Illinois DUI Laws & Penalties for Drunk Drivers

Drink and drive laws in Illinois

The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) in Illinois is 0.08% grams or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

It takes one to two standard alcoholic drinks to reach the 0.08% restriction. But, depending on a person’s gender, weight, and other characteristics, this quantity may vary.

Remember that educating about drunk driving in Illinois is the main goal of this post. No encouragement or advertising of drunk driving is intended on this page.

Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or another substance is unlawful in Illinois.

Statistics show that there were 1,194 tragic drunk driving accidents in Illinois in 2020, and 32% of these accidents involved drivers with blood alcohol levels greater than 0.08%.

To prevent drunk driving, Illinois has DUI driving legislation in place. So, adhering to the state’s legal BAC level is essential before driving. Consider calling a taxi or hiring a designated driver if you must travel after drinking.

You can stay updated with the most recent DUI driving laws and regulations by visiting Illinois’s official website.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Illinois

You will be charged with DUI in Illinois if your blood alcohol concentration is greater than 0.08% or 0.04% or higher for commercial drivers. Underage drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle while intoxicated in any way.

Individuals can have different blood alcohol levels because people respond to alcohol uniquely. For some people, even a tiny amount of alcohol can make them feel disoriented.

Your BAC could shift depending on many factors, such as the ones listed below:

  • weight
  • gender
  • use of prescription medicines
  • level of stress and fatigue
  • level of alcohol consumption
  • an empty stomach

Use a BAC chart or a calculator to see how much alcohol you can drink before driving a car. However, since each individual’s response to alcohol differs, these methods might not be appropriate for everyone.

The most accurate approach to determine your BAC is by using a certified alcohol breathalyzer.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Illinois

The degree of impairment varies depending on the BAC. For instance, most persons appear normal between 0.010% and 0.029% BAC level; nevertheless, the symptoms will become more evident as blood alcohol levels rise.

DUI legislation varies from state to state. Before driving, you must check your blood alcohol content to avoid consequences. Administrative and legal penalties may be imposed for drunk driving.

Below is a list of DUI driving penalties in Illinois to help you.

Adult (21 Years Old and Above) Drivers

A driver convicted of DUI may face the following penalties:

First Conviction
  • License Suspension: At least one-year suspension
  • Jail Time: Up to one-year imprisonment
  • Fines: Maximum of $2,500 fine
Second Conviction
  • License Suspension: At least five-year suspension
  • Jail Time: Mandatory five days imprisonment or 240 hours of community service. Depending on the case, jail time can be extended up to one year.
  • Fines: Up to $2,500 fine
Third Conviction
  • License Suspension: At least 10-year suspension of driving privileges
  • Jail Time: Maximum of seven years in prison
  • Fines: Up to $25,000 fine

Additional DUI Penalties for Drivers with a BAC of 0.16% or More

Any individual convicted of DUI with a BAC of more than 0.16% will face the following penalties on top of the previously mentioned punishment:

First Conviction
  • Community Service: At least 100 hours of mandatory community service
  • Fines: Additional $500 mandatory minimum fine 
Second Conviction
  • Jail Time: Additional two-day mandatory minimum prison term
  • Fines: Additional $1,250 minimum compulsory fine
Third Conviction
  • Jail Time: Additional 90 days mandatory minimum term in prison 
  • Fines: Additional mandatory $2,500 minimum fine 

Extra Sanctions for Driving Under the Influence When Transporting a Minor

A person who drives under the influence while carrying a kid under 16 faces additional penalties, including the following:

  • Fines: Additional $1,000 minimum fine
  • Community Service: 140 hours of community service, 40 of which must be spent helping children
  • Jail Time: Additional two days imprisonment

Underage DUI Penalties

Illinois implements a zero-tolerance law for underage drinking. Underage driving with any level of alcohol in the system may result in suspending driving privileges. If you are below 21 and convicted of DUI, you may face the following sanctions:

First Conviction
  • License Suspension: Minimum of two years license suspension
  • Jail Time: Up to one-year imprisonment
  • Fines: Up to $2,500 fine
Second Conviction
  • License Suspension: At least five-year suspension
  • Jail Time: Mandatory five days imprisonment or 240 hours of community service. Depending on the case, jail time can be extended up to one year.
  • Fines: Up to $2,500 fine
Third Conviction
  • License Suspension: At least 10-year suspension of driving privileges
  • Jail Time: Maximum of seven years in prison
  • Fines: Up to $25,000 fine

When Can You Drink and Drive in Illinois?

As mentioned, alcohol has a distinct impact on each individual. Furthermore, men and women have different BACs.

Alcohol dehydrogenase or ADH is present in men’s bodies in more significant quantities than in women’s. Since their primary function is to facilitate alcohol absorption, these enzymes are in charge of men’s quick metabolism of alcohol. Men, therefore, have a faster metabolism for alcohol than women.

Use the information below as a general guide if you’re unsure how much alcohol you can lawfully drink in Illinois before operating a motor vehicle.

The information below is based on studies. However, it might not apply to everyone, as each body processes alcohol differently.

How Many Bottles of Beers Can You Drink and Drive in Illinois?

Drink beer and drive in Illinois

According to the state of Illinois’ official website’s BAC table, a person weighing about 54 kg (120 lbs) can have a BAC of 0.027% after consuming one standard drink (12-ounce/350 ml beer).

BAC charts show that a person who weighs less can have a higher BAC.

Only one to two beer bottles should be consumed to stay under Illinois’ legal BAC level. If you operate a commercial vehicle, one bottle of beer ought to be sufficient. If you are under 21, alcohol use is not advised.

How Many Glasses of Wine Can You Consume and Drive in Illinois?

A standard serving of wine (5oz/142 ml) can have 12% alcohol by volume. Two glasses of wine are sufficient to reach the BAC limit in Illinois.

Commercial vehicle drivers may face sanctions if their BAC is 0.04% or above. Thus, drinking only one glass of wine is recommended to keep them under the legal BAC limit.

Again, it is not advisable for anyone under 21 to consume alcohol and operate a motor vehicle.

How Much Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in Illinois?

One shot of liquor like vodka and whiskey can have as much as 40% ABV.

If you plan to drive after drinking, one or two shots of whiskey or vodka should be plenty.

For drivers of commercial vehicles, one shot is enough. Individuals under the age of 21 should not consume hard liquor before driving. 

Sticking to DUI Laws in Illinois

Drivers must know and understand the risks associated with drunk driving.

The best and safest option is to refrain from driving after consuming alcohol. Your blood alcohol content and driving ability are never guaranteed, even after a few drinks. You could look for other types of alternate transportation rather than driving.

Be sure your blood alcohol level is below Illinois’s legal limit if you have to drive after drinking. It is best to use a certified alcohol breathalyzer to determine your BAC level precisely.

Also, it is best to regularly check Illinois’s official website to learn more about DUI driving regulations in Illinois.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.