What makes A DUI A felony charge?
While often, a DUI conviction is a misdemeanor, there is the chance you could face felony charges. Learn what makes a DUI a felony.
Typically, when a person faces DUI charges, he or she will have a misdemeanor charge. However, it is possible for a person to get a felony charge for a DUI. There are specific circumstances that change the crime to a more severe charge, and drivers should be aware of them. Felony charges are quite serious and result in the potential of at least one year in prison.
A Note About Underage DUI Charges
Underage drinking is a serious crime that the court will punish harshly. However, it is usually a misdemeanor. In Illinois, though, when any person, underage or not, commits an aggravated DUI, it automatically elevates the crime to a felony charge.
The Illinois Liquor Control Commission explains for drivers under 21 years old, an aggravated DUI could result in a prison sentence up to 30 years. It all depends on the exact nature of the charge. Harsher sentences occur when there is a fatality associated with the DUI.
Aggravated DUI Explained
The Illinois General Assembly explains that while aggravated DUI charges often stem from accidents that cause physical harm to others, there are many other ways for a person to get this charge. It may depend on a person’s driving privileges. If he or she has a suspended, revoked or otherwise invalid driver’s license, then this will elevate the charge.
Where a person gets his or her DUI may also play a role. A DUI while in a school zone during restricted speed limit hours is an automatic felony. It also depends on how many DUI convictions a person has had previously. A third or subsequent charge is a felony.
The circumstances surrounding the situation at the time of the DUI could also make it a felony. If a person is driving as a hired driver, carrying a passenger under the age of 16 or driving a school bus with at least one passenger on board, these all create a felony situation. Finally, a driver who gets a DUI charge in a vehicle that does not have valid insurance will also face a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
A felony DUI charge automatically comes with the potential for prison time, but that is not the only punishment. A person will lose his or her license, pay fines and face possible probation and community service. Not to mention the other consequences of a felony charge on a criminal background, which include difficulty securing a job or housing, increases in insurance rates and issues with getting into a college.
It is a good idea if a person faces a felony DUI charge that he or she considers hiring legal representation, such as The Law Offices of Ernest A. DiBenedetto.