Illinois DUI Laws & Penalties

Underage drinking is illegal in Illinois without the express consent of a parent, but driving under the influence is always illegal. While minors can be charged with a DUI for having a .08% BAC (Blood Alcohol Content), they can also face charges for having a BAC above 0.00%, thanks to Illinois' "zero tolerance" policy.

It never pays to drink and drive, and in Illinois, it may end up costing you quite a lot. While we hope you never get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, it's good to know what will happen to you in legal terms if you do.

Illinois Zero Tolerance Policy

Like most states, Illinois has a "zero tolerance" policy. This means drivers under 21 years old cannot have a BAC higher than 0.00%. If you have a BAC of just 0.01%, you can be charged with a DUI. The only exceptions are if you consumed medicine with alcohol or drank a small amount of it as part of a religious ceremony.

If you have a BAC of .08% or higher, you can be charged with the same penalties an adult would face.

 BACLicenseJail TimeFines
1st DUI0.00%–.08%3 month suspensionVariesVaries
1st DUI.08% or higher*2 year suspensionUp to 1 yearUp to $2,500
2nd DUI0.00%–.08%1 year suspensionVariesVaries
2nd DUI.08% or higher5 year revocation**5 days to 1 yearUp to $2,500

*if you have a .05% BAC and there is proof you cannot operate a vehicle safely, you be charges as if your BAC was .08% or higher.
**The charge will be for 5 years or until you are 21 years old, whichever is longer.

Additional Penalties

The chart above lists the minimum penalties you will receive for a DUI. The judge may add additional fees, jail time, or various other requirements. Some of these include the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (which you must purchase), counseling and enrollment in the Youthful Intoxication Driver's Visitation Program.

Bear in mind these are the charges for simply driving while under the influence. Should you injure or kill someone, you will face significantly more severe penalties.

Refusing the Chemical Test

Should you refuse to take the chemical test after being lawfully arrested under suspension of a DUI, be prepared to face the consequences. Your refusal goes on record, and the state has the right to immediately suspend your license for 6 months. If you are later proved innocent, you may be able to get a relief license or your suspension revoked. Should you refuse the test a second time, your license will be suspended for 2 years.

It is worth noting that refusing to take the test will not protect you from a DUI charge.

Transporting Alcohol

Not only is it illegal for minors to drink in most circumstances in Illinois, you may also not transport alcohol. Transporting alcohol can result in a 12 month license suspension and a $1,000 fine. This fine can be applied to everyone in the vehicle.

Effects on your future

Having a DUI can affect your life in various areas and for decades. Colleges can refuse you admission or expel you, employers can pass you over for another candidate and your car insurance rates will rise. These life-altering consequences seem small when you consider that you could kill someone or even yourself by making the risky choice to drink and drive.

As a minor, you shouldn't be consuming alcohol. Considering the consequences above, you should always reconsider before getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.