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Is DUI A Felony In Illinois?

Updated on March 15, 2023 → Under

With driving under the influence of alcohol penalties, Illinois law is tough. Although first-time DUI offenders may get a lenient sentence, many people arrested for drunk driving are charged with a felony offense. And as is with most legal questions, the answer to is DUI a felony in Illinois is it depends.

Past DUI convictions can play a significant role in whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor offense or a felony charge. In fact, two people arrested in the same circumstances could end up facing different criminal consequences. Thus, it’s essential to hire an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney to defend you. 

What are the 3 Types of DUI Infractions?

Often, when people talk about drunk driving charges, they don’t distinguish between the types of DUI charges DUI offenders face. The difference between DUI penalties of the two major types of DUI charges, for example, a misdemeanor DUI charge and a felony DUI charge, can be extremely different in terms of punishment and social stigma. So, it’s essential for anyone charged with a DUI to contact an experienced Rolling Meadows DUI attorney as soon as possible. 

The three types of DUI infractions are:

1. Misdemeanor DUI Charge

Misdemeanor offenses refer to when a driver is over the legal blood alcohol limit but has caused minimal personal injury or property damage while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Often, defendants who face misdemeanor DUI charges were driving recklessly and stopped before they could harm themselves or anyone else. 

These DUI offenders are subject to about one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Repeat DUI offenders can still be charged with a misdemeanor DUI charge; however, they’ll face higher fines and harsher penalties than first-time DUI offenders

2. Felony DUI Charges

In Illinois, any drunk driving charge that’s classified as a felony DUI charge is an aggravated DUI charge. An aggravated DUI charge is more serious than a misdemeanor DUI charge and carried severe consequences. Aggravated DUI charges range from Class 4 felony to a Class x felony. 

Class 4 felony is the least felony charge, and it carries a jail sentence of one to three years and a maximum of $25,000 in fines. A DUI conviction is a Class 4 felony charge if you were transporting a minor younger than 16 years old in your vehicle, and it resulted in bodily harm to the child. Also, a DUI committed while driving a school bus with at least one child onboard is a Class 4 felony. 

Class 3 felony charges mean the defendant will face two to five years in prison and $25,000 in fines. A DUI charge is a Class 3 felony if the offender had a previous reckless homicide DUI conviction or aggravated DUI conviction involving death.

Illinois felony DUI

A Class 2 felony charge carries a potential sentence of three to seven years in prison and a maximum of  $25,000 in fines. A DUI conviction is a class 2 felony if you had a second DUI conviction while transporting a minor that resulted in bodily harm to the child, a third or subsequent DUI conviction, and a DUI charge resulting in death. 

A class 1 DUI felony charge carries a possible sentence of four to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $25, 000. 

A Class X felony DUI is the most serious type of felony charge. It carries a possible sentence of six to 30 years in jail and a fine of up to $25, 000. A DUI conviction is a Class X felony if it relates to a sixth or subsequent DUI conviction. 

3. DUI Manslaughter

Impaired driving charges that cause death have severe consequences. They’re a Class 2 felony and carry penalties of three to 15 years in prison and $25,000 fines for one death. Multiple deaths can cause six to 30 years in jail and fines of up to $25,000.

What Makes a DUI a Felony in Illinois?

In many states, a DUI charge is considered a traffic violation or a misdemeanor charge. However, the charges can be elevated from a standard misdemeanor DUI charge to a felony DUI charge depending on several factors. 

Any DUI criminal charge resulting in a felony charge is classified as Aggravated DUI. Here, the mandatory term of imprisonment or community service isn’t subject to reduction or suspension. 

Any DUI offender sentenced to probation or conditional discharge must serve a minimum of 480 hours of community service or 10 days in jail. 

A DUI committed while driving a school bus carrying minors under the age of 18 can be enhanced to a Class 4 felony offense, and it carries a prison sentence of 1-3 years in jail and a maximum of  $25,000 in fines. A DUI causing great bodily injury, disfigurement, or permanent disability is a Class 4 felony charge. 

Loss of driving privileges for a minimum of two years can also enhance a DUI to a felony conviction. If a DUI offender commits second or subsequent DUI offenses while transporting a minor under the age of 16 years; these are Class 4 to X felony offenses and criminal penalties vary based on the offense.

Further, a DUI criminal offense committed while transporting a child under 16 years old in your vehicle and you were involved in a motor vehicle accident that caused personal injury to the child is a Class 4-X felony offense and criminal penalties vary based on the offense.

A DUI offense committed without a valid driver’s license or permit is a Class 4 felony charge, which carries 1-3 years of jail term and up to $25,000 in fines. DUIs committed without auto liability insurance are Class 4 felony offenses, which carry one to three years of jail sentence and up to $25,000 in fines. 

A DUI offense committed after past DUI convictions for reckless homicide resulting in death are Class 3 felony charges, which carry two to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Also, a DUI committed in a school zone while the restricted speed limit is in place, causing a crash that results in bodily harm is a Class 4 felony, which carries a possible jail time of one to three years and maximum fines of $25,000.

A DUI that’s committed with a suspended or revoked license resulting in reckless homicide, fleeing the scene of personal injury or death is a Class 4 felony that results in one to three years of imprisonment and maximum fines of up to $25,000. Any criminal penalty imposed is beside the penalty for any subsequent DUI violation. The license revocation period is determined by the DUI offense.

Further, the standard for intoxication is a blood alcohol content of 0.08 in Illinois. Thus, a higher blood alcohol concentration can cause severe punishment when convicted of a misdemeanor DUI

felony DUI charges in Illinois

Can I Get a DUI Expunged in Illinois?

After being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may try to fight back, and you may want to get your criminal record sealed or expunged. However, this option isn’t available to anyone convicted of a misdemeanor DUI offense. You may be eligible for expungement if your charges were dropped or if you were found not guilty. 

Once you’re arrested for drunk driving, the charges will still be on your record. However, if you weren’t convicted for drunk driving or if you didn’t receive court supervision, an experienced DUI lawyer can help you gather the right paperwork and file for expungement or sealing after the waiting period has lapsed. 

The expungement process hides your criminal record from public use, and it gives you a fresh start. 

What States is a DUI a Felony Offense?

Arizona is the strictest state for driving under the influence and it has the longest minimum sentence of 10 days for first-time DUI offenders, a vehicle impound, and a 90-day minimum jail sentence for a second DUI offense. In Arizona, a third DUI offense is an automatic felony offense and you’re subject to an ignition interlock device after a first DUI conviction. 

Waste no more time trying to figure out the possible criminal penalties and fines of your DUI charge. Contact our DUI criminal defense law firm and get all the answers you need from the best DUI criminal defense attorneys in Chicago. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at (847) 616-9993, or chat with us online to learn how we can help you. 

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