Driving under the influence (DUI) charges come in a broad range of severity in Illinois. People can face enhanced consequences if they have very high levels of alcohol in their body, a history of impaired driving offenses or minors in their vehicle at the time that they get stopped by police.

A first-time DUI charge with no aggravating factors might seem like a relatively minor and victimless offense. Some people quickly decide to plead guilty rather than go to court because they think it’s faster and cheaper. Doing so requires ignoring the likely impact of a conviction on your finances and future.

How Illinois penalizes a first DUI offense

A standard, first-time DUI conviction without injury to others or property damage will likely involve Class A misdemeanor charges instead of felony charges. The penalties will include up to a year in jail and as much as $2,500 in fines. While you may not receive much jail time, that doesn’t mean the penalties are negligible.

In addition to the fine, you will have court costs and fees to pay, as well as higher insurance rates because of the DUI conviction. Of course, you won’t have to worry about that right away after court because you could face the suspension of your license for up to a year as well.

The state could also mandate alcohol education or an ignition interlock device in your vehicle if you apply for a monitoring device permit during your suspension because the loss of your license constitutes a hardship for you or your family. Defending against the charges is often a better decision than trying to live with the consequences of a guilty plea.