Criminal law areas

Charged With Driving Under The Influence?

Driving under the influence is a serious charge with far-reaching repercussions. If you have recently been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) not only will you face criminal charges, but you will also face a civil action by the secretary of state who may seek to take your license.

It is imperative to have an experienced lawyer navigate you through both the criminal and civil process. As a former assistant district attorney, Attorney Linda Watson has conducted dozens of DUI trials. Linda will scrutinize your case for every possible advantage. As an experienced trial attorney, Attorney Linda Watson has vast experience in positioning your case to your best possible advantage.

As a member of the National College of DUI Defense, attorney Linda Watson keeps up to date on the latest developments in DUI defense. This is critical to the analysis of your case for every possible defense.

What Are The DUI Laws In Illinois?

The Illinois DUI law is codified in 626 ILCS 5/11-501. There are many nuances to a case that determine what level of a crime you may be charged with and what your penalties will be. Some of the factors that affect the level of crime you are charged with and what penalties you face include:

  • Your criminal history
  • What your blood alcohol level was at the time of the incident
  • Whether there was a crash
  • Whether you were transporting a minor under the age of 16 at the time and whether that minor was injured
  • Whether the crime was committed during a time when the driver’s driving privileges were suspended, revoked or restricted
  • Whether the driver was driving in a school zone
  • Whether a death resulted in the accident or serious bodily injury

All of these facts plus numerous others dictate what level of a crime you will be charged with and what the fines, fees and penalties will be. The following is a general idea of some typical DUI charges and what penalties the driver might face under the Illinois law as of 2010. This list is not exhaustive. There are many more enhancements under the law. To know exactly what you are facing, contact attorney Linda Watson for your free consultation today.

First Conviction — Class A Misdemeanor:

  • Class A misdemeanor carries a fine up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail. It also carries a minimum suspension of your driver’s license for one year upon conviction.
  • If the driver was under the age of 21 at the time of the offense, then it carries a minimum suspension of your driver’s license for two years.
  • If the driver’s blood alcohol content was over .16 the driver will also be required to pay a minimum, i.e., no less than $500 fine, and must perform at least 100 hours of community service.
  • If the driver was transporting a child under the age of 16, a conviction may also require six months imprisonment, an additional mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and 25 days of community service in a program benefiting children.

Aggravated DUI — Class 4 Felony:

A conviction for an aggravated DUI is a Class 4 felony that can result in a fine of up to $25,000 and up to one to three years in prison.

An aggravated DUI is a person who drives while under the influence and has one of the following aggravating factors:

  • Driver was operating a school bus with persons 18 years of age or younger on board
  • The driver was driving in a school zone when the reduced school zone speed of 20 mph was in effect and the driver was involved in an accident that resulted in bodily harm only, i.e., no great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement
  • The driver’s driving privileges are revoked or suspended due to a previous conviction for: DUI, or an accident resulting in death or personal injury, or for reckless homicide
  • The driver did not possess a valid driver’s license or a restricted driving permit, or a judicial driving permit or a monitoring device driving permit
  • The driver knew or should have known that the vehicle they were operating was not covered by a liability insurance company
  • The driver was involved in an accident that resulted in bodily harm, not great bodily harm to a child under the age of 16 being transported by the driver if DUI was the proximate cause of the injury. A conviction for this last aggravated factor carries with it an additional penalty of a mandatory penalty of $2,500 and 25 days of community service in a program benefiting children

Second Conviction — Class A Misdemeanor:

  • A second conviction for DUI is still a Class A misdemeanor but has an increased penalty of a minimum term of either five days of imprisonment or 240 hours of community service plus the standard fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.
  • It also carries a minimum suspension of your driver’s license for five years upon your second conviction within 20 years.
  • If your blood alcohol level was .16 or more, there is an additional mandatory imprisonment of two days and a minimum fine of $1,250.

Transporting Person Under 16

If the defendant is convicted of a second DUI and was transporting a person 16 years old or less, it is a Class 2 felony that can result in a fine up to $25,000 and from three to seven years in prison. There is also a mandatory minimum fine of $2,500 and 25 days of community service in a program that benefits children.

If the defendant is convicted of a second DUI and was transporting a person 16 years old or less who suffered bodily harm, it is a Class 2 felony that can result in a fine up to $25,000 and from three to seven years in prison. There is also a mandatory minimum fine of $5000 and 25 days of community service in a program that benefits children.

How Can I Defend Against A DUI?

Every case is different and is based upon the particular events and facts of each arrest. The following are some arguments that are made in defense of DUI arrests and prosecution:

  • Did the officer perform a legal stop?
  • Did the officer administer the field sobriety tests correctly?
  • Are there health conditions that may have hindered the accuracy of the field sobriety tests?
  • Did the officer have sufficient probable cause to make an arrest?
  • Did the officer perform an illegal search?
  • Did the officer perform an illegal interrogation?
  • Did the officer administer the proper admonishments?
  • Can the state prove you were the driver of the vehicle?
  • Can the state exclude you having consumed alcohol after you drove but prior to the arrest?
  • Can an argument be made for insufficient time for the alcohol to be absorbed into your system?

What Does A License Suspension Really Mean?

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, as a result of your arrest, not only will you face a criminal prosecution for driving under the influence, but you will also face a civil action by the secretary of state that suspends your license. This suspension is automatic and even if you are successful in defending a DUI, the license suspension remains. There are defenses or arguments that can be made to revoke a suspension, i.e., keep your license active. But, there are time constraints on how long after your arrest you are allowed to bring these defenses. Typically, you will want an attorney to file a petition to rescind suspension within 30 days of your arrest and have the hearing before your license suspension takes affect (45 days for a first offense).

You may be able to drive while your license is suspended on a temporary driving permit. It is important to remember that these fees, which are substantial, are completely separate from the criminal prosecution DUI fees. Fees for a temporary driving permit can include the installation and rent of a breath test device, driving permit fees which must be paid in advance to the secretary of state, not to mention the reinstatement fees the secretary of state will require you to pay once you finish a suspension and move for reinstatement.

Prosecutors Pursue Domestic Violence Cases Aggressively

The courts are very protective of the victims of domestic violence, which is also known as domestic assault or battery. It is not a minor offense. Those who are convicted of domestic violence or abuse face life-altering ramifications. If you have been accused of or charged with domestic violence offense, it is vitally important to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

An astute attorney can lead your case with strategic precision. Attorney Linda Watson is able to examine a case from the perspective of the defense, the prosecution, the judge and the victim. Before becoming a defense attorney in Peoria, Ms. Watson served as a local prosecutor for more than six years as a former assistant state’s attorney and former assistant district attorney. Her extensive experience in domestic violence jury trials throughout Central Illinois has proven attorney Watson knows how to protect her clients’ rights and defend their interests both in and out of the courtroom. She is accomplished and handles cases in both state and federal courts.

Powerful And Focused Spousal Abuse Defense

Ms. Watson understands that domestic violence cases are rarely clear-cut. Each party typically perceives the order of events and intentions during events to be quite different. Ms. Watson will take the time to understand the facts of the case, gather evidence and defend your rights vigorously.

Domestic violence charges have much further-reaching consequences than most people realize. The first domestic battery conviction is a misdemeanor that can include up to a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. If there is a second conviction of domestic battery, it is an automatic felony. An aggravated domestic battery conviction is a felony that can include up to seven years in prison and/or up to a $25,000 fine.

Even if you are convicted of a minor crime, you could lose your rights to child custody and/or visitation; your employability in child care, elderly care or health care fields; and your gun rights. For example, if you are a teacher, nurse or security guard, your entire livelihood may be in serious jeopardy in the face of domestic assault or battery charges.

Accusations of domestic violence are often used as leverage in divorce and child custody cases. Ms. Watson is a Peoria domestic violence defense lawyer who is familiar with the tactics used by prosecutors to attempt to paint violent pictures of defendants and their intentions. As an attorney who also represents victims of domestic violence and abuse, she has the knowledge and experience to counter charges and protect your parental, civil and constitutional rights.

Strong Defense Against All Drug Charges

You do not have to be a major drug kingpin to face serious and catastrophic consequences if you have been charged with a drug-related crime in Illinois. State laws are tough on drug crimes, and prosecutors will fight vigorously for conviction. For all but the smallest amounts, even possession of a controlled substance, including narcotic prescription drugs, can result in a felony charge. The guidance and legal protections provided by an experienced Peoria drug charges defense lawyer are indispensable if you are facing an alleged criminal offense.

Attorney Linda Watson is familiar with the tactics and strategies used by prosecutors. As a former assistant state’s attorney and former assistant district attorney, Ms. Watson knows where to look for potential holes in the prosecution’s case. Watson Law provides free initial case consultations to discuss the facts of your case and to help you understand your options in defense.

Vigilant Defense Against Drug Charges

Ms. Watson defends clients in a number of high-stakes and complex situations in both state and federal cases. She provides personalized service to ensure that she provides each client with the best possible defense she is able to build. Watson Law has the capabilities and the resources to defend you throughout the legal process whether you have been charged with possession, intent to sell or distribute, manufacturing, trafficking or conspiracy.

Linda Watson has the tact and skill necessary to pinpoint law enforcement errors holes in the prosecution’s case against you. Police and prosecutors may make mistakes and/or errors in judgment at the time of arrest, while gathering evidence, during processing or during interrogation/questioning.

Ms. Watson will examine the search and seizure. Law enforcement must provide evidence for probable cause, or officers must have a legal search warrant before they can search your vehicle, your home or any other property.

Your attorney must have what it takes to defend your rights and fight to keep your record clean. A drug conviction on your criminal record can adversely affect any future school, career or loan application. Ms. Watson will aggressively defend your case against jail/prison sentencing and heavy fines. If your charges cannot be dismissed, she will work tirelessly in favor of drug education, treatment programs and/or community service, pursuing rehabilitation over punishment.

She will defend your case in a number of difficult circumstances involving any type of controlled substance, including:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • Prescription drugs such as:
    • Xanax
    • Vicodin
    • Codeine
    • Adderall
    • Ritalin
  • Other controlled substances

A Strong Defense Against Serious Sex Crime Charges

Some of the most complicated criminal defense cases are those involving sex crimes. Especially, those sex crimes charges related to the internet. The experience and skills of your defense attorney can play a huge role in the outcome of your case. There is much in the line, including your reputation, future and freedom. Just being investigated and charged with a sex crime brings such a negative social stigma to you and even your family. Take charge right now and start with a seasoned defense attorney in Peoria, Illinois.

Former Prosecutor And Assistant State’s Attorney

At Watson Law, our firm’s founding lawyer, Linda Watson, has extensive experience on both sides of a sex crimes case. This can bring a huge advantage to a sex crimes charge when it comes to strategies and insight into the prosecution’s possible tactics. When the stakes are high, you want a seasoned attorney like Ms. Watson. She has a high success rate when it comes to representing clients at trial.

Furthermore, she has specific knowledge when it comes to sex crimes cases, having taught seminars on digital forensic evidence. This can play a huge role in many sex crimes cases such as child pornography and other internet sex crimes where preserving forensic evidence can sometimes make or break a case.

Major Stakes And The Sex Offender Registry

When someone is facing a sex crime charge in the Peoria, Illinois, area it is likely a big story in local media. The unwanted attention and shame of just being investigated for a sex crime, not to mention the potential jail time are both scary consequences to consider. Leaving your criminal defense representation to a new associate or inexperienced defense attorney is the last thing you should do.

Ms. Watson has a reputation for solid analysis and strategy when it comes to defending her clients. In addition, she has so many times identified holes in the prosecution’s strategy, winning a jury over with her thorough litigation skills.

She can handle all types of sex crimes charge, including:

  • Sexual assault and rape
  • Statutory rape and sex crimes involving minors
  • Indecent exposure and prostitution
  • Child pornography and other internet sex crimes

These are just some of the many types of charges she can aggressively defend against. Not only is she defending your freedom but also the potential of being a registered sex offender for life. What this means it that if you are convicted, you will be required to register with the Illinois Sex Offender Database. No matter where you move, it will be public knowledge of your conviction of a sex crime.

The Serious Nature Of Internet Sex Crimes

You are being investigated in the Peoria, Illinois, area for internet sex crimes. Investigators have taken away your laptop, your computer and even your cellphone. What you should have done already is obtained the counsel for an experienced criminal defense attorney. Not just any experienced one but someone who knows your local area. Someone who has represented many clients successfully at trial in the very court systems your case will likely be held in.

Over A Decade Of Experience In Illinois

Watson Law handles sex crimes charges and internet sex crimes charges in the Peoria, Illinois, area. Attorney Linda Watson has two decades of experience both as a prosecutor and assistant state’s attorney but a private solo practitioner. She has defended many clients successfully and has a unique insight into both the defense and prosecution’s side of the case. This can provide an immense advantage when developing the strategy for your specific internet sex crimes case.

In addition to her extensive criminal law background, Ms. Watson has specific skills and knowledge when it comes to digital and forensic evidence. This type of evidence has a huge role in any internet sex crimes charge. Her background is so extensive that she has created and taught seminars on this very matter to other lawyers in Illinois.

The Important Role Digital And Forensic Evidence Plays

The prosecution will scour any digital imprints you may have left. This includes your cellphone, smartphone, laptop, home computer, work computer and any other use of digital technology. Even if you were not the one to download an illicit image such as child pornography, if it is on something you own you are the one who is being implicated.

That is why it is so important your attorney has a background in successfully arguing these types of evidentiary issues at trial. This can truly mean in many cases the difference between freedom or serious jail time. Not to mention being labeled a sex offender for the rest of your life and on the Illinois Sex Offender Database.

Ms. Watson defends against all types of internet sex crimes, such as distribution/possession of child pornography, internet solicitation, online solicitation of a minor and more.


We fight to protect your legal rights under the law.

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