Illinois Underage DUI

The consequences of driving under the influence for a person under 21 years of age.

In Illinois, consumption and possession of alcohol by a person under 21 years of age is illegal, subject to a few exceptions. A person who is younger than 21 and drives a vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs is subject to a license suspension and can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI), as well as other crimes and violations.

This article discusses the laws and penalties associated with a DUI offense committed in Illinois by a person under the age of 21.

Administrative Penalties for Underage DUI Offenders

Under Illinois’s zero-tolerance law, all drivers under 21 years old must consent to chemical testing of breath, blood, urine, and/or another bodily substance if an officer has probable cause to believe the driver has consumed any amount of alcohol.

Zero-tolerance suspension. An underage driver who fails or refuses to take a chemical test will face a zero-tolerance license suspension. For these underage drivers, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .00% is considered a failed test.

If an underage driver’s BAC is more than .00% and less than .08%, the suspension periods are:

  • three months, and
  • one year, if the driver has previously been suspended for failing a chemical test.

An underage driver who refuses to submit to chemical testing is subject to the following suspension periods:

  • six months, and
  • two years, if the driver has previously been suspended for refusing a test.

A driver who’s under 18 years of age must participate in a driver’s education course and retake a driving test to be reissued a license after a zero-tolerance suspension.

Restrictive Driving Permit. A person under 21 years old who’s subject to a zero-tolerance suspension can obtain a restrictive driving permit (RDP) after:

  • 30 days of the suspension, or
  • 12 months of the suspension if the person has one or more prior suspensions for failing or refusing chemical testing.

An RDP allows an offender to drive for employment, school, and medical appointments.

Statutory summary suspension. An underage driver is subject to a statutory summary suspension if a chemical test discloses:

  • a BAC of .08% or more
  • the presence of five nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood or ten nanograms or more per milliliter of another bodily substance, or
  • any amount of a controlled substance in the person’s blood, urine, or other bodily substance.

An underage offender who doesn’t have a prior DUI conviction or statutory summary suspension within the last five years is subject to the following suspension periods:

  • six months for a failed test, and
  • one year for refusing a test.

If an underage motorist has a prior DUI conviction or statutory summary suspension within the last five years, the suspension periods are:

  • one year for a failed test, and
  • three years for refusing a test.

Monitoring device driving permit. Generally, an underage offender whose driving privileges have been summarily suspended will be issued a monitoring device driving permit (MDDP). However, drivers aren’t eligible for the permit if the offender:

  • refused chemical testing, or
  • is under 18 years of age.

Criminal Penalties for Underage DUI Offenders

If convicted of DUI in court, underage offenders generally face special penalties, in addition to the standard penalties imposed for adult offenders.

Jail, fines, and community service. A first DUI conviction is typically a class A misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of:

  • 364 days in jail, and
  • a $2,500 fine.

If the defendant had a passenger under the age of 16 years in the vehicle, the court can impose:

  • six months in jail
  • a minimum fine of $1,000, and
  • 25 days of community service in a program that benefits children.

If the defendant’s BAC was .16% or more, the minimum sentence is:

  • a $500 fine, and
  • 100 hours of community service.

License suspension. In addition to the zero-tolerance and statutory summary suspensions discussed above, a person under 21 years will face a license suspension of two years. Any time the offender’s license was administratively suspended is credited towards the two-year suspension.

After one year of the suspension, an offender can apply for an RDP, which allows driving between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. for a period of one year. The Secretary of State can reinstate the offender’s license after the offender holds the RDP for one year or extend the RDP by additional periods of not more than 24 months each.

Youthful Intoxicated Drivers’ Visitation Program. The court can order a person who was under 21 years at the time of the offense to participate in the Youthful Intoxicated Drivers’ Visitation Program. The program consists of a supervised visit to one of the following facilities:

  • a rehabilitation facility that cares for victims of DUI crashes
  • a facility that cares for people in terminal stages of alcoholism, or
  • the county morgue to observe victims of DUI crashes.

Alcohol/drug evaluation, treatment, and VIP. All DUI offenders must complete an alcohol/drug evaluation and any recommended treatment. Offenders are also required to attend a victim impact panel (VIP) and pay for the costs associated with the evaluation, treatment, and VIP.

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