If you have a previous experience with a DUI arrest, you know the serious nature of a conviction. You may have spent many months or even years catching up after the hit your family’s finances took, including fines, fees and the hike in your auto insurance premiums. You may have been fortunate to keep your job, and your life is back on track because your DUI charge was only a misdemeanor.
The next DUI may not be so easy. In fact, as in most states, the penalties for drunk driving in Illinois increase with each offense. Although a third DUI may be a felony in Illinois, there are other factors that may result in felony charges related to drunk driving.
Enhanced penalties and aggravating factors
Even a first-time DUI arrest can be a felony charge under certain circumstances. A felony conviction for an alcohol-related charge places you in danger of serious penalties, including years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Depending on the felony charge you face, your driving privileges may be at risk of suspension for numerous years or even for the rest of your life if a court convicts you.
Besides a third or higher offense, some aggravating factors that may push your DUI charge to a felony status include the following:
- BAC over the legal limit of .08 while transporting a child
- DUI that results in a crash where someone else suffers serious or fatal injuries
- A BAC at twice the legal limit, .16, or higher
- Driving when your license is under suspension or revocation for a previous DUI
- DUI in a school zone when school is in session
Police may also charge you with aggravated DUI if you have any container of alcohol in the passenger area of your vehicle, whether the container is open or sealed.
Don’t face these serious charges alone
You have a lot on the line if you are facing felony or aggravated DUI charges in Illinois. Not only do the penalties escalate quickly, but you may find the consequences affect your personal, financial and professional life for many years into the future.
As soon as you are in police custody, your rights are in peril. Having a skilled and experienced criminal attorney on your side as quickly as possible may allow you some protection for those rights and the best opportunity for a more positive resolution.