In Illinois, there are several ways that a DUI can become a felony. Even if it is your first offense for Driving Under the Influence, your case can still be enhanced to a felony under certain circumstances. The approach to representing a client charged with a felony DUI is drastically different than representing a client with a misdemeanor DUI charge. It is imperative that a fully comprehensive defense strategy be designed and implemented as soon as possible after an arrest in order to provide for the best possible outcome.
While some DUI cases may be classified as difficult or tough very few cases are impossible to defend. There are several reasons why there may be hope for any DUI case. DUI is one of the few criminal charges in Illinois that have technical defenses. If the arresting officer fails to follow required procedure, or to maintain evidence in accordance with the law, the case against you may be dismissed. In most cases it is not possible to know if the officer complied with these procedures at the time of the arrest.
CLASS 4 FELONY AGGRAVATED DUI
While a misdemeanor DUI charge has a sentence of no more than one year in jail, a Class 4 Felony Aggravated DUI has a sentencing range of 1-3 years in prison. While the proof is the same as a misdemeanor DUI, a felony DUI will have one or more additional facts that trigger the more serious sentencing range. All Class 4 felony DUIs are first or second offense DUIs with an additional factor. Some of these factors include
- Not having a valid Driver’s license
- Not having insurance
- Driving with a suspended license
- Being involved in an accident resulting in Great Bodily Harm
If a person is convicted of a Class 4 Felony DUI the minimum sentence that can be given by the court 10 days in jail or 480 hours of public service work. There are circumstances where a class 4 DUI can have extended sentencing ranges. For instance if a person commits a DUI that results in great bodily harm to another person, the sentencing range is 1-12 years in prison.
THIRD OFFENSE DUI
A third offense DUI will be charged as a class 2 felony, with a sentencing range of 3-7 years in prison. Even if you received court supervision on your first DUI and the case was eventually dismissed, this still counts as an “offense” in the eyes of the law. So if a person receives supervision on their first DUI and a conviction on their second, the court will still consider this as two prior offenses. A third offense DUI is a “probationable” class 2 felony. This means that if a person is convicted, the court may sentence them to serve a term of probation in lieu of the mandatory 3-7 years in prison. If the court does sentence a person to probation on a third offense DUI, the minimum sentence is 10 days in jail or 480 hours of public service work. If at the time of the offense, a person has a BAC > .16 then the minimum sentence is increased 90 days in jail. There are also other circumstances where a third offense may involve an extended sentencing range.
FOURTH, FIFTH AND SIXTH OFFENSE DUI
The court is not allowed to give probation to any person convicted of a fourth or subsequent offense for Driving Under the Influence. A fourth offense DUI is a “non-probationable” class 2 felony. This means that if a person is convicted of a fourth offense DUI, the court must sentence them to 3-7 years in prison, unless they are extended term eligible, then the sentencing range is 3-14 years in prison. Listed below are the sentencing ranges for fourth and subsequent DUI offenses
- Fourth Offense – Class 2 Felony 3-7 years in prison
- Fifth Offense – Class 1 Felony 4-15 years in prison
- Sixth and Subsequent Offense – Class X Felony 6-30 years in prison
In addition to the term in prison, any person convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI that had a BAC > .16 will be subject to a mandatory minimum fine of $5,000. If they were transporting a person under the age 16 at the time, the mandatory minimum fine is increased to $25,000.
AGGRAVATED DUI WITH DEATH
A first offense DUI that results in the death of another person will be charged as a class 2 felony with a sentencing range of 3-14 years in prison. If the DUI resulted in the death of 2 or more people, then the sentencing range is 6-28 years in prison. Furthermore, truth in sentencing applies and any person sentenced will not receive day for day (50%) credit on their sentence. Instead, any person sentenced for a DUI involving death must serve 85% of their prison sentence. DUI Death cases are extremely complex and it’s important to hire an experienced attorney to represent you.
HAVE YOU BEEN ARRESTED FOR FELONY DUI?
If you or a loved one has been involved in a DUI related accident or has been charged with felony DUI, there are several steps that you should take. Until you are able to consult with an attorney, it is advisable that you make no statements to law enforcement or answer any questions. It is important to seek guidance in these cases at the earliest opportunity. Although a felony DUI arrest is the most serious traffic offense in Illinois, no case is hopeless.
Our attorneys have substantial experience representing clients charged with a felony DUI. In almost all cases there are opportunities to present both legal and factual defenses as well as any mitigating circumstances that might exist to ensure the best result possible. If you have been charged with felony DUI, contact my office and set up your free initial consultation. I represent clients charged in Dekalb, Rockford, Belvidere, Freeport, Oregon, and Galena.