When does a DUI offense become a felony in Illinois?

Violation of Illinois’ drunk driving laws can bring down a host of different penalties for persons who are convicted of a violation. The seriousness of the penalties depends upon the driver’s prior violations, if any, and the nature of the incident. This post will summarized the kinds of violations that convert a misdemeanor into a felony. Any penalty for violation of the state’s drunk driving laws can have a serious and disruptive impact on a person’s live, and anyone facing charges for a DUI violation may want to consult an experienced DUI defense attorney.

An initial DUI violation by a driver with no prior incidents and who is older than 21 is classified as a misdemeanor, and the driver’s license is revoked for one year. Penalties increase in severity with each subsequent violation. Certain violations are automatically classified as felonies regardless of the driver’s previous record. The following examples are felonies and classified as aggravated DUI violations. A DUI that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement is a Class 4 felony. A DUI that results in one or more fatalities is a Class 2 felony. Any DUI offense committed without the driver possessing a valid driver’s license or permit or vehicle liability insurance is a Class 4 felony. A DUI offense in a school zone with a restricted speed limit that causes bodily injury is also a Class 4 felony.

Other DUI offenses classified as felonies include a second instance of transporting a child under 16 years of age (Class 2 felony). If the driver is involved in a crash and if the child suffers bodily injury, the offense is also a class 2 felony. Driving a vehicle for hire while under the influence of alcohol is a Class 4 felony. Generally speaking, the repetition of one or more of these offenses can greatly increase the severity of the sentences that can be imposed.

Anyone who is facing a DUI charge, even if it is a first offense, may wish to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide helpful advice on the law, the strength of the prosecution’s evidence and the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or outright acquittal.

Source: Illinois Secretary of State, “Illinois 2017 Fact Book,” accessed on Aug. 31, 2017