Aggravated DUI in Illinois: Definition, Penalties & Next Steps

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Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in the state of Illinois, as it is in every state in the U.S. Most DUI offenses are misdemeanors but can become a felony or "aggravated" driving under the influence (DUI) charge depending on the circumstances of the traffic stop. Drivers with aggravated DUI convictions face steep penalties, including a maximum $25,000 fine and several years in prison, among others.

Defining DUI in Illinois

According to Illinois law, 625 ILCS Section 5/11-501, a standard DUI charge is a Class A misdemeanor and can include:

  • Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher.
  • Operation of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
  • Impairment by drugs or alcohol to the "degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving."
  • Impairment by a combination of drugs and alcohol resulting in unsafe driving.
  • Any drug that shows up in a chemical test (breath, blood or urine) from illegal use or consumption.
  • A THC (the intoxicating substance in marijuana) limit of 5 nanograms or higher that shows up in a chemical test within two hours of driving.

A person facing a standard DUI charge incurs immediate administrative penalties, such as the loss of their license for up to a year from the time of the arrest. If a DUI conviction occurs, they can also receive these criminal penalties, according to NOLO:

  • Up to 364 days of jail time or six months of incarceration if the driver had a passenger under 16 in the vehicle.
  • Up to $2,500 in fines.
  • A minimum $500 fine for a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher
  • A minimum fine of $1000 if the driver had a passenger under 16 in the vehicle.
  • At least 100 hours of community service if a driver has a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher.
  • A mandatory 25 days of community service with an organization that benefits children.

Prior DUI Violations

A driver faces felony charges if they have committed two prior DUIs. A third and fourth DUI are Class 2 felonies; a fifth DUI is a Class 1 felony; and a sixth DUI is a Class X felony. A previous conviction in which reckless homicide or great bodily harm occurred is a Class 3 felony. These penalties apply:

  • Third and fourth DUI: Three to seven years in prison.
  • Fifth DUI: Four to 15 years in prison.
  • Sixth DUI: Six to 30 years in prison.
  • Prior conviction with reckless homicide due to alcohol or in which great bodily harm occurred: Two to five years in prison.

The administrative penalties for a third conviction include a license suspension of up to 10 years. To get their license reinstated, a driver must first procure a restrictive driving permit (RDP) for five straight years. Four or more DUI convictions result in a lifetime license revocation, but a driver can apply for an RDP after five years under certain circumstances, according to NOLO.

DUI Resulting in Personal Injury or Death

Great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement of a person as the result of a DUI is a Class 4 felony, with a prison sentence from one year to 12 years. If the DUI results in another person's death from a motor vehicle, ATV, snowmobile or watercraft, it is a Class 2 felony. The penalties are:

  • One death: Three to 14 years in prison.
  • Two or more deaths: Six to 28 years in prison.

Probation is possible under certain circumstances, but there are administrative penalties, including a two-year revocation of a driver's license. The driver can reapply for a license two years after release from prison or two years from the date of losing their driving privileges, whichever comes last.

Illinois DUI Resulting in Injury to Underage Passenger

A driver faces a Class 4 felony charge if the incident caused great bodily harm to a passenger under 16 years of age. The penalties are:

  • One to three years in prison.
  • Mandatory fine of $2,500.
  • Mandatory 25 days of community service with an organization that benefits children.

A driver who commits a second DUI that causes an underage passenger great bodily harm faces a Class 2 felony charge. The penalties are:

  • Three to seven years in prison.
  • A mandatory fine of $5,000.
  • A mandatory 25 days of community service with an organization that benefits children.

Additional Aggravating Factors

Illinois drivers can face aggravated DUI charges for other reasons, such as a school bus driver with one or more passengers in an accident resulting in bodily harm in a school zone with a current 20 mph speed limit. Drivers also face felony charges while driving on a suspended or revoked license; a reckless homicide offense; leaving the scene of an accident in which death or injury occurred; driving without insurance or a valid driver's license; and while transporting passengers in a vehicle for hire, such as a limousine.

These are generally Class 4 felonies and carry with them one to three years in prison. They also include fines of up to $25,000.

Conditional Discharge or Probation

A driver facing a felony DUI charge can receive probation or conditional discharge if they comply with supervision under certain circumstances and if a jail sentence hasn't been imposed. The driver's sentence will include at least 10 days in jail or a minimum of 480 hours of community service.

In some circumstances, conditional discharge or probation is not an option: When offenders face four or more DUI convictions; have a prior conviction for an alcohol-related reckless homicide; or have a DUI conviction in which great bodily harm or death occurred.