Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and then causing an accident that leads to serious bodily harm to another person is a felony offense in Illinois. A conviction could mean years in prison and a serious fine. It also means collateral consequences, like problems finding or keeping a job, difficulty getting good housing, or even problems with child custody matters.
If you have been charged with a DUI, it is always in your best interest to fight the charge. An experienced DUI defense attorney in DuPage County or Chicago will provide a comprehensive defense that pursues all angles. When the DUI offense is aggravated by an accident causing an injury, then it is even more crucial to defend against the allegations.
At Dolci & Weiland, we uphold the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We hold the State, judge, and jury accountable to this principle. And we also put forth a concerted effort to create doubt. Here's an overview of what you should know if you or a loved one was charged with an aggravated DUI because you allegedly drove while drunk and caused an accident. But time is of the essence, so do not hesitate to contact a smart, strategic DUI defense attorney – because, as you read this, the State is already working on its case against you.
How Does Illinois Define DUI Injury?
Driving under the influence offenses are governed by 625 ILCS 5/11-501. A person commits a DUI Injury when he or she is in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. At the same time, he or she is guilty of aggravated driving under the influence when he or she is in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and:
was involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another, when the violation was a proximate cause of the injuries...
In Illinois, to be found guilty of an injury DUI offense, the prosecutor must prove that:
- You were illegally intoxicated (either your faculties were impaired or your blood alcohol content was .08% or higher);
- You were operating a vehicle;
- You caused an accident; and
- The accident resulted in another person's great bodily injury, permanent disability, or disfigurement.
Great bodily harm has been defined by the Illinois courts. To constitute great bodily harm, the injury must be graver and/or more serious than lacerations, abrasions, bruises, or physical pain. Great bodily harm typically refers to serious physical injuries that could create a substantial risk of death, lead to prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any body part, or result in permanent disfigurement.
What are the Penalties for a Conviction of an Illinois DUI Injury Offense?
An aggravated DUI where the alleged suspect caused an accident that led to another person's great bodily harm is a Class 4 felony. Class 4 felonies are punished with:
- incarceration between one and three years in prison; and
- a fine of up to $25,000.
You will also lose your driving privileges and your vehicle will either be seized or impounded by local authorities. If seized, you may not be able to get the vehicle back. If impounded, you will have to pay the costs to get the vehicle back.
What's more is this: after you have paid your so-called debt to society, you will still suffer from collateral consequences. A DUI injury conviction is a felony, and ex-felons can lose their voting rights and their right to own and use a firearm. Getting your civil rights restored is a long process with no guarantees.
With a criminal record, especially one with a felony, you will find challenges in other aspects of your life, like:
- inability to travel outside the country to countries like Canada;
- problems obtaining a good job, acquiring a professional license, or getting a security clearance;
- difficulty obtaining good housing;
- potential problems with child custody;
- potential problems securing personal, auto, mortgage, or other loans.
There are many ways a felony criminal record can creep into your life and cause problems or roadblocks.
Are There Defenses to an Illinois DUI Injury Allegation?
It is important to remember that, like all criminal cases, you have a constitutional right to defend yourself, and like many criminal cases, there's a good chance a strategic, aggressive defense can produce a good outcome. At Dolci & Weiland, we are committed to our clients' defense and are determined to provide the best defense possible. We will look at your case from all angles and develop a strategy accordingly.
In DUI injury cases, there are some specific defenses that could be utilized or incorporated into your defense strategy.
- You were not illegally intoxicated. If it can be shown that you were not intoxicated, then you did not commit a DUI.
- You did not cause the accident. Even if you were drinking and driving, it still doesn't mean you caused the accident – the other driver could have been driving recklessly or negligently.
- The injured person's injury did not amount to great bodily harm but only bruising.
If any of the above factors are demonstrated, then you could face lesser charges. You could also be acquitted at trial. It's always important to keep in mind that you are innocent to proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and at Dolci & Weiland, it is our mission to create the necessary doubt.
Contact Seasoned DUI Defense Attorneys in DuPage County / Chicago
A DUI injury offense is a serious one that must be fought. It can lead to years in prison, steep fines, and social-economic problems for the rest of your life. To prevent or minimize these penalties, an experienced DUI attorney is necessary.
At Dolci & Weiland, our experience, insight, commitment, and case results are testimony to the kind of defense we will provide. Contact our office today to learn more about our DUI criminal defense approach and to get started on clearing your good name.