When you're out on the town, enjoying time with friends or family members, the last thing you want to worry about is going to jail. Since there are laws in Illinois and all other states governing how much alcohol can be in a person's bloodstream while operating a motor vehicle, you may want to think ahead and plan accordingly so that you're social occasion does not become a bad memory due to legal problems.
How to know if you're impaired
One of the first things you can do to avoid being arrested for DUI is to know your own drinking limitations. There are several ways to determine this, including the following:
- Use an online calculator: By entering personal information, such as body weight and what type of alcoholic drinks may be involved, this type of tool can help you determine how much alcohol it would take for you to become legally intoxicated and prohibited from driving. (Of course, no online device would be 100 percent accurate.)
- Beware of medications: Being mindful of any medications you are taking, in addition to the alcohol you plan to consume and the potential effects of combining the medication and alcohol, helps you assess whether drinking while taking the meds poses a DUI risk.
- Note reactions to alcohol: Paying attention to how you feel when you consume alcohol (whether you can think clearly, see straight, walk without staggering, etc...) is also an indicator of the amount of alcohol you are typically able to safely consume before operating a motor vehicle. (This, however, should never be used as sole indication.)
If you determine through these or any other factors that you might not be in the right condition to drive, obtaining alternate safe transportation is always a surefire way to avoid a DUI conviction.
When a traffic stop has already been made
If you find yourself in a situation where you've bid farewell to your friends, and upon driving home are pulled over by police, the situation may quickly become worrisome, especially if you've already consumed several alcoholic beverages. There are several things you can do ahead of time to increase your chances of avoiding a possible jail sentence and to minimize potentially negative consequences if an officer asks you to exit your vehicle on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol:
- Be prepared for field sobriety tests: By familiarizing yourself with the various types of tests officers often request you to undergo at the scene, you may increase your chances of achieving positive results when submitting to such tests.
- Know the laws of the state in which you are driving: Every state has laws that govern issues concerning refusal to submit to chemical testing, as well as regulations and protocol that strictly define what a law enforcement officer may say and do under such circumstances. Paying close attention to details and recalling as much as possible may benefit you later, especially if your case goes to trial.
- Know how/where to seek support: A DUI charge is a criminal infraction, which is obviously more serious than a minor traffic offense. An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide guidance that may prove crucial toward avoiding jail time.
The above list is by no means exclusive insofar as practical tips for staying out of jail when charged with DUI in Illinois are concerned. If you've already been arrested and are preparing to face charges in court, a successful outcome may hinge upon effective and aggressive defense representation. You are entitled to build as strong a defense as possible, including retaining experienced assistance, to avoid the potential long-term negative effects that the situation may have on your future.