Any drunk driving or DUI arrest is a serious matter. As a Class A misdemeanor, the penalties for conviction of driving under the influence can include fines up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail, in addition to a driver’s license suspension, an increase in car insurance rates, and all the other negative consequences that come with a conviction for DUI. It is important to know, however, that there are many ways in which a DUI can be charged as a felony. When that happens, the potential penalties and punishments increase greatly, and getting quality legal help becomes even more critical. With offices in Homewood and Oak Lawn, the attorneys at Lee & Fairman, LLP represent people throughout the greater Chicago area who have been charged with a felony DUI offense.
Aggravated DUI is a Felony in Illinois
One way a DUI is charged as a felony under Illinois law is if you have two or more previous DUI convictions, which is known as Aggravated DUI and is a Class 4 felony offense. A third or fourth conviction for DUI is a Class 2 felony carrying a potential prison sentence of 3-7 years as well as a 10-year license revocation (for third offense) or lifetime revocation (for fourth offense). A fifth DUI is a Class 1 felony, with 4-15 years in prison possible, and a sixth or subsequent DUI is a Class X felony, meaning you could be imprisoned anywhere from 6-30 years if convicted.
Other Class 4 Felony DUI Offenses
Besides having prior DUIs on your record, there are many other ways a DUI can be charged as a felony in Illinois, even if it is your first offense! In most cases, these felony charges are Class 4 felonies, meaning you could be sentenced to 1-3 years in prison and ordered to pay up to $25,000 in fines. Some of the ways drunk driving can be charged as a felony include:
- Transporting a child under 16 and being involved in a crash that results in bodily harm to the child (includes mandatory fine of $2,500 and 25 days community service in addition to any other penalties)
- Transporting a child under age 16 with a prior DUI (Class 2 felony if bodily harm befalls child in a crash)
- Getting pulled over in a school zone while restricted speed limit is in effect
- Driving under the influence without a valid license or permit
- Driving under the influence without liability insurance
- Driving under the influence with a suspended license
- Driving under the influence without a required BAIID (ignition interlock device)
- Driving a school bus under the influence
- Driving a cab or vehicle for hire under the influence
- DUI with a previous conviction for Aggravated DUI or DUI reckless homicide (Class 3 felony)
- Causing great bodily harm while driving under the influence
- Causing death while driving under the influence (Class 2 felony)
Any felony DUI in Illinois is classified as Aggravated DUI. If convicted of aggravated DUI and sentenced to mandatory imprisonment or community service, no suspension or reduction of the sentence is available. Likewise, if given probation or conditional discharge on an aggravated DUI, the law imposes a minimum of 480 hours of community service or ten days in jail.
Get Immediate Help with an Illinois Felony DUI Charge
If you are arrested for driving under the influence, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The prosecutor has discretion on how to charge any alleged drunk driving offense, and a skilled attorney may be able to influence which charge is brought or have a felony reduced to a misdemeanor. In addition, you may have a number of defenses available to fight the charges against you. In Homewood, Oak Lawn and throughout the Chicago area, call on Lee & Fairman, LLP for advice and representation with your DUI charge.