentially limiting job opportunities and housing options, an area where our personalized support and legal acumen come to the forefront. 

  • Additional ramifications: The long-term consequences of a DWI conviction, from interpersonal relationships to financial stability and professional opportunities, are significant.  

  • Record expungement: The inability to expunge a DUI conviction from one's record in Illinois highlights the stakes involved in these cases. Understanding the permanence of a DWI conviction on an individual's record, we underscore the importance of experienced legal counsel.  

Do I Need Legal Counsel for a First-Time DWI in Illinois?

Facing a DWI charge without experienced legal representation can bring significant disadvantages. Legal counsel can mean the difference between a resolution that allows you to move forward and one that hampers your future opportunities. When facing DWI charges, the choice of lawyer can significantly impact the outcome.  

Look for an attorney with:  

  • Extensive experience in criminal defense, specifically with DWI cases in Illinois.  

  • A deep understanding of Illinois' criminal justice system and DWI laws.  

  • A commitment to personalized attention, ensuring your case receives the focus it deserves.  

  • Flexibility in strategy, adapting to the unique circumstances of your case.  

  • An emphasis on building a relationship of trust and transparency with clients.  

With my background as a former Assistant State’s Attorney and thorough knowledge of Illinois DWI laws, I can help challenge test results, argue for lesser penalties, or even work towards dismissal when possible. 

With stakes this high, the value of personalized legal counsel cannot be overstated. My approach is rooted in a deep understanding of clients' stories and legal nuances, ensuring a defense strategy that reflects your unique circumstances and objectives.

With a focus on personalized attention and strategy, I am committed to providing the highest level of counsel and advocacy for those facing DWI charges, aiming to secure the best possible outcome in each unique case. 

Potential defense strategies may include challenging the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the sobriety testing equipment, or the procedures followed during your arrest. Each case is unique, so working closely with your attorney to craft a defense strategy tailored to your specific situation is vital. 

Moving Forward With Mockaitis Law

Facing first-time DWI charges in Illinois is undeniably daunting, but it's possible to manage the situation effectively with the right approach. Remember, the decisions you make now can have long-lasting impacts on your life. Take DWI charges seriously and take proactive steps to protect your rights and your future.  

If you're facing a first-time DWI charge in Illinois, don't go it alone. Contact my office, Mockaitis Law Group LLC, in Oswego, IL. My commitment is to provide you with the guidance you need during this challenging time, leveraging my experience to seek the best possible outcome for your situation.  

For dedicated support across Chicago’s West Suburbs, I'm here to help you every step of the way. Reach out to schedule your first appointment today so we can work together toward a positive future.