The law in Illinois regarding DUI is tough, even if it is your first offense. While most of the time the charge will be a misdemeanor there are circumstances that can result in significantly harsher penalties. Even a first-time offense can result in you being charged with a felony depending on a variety of factors like BAC level if it resulted in injury, and more. If you are facing a felony contact our DUI attorneys today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you.
What Makes a DUI a Felony?
In most instances, a DUI will be considered a misdemeanor charge. However, there are certain factors that can cause it to turn into a felony if certain factors are met.
If a DUI criminal charge turns into a felony it may be considered an aggravated DUI. In this case, the community service or jail time will not be subject to suspension or any reductions. A probation sentence will include a total of 10 days in jail, along with 480 hours of community service.
If you commit a DUI when driving a school bus with children as passengers, then that DUI can progress to a Class 4 felony offense. In this offense, you can get a prison sentence of 1-3 years and a fine of $25,000. If the DUI causes a permanent disability or other bodily injuries, then it will be considered a Class 4-X felony offense and have an enhanced sentence.
In other cases, if you commit a DUI offense without a valid driver's license, that case is also a Class 4 felony charge. You will have to spend 1-3 years in jail, and pay up to $25,000 as a fine. There are other instances that can turn a DUI offense into a felony. To understand what makes DUI a felony, you need to learn about the various classes of felonies.
Classes of Felonies
Some states have predetermined felony classes or levels that depend on the degree of the crime. The consequences and jail sentences depend on the class of felony you have been convicted with. Here is the classification of felony charges:
Class 4 Felonies
Class 4 felonies are not severe, but they can still come with a jail sentence of 1-3 years. In addition, you will have to pay a fine of $25,000. Some examples include:
- DUI without appropriate insurance for the vehicle
- DUI without a driver's license
- DUI causing bodily harm or severe injuries leading to disabilities
- When driving a rental with a passenger
- Driving a school bus with even a single child onboard
- Second DUI with child passenger younger than 16 years
- First DUI that causes harm to a minor
Class 3 Felonies
Class 3 felony results in a total of 2-5 years of prison and a $25,000 fine. A DUI will classify as a class 3 felony if you already have a history of reckless DUI conviction or a DUI with a fatality.
Class 2 Felonies
For a class 2 felony, you can get convicted of 3 - 7 years in prison, this also includes a $25,000 fine. If your case looks like this then you might be charged with a class 2 felony:
- DUI causing a fatality
- Third DUI conviction
- Second DUI conviction when transporting a child of 16 years or younger with bodily harm to the child.
- Fourth DUI offense or non-probationary class 2 felony
Class 1 Felonies
A Class 1 DUI Felony has a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and a fine of $25,000. A fifth DUI is considered a Class 1 felony that is non-probationary and punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
Class X Felony
Class X is the most serious felony charge and even the minimum sentences can be 6 years long and can extend to 30 years in jail depending on the extent of the case. It is also called a non-probationary class X felony.
If you were driving without a valid driver's license then that will count as a class X felony.
Penalties for Felony DUI or Aggravated DUI
If you have an aggravated DUI penalty then Illinois may have additional penalties. This penalty is limited to people whose blood alcohol content is beyond the limits. If you have a blood alcohol level of .16 or more, you will get a 90-day minimum jail sentence. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08.
Moreover, you may have to face an additional sentence if you have a minor in the car when you get arrested. If an officer stops you for a DUI, they will check for the odor of alcohol and other blood alcohol evidence such as a breath sample from breath units.
How Can A DUI Felony Charge Impact Your Future?
If you have a DUI felony charge then that can have a serious impact on your future. Spending time in jail is the beginning, there are other severe consequences one must worry about.
For instance, you may have difficulty finding employment. Some companies have zero-tolerance policies when it comes to criminal offenses and that can limit your employment options.
Other than that, a DUI charge can also affect your housing options. Many landlords are not too fond of hiring people who have a DUI on their permanent records. If you spend some time in jail and return back to society, you may not be able to rent a space on your own.
The potential consequences can be difficult to deal with, which is why it is best to get help from an experienced felony DUI defense lawyer.
Can an Attorney Help With Felony DUI Charges?
A criminal defense attorney can help you defend yourself. If you have been charged with a DUI felony, you may be lost and have no idea what to do next. In such times it is very important to take help from a criminal defense attorney at DUI Lawyers 24/7 and they will put up a strong defense to ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your case.