Having an attorney to help defend you against a charge for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois is critical. However, it becomes even more important if you have already had a couple of DUIs in your past. DUI convictions are priorable offenses – if you have a prior DUI conviction, the costs and penalties of a subsequent conviction will be even worse.
A third or subsequent DUI offense is a felony in Illinois, bringing substantial penalties with it if you get convicted. Having a skilled DUI-defense attorney at your side is absolutely essential if you are facing a charge for drunk or drugged driving and already have multiple convictions on your record.
Penalties for Third-Offense DUIs
Third offenses for DUI in Illinois are considered Class 2 felonies. The penalties for a 3rd DUI include:
- Between 3 and 7 years in prison, (or probation for up to 48 months with a minimum of 10 days in jail or 480 hours of community service);
- Fines of up to $25,000;
- Revocation of your driver's license for up to 10 years; and
- Suspension of your Illinois vehicle registration.
The penalties can increase if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16% or higher or if anyone under the age of 16 is a passenger in the vehicle at the time.
While a felony can mean mandatory time behind bars, your DUI-defense attorney may be able to convince the judge that a prison sentence is not necessary and you should be able to serve your sentence on probation. However, a criminal conviction may require at least some time spent in jail for a third DUI.
The penalties for a felony third-offense DUI go far beyond just what the state levies against you in the form of fines and jail time. Felony-level offenses are taken very seriously by others, as well, and can make it far more difficult for you to get and keep a job, find an apartment, or qualify for government benefits. These are called collateral consequences of a crime, and their number and severity jump substantially if the conviction was for a felony offense like a third DUI.
DUIs are Priorable Offenses in Illinois
A "priorable offense" means that earlier offenses of the same crime will make the penalties for subsequent offenses even worse. A DUI is one of these priorable offenses. For example, while a first DUI offense in Illinois with no aggravating factors will generally lead to a one-year license suspension, a second DUI conviction will carry a license suspension of a minimum of five years. The fines that you can be forced to pay and the time in jail or community service increase, as well.
Additionally, any DUI conviction will act as a priorable offense. For example, a DUI for alcohol is a prior offense if the driver is arrested for a drug DUI.
To make things worse, unlike in many other states, Illinois does not have a limit to its look back period. This means prior DUI offenses will always be a factor in a subsequent DUI case – no matter how long ago the prior offense happened. The “look back period” in the state of Illinois for DUI infractions looks to the beginning of time rather than just a set number of years. This means prior DUI offenses never disappear from your criminal background, and will always be a factor in future DUI charges.
Third Offense DUI is a Felony in Illinois
In Illinois, a third DUI conviction in Illinois becomes a felony, not a misdemeanor. Felony DUIs are far more severe not only because they come with higher fines, mandatory time in jail or prison, and longer license suspensions, but also because the collateral consequences of a felony conviction reach far wider than a conviction for a misdemeanor offense.
When applying for a job, an individual may be required to state on the application that they have a felony criminal conviction. Felons may be restricted from certain types of government aid, including financial aid for college. Felons are also generally prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm in Illinois.
Defending Against Multiple DUI Charges
The increased penalties that come with a third DUI conviction make it even more important to raise an effective defense against the charges. All of the defenses that can be used for a normal DUI charge can also be used in a third-offense DUI case, including:
- Lack of probable cause. The police need to have a reason to pull you over, initiate a traffic stop, and collect evidence of a DUI crime. In the DUI context, the proffered reason for the traffic stop is almost always that the officer had probable cause to believe that a crime was being committed. However, the facts might indicate otherwise and, if they do, all the evidence gathered during the stop gets thrown away.
- Inaccurate or improperly performed tests. Much of the evidence against you in a DUI case comes from chemical tests – like a breathalyzer or blood test – or field sobriety tests. These tests are far from foolproof, though, and are not always administered properly. If a reasonable doubt can be thrown on their results, it can convince a jury that you should not be convicted.
Taking a third DUI case to trial can be risky. For some drivers charged with a third offense, a negotiated plea bargain may be the best option. This will generally allow the individual to avoid the maximum penalties and possibly avoid a prison sentence entirely. Talk to your Chicago/DuPage felony DUI defense lawyer about the best options in your case.
Chicago/DuPage DUI Defense Attorneys at Dolci & Weiland
The DUI-defense attorneys at the Chicago/DuPage law firm of Dolci & Weiland can help protect your rights and interests if you have been charged with a third offense of DUI. In DuPage call us at 630-261-9098. In the Chicago area, call us at 312-238-9007 in Chicago. We are available 24/7 to talk to you about your DUI charges, so contact us today.