Typically, driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. However, there are a handful of circumstances that can elevate this charge much higher – in some cases, as high as a felony – and make a conviction far more costly.
When this happens, it is called an aggravated DUI. In cases of aggravated DUI, the need for a skilled DUI defense attorney increases exponentially. Even more so than standard DUI cases, a seasoned DUI defense attorney and a strategic legal defense can be absolutely pivotal in cases of aggravated DUI.
The 10 Types of Illinois Aggravated DUI Charges
A charge of DUI can become a charge of aggravated DUI in Illinois under the set of circumstances laid out in 625 ILCS 5/11-501. Aggravated DUI charges come with penalties that are far higher than normal DUI charges, making these accusations much more serious. Additional penalties can include mandatory jail time, longer license suspensions, and higher fines.
1. Third or Subsequent DUI Offense in Illinois
One of the ways for a DUI charge to become an aggravated DUI charge is if it would be your third or subsequent offense. One of the goals of DUI law in Illinois is to deter people from committing the crime of drunk or drugged driving more than once. The law does this by increasing the sanctions for every offense you have committed, in the past.
Unfortunately, unlike in many other states, Illinois law looks all the way back into your past for a prior offense. Therefore, even if a prior DUI conviction happened 25 years ago, it will count as a prior offense and can turn a subsequent DUI charge into an aggravated one.
2. DUI while Operating an Illinois School Bus
Another way for a DUI charge to become an aggravated DUI charge is if you were pulled over, arrested, and charged for DUI while you were driving a school bus. Illinois' DUI statute makes driving a school bus while under the influence an aggravated offense if there were any passengers on board at the time.
3. Children in the Car at the Time of the DUI Arrest
A first-offense DUI charge becomes an aggravated DUI if the driver caused a car accident that resulted in injuries to any passengers under the age of 16. Second-offense DUI charges also become aggravated if there was someone under the age of 16 in your vehicle, even if you did not cause an accident that hurt them.
4. Causing a Car Accident Which Leads to Great Bodily Harm
If you were arrested for DUI after causing a crash that “resulted in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another,” the DUI charge that you will face will become an aggravated charge.
Out of all of the ways for a DUI charge to become aggravated, this is perhaps the least fair: there is little that you can do to change the severity of the injuries that someone else suffers in a car accident.
5. Causing a Crash Which Involves Injuries in a School Zone
You can also face aggravated DUI charges if you were driving in a school speed zone, while the 20 miles per hour limit was in effect, and caused a car accident that hurt another person. Importantly, when the crash happened in a school speed zone, it does not matter how badly the other person was hurt for the DUI charge to become aggravated.
6. Causing a Fatal DUI Accident
DUI charges also become aggravated charges if the drunk driving arrest happened after causing a fatal accident involving either a motor vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, snowmobile, or boat.
7. Prior Conviction for Involuntary Manslaughter While Under the Influence in Illinois
A DUI charge also becomes aggravated if you have, in the past, been convicted on charges of either involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
8. DUI Arrest During License Suspension or Without a License
Aggravated DUI charges also follow if you were arrested for DUI without having a driver's license, or while your driver's license has been suspended or revoked from a prior DUI-related conviction, a prior offense of involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide, or leaving the scene of an accident.
9. DUI Arrest in Uninsured Vehicle
DUI charges can become aggravated accusations even if the arrest for drunk driving occurred when you know, or should have known, that the vehicle you were driving was uninsured.
10. DUI Arrest in Vehicle-for-Hire
A charge of DUI also becomes aggravated if you were arrested while driving a vehicle-for-hire – like for Uber or Lyft – and there were paying passengers in your car at the time of the arrest.
Enhanced Penalties for Aggravated DUI Offenses in Chicago/DuPage
If your DUI charge falls into one of these classes of aggravated crimes, the penalties that you would face upon conviction increase significantly, as aggravated DUIs are considered to be Class 4 felonies in the state of Illinois. This means they come with a minimum sentence of one year in jail and fines of up to $25,000.
Defenses Against Aggravated DUI Claims in Illinois
If you have been charged with aggravated DUI, any of the standard defenses that apply to a DUI charge can still be utilized to protect yourself against the enhanced charge. These defenses include:
- Lack of probable cause for the arrest
- Inaccurate or poorly-administered breath, blood, or field sobriety test
- Fourth Amendment violations
However, in aggravated DUI charges, the prosecution has to prove the additional element that underlies the aggravated charge to the jury. They also have to meet the beyond a reasonable doubt standard for this extra element, as well. This gives your defense attorney a valuable opportunity to challenge their case, fight the evidence presented against you, and defend your interests for their accusations. If successful, the aggravated element of the charge can be beaten, lessening the severity of the overall charge and reducing the penalties that you could face.
The DUI-defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland represent countless people who have been charged with DUI – including aggravated DUI – throughout the state of Illinois. If you have been arrested and accused of drunk or drugged driving, you need their skills in the courtroom to get the best possible outcome in your case.
Call Dolci & Weiland anytime to talk to a lawyer about your aggravated DUI arrest. DuPage County: 630-261-9098. Chicago Area: 312-238-9007. We are available 24/7 to talk to you about your DUI questions and concerns.